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So, decided to bring my fitness competition journey up one level by competing in an NPC show. In this blog I will explan all the pieces and parts that go into competing in an NPC show including the finances because i found it very difficult to understand what this experience would involve before doing it. I tried to read all instructions and asked my coaches to gain a full comprehension of what to expect, but really couldn't. Here I will walk every step of it, so you know,

Here are the essentials before you get on the road to go to the show.

Make sure you sign up for the following at least 1 week before. Otherwise, each piece may cost more up to $50 or you may end up not being able to register.

Before the show essentials:

1) Sign up for the show! The online show registration closes 1 week before the show. Must do this!!! Or you won't be able to do that on location compared to some other shows which may have only on-site sign-ups. You pay for the registration at this point. For this show it is $175 per category. You are allowed to sign up for cross categories, but there is no discount. You pay $175 for each category you sign up to compete in.

I signed up for Novice. Could also do Masters and Open. My posing coach advised me to do them all next time, but it gets very expensive.

2) Sign up for NPC Tanning. In the other shows I have done before, I had taken care of my own tanning complexion. I had saved lots of money by doing so. But this time both my training and posing coaches advised me to use their approved onsite tanners, so I look the same color as everyone. I'll talk about the tanning process in a little later. This costs $125 at this point. If you leave this to the competition date, it will be $175. Plus they send you your tanning time blocks once you sign up. It is different for men than women and there might be multiple times depending on the amount of competitors entering. It is good to know these time blocks ahead of time.

You can alternatively sign up for hair and make-up applications. Those are, of course, extra costs and have different time blocks. I do my own, so, I sace some money there.

3) Book your hotel. Best to book the preferred hotel as check-ins and first tanning session takes place here. Best to book ahead. Within 1 week of the show, the discount code may not be valid. This costed me $146 at Sheraton at this time for 1 night.

Now at this time you are all booked. Make sure to read all instructions they send you in detail and understand the timing of the events. You can start packing your competition bag.

By this time if you compete in 1 category and stay in the room for 1 night, it is about $450 you spent. If you don't already have an NPC card, you need to get this and provide it at check-ins. NPC card costs $125 and is only valid January to December of the current year. So, you might be looking at $575 that you spent. More if you stay more nights at the hotel or if you added extra categories, hair and make-up applications.

At this point one more thing to do is to make sure you allow yourself enough travel time to be at the hotel one day before the competition. This may mean work schedule planning and asking for a day off. Usually these shows are on Saturdays, but you have to be at the hotel on Friday for mandatory check-ins. During these check-ins, they make sure you have all needed documents and you are all scheduled for tanning and given your category numbers. Your height will also be measured by a professional to make sure that you are placed at the correct division of your category. Women are not weighed, but men are weighed at this time. You need to watch for what time your category will have this check-in on Friday and you will need to be present at that time.

Also during the check-in you get an opportunity to sign-up to receive your individual photos from the show. They email them to you in 2 weeks. For this show, the cost for doing so was $79. If you have entourage who would do that for you, you might opt out, but regular people usually won't have the correct lighting, angles, camera technology and professional skills to capture your best moments.

Once check-in is done, you are off to tanning. This may be before check-ins. Must watch the time blocks the tanners sent. On Friday women are all in 1 room and you get completely naked to be tanned. Bring your loose dress or robe after you are done with this first coat of tanning. You will stay in the room for another extra 15 mins or so to make sure you are completely dried. There are fans that they supply for this. So, a bunch of naked and browned women gather around the fans and turn all sides of their bodies to ensure dryness. I saw one lady brought a hair dryer. I will do that or a small heater fan because I was super cold at this point. Tanning spray makes you shiver to begin with, then you have to stand over other fans. I was quivering to my bones by the time I reached my hotel room. I want to make sure I had some hot tea before and immediately after this process. I get cold super easily.

The hotel may make you sign a contract that says you are responsible up to a certain amount - it was $200 at this time - if you stain their sheets, furniture or other belongings in the room. So, you have to be very careful. First you don't want to ruin your tan. Second, you don't want to pay extra cleaning charges to the hotel. A good idea is to bring your own sheets I encapsulated myself into long clothing, but you don't want to sweat while sleeping. I had a cocoon type bed liner for protecting myself when I slept at a friend's house which I didn't think was very hygienic. I am going to bring that next time because it was a bit stressful to make sure the hotel bedding was kept smear-free of tanning spray.

I think you figured that at this time there is no taking a shower. The tanning company asks you to take your shower at least 6 hours prior. Best to prep with a ph balanced skin prep. Still my chest area had hard time sticking to the color.

Once the check-ins and tanning are done, ready to wait for the competition day. I curled my hair at night. Then in the morning, i simply head down to the venue. The hair and make-up application by professionals start early there. I think you can also be finished with your second coat of tanning before the Athletes Meeting. I waited for the athletes meeting because the time given for my tanning was after the meeting. This meeting started half an hour late, but is important to receive the stage instructions and understanding what they expect you to do. Every category is asked to step on the stage and category specific details are discussed then. You can ask questions if you have any at this point.

Once you are clear about how to step on the stage, the 2nd tanning session must take place while you are in your bikini, If you do not wish to wear your competition bikini at this time, you can wear another. That's what I did, but no matter that I chose the skimpiest bikini, the lines did not perfectly match with my competition one. However, my competition bikini had light colors, so I didn't want to risk getting tanning spray on it one way or another. After you dry by the fan again and go to wear your competition bikini, if you see missed spots or ruined spots or if the tanning spray did not stick very well, you get to go to back to the tanning area to get retouches. At this point I still wasn't satisfied with the retouches and had to correct many spots with makeup. I also waited in my tanning bikini to do my makeup. There is really no point in doing the makeup in the hotel early in the morning because as Bikini Category is later, there is so much wait time and this time can be used for makeup application and finishing the hair.

While you are waiting and killing time for your category to arrive, you must remember that it is your responsibility to watch for your category's stage time. They will call in the dressing room, but most certainly no one will send a search team if you are not nearby. Be alert, watch the schedule, stay on top of it, so you don't miss because there are no refunds or redos.

After prejudging is done, you have quite a few more hours to kill. I had 5 hours. I had snapped a few more pictures. Talked to girls. Did some shopping. I bought some real good spices that had sweet stuff, but no calories in them. Then I went to Starbucks... well.. majorly to write this text :)

Unless you know, Finals are like a show. At this time you are given stage time again. The judges know who placed where, but even if you are in the placements or not, you still go to the finals. This may be the time that your friends and family come and watch the show as this part goes faster since they are actually not doing comparisons anymore. Your family or friends most definitely can watch the prejudging, too, if they wish. Both shows are separate than eachother and ticketed separately. The finals gives you another chance to practice your stage whether you place or not for the future. And you are done! Hope you go home with a trophy, but whether you do or not, it is overall a lovely experience. I feel fantastic every time no matter what the outcome is.

Below I wanted to do an itemized breakdown of possible expenses for a first show:

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