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What It's Like to Attend a Bodybuilding Competition

The atmosphere is tense and buzzing. Looking around, the multi-colored lights and sounds of the casino are intermixed with the buzz of anxious and excited competitors. You’ve walked into the NPC Pacific Coast Championship, a bodybuilding show & starting point for many competitors.

As a spectator, you don’t get to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes – hours of spray tanning, hair styling, make-up, and double-sided taping. Competitors arrived at Chinook Winds Casino on Friday night, many anxious about the next 24 hours and others buzzing with excitement. A spray tan is standard for this type of competition, and many athletes got that out of the way before check-in opened. Friday seemed like a classic case of “hurry up and wait” for the competitors. After checking in, most athletes headed to their hotel rooms for an early bedtime. Female athletes reported bright and early Saturday morning for hair and make-up, followed by more waiting.

There are two segments to the actual show: Pre-Judging & the Evening Show. Pre-Judging is where most athletes get, well, judged. There are other aspects, but the judges are looking at aesthetics and how their look compares to the other athletes within the class, as well as to class standards. You can learn more about the different classes here. Pre-Judging is where most of the posing takes place for Bikini & Figure Athletes. Physique & Bodybuilding Athletes pose, but they also perform a routine during the Evening Show.

During the Evening Show, there is more entertainment mixed in, such as guest posers and a comedic host. It’s a party-like atmosphere with drinks available at the bar, music, and even competitors mingling throughout the audience. The Evening Show is where the Physique athletes perform their posing routine, a unique routine meant to highlight their best (or most developed) areas. This is also where the Fitness women perform. Fitness routines can include gymnastics, dance, or other unique style elements. The top five, or top seven in this case, winners are announced in each class. Months of preparation lead up to a total of a few minutes of stage time, and then it's over.

What happens after the show? Food. Lots of food. Most of these competitors have been dieting for anywhere from twelve to twenty weeks, and they are more than ready for a TREAT!

Fun Facts:

  • There are a lot of RULES. Not just for competitors, but for coaches, friends, and spectators as well.

  • It’s expensive! It costs a lot of money to produce a show, so everything from the entry fee for competitors to the show tickets are pricey.

  • A lot has changed in the bodybuilding world over the years. There are more divisions, more amenities offered on site, and even different looks for certain classes.

  • Prep Diets may look nearly identical, but they are different for almost every athlete. When working to obtain Some bodies respond better to high-fat diets, others low-fat, and carbs are another story.

If you're thinking about checking out a local show, do it! It's a fun evening and inspirational to see the outcome of months of preparation for these athletes. If you're thinking about competing, be sure to read 3 Key Takeaways from a First-Time Figure Competitor before signing up for a competition.

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