Competition Budgets! How much does it cost to compete in a bodybuilding show?

Competing can be a costly business! BUT there are always ways you can save money – so if you are thinking of competing – here’s a little breakdown of the costs you are likely to incur so you can budget for your upcoming event!
This may be one of your biggest investments- especially if you need a coach for offseason as well as the comp prep, so take your time researching for the right coach. Look at the coach’s other clients, ask lots of questions- so you make the best choice. You may want a local coach who you can see in person or an online coach if there’s no one local who fits your needs. Costs for coaching vary a lot- from free to several hundred pounds for a standard 12-16-week prep. Cheaper isn’t always better- if you are going to save money you might not want to short cut this! Make sure your chosen coach is qualified, insured, preferably experienced (not just competing themselves) and try and get recommendations and testimonials from previous clients.
If you can’t afford a coach – there is an option to coach yourself- there are a few books on how to prep yourself for a competition. Obviously check the book is aimed at competitors like you (i.e.- male or female and natural or assisted. If you choose to self-coach- try and get to federation workshops and do some research so the process isn’t too stressful.

Entry Fee & Membership Fees.
With independent competitions you may not have a membership fee- check websites for info but this will vary. Entry fees will also vary between federations and competitions. Check out the federations websites for their fees but it could cost somewhere between £10-100+
Posing Classes Many coaches and federations provide workshops where you can learn about the competition and basic posing requirements. Some feds offer this free, others there will be a fee. These usually start from £25 and upwards.
121 posing is usually more expensive than a group class, but you will likely learn more quickly. Costs vary- some coaches offer online classes which are usually a bit cheaper. Some coaches charge £100’s for courses but you should be able to find local coaches from about £25 per hr.
If you are competing on a budget- There are numerous tutorials on YouTube where you can learn some of the basic posing requirements free! Some federations will even have videos and pictures of posing on their websites / YouTube channels- or search your division and federation to see examples and sometimes ‘how to’ videos.

Bikinis & Figure Suits
Finding the right bikini or figure suit is important – as a good cut and style can really enhance your look. A poor fitting / unflattering suit could really knock your confidence. Most people go for custom made designs and these can cost anywhere in the realm of £100-1000’s with cost being indicated by the type of and amount of crystals being used. Swarovski crystals will be the most expensive. To save money – you can buy a bargain basic bikini and bling it up yourself or a good tailor can add crystals, connectors, the elastic scrunch in the bottoms or other decoration.
Lots of bikini companies sell ex sponsor suits and pre-made suits so its always worth checking out their websites for what’s on sale!
Lots of athletes also sell on their suits after 1 or 2 wears – so its also worth looking on social media for second hand suits as you could find a bargain!
Model wear many federations have fitness model rounds- some this is still in bikini, some its in sports wear (usually crop top and shorts) These can be custom designed but there’s plenty of options to be found on fitness wear & pole fitness websites.
Theme wear divisions often allow for elaborate designs which can be very costly- but if you have the skills you could design your own. Very often you will see pre-worn theme wear for sale on social media as most people don’t wear the same outfit for more than one occasion so look out for sale groups on Facebook or search on eBay!
Evening gowns Some federations have elegance / runway or evening gown divisions, check their rules as some feds have stipulations on acceptable dresses (length, color and style)
My first 2 evening gowns for competition cost £30 on eBay and i then paid £10-20 for alterations, but you can pay £100’s on your dream dress, tailor made or designer, it’s your choice what you do here.

Shoes (clear heels)
There are companies who specialize in competition / pole dance footwear, so again- you can spend as much as you like on custom shoes with different styles of crystals adorning them- but in reality- shoes can be a distraction-they contribute to the overall ‘look’ but it isn’t a requirement- a simple pair of clear heels is all you need. Bargains can be found on eBay – my shoes cost around £30 but you can spend a lot more…or you can buy pre-used- again your choice,
Tan Most competitions have an official tanning company who will tan you either the night before the show or backstage on the day, allow about £60-£120 depending on the level of service / number of coats.
Self-tanning – buying self-tan products is a cheaper option if you are confident applying own tan and have someone to help you. Most competition tanning companies also sell the products. DO NOT rely on a salon tan- however dark it might seem- competition tan is designed for the stage and the lighting and salon tans just aren’t going to cut it!
Also think about what you will wear once your tan is on- most people have a onesie or dressing gown and flipflops which they don’t mind getting stained to wear after tanning!

Hair / Make up services Obviously you can do your own, but if you aren’t good at make up or applying lashes, you might prefer to pay for professional MUA who are usually backstage but will need to be booked in advance) Again prices vary but budget £50-100 depending on whether need just hair or just makeup or both. If you choose to do your own- and aren’t very experienced, it might be worth having a makeup lesson – either from a makeup artist or many department stores offer a makeup lessons and will discount the cost of the class off products if you buy any.

Accessories that’s up to you! Most competitors like to wear big sparkly earrings and bracelets. It will contribute to the ‘overall package’ as some classes / federations you are scored on presentation, but in the more traditional bodybuilding comps its not so important.

Other beauty Considerations Lost of competitors like to get their hair cut / colored, or get their nails done, have individual lashes applied etc. This is really a personal choice- If you are competing in one of the more glamourous pageant style / modelling shows it might be more relevant and if you will feel more confident feel free- but for example…. I’ve been on judging panels and I’ve never EVER noticed someone’s nails…. So, if you are competing on a budget- prioritize your spending on the key aspects rather than the smaller details!

Photo package- optional service, but the pics are not only as a memento of your time on stage, but they can also provide you with great feedback of how you actually looked on stage and help you analyze what you need to work on to improve. Pics vary between photographers and the packages they offer, budget upwards of £25 which is the best price I’ve paid!

Drug testing and polygraph testing
Some natural federations will charge an extra fee to contribute to the testing at the event- if you are competing at a drug tested federation- check on the competition information or entry form- but allow about £50 if unsure.
Travel & accommodation
Don’t forget all the little things that can add up- if you aren’t competing locally or if registration is the day before… book accommodation early as prices usually go up the later you leave it! Think about how you are travelling too, Petrol or transport costs especially if you need to get a train could add up!

Final thoughts…

I’m not trying to put you off with costs but it’s important to budget, so you know what’s involved. Your first comp will likely be your most expensive, if you have competed before you might have shoes and bikini that’s suitable already! There are loads of ways to keep costs reasonable, so prioritize!
Shoes, competition suit and tan are essential, and you will have to travel to the show and pay your entry fees, but everything else is an optional extra. I have literally turned up to comps with my shoes, bikini and tan to do backstage and did my own hair ad make up, so actually, the comp just cost me train to the event and the entry fee as I had the tan suit and shoes from my previous comp!! So, although it’s possible to spend a lot of money- it is also possible to keep things very simple and on a budget!