The Cost of Competing

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Cha ching! It's no secret amongst experienced competitors that participating in a fitness competition will be hard on the wallet. So many times I've heard first time competitors say how much more money doing a show actually costs compared to what they expected. For new competitors, it would certainly be useful to know what type of expenses come with the commitment of competing. I'll discuss some of these expenses and the potential price range of each. Making educated decisions will allow you to be better prepared and walk on that stage with full confidence in your package!

1) Trainer - I highly recommend hiring a trainer experienced in competition preparation. Getting ready for a show is not like lifestyle training, it takes a specific eye and knowledge to peak someone for stage time. Do your research, ask around your gym community and remember personality is important when considering a trainer. This relationship must be based on respect and honesty between both people.

Estimated cost: $800 - $1200 per 12 week prep

2) Suit - As with most things in life, I do believe you get what you pay for with competition suits. Most highly sought after suit designers have high standards for materials and construction, therefore resulting in a cost reflective of those standards. Are there cheap suits available, of course! Can they look okay while on stage, sure! But the fit and longevity of the suit are often compromised for a lower price point. The price range for suits can be quite wide, as it normally depends on the amount and intricacy of the rhinestone work. To see my suits visit Jaclyn Wilson Couture.

Estimated cost: $400 - $650 per 2 piece suit

3) Shoes - From my experience, it's very difficult to find appropriate stage shoes within Canada. There are many websites to order from and I talk more about competition shoes in Tips for Choosing the Appropriate Stripper Heel. If ordering from a US website the total cost considering exchange rate, shipping, duty fees, etc can double the price of what you see online.

Estimated cost: $80 - $100

4) Tan - A perfect tan is absolutely necessary when planning your presentation for contest day. Book with a reputable competition tanning company with use any products required for appropriately prepping the skin.

Estimated cost: $150 - $200 (includes prepping products)

5) Food and Supplements - It is basically impossible for me to put a price range on the cost of food and supplements related to contest prep. Where you purchase food/supps, the quality or brand of what you buy, how much you need to consume according to your plan will all drastically vary for each person. But it is a fact, despite the approach used, staying on your plan is vital to success and progress. You can't really save money by opting not to eat some meals, so I'll make a very vague estimate for the food and supplement costs related to an average prep period.

Estimated cost: Thousands

6) Hair - Having freshly done hair is needed for competition day, it helps portray a healthy polished image. If you dye your hair regularly, booking a touch-up appointment with your hairstylist should be scheduled for the week of the show. If you keep your natural hair colour, an appointment is still necessary to trim split ends and reshape your style. Other than preparations leading up to the show, there is also the actual day of the show to consider as well. Will you style your own hair show day? Will you hire a professional hairstylist for the morning and night show? Will you shampoo your own hair or get a salon to wash it once your tanning has started? Do you plan to add clip in hair extensions?

Estimated cost: $80 - $150 (fresh dye and trim)
Estimated cost: $40 (salon shampoo and blow-dry)
Estimated cost: $60 - $120 (styling the day of the show)
Estimated cost: $80 - $130 (hair extensions)

7) Nails - Clean and well manicured nails are also required for a polished stage presentation. Particularly with the tanning process, nails can get stained so cleaning them after is important. I personally just glue artificial nails on my fingers once tanning is finished, and clean and paint my toes a soft pink colour. Many women prefer to have gel, shellac, or acrylic nails done in a salon, which includes their toe nails as well. A classic French manicure is best.

Estimated cost: $20 - $40 (glue on artificial nails and bottle of polish)
Estimated cost: $100 - $150 (hired Aesthetician)

8) Make-Up - The most cost effective approach to contest make-up is to do it yourself the morning of the show. Stage make-up will somewhat require a whole new set of products to accommodate for the darker skin tone from tanning - dark foundation, blush, bronzer, etc. Eye make-up can be used from your daily stash of mascara, liner, and eyeshadows. Once invested, you can do many shows with the product you purchase. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to get you ready in the morning and for touch-ups before night show. The level of experience with stage make-up and how in-demand the MUA is will greatly affect price, however, the better someone's reputation the more confident you can be in their ability. Don't forget to include artifical lashes when getting organized, some make-up artists do not provide them so you will need to bring your own. It is also popular to get eyelash extensions, but be prepared, this option is a pricey high maintanence commitment.

Estimated cost: $80 - $130 (purchase of some basic product)
Estimated cost: $60 - $120 (hired MUA)
Estimated cost: $8 - $15 (glue on artificial eyelashes)
Estimated cost: $100 - $300 (eyelash extensions)

9) Waxing - Hair removal is vital when preparing for a competition. Smooth skin will tan more evenly, have a healthier appearance, and better show muscle definition. Many people just do full body shaves prior to beginning the tanning process, but it has been my experience that hair starts to grow back too quickly with just shaving. I prefer to wax most areas of my body, then do a full shave to catch any hairs that were left behind. Depending on your comfort level, you can wax yourself or hire a professional. If going to a salon, the price will obviously vary depending on the surface area you decide to wax and what salon you visit.

Estimated cost: $15 - $25 (waxing kit)
Estimated cost: $60 - $120 (hired Aesthetician)

10) Travel Expenses - Some shows may be in your own area, which is great because then travel expenses are nil or non-existent. But for most competitors, travelling is part of the equation. Most of the shows I've done not local to me required flying because of the distance traveled. Host hotels will also need to be booked for the length of your stay. I've estimated the hotel costs for a 3 night stay, which would normally be Thursday, Friday and Saturday night of the weekend you are competing.

Estimated cost: $650 - $800 (flight from/within Canada)
Estimated cost: $450 - $700 (hotel for 3 nights)

11) Membership/Registration - The registration fee for competitions can vary between organizations. With the Canadian Physique Alliance (CPA) there is a yearly membership that must be paid prior to competing at any sanctioned show. This membership runs from January 1 - December 31st. There will also be a registration cost to enter each show. The CPA allows competitors to cross over between different categories at a single event, so the registration will need paid for each category you decide enter (ie: Masters plus the Open divisions).

Estimated cost: $125/yr (membership)
Estimated cost: $105-$150/category (registration)

All of these values are based purely on my experience through the years. I'm sure I've even missed some obvious expenses related to competing, as the list seems to continue on and on. There are ways to save money here and there like through hair, make-up, waxing and nails for instance, which I always do myself. I've paid for services from other people before and found it not only cost more money but also actually caused more stress during a very busy final prep week.

After saying that, I must clarify, never sacrifice quality to save a few dollars. If you don't feel competent at doing stage make-up, don't. If you don't feel comfortable waxing yourself, don't. At the end of the day, confidence comes from feeling your best. Knowing you've done everything in your power to present a complete package on stage will only fuel your confidence and create a positive show experience, something we all have the power to control.

Hope this helps anyone considering competing in their first show! It's a costly hobby, but the challenge and rewards of the sport are more than worth it.

Happy Training and hope to see you shining on stage!



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