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what it takes to be a bikini competitor

JoJo bikini competitor
On October 30, 2013, I interviewed Jojo, a female triathlete and fitness competitor to find out what exactly is entailed for a fitness competition. Below are my questions and her answers (not verbatim since this blog would be really long!).

Q. How long did you have to prepare for the bikini competition?
A. It typically takes 3 months of preparation, but some people need more time depending on how much weight they need to lose.

Q. I saw you holding two trophies from the NPC Border States Competition. What awards did you win?
A. I won second in the masters division, for those between the ages of 35 and 45. This was the first competition I’ve ever tried out for. I also won 4th in the novice division.

Q. You’re a triathlete. Were you still able to do your typical biking, swimming and running workouts?
A. No. My trainer said not to since extended cardio causes muscle loss. My goal was to gain more muscle.

Q. How much time did you exercise each day?
A. 2 ½ hours a day, less than if I was preparing for a triathlon or a race.

Q. Did you take any days off?
A. I was told to take 1 day off to rest each week, but still did 30-40 minutes of cardio on my “day off.”

Q. What did your daily exercise regimen consist of?
A. 45 minutes of cardio in the morning, followed by 1 hour of strength-training. In the evening, I did another 45 minutes of cardio. Since long periods of cardiovascular activity results in muscle loss, I was advised to split my cardio into two sessions.

Q. These competitions are expensive. How much did all this cost?
A. Most competitors have a trainer and those sessions add up. Expect to spend over a thousand dollars for two sessions a week for only 12 weeks. Registration fees range from $150 to $400. You cannot wear any bathing suit; you have to choose from the options offered. The bikini’s range in price from $100 to $300. If you buy the spray tan, which is highly recommended due to the bright lights on stage, that costs $100. Some people pay to get hair and make-up done. The shoes that are mandated cost $40.

Q. Some people need four training sessions a week with a trainer to push them, but you’re highly motivated which is unusual. It can cost thousands of dollars for preparation and entry into one of these competitions. Any suggestions for those who are interested in doing a bikini or figure competition?
A. Yes, go for it!

What Jojo didn’t mention is that bikini and fitness competitions are extremely stressful, and can lead to body dysmorphia, where someone has a skewed perception of what they look like because the judges and others around them are looking for an ideal figure, which is extremely thin, dehydrated, and unhealthy. For anyone who has body image issues, fitness competitions can lead to eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.

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