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I’m often asked how much it costs to compete. I usually respond with a question of my own: do you want to know the dollar cost or do you want to know the time cost? When I first started, I only thought about how much competing in this sport would cost me in terms of money. I never took into account the time that it would cost me personally. They say the most valuable thing you can offer is your time. According to Harvey Mackay, “Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” I’ve been lifting weights since right out of high school and active in the bodybuilding world since 2011. Looking back now I see more clearly the price I paid, but I also see the value of the experience and knowledge I gained.
In financial terms, here is a break down of what it costs for me to compete at one show:
• Suit $1,000-$1,500
• Heels $25-$50
• Jewelry $80-$100
• Tan $100-$150
• Hair/makeup $250
• Hair extensions $200-400
• Nails $15-50
• Flight $200-350
• Hotel $400-$600
• Uber/Taxi $80-$150
• Robe $30
• Hotel sheets $25-$40
• Pump up bands $10-$20
• Entry fee (NPC) $75-$125 local show, $200-$300 National show, IFBB no entry fee
Obviously you will get multiple uses out of several of these items after buying them once. If it’s your first show, you will be buying almost everything on this list in order to step on stage. Many people are turned off by the cost—and I don’t blame them one bit—especially because this sport will not make you rich. You invest a lot for not much more than a plastic trophy (only if you make the top 5) when it’s all said and done. While most people would look at this and run, I only thought about the training and improving my physique. If I had considered the cost, I probably would have run too.
Now let’s consider the cost of time. Although some may sacrifice more or less of it than you, you will sacrifice time no matter what. This sport comes with a price. CT Fletcher said it best: “If you want to be great at what you do, obsession is a necessity.” I have sacrificed family birthday parties, family gatherings, relationships, and time with friends, as well as opportunities for travel and different hobbies. I have spent countless hours lifting weights, doing cardio, practicing my posing, and prepping food. Competing fills my days so completely that I often wonder how my life would have turned out had I never done a show. Over the years I’ve become much better at juggling life and competing, but it’s still a struggle. I still get very reclusive close to show time, which impacts family and friends, and tend to limit outside distractions.
My one big regret was not being at my nephew’s birth. Although he was due a couple of days after my show, he had his own agenda. It was so incredibly difficult sitting in my room getting ready to head down for prejudging and hearing my nephew’s first cries over the phone. That was a tough moment. Hanging up the phone to step on a stage at a bodybuilding show wasn’t easy. It was a day that I won’t get back and an important family moment that I missed. Still, it ended up being a great day because it was both the day my nephew was born and the day I turned pro.
Unfortunately you will have to decide whether or not it’s worth these kinds of sacrifices. How far do you want to go in this sport? What are you willing to give up? Personally, I have gained so much more than what I have lost, so it was worth every sacrifice. I’ve met some incredible people and traveled to many new places through this sport, and most importantly, I’ve gained self confidence. Minus a few bad bikini colors and some ugly stage makeup, I don’t have many regrets. I would do everything all over again. So work toward your goals, but don’t lose sight of what’s most important to you. The bodybuilding world will always be here—moments with family and friends may not be. Although competing will be a juggling act and will be tough and challenging, you can do it…and you can be successful.