Published on Sunday, 14 October 2012 11:16
Written by Dr. Stacey Naito
Competing On a Budget
Several weeks ago I calculated the total amount which has been spent by my sponsors and by me on all costs associated with the half dozen national qualifiers and the thirteen pro qualifiers I have competed in since 2009, and almost fell over in my chair. I am by no means blessed with disposable income so I can honestly say that my drive to compete has required a tremendous amount of financial and personal sacrifice. However, I realize that many of you prefer to keep expenses to an absolute minimum, so I offer a number of suggestions on how to meet the financial demands of competing without putting undue strain on your wallet.
1. Set a specific competition budget and stick to it. I have a separate “show fund” in which I set aside money for competitions and am well aware of what I can and cannot afford. I know competitors (and I admit I have foolishly pushed myself to the limit in the past) who have paid a show entry fee then later came to the realization that they could not afford the other expenses for the event and had to back out of it. Once a budget is set, it is important to limit oneself to the number of competitions which will keep one within budget. This can be challenging, especially when one is on a mad quest to chase a national qualification or pro status.
2. Look for a sponsor. I have had competitors ask me how to obtain sponsorship and who also lament the fact that it is exceedingly difficult to land sponsorship from a supplement company. My response to this is that sponsors can come in all forms! Here are some suggestions for potential sponsors:
Friends and family
Fitness clothing companies
Smaller supplement companies
The trick to asking for sponsorship is to graciously ask for assistance in paying for an event. Remember that even a small amount will help. I have competed at events which have been sponsored by a number of entities, with the tan covered by one, entry fee covered by another, flight by yet another, etc.
3. Stick to nearby contests. It makes sense to compete within your geographic area if you are trying to keep costs down. If you are competing at local and regional events, make sure these events are within reasonable driving distance from where you live. National-level events are much trickier since they are fewer in number and take place in very specific areas. If your budget allows it, you may consider competing at pro-qualifiers provided 1) your budget allows it, and 2) you limit the number of pro-qualifying events you enter.
4. Stay with friends. If you are considering competing at an event which is far from where you live, consider asking friends or family who live near the venue if it is possible to stay with them.
5. Purchase a used competition suit. Many competitors will retire gently used suits and put them up for sale. This is a great way to get a suit without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that you should determine whether your body is similar to the competitor who has worn the suit, as this will greatly affect how the suit fits YOU.
6. Bling out your own suit. A competition suit encrusted with crystals can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars and can really kill a competition budget! A great option is to purchase a plain suit then purchase crystals, beads or sequins from wholesale supplier online, then apply the embellishments yourself. Please refer to my article on How To Bling Out Your Own Suit for more details on how to do this. By choosing this option you will save a considerable amount of money. In addition, you can customize your design, making your suit truly one-of-a-kind.
7. Do your own makeup. Out of the eighteen competitions I have been in, I only had my makeup professionally done four times, and that was in 2009 and 2010. Since then, I learned how to apply makeup for the stage and as a result, have saved a significant amount of money. Please refer to my article, Perfect Stage Makeup for pointers. Also make sure to PRACTICE a couple of times before the contest so that you don’t wind up with a disaster on the big day. There are plenty of great tutorial videos on YouTube which will walk you step-by-step through makeup application for a smoky eye.
8. Do your own hair. Generally speaking, you really don’t need to get too fancy with your hairstyle. For figure and bikini, either flatironing for a sleek look or adding big, soft curls will look nice onstage. Fitness, women’s physique and women’s bodybuilding may necessitate putting some hair up if you have hair that is long enough to get in the way of your routine. Make sure to use either smoothing serum for flatironed styles or hairspray for curls so that things stay in place. However, do NOT make your hair so stiff that you cannot gracefully move it off your back during your back pose.
9. Apply tanning solution yourself. This is a tough one, since I always have my tan done professionally. However, if you are truly on a tight budget, it is certainly possible to apply tanner yourself. The only limitation will be when you need to tan your back. There is a tool which you can purchase called Xen-Tan Hard To Reach Back Applicator which does a decent job of evenly depositing self-tanner on hard to reach areas if you aren’t able to find someone to help you apply your tanner. This clever device is available at a number of sites, including Neiman Marcus, Zappos, 6 PM, Amazon and Ulta. I merely chose the Ulta site because that is where I purchased mine.
Make sure to apply a thin, even layer and allow to dry before applying the next layer. The number of layers you will apply will depend on your base skin tone and the brand of solution you decide to use, but you should plan on applying two to five coats of color.
As for the solutions which I consider the best for stage, I love Jan Tana High Definition Color and Liquid Sunrayz. Bronze Angel by Dream Tan is also great. Some people love Pro Tan so this brand may also work well for you. However, I personally cannot use this product as it fades immediately on me, hence my hesitation with this particular brand.
I hope these tips will enable you to compete at the shows you have your eye on! Best of luck!