So you’ve decided to do a bodybuilding contest? Whether you are planning to compete as a bodybuilder, figure, fitness or one of the new divisions, there is something you really need to know. It ain’t cheap!!!! Here is a list of what you need and possible ways to cut corners and possibly save a few bucks.
Cost of Training:
Currently as of this writing Donnie, my husband and personal trainer charges $50 per 30 minute session in Olympia, WA. Posing, nutrition and/or personal training are additional costs that can range from $50 - $250. These are all part of contest prep. In Seattle, Los Angeles or any other large city the costs are much higher.
Cost Saving Tip:
You can always do this on your own but I highly recommend if this is your first time to hire someone to instruct you on the in’s and out’s contest prep. You don’t want to be the one on stage having people say “What were they thinking? Didn’t anyone tell them they aren’t ready or show them how to pose?” All of this is very individual and you can’t learn it from a muscle magazine or book.
Entry Fee: (required)
This varies according to the contest and location. The Emerald Cup this year charged $109.50. The Oregon State charged $85. This year the Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh charged $200 per entry.
NPC Membership Card: (required)
I only compete in NPC sanctioned events so I can’t speak of other associations. Currently the NPC charges $120 per year. You need the card to compete. This card is only good for the calendar year. At most shows you can buy your card when you check in but at the Nationals you must have your card registered in the NPC computer prior to your check in.
You need at least one posing suit. You need to order this early. It can take at least 2 weeks and as long as 12 weeks to get it made depending on from who you order it. Good suits are custom made to your measurements. You do not want to wear a baggy or bad fitting suit on stage after all your dieting and hard work. Suits are not cheap either. Men’s posing trunks are priced around $25 to $75. Women’s suits depend on whether they are plain or totally blinged out with 5 pounds of rhinestones. A plain suit can be as little as $85 to the high end Rolls Royce model of $2000. Also you will need two to three suits if possible. Men need one for pre judging and one fancier for the evening finals show. Women should have 3 suits, 2 that are jeweled and one plain suit for posing practice. You don’t want to wear a jeweled suit to posing practice because process of taking them on and off causes the jewels to become loose and come off. The second jeweled suit is a backup suit in case something happens to the one you are planning to wear. Accidents always seem to happen when you least expect it.
Cost Saving Tip:
Buy a plan suit and add your own rhinestones. This can save you between $100 to $500, depending on how complicated your design is plus how many stones you plan to add. For your first suit I suggest you order a suit made with the glitter velvet which already has sparkle. Then just add rhinestones around the edges. This will still take a few hours to accomplish but you soon learn why they charge so much for the bling. It is not so much the cost of the stones but the amount of labor and skill involved.
Figure, Bikini and Fitness competitors will need clear 5 inch heels. They must conform to the association standards. They can be ordered online and run from $40 to $75.
Unless you are doing a local show and are a short driving distance to the contest location you will need to stay at a hotel. The contest promoter usually is able to get a group rate at a hotel that is located close to the contest location. Book early because the big shows fill up fast. For example the Emerald Cup is usually in April. If you don’t book by end of February you will be in the overflow hotel. If you wait until April you might not be able to find a room anywhere close. Depending on the show you may have to stay 2 to 3 nights. If it is a 2 day show like the Emerald Cup or Masters Nationals with both you and your husband doing the show you will be staying 3 nights, guaranteed!
- Emerald Cup – Courtyard by Marriott, Bellevue, WA - $134 per night
- Oregon State – Courtyard Portland Hillsboro, Hillsboro, OR - $119 per night
- Masters Nationals – Sheraton Station Square Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA - $183 per night
You don’t have to stay at the Host hotel but there are many advantages. You will see all your competition and friends. The spray tan service is usually either in the same hotel or very close. The restaurant in the hotel usually has a special bodybuilding menu planned so you don’t have to worry about food.
Cost Saving Tip:
I strongly recommend that your first show be a small local show. That way you don’t need to spend the money for a hotel and be sure to pack everything that might be needed.
You will need a coat or two of fake tan. Don’t overlook this part. Us pale skins will look like a ghost on stage and if you are a person of color (any color!) you will look gray. Stage lights take the red out of your skin. If you’ve ever done a school play and remember how much make up had to put on you might have an idea of what I mean. Having one of the companies that are available at the show spray tan you is the best way to go. Yes, it costs $125 but it is worth it. They will touch you up prior to going on stage and also glaze you.
Cost Saving Tip:
Alternative to the spray tan service is to buy tanning product and apply it yourself. This is not just the lotion that you buy at the grocery store. It is a specialized product specifically made for competition such as Jan Tana or Pro Tan. These run about $20-$40 per bottle. Good luck at getting it on evenly everywhere. You will also need someone to do it for you because there will be places you can’t reach or see. During the contest you will then have to do your own prior to hitting the stage. And all of this while you’re trying to pump up too.
Hair and Makeup: (for us girls only)
These are totally optional. They run about $100 for each session. Which means if you do both it costs $200. They are usually conveniently located in the same hotel or may come to you. So you pay for the service.
Cost Saving Tip:
Book an appointment with your hairdresser and get a good cut. A good cut is 80% of a hair style. You can then have your hairdresser instruct you on how to style your hair for the show.
Makeup depends on how familiar you are with stage makeup. Don’t forget the fake eyelashes. Learn how to put them on. You can go to the department store such as Macy’s and have one of the makeup artists show you how to put on your makeup the stage. Just ask around first and make an appointment so you won’t have to wait around during the rush hour at the mall. The most you will have to do is buy something. It’s only fair.
Photos and Video:
At almost all the contests there is a photographer. They will be doing portraits and stage photos. Be sure to order before so you will be sure to get your appointment and make sure the photos are taken while you are on stage. You won’t be in this shape again for awhile so photos are always good. Mark Mason is the photographer for the Emerald Cup and many shows around the Northwest. His prices are usually $40 for each set of photos, prejudging, portraits or evening finals. He also has videos you can order of either the prejudging or finals.
Cost Saving Tip:
Get a close friend or relative with a really good camera to follow you around. They won’t be able to get back stage but between prejudging and the evening finals there is usually about 4 hours you can get good shots around the contest location. If the weather is good outside is always best.
Join a Team:
This is very helpful to learn the ropes and have a great support system. The cost depends on the team you join. If you join a team affiliated with Whetstone Fitness it’s included with your gym membership (aka FREE). If you join a team that is affiliated with a professional fitness, figure or bodybuilder it will incur a cost depending on the team and the price is much higher.
In our team we have been known to loan our extra suits or sell our old one. We are able to give tips on the best vendors to purchase a suit according to our personal experience. We help each other during the show to glue each other’s butts in, remind you it’s your turn up on stage and any other help when needed. This is really great for first timers and lets you know you are not alone in this.
I hope this helps take the mystery out of what you need for your first competition. Its fun and is worth every minute of the adventure. And good luck and much success!!