At the end of February I decided I needed a change of pace and set my sights on competing in a Figure competition in July. I thought, at best, I’d get leaner, learn more about the bodybuilding world and training for hypertrophy instead of strength, clean up my diet a bit and have some fun being sparkly on stage. I did not expect that over the course of several months, I would fall in love with the lifestyle of a figure competitor, which to the outside observer must seem obsessive, abnormal, and ever so slightly preachy. I did not expect it to be so much fun to plan meals and train for aesthetics. I did not expect to feel so happy and comfortable walking across a stage painted orange and wearing next to nothing. I did not expect smiling to hurt so much. And I definitely didn’t expect to win.
But I did!
Because it was my first show, I entered both the Novice Figure and Open Figure divisions. Novice is reserved only for competitors who haven’t placed at a show previously, while Open is just that – open to any competitor with an NPC card. Each of these divisions is further divided into height classes. 2 classes for Novice (A & B) and 4 for Open (A – D). I was in Novice Figure A and Open Figure C.
I placed 1st in both divisions.
The Novice win wasn’t too shocking – I had been placed in the center position during prejudging (if you’re unfamiliar with how a bb show works, that just means the judges were eyeing me for top 3), and because I’ve been training for a long time in the weightroom, it’s not a huge surprise that my muscular development was a little better than other women who are just starting to compete.
The Open win, however, completely floored me. All lined up and waiting for prejudging, I looked at the other girls in my class and thought, “Damn, if I get top 5, I’m ballin’.” Then, when the judges moved me just left of center, I got really excited and thought my chances of maybe getting top 3 were pretty good. Either way, I was happy. They liked my look, and I was proud.
Then at the night show, as they called out 5th, 4th, and 3rd, I thought, “Yes, I got second!”. For a fleeting moment, I was right. The announcer made a mistake and I stood in front of the 2nd place trophy, content as could be that I had qualified for National level competition in just my first show. However, a moment later my name along with the word “champion” was announced and I was in the center position, holding hands with the women I was just admiring.
After that, it was basically just a loop of David After the Dentist playing in my head. “Is this real life? What just happened? Did I really just win? What the hell is going on. Oh God I have to stay here for the Overall! I’m so tired!”
When the Overall comparisons came around, I was confident that I would take the Novice Overall (which I did), but doubtful about getting the ultimate prize – Figure Overall Champion. When I spoke to the head judge, she said it was a close call between myself and the girl who ultimately won that title. I was flattered, but looking at photos, it’s clear that she deserved to win. Besides, I already made it into the winner’s circle.
I’m so glad I decided to do this show. The judges were top notch — these are the same people who judge shows like the Arnold, IFBB shows, and National level NPC competitions (where they hand out pro cards). Getting the judges feedback was, by far, the most valuable part of the entire experience. I was encouraged to tighten up a bit, especially in the lower body, and enter a national competition. When I explained that this was my first show, the head judge stepped back and remarked, “Where did you get your muscle?!?”. These kinds of positive and somewhat incredulous reactions from the judges, as well as from other people I met at the competition, inspired me to have more confidence in my potential in Figure. It seems like a good fit for me.
A little after midnight, after all the pictures were finally done and the venue was starting to kick people out, I headed back to the hotel with my trophies under my arm and a blissful feeling of optimism about my strategies to improve. After finally showering off the sticky spray tan, scrubbing off a thick layer of makeup, and throwing on some fluffy pajamas, I curled up on the hotel bed, popped open a cold beer, and chowed down on a turkey burger generously slathered in garlic mayo that my boyfriend picked up for me from a local pizza joint. Victory never tasted so good.
Again, I want to thank everyone who supported and encouraged me through this journey. I could not have done it without you, and I hope that you will continue to be there with me as I take on the challenges ahead (which will be detailed in an upcoming post). Thank you.