Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bodybuilding, Figure & Bikini Coaches, how to choose?

So you are thinking of competing and are wondering if you need a coach, or even wondering where to start looking for a coach. There is a lot to consider and its worth doing a little research before jumping in and paying up for a coach.
The Fitness show / Body-building / Fitness Model / Pageant competition sector of the Fitness Industry is growing at a phenomenal rate, with more and more federations, shows and categories than there has ever been. So much choice, but that also means lots of different approaches that can be taken to competing. The choice is fantastic as it means there is something to suit everyone, from the hyper commercial model comps to the old school traditional Body-building shows, this is all good news, but can be even more confusing if you are new to it all. So where do you start?
Some people pick a show as its local and aim for it, without looking at whether its the most suitable show for them, some people pick a coach because they are based at their gym, without looking into whether they are the best coach available for the job. Every Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor or coach has their specialities. Some love mainstream fitness, sport specific training, Olympic lifting and some are into stage show prep. You may have a general trainer already and they should be able to do some research to point you in the right direction, but they may not have specific knowledge and experience to guide you through to the show, with all the other things like posing / rules/ attire/ tanning etc.

So my advice is do some research before you jump straight in and pay for a coaching package and make sure you know what exactly is included. Heres some things i would consider before making a choice.

Do i even need a coach?
And if i do, what specifically for? Well, this depends where you are on your journey. If you are knowledgeable about the sport and already a trainer, been to see some shows, know other people who compete, you might have a lot of tools to go it alone, and many people do, you might know how to get in shape, but not know how to present yourself on stage or know the rules ofr a fed, so this is where knowing what you need and what coaches provide is key. There are really two types of coaching, and many coaches offer both. Posing coaching and prep.

Posing Coaches / Workshops
There are many great coaches offering one to one coaching for stage, Posing sessions can be one to one, where you get intensive sessions specifically tailored to your needs, or there are group sessions, these are often class or federation specific, so check before you book to make sure you are going to a class / coach that understands the competition you will be entering. Poses, routines, T- Walks, comparisons, compulsory poses differ for class and federations. I really advise going to a federation run class or posing coach before competing, you will likely learn more about specific rules, poses, attire, tanning etc. and come away more confident and prepared. This type of coaching may be all thats needed for those who already know about training and nutrition, maybe qualified and experienced fitness professionals but haven't competed before... or have competed, but are changing federation or category are workshops or posing coaches. Some may need more detailed prep from a coach and posing coaching. Some coaches do offer both.

Prep Coaches
Prep coaches offer a wide variety of packages. From generic plans to personalised programmes, with regular check ins and post comp advice. All in packages with Nutrition, Training, supplements and assisted advice to separate plans for those who don't need everything. So it really depends on how much support you need to what package you choose.

Natural or Unspecified
Competitions are either designated natural or are unspecified (no drug testing takes place) Some coaches will sell drugs and some wont. Some will prep assisted athletes and natural athletes, but its something you need to check. I personally only prep natural and if someone wants to use assistance i would recommend an alternative coach as its not my area of expertise and goes against what i believe in personally.

Federation Specific Considerations
You shouldn't feel you have to have a certain coach to compete at a certain fed, and a good coach should be able to research and get the right info to prep you correctly for any fed. But you might find it an advantage to choose a coach who has competed at, is involved with, or has successfully prepared other athletes for that fed as someone with specific experience may be better placed to prepare you for that federations specific requirements. If your coach is not involved with a fed you wnat to compete with, then definitely get to a federation organised workshop or posing coach during your prep to get some extra feedback and info!

Class specific Considerations / Specialists
Some coaches are completely aligned to one federation, so if you are competing somewhere else, is that coach the best choice for you? Some coaches specialise in certain categories. If someone is advertising as a Bikini coach, and you want do physique or a fitness show, then that coach might not be the best fit. Many coaches have a niche or specialist area so its worth asking. Others are general coaches who can advice for a number of classes, so again, ask them, ask for examples of competitors they have previously coached and try and choose one who fits your needs the most closely. Some specialise in men or womens coaching, or in specific dietary needs like Vegan and Vegetarian, so there is a lot to consider!

In Person or On-line
If you are looking for a one to one coach who you can see / visit in person for regular check ins or training sessions, your choice may be limited to location, but this is a great option for those who need a lot of support or prefer face to face contact. If you are highly motivated and organised you may have more choice by looking at on-line coaches. Here you can expect contact via email, social media, Skype or phone, with regular updates and check-ins via the internet instead of at the gym. Its a great option for those who don't have a local coach that fits their needs.

When looking for a coach (prep or posing) Ideally look for recommendations from people who have already competed with that coach. You can look at competition pics on most federations social media and websites to see how athletes looked compared to others in their class, you can check results, you can contact competitors and ask how their experience was with that coach, were they well supported, was there good communication, was their knowledge and advice specific and useful.

Hopefully you like your coach and get on well together, but like anything, there can be personality clashes, so this is something else to bear in mind. Whoever you choose, always bear in mind, there are no guarantees, subjective sports are just that, you cant control who else is competing or always predict what the judges will want to see, and hiring a coach is a tool to help you, but ultimately its you that has to put in the work and stick to the programme. Investing in a coach doesn't buy results (or its shouldn't anyway!!!) but it provides focus, direction, experience and knowledge for you and should make the process more straightforward... but not necessarily easier!

Lastly. When you think about hiring a coach, don't forget that you need to build the body before dieting down, so if you haven't got a strong background of specific training, consider hiring a coach for the off season, not just the dieting phase, i do believe athletes who work with coaches longer term have better results as the coach has more time to look at what strengths and weaknesses you have and how your body responds to different training and diets.


  1. Many women don't have the determination to achieve their bikini competition body, they must be needing a coach.
    Bikini Competition Coach

    1. Its not just about determination, some women just need guidance - especially beginners as there are a lot of terrible 'generic' plans out there, and terrible 'self confessed gurus' giving bad advice so i wrote this to help women make a good choice about who they choose to coach them :D