Last Friday evening I attended the NPC Bikini Workshop hosted by Tamer El Guindy (a two time Mr. USA and IFBB bodybuilding pro), along with a panel of trainers and experts like Kim Oddo and Ingrid Romero. It was at the Sheraton Gateway hotel next to LAX, right before the athlete check-in’s for the Iron Games competition.
As I arrived, the energy in the air was electric! Tons of athletes streaming in, having just arrived in LA, flying in from all over the country. Bodybuilders hoping to place well at this competition to get a shot at the Nationals. I could smell their adrenaline and oompa-loompa tans. Some of them hid out under baggy sweat pants, some of them wore barely anything at all, showing off the goods early. They were all in the zone. Sussing out one another, greeting friends, tugging along their suitcases and food coolers. For a brief moment, I was able to envision myself here in 3 months, in the same zone, sprayed orange, mind focused and nerves on fire. It was fun. I almost forgot I was there to attend this damn seminar.
I walked in and pulled out pen and paper. I’ve been trained well. People call me a dork – but I like to be prepared and I learn best when I take hand-written notes. And I was there to learn.
Tamer has a great personality – super fun to listen to. Very knowledgeable and intelligent. He is not only a bodybuilder – he has two MBA’s and is a successful businessman. He impressed upon us how important one’s stage presence is. You can train for months, or years, but the judges can only assess what you put forward on stage. He emphasized that each competitor must master the art non-verbal communication on stage to win over each judge on the panel. He showed us some pictures from 2 separate years he competed at the NPC USA Championships. He shared about how he always tried to have a “hard” look on his face when competing – and how he was so disappointed and baffled when he lost to another athlete whose body was technically not as good as his own. He realized that the look on his face as he was flexing was turning off the judges. So Tamer changed and started smiling, and was able to portray a much more confident version of himself at the next USA Championships. That year he took 1st place. See for yourself:
I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of projecting ‘stage confidence’ a lot since last Friday. As I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw this picture (below) from a bikini competitor who recently won 1st place at a National level show. I was amazed at her posture and body language. You can clearly tell that the chick in the middle was ON. She knew she had that 1st place spot. Compare her to the other 2 girls on the right and left hand side.
Now, this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous – but I think I’m just now (as in, this moment) realizing that I’m going to have to walk on stage in a tiny bikini and pose in front of a panel of professional bodybuilders-turned-judges and an audience. This will mean hot (and blinding) stage lights, the sounds and echoes of a large auditorium with audience members hiding in the shadows, strutting my stuff in front of a million other hot athletes. This means not picking a wedgie on stage, or sneezing, or tripping – but walking gracefully and with purpose and telling the judges that I am #1.
Let’s back up. I started this journey because I love lifting weights and I loved the idea of competing and having a huge goal to work towards. I really was not thinking about what achieving the goal itself was going to look like at the very end. I thought the hardest part would be the training: lifting heavy ass weights, being sore all the time, doing cardio and eating super clean food.
Now I have this whole other thing to obsess over: learning how to pose, buying the right heels and walking like a pro in them, exuding confidence in front of a huge audience of complete strangers. While in a tiny bikini. Did I mention I’ll be wearing a tiny bikini? Ok, right, I did.
I’m starting to get this nagging awesome/scary feeling that this competition is going to be pretty transformative. I’ve found that challenges get placed in my life when I need to overcome or change some old type of thinking or old behaviors. And who knows? Maybe after all this training and prep, they won’t be able to drag me OFF the stage! We’ll just have to wait and see…