A few days ago, I was approached by a stranger in the gym who asked me if I compete. I never thought I’d be at a place physically and mentally to step on stage and strut my goodies in a blingy bikini. I immediately thanked them, because I know the amount of dexterity, commitment, and discipline it takes to train for physique competitions. But then I began thinking: just because I don’t want to compete as a physique model, does that mean I don’t exhibit commitment? Does it make me less of an athlete?
I started my active lifestyle four years ago with the hopes of losing weight. Later on, I wanted milestones. I signed up for my first 5k and trained for it. Next, I signed up for Tough Mudder and found my love of obstacle racing. Commitment to running these events got me off of the couch and into the weight room, but they’re not the sport that’s keeping me going now. I just want to be strong. And although I’m still on the fence about delving into my first powerlifting meet, I love lifting, and I love lifting heavy. Just like I did years ago, signing up for this meet could be the spark I need to train to get stronger.
Clearly, your goals will change. I’m a Zumba class dropout. I’m a cardio bunny turned Iron Lady. I’m Exhibit A of how much your training focus might change throughout your journey. It has taken me years of experimenting to find the right combination of fitness and fun and I’m finally at a place where I can say I’m happy with my training program. I don’t need a competition to validate my success in fitness because knowing how happy I am right now in this moment, is enough validation for me.
If you are thinking about competing, I encourage you to do it because you love the sport. Don’t compete because it seems like the only next step for you. I feel as if fitness – especially around Instagram – has one be-all and end-all goal and that’s becoming an International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFBB) pro. If you have made progress in your own way, believe me when I say that you do NOT need to be an IFBB pro to be an inspiration, nor do you need to be shredded and lean year round to be respected. I think fitness has become so conflated to the point where we forget that fitness is an everyman and everywoman sport. It’s accessible to everyone. Whether your fitness is at the tennis court or dancing in your living room, you’re making fitness your own. Own it, wear it, and your confidence will grow. No competition will allow that natural confidence within you to bloom.