"Shoot for the moon.
Even if you miss, you will land among the stars."
16 months ago, I stepped onstage for the first time after only 7 weeks of relatively unguided training and competition prep. I didn't even place, and had my scoliosis*, under-developed** deltoids, back, under-conditioned*** glutes, and lack of posing technique blatantly pointed out to me. Several more competitions that summer gave me more experience and knowledge of just how many weaknesses I truly had. Although I somehow walked away with a second place in my class of Tall Women's Figure at one competition, I knew I had major work to do before stepping onstage again.
*I have a fifty-degree S-curve in my spine, which is a huge obstacle to the goal of perfect symmetry, proportion, and aesthetics in bodybuilding.
**Development is the muscle's ability to be emphasized in every possible region of the muscle. The goal in bodybuilding is for every muscle in the body to be proportionately developed in comparison with the others relative to the size and capability of the muscle.
***Conditioning is a term referring to the overall condition of all muscle groups. Each muscle group should have the same appearance of skin, or a similar level of body fat with the same stretch or pull over the muscles.
For the past 16 months, I have spent an average of 90 minutes in the gym six days per week. I have pushed myself to full capacity every single workout. I have researched and consulted with some of the best in the industry. I've been blessed with a boyfriend who is one of the most knowledgeable trainers I have ever met and who has helped and taught me so much (definitely not the reason I'm dating him, just an extra cherry on top). I was fortunate enough to land myself the most amazing posing coach--a judge for the NGA bodybuilding organization (not the organization in which I compete). I have dedicated myself to the next stage of training, which was to show people that in spite of my scoliosis, I could be competitive in this field of competition. My goal is to get myself a Pro Card, and the title of a professional Figure athlete.
The opportunity to compete came when one of my clients asked if I was considering competing at the same show she was (three weeks prior to my planned debut at the USSC Pro Bowl). I decided to take the offer and use the competition as an opportunity to get onstage again and get competition back in my blood. I was pleasantly surprised to walk away from the UNBA competition in California with a first place in the Tall class and a second place overall Women's Figure category. With a new confidence, I prepped even harder and came into the USSC Pro Bowl feeling more ready than ever.
The Judging Criteria for this competition is clearly stated and communicated to the competitors. The criteria for each class of bodybuilding is different, and the competitor should train specifically to meet that criteria. Bodybuilding is above and beyond looking "fit."
The first element of the Figure competition is the T-walk, where the competitor crossed the stage in a particular pattern, hitting several mandatory poses, but throwing in a few personalized ones as well. She does her best to maximize her strengths and minimize her flaws. After each competitor in the class has finished her T-walk, all competitors are brought to the front of the stage to perform side-by-side comparisons. These are the mandatory poses:
Quarter Turn Front
Quarter Turn Right
Quarter Turn Back
Quarter Turn Right (facing stage left)
Relaxed of "stage" pose
Judging Criteria is as follows:
- Muscular, defined and toned figure
- This is not a bodybuilding competition so excessive mass will take away from the
- Overall muscular toned physique
- Separations between major muscle groups (ex. biceps to triceps) without visible striations in the individual muscles
- Symmetry and Proportion
- No body part should stand out from the rest; train a complete package
- There should be an even flow through the body
- Equal development between all muscle groups
- Execution of quarter turns and figure walk
- Skin tone, make-up, suit selection
- Overall presentation
I woke up with a stomachache Saturday morning which was very unusual for me. I had experimented with a few different foods in the last few days of peak week, (the week prior to competition which is extremely important to the overall appearance you have on the day of competition), but I had chosen to water deplete a bit later than usual. I usually stop drinking water on Friday at noon, but this competition chose to stop drinking water at 6 pm Friday. This stomachache caused me great concern as I didn't feel "dry" (water sucked out from underneath your skin to pull it tight against your muscle) and I felt a bit bloated. I was fortunate enough that my body responded very well to downing dry oats and honey (yes, poured straight from the bottle into my mouth) in order to suck up the last of the water and cause a spike in my blood sugar, so as to help "fluff" my muscles.
I performed my T-walk and side-by-sides in the morning pre-judging event feeling great about my performance. I didn't feel I had "nailed it," but would have given myself an 8.9 out of 10. However, the commentary from my posing coach, friends, trainers, and other competitors who watched, made me feel as though I was a hands-down shoo-in for first place. The commentary from these people who actually saw the competition gave me a confidence that I later resented and regretted as I was given a second place medal in the main event that night.
I was shocked, and did my best to hide my disappointment which very rapidly turned to anger. The girl who I thought was my biggest competition actually took fourth, and the girl who beat me out for first place to compete for overall was the girl who took the overall in the Bikini category. This is a very important fact to note, because of the judging criteria I outlined above. It leaves one to wonder what on earth a competitor is doing crossing over between categories that are so different and outlined specifically as to criteria on which the competitor is judged.
The world of natural bodybuilding is very small as the main population of bodybuilders these days turn to non-regulated organizations where they can "supplement" as they please. I choose to compete naturally for multiple reasons and will continue to do so. Could I make great gains and become more competitive much more quickly if I were to dope? Sure. But that's not my purpose and I will not ascribe to the philosophies and justifications of those who do. Many of my friends do, and I love them, but I choose to walk my own road. The world of bodybuilding also has many teams--competitors who train with the same trainer or at the same gym, and form a group or camaraderie with each other. I have never been asked to, or chosen to, align with one of the Utah Teams. I have chosen to fly solo while my own business and team is growing. I have very quickly observed in this industry how closely affiliated many of the teams are with top spots on the "medal platform." I think the most interesting response I received when conversing with a competitor friend (who happened to win, and happened to be a part of one of these teams), was "maybe you just need to be more consistent in doing these Utah competitions and get your face more well-known."
This is an example of the unfortunate standard of the natural bodybuilding world.
This is an example of the unfortunate standard of the natural bodybuilding world.
The past 24 hours since then has been very interesting in processing all that has occurred. I think back to how and why I started this form of athletic competition. I think back to who I used to be, and how far I have come. I think back to the relatively little I once knew about bodybuilding and realize how much I have learned and what a great knowledge I now have and will continue to gain. I now look at my clients and how they are able to benefit from the experience and knowledge I am rapidly gaining. Team Body Buddies is rapidly growing and my girls are seeing great successes. I plan for my Team to continue to expand and be very competitive. I enjoy coaching and helping my girls reach their goals as well.
So what's the plan for me up ahead? I am choosing to pull the plug on competing for the remainder of this year. I'm choosing to take my emotions and feelings of frustration into my next year of training. I'm choosing to come back in one year's time to this exact competition and turn every head doing it. I'm choosing not to accept defeat. I'm choosing to fight, to keep my priorities straight, to focus, to strategize, and to work my tail off. I'm choosing to be a winner every day of my life.
I'll see you at the USSC Pro Bowl 2014.