If you are new to NPC and have been prepping for your first bikini competition, here’s what you can expect 48 hours before the show until show time.
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Step 1: 48 Hours Before Your NPC Bikini Competition
In addition to keeping on your diet and workout plan, make sure you get your manicure and pedicure done two days early. You can wait until the day before the show, but if you do, don’t let them moisturize you. The reason is that any moisturizer will repel the spray tan you’ll be getting the day before the show. You will also want to make sure you buy a bottle of whatever color you have for touch-ups (and while nail polish if you opted for the traditional French manicure).
If you haven’t packed, start doing it now. Make sure you include a shower cap to protect your hair during the spray tanning, cosmetic sponges, bikini bite to keep your suit in place and shine. You should also bring along black sheets and a black or brown towel. You are going to need this. The tan goes everywhere and will get on the bedding in the hotel room, your car seat and any other place else you touch. You will need to use a dark colored towel for a few days after the show as the tan slowly comes off.
I also pack large ziplock bags. I pack my bikini and all my show jewelry in one so it's in one place, and have spare one with me to pack my "dirty" bikini after the show. The tan stains everything so you won't want to throw your post-show bikini in your suitcase with your other clothes.
Step 2: 24 Hours Before Your First NPC Bikini Competition
Every coach is different, but with the various ones I’ve used and based on the other girls that I have spoken to, limiting your water the day before the show seems to be standard practice. If this is the case for you, I recommend doing anything that requires brain power in the morning as the more dehydrated you get, the more it seems you lose your ability to react quickly and think. You will also feel like your tongue is huge and your teeth are dirty. Don’t worry. Everyone feels the same.
Shower in the morning as this will be the last time you will get to shower until after the show on Saturday night. Don’t apply any deodorant or moisturizer as this will repel the spray tan and the last thing you want to have is white underarms. By the end of the show, everyone does smell and showering will feel like heaven.
When it’s time for your tanning session, wear loose clothes. Anything with a waistband will remove the tan in that spot and leave marks. I also turn the heat on in my hotel room as generally I’m freezing after my tan session and need to warm up.
The tan session is torture and your first time getting sprayed is always a little unnerving. First of all, you have to get completely naked. Then you stand in a little tent (most likely a hotel room) with three or four other competitors who are getting sprayed at the same time. The tanning person will hose you down with layer after layer of cold, stinky orange paint. They will instruct you on how to position your body to ensure the spray covers all of you and most of the time the person who has sprayed me has been a woman, but there have been times when it has been a guy. So you have to get over the whole “naked” thing really quickly.
Then you have to dry – and this when you first get to meet your fellow competitors. Drying takes place in front of fans usually in another part of the room. Still naked, you stand in front of these fans for 20 to 30 minutes while your tan dries. You will be cold and you will feel sticky. Your competition will also be there trying to dry themselves. They too will be naked and just as uncomfortable as you are.
After that, and still feeling sticky, you go up to your room and try to sleep without moving…or sweating as it could cause your tan to crease or come off. Also DO NOT sit on the toilet as this will leave a lovely orange ring around the seat. This also means you will have a white ring around your butt. Put paper over the seat and be careful when you urinate. Any drips will remove the tan.
Also, be careful when washing your hands after. Water and soap will also remove the tan.
That night, when you are trying to sleep, visualize what you will do on stage the next day. See yourself confident and going through your poses.
Step 3: Morning Prep the Day of Your First NPC Bikini Competition
When you wake up in the morning, survey the damage. Did you sweat at night? Did your legs touch and remove the tan? Are there noticeable wrinkles? Chances are there are some areas that will need to be touched up.
The good news is that if you stayed on your diet and reduced your water, you wake up looking magically toned. However, you still can’t shower or use deodorant and your room probably smells like tan spray.
Most shows that I’ve competed in consist of the following. A really early morning tan session, which is followed by hair and makeup. For your first show, I do recommend you get your makeup done professionally – unless you are a makeup professional. First of all, your everyday foundation won’t be as orange as the spray tan so it won’t blend, and you most likely have never done stage makeup. When they are done with you, you will feel like the makeup is on really thick and your eyes will feel heavy from the fake lashes.
You will also get weird looks from any non-NPC people in the hotel as between the stage makeup and the orange tan, you do not look normal.
Step 4: Just Before Pre-Judging at an NPC Bikini Competition
Every show has a Competitor Meeting before pre-judging begins. The organizers run through the order of the show, explain where the change rooms are and demonstrate what you need to do on stage.
When packing for backstage bring extra makeup, curling irons, comfy shoes, a towel to sit on, snacks (as recommended by your coach), and if you can, bring a mirror. Most shows will have mirrors set up, but I have been to a couple where they did not have any backstage. You might also want to bring exercise bands to pump up beforehand.
Most of show day is spent waiting, waiting and waiting some more. Take this time to practice
your posing backstage and relax. Most of the girls will be nervous like you and you’ll find the conversation revolves around how thirsty they are and how they can’t wait to eat their treat meal as soon as it’s over. The girls will also share training stories and suddenly, you’ll realize that you aren’t alone in your quest to do this. Women from all over the country have sacrificed, trained and sweated just as hard as you did to get there – and even though, they look fabulous, they are feeling just as insecure about going up on stage.
Step 5: Stage Time
Just before you go on stage, the tanners backstage will make sure you look perfect. They will buff you by hand to cover any flaws in the tan, help you with your bikini bite to make sure your top and bottom don’t move, and spread the body shine on you so your muscles look great under the light.
Then it’s time for you to shine.
You’ve heard this before, but when it’s your turn to go up on stage, relax and enjoy it. This probably won’t happen. You will be nervous and stressed. But this is where all your training and practicing comes into play. This why your coach pushed you to practice your posing over and over again, as now you’ll need to rely on that repetition to help you go out and stage and stun the coaches in the 1-2 minutes they have allotted you. AND most of all…smile.
Once all the girls in your class have done their posing, the judges will call out their top five and have them line up for a little more comparing. Through this, follow their instructions and smile. Try to make eye contact with some of them so that they remember you.
Step 6: Between Judging Purgatory
Pre-judging is usually in the morning with final judging at night. You will want to make sure you have a place to hang out during this time in between as it could be hours. My first show, I was foolish and checkout of my hotel in the morning and then had no place to stay as it was too hot to sit in my car for 4 hours. Now, I know to get a hotel close by the auditorium.
Remember you will still be orange, smelly and wearing your stage makeup so walking around and doing some sightseeing is not an option. I always find the afternoon wait the longest as you are still trying to resist the urge to eat or drink too much, and by now, you may find that you have no longer have energy and just want the competition to be over.
Step 7: Final Judging
The final judging is always much more fun than the pre-judging. First of all, you’ve already done it once and survived, so the second time around, you are much more relaxed. They also tend to blast music during the night show so there is a different energy.
Pre-judging feels so serious as the lights are still up, it’s quiet and the audience is only the judges. The night show is full of applause and feels like it’s a real show. Also, because the pre-judging is done, you know the judges have basically made their decisions so you can relax without worrying about being scrutinized.
Then as soon as it’s over and walk into the changing room, you are on Cloud 9. You did it!
You eat your first bite of chocolate or whatever it is that you’ve been waiting to eat for the last 8 to 12 weeks and it is heaven. All the pain drifts away, you no longer feel tired or cranky. You feel wonderful and you can’t wait to compete again.