Fit Woman

"Do You Compete?"

Lots of women get asked this in the gym. And if they say no, then the follow-up is always, "Why not?"

Believe it or not, many women who've built muscle and gotten lean aren't interested in getting on stage, and sometimes they can't put a finger on why.

So if they're not prepared with a response, they come back with something like, "Um, I don't know. I just work out for me."

And while that answer may be true, it hardly scratches the surface of why they put in so much effort on a daily basis.

Then the questioner will usually inform the woman about why other females do it, why she should compete because she'd do so well, yada yada.

This is a flattering thing to hear, no doubt. And most women like to have this conversation.

But if they don't have a solid answer as to why they're not interested in doing a bikini, figure, physique, or fitness competition, they end up walking away actually wondering if they're wasting their potential by not competing.

The Main Problem

The questioner's flattery convinces these women that their hard work isn't valid unless it's demonstrated on stage. This happened to me when working out at a commercial gym, and I certainly wasn't alone.

Other women I knew were always kicking around the idea of competing or they were in the midst of preparation, often because someone persuaded them that it's what they ought to be doing if they're going to be working out that hard anyway.

Continually hearing the "do you compete" question starts chipping away at your thinking. You end up asking yourself, "Why am I busting ass if I'm not even showing it off? What's the point of all this if my results aren't out there?"

And it starts to feel like none of your training is serious; none of your 5AM workouts really count unless they're a means of getting you on stage.

This is total BS.

But to be fair, it's not the questioner's fault. The questioner is usually a well intentioned guy just trying to be helpful.

It's actually our fault. We're to blame for not realizing that being fit and living there is the main point of training.

Knowing how to work out effectively and consistently is a greater achievement in and of itself than getting ready for a competition. Why? Because competition prep is temporary. And living a fit life, well, lasts a lifetime.

How to Shut People Up

So if you're a non-competitor who hears this question, stop second guessing yourself. All you need to do is sort out why you work out. Then stick to your guns and answer the question with something like this:

"I appreciate the effort and passion of those who compete. But I don't need a competition to motivate me to work out or hold me accountable to eating right.

I'm here now, aren't I? And you wouldn't have asked that question if I didn't look the part.

So in essence, I've achieved a stage-worthy body without having to step on stage.

I bypassed the prep coach, the fasted cardio, the cold chicken and asparagus in Tupperware, the squeem (look it up), the spray tan, the bedazzled bikini, the diuretics, the judging sheets, and the banned substances that are becoming increasingly popular.

And I look like this year round. Most competitors don't. They take their off-seasons seriously. And their competition prep is so extreme that you can't really blame them for it.

I also don't need a judge to size-up my body, then compare and contrast it with other women's bodies to determine which of us is the best looking. What good does it do me to know where I rank in a judge's mind?

I don't need that kind of reassurance because I know my strengths, I know my weaknesses, and what I look like. I have eyes.

I'm constantly improving in some aspect of my life, which means that a judge who sees a couple minutes of me in full makeup and covered in paint has no comprehension of what I'm worth.

And why would I even give him that power? Why would I feel the need to line up beside other women in order for us to determine who brought her best "package," as they like to call it.

Because the absurdity of it all is this: The winner is not being rewarded for her skills, strength, power, stamina, work capacity, or ability to maintain athleticism long term. None of the competitors are demonstrating a snatch on stage or a set of strict pull-ups.

The leanest and best looking on competition day might end up the fattest and weakest a couple months after the show. So does it really make her any fitter than me when we're on stage? No.

That just makes her awesome at following a coach's instructions, possibly managing her medicine cabinet, and doing just enough exercise to get that look on that day.

And if you can't train hard or eat right without a competition looming, then perhaps you need to reevaluate what you're doing with your fitness.

Bikini Competition

Needing to know how you stack up against other lifters, looks-wise, is basically a pissing contest for women.

In the big picture, why do we even care? We can all be pretty and muscular.

Plus, get this: women who are already fit often go into competitions confident and passionate about training and healthy eating. Then they end up feeling inadequate, unmotivated, and fed up with trying so hard to look a certain way.

They may even do things that fly in the face of overall good health... all to win a cheap trophy and the approval of a bunch of judges, coaches, and their Facebook fan-page followers.

Want to develop a body image issue? Then get on stage and base your self-worth on a judge's score sheet, your social media following, or a hypercritical coach.

Then after a few shows, or a few years of shows, when the metabolic damage kicks in, it will become harder to get and stay lean, and in the worst case scenario, they may just quit training, because what's the point?

So, thank you for even asking me this question because I know your heart was in the right place. But no, I don't compete because I don't need a reward for my body. My body is the reward."

Two Possible Reactions

At this point in the conversation, one of two possible things happen:

  1. You persuade him to change his perspective. And if he's a critical thinker, he'll probably lose some of his enthusiasm for physique competitions in general. He'll admire your discipline, and he won't ask you if you compete again.

    Or...
  2. You won't change his thinking at all because he's a bodybuilding super-fan, possibly a coach, or a fervent competitor himself. He now thinks you're a stuck-up bitch, but the good news is he definitely won't ask you if you compete again.

Bad news is, you'll have to start all over if you get asked that question by someone else. Maybe just pick one or two points that resonate with you, and say it with a smile.