by Kris Pitcher
The unknown makes us nervous. That's just how life works. Truth is 95% of what we worry about doesn't happen. Just this morning, I was anxious about asking my boss for something. I asked. He said "probably". That's a yes in my book. My point? I unnecessarily worried about all the possible unknowns.
As your first contest nears, I understand there are a lot of things you are thinking about. There are lots of unknowns you are worried about. One of the unknowns is...what will it be like back stage?
I've blogged about the things not to do back stage, like get in my safety circle. But I thought it only fair to share what to expect. While each show is different, much of what you'll experience back stage is a shared "phenomenon".
You've checked in, attended the competitor meeting, and tried to sleep. Now you wake up, get your hair and make up done and you are ready to head back stage and wait for prejudging to begin.
My BEST piece of advice? Be back stage. I know from experience that if you aren't there, no one is holding the show for you. You wouldn't want to do all this work and miss your class. Be where you are supposed to be. Don't be in the audience watching your friends. Don't be up in your room getting ready. Be. Back. Stage.
It's cramped and crowded back there. There may be a "ladies only" area for changing, and there may not. Wear your suit. Take what you need in your small bag, but don't take a giant purse, a roller carry on, cooler and a duffel bag. Think about making a small footprint back there.
Orient yourself to where the tanning company is. They will glue your suit, do any touch ups, and glaze you. Find the restroom. It may be a sani-can, or an actual bathroom. Know where it is.
You can look for an outlet, but often won't find one. Don't plan on plugging anything in. Anything. This means come with your hair done. The area will be covered in paper, or plastic so the promoter doesn't have hundreds of tanned people putting color everywhere.
Look for your expediters. They will have been introduced to you at the competitor meeting and it's good to keep your eye out for them. Their job is to call out which classes are coming up, who needs to line up, and ensure the line gets out on stage. While they may call your name/number multiple times...they will not hold the show up for you. Expedite, it's in the name.
Look for pump up equipment. There may be nothing. There may be weights and bands. It's a good idea to bring a band. Bring one you don't mind losing. There will also be mirrors. Lots of them. But know that you don't HAVE to pump up in front of a mirror. You know what you look like.
What will you see? You'll see lots of nervous energy translated into all kinds of behaviors. I once saw a gal literally pump up for five hours. FIVE! You will see people eating candy (sometimes off the floor), you'll see people drinking from tiny bottles of wine or alcohol. You will see all kinds of crazy.
Don't be crazy. Do what your coach has outlined for you. Which is, be where you are supposed to be, throw down a sweatshirt or towel, and rest. Follow whatever protocol they would like for you to do. Don't worry or wonder if you should be doing what you see others doing.
As the prejudging progresses, pay attention. About 3 classes before yours, you should have your shoes on, grab your band, and be in line with the tanning company to be glued, touched up and glazed. In that order. If you are in that line and you are a class F, and the class B is being called and girls are waiting behind you, wave the shorties ahead. Common courtesy prevails. Always.
Once glued and glazed. NO MORE BENDING DOWN. This means no grabbing for jewelry or lip gloss. You are now upright for the duration of prejudging. Get your band and pump up. Shoulders and back. That's pretty much it.
Sure, you'll see lunges, push-ups, glute lifts, abdominal crunches...but we really don't want blood rushing through those areas diminishing our sharpness. Keep your sharpness. Then, listen for the expediters.
They call your class to line up. You line up. Get in numerical order. Sometimes you're in the line up for a while, keep your band. Sometimes you have to be walked from one holding area to another area in the venue. Then you're out on stage!
It may be hot. It may be cold. Bring layers. It will be farty. Everyone carb loading and eating sugar can get pretty gassy. Just wait until finals. People are nice, mostly. Meet other competitors. You'll see big teams in a flock, and you'll see other people by themselves looking for help.
I always help other people, or invite them to my "safety circle". I can't help but take care of people, and I find others to be helpful too. We want you to have your number on the correct side (left), no tags sticking out, or lipstick on your teeth. We want you to look your best and have a good time...even if you aren't "mine".
Being back stage is a lot of hurry up and wait. Be prepared to kind of camp out. Have what you need in your bag. Don't worry about the unknowns, the maybe's or the what if's. Make friends, and enjoy the experience. It only happens for the first time once!