by Kris Pitcher
People are often surprised about the cost to compete. There are some really basic things you need to plan for, things that shouldn't be a surprise, and then there are things you can just plain do without. Some people don't really want to know. They kind of take the "head in the sand approach", but as far as hobbies go...it could be worse.
The fundamentals would include a gym membership. You could argue you don't need this. That's up to you. If you have a house full of equipment, good for you. I don't, I go to the gym. You'll find variety, and progression there.
The other major "basic" is your nutrition. You are going to eat anyway - but the choices you make for a prep diet are going to be clean foods. Eating well doesn't cost more. Price cold cereal per ounce and try to argue this one with me. A 25 pound bag of rice costs about $13 at Costco. Chicken is $1.77/pound this week at my local market...everyone needs to eat.
Here comes the next important component. Getting some expert advice. Hiring a coach will run you $150+/month for the duration of your prep, and a smart competitor works with their coach off season as well. Plan on it.
Competing in the NPC, (National Physique Committee) the governing body of our sport, will run you $120 each year. Membership is required and does have benefits.
Depending on your division you will need shoes - $40-$100.
Ladies - your suit will run you $100 for an inexpensive bikini to thousands for a pro level suit. Shop according to your budget. Suits are available to rent, and available used. There is something for every budget. You'll also need accessories.
Tanning, hair and makeup. Tanning is something you don't want to DIY if you are a beginner. This can be the most stressful process, and the last thing you want to mess up on a really important day. Let the professionals take care of you - plan to spend $120.
Hair - is what it is. Some girls get extensions, color, and all the bells and whistles. I know what it costs me to have a cut and color (and I try not to let my husband know). Plan on that expense. The day of your show, you can do your own hair, or have it done. That costs money too. Same with your makeup.
Makeup the day of your show is easy if you're good at stage makeup. Most are not. Let the professionals do it. Plan on $50+ for this. You are paying for a zero stress experience and a professional who knows how to make you look stage appropriate.
Let's talk about hair removal. Waxing is an option and that costs money too. What ever method you choose, add that to your budget.
Now, I hear people talk a lot about supplements and how expensive that is. Here's the deal. You don't need MOST of that. You need a protein powder. You don't really need a preworkout, massive amounts of BCAAs, an intraworkout, fatburners, "energy" pills, and all that other stuff.
If you have EXTRA money, go for it. But for every competitor I hear complaining about how expensive it is...stop buying a bunch of stuff you don't need.
Your contest fee. Your contest fee will be around $120. You may be traveling, or staying overnight at a hotel. Add those expenses. You may need to purchase tickets for family, add those fees as well.
Competing in a local show could run you about $3,000.
Food $100/week for 16 weeks = $1,600
Suit and accessories $300
Show registration $120
Now, I think about it in terms of what I'm not doing. I'm not spending on lunches out, dinners out, coffees out. I'm not buying golf rounds, or going to the movies at $16 per ticket, I'm not buying cocktails at $10 a pop. I'm not spending $20 on a pizza or going to happy hour. And really, I will be eating anyway.
Plan ahead. Know what you're getting into. AND if you can't afford to compete, don't. This is one hobby where you won't become famous, you won't earn prize money, and you may not even do well. Getting to the stage has a cost associated with it. Now you know.