Bodybuilding – 4 Weeks Out! Attending my First Competition Show

Vancity Showdown Saturday October 15th

Today, on the advice of my trainer and coach Jennifer, I attended my very first Bodybuilding Competition as a spectator! She said it would be helpful to see a live show so that I would know what to expect as part of my journey to competition.

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I made my way out to New Westminster and paid $42.00 to watch the VanCity Showdown morning show. Bodybuilding competitions are broken down into a two segments: a morning pre-judging show, and then an evening awards show, where the top 5 contestants from the morning are then announced as winners in their respective placing.


The Show Format and Judging


  • I walked in just as the men were finishing up and snuck in on the second row behind Jennifer and her friends (fellow coaches and competitors).
  • The women’s Bikini Class was broken up into different categories by age (Masters was 35+ and an Open category was for all ages), and then also by height (A, B, C, D) from shortest to tallest.
  • Once all the competitors in a specific class come out, they go through their posing routines in a line and return to the back to await judging. The top 5 competitors as decided by the panel of judges, are then called out to step to the front in what’s known as “First call-outs”. During this time, the 5 women hit all their poses once again and the judges will ask them to move around to make their decision.
  • These 5 women are then thanked and sent off stage – these women are the top 5 winners for that category (although, the order of who is first, second and so on, isn’t announced until the evening). Once these ladies leave the stage, the next 5 are called to also go through their routines so the judges can determine their respective placing.


First Impressions

Immediate impressions: WOW! Everyone looks SO GOOD!

Seriously, how do you even begin to judge this competition when everyone looks incredible and have clearly worked long and hard to get here?

Seeing this unfold in person, solidified for me just how incredibly subjective this sport is. How do you pick only a few winners among the crowd? In my opinion, everyone is a real winner for stepping on to that stage!!


As I watched the rounds go by, I was blown away by these women working so hard on stage! They are holding their poses for what feels like forever, all the while keeping perfect composure and giant, beaming smiles.

I have been told that I’m prone to “resting nice-face” so I know I can keep a smile 🙂 It’s the body twisting and back arching while looking graceful and wearing platform heels that makes me nervous!

One of the bikini classes was HUGE! There were probably almost 20 women up there in class C!


Very different from another class later on which only had three contestants.

That was interesting to me because again, it showed how each show can be very different in terms of who places and wins. Everyone in this small class of three contestants got a placing and won a trophy, whereas for the group with 20, a competitor might have to endure rounds of waiting patiently while other girls do their posing first.



What incredible women – Congratulations to all the competitors!!!

Some insights from the experienced girls

I’m grateful at the opportunity to hear the audience commentary and also ask Jennifer and her friends questions! They were really warm and welcoming when I mentioned that I was new to this world and how this was my first time watching a show. I also shared that I was planning to compete the following month. Here are some of their thoughts I captured:

  • Not only is the judging subjective, but it can change every show. For example, if the competitors all come in with hard muscles, then a softer look would appear out of place so it would be the more chiseled competitors that win.
  • It takes a long time to really grasp the process of prep and all the different components. (Yay, I’m not the only one! It’s taken me over a year of seeing my trainer, and practicing following a fitness program to get into a really good rhythm).
  • I appreciated hearing these very real examples and stories from the more experienced competitors!
  • One of them shared how their client didn’t know the difference between a potato and a yam! Which can make a big difference when every macro counts.
  • Another competitor was told “no more powders or BCAAs” in the final weeks, but didn’t even know what a BCAA was (it’s powdered branch-chained amino acids that you can take to help fuel your work outs because they promote muscle growth and repair, and can reduce muscle soreness after exercise). Because she wasn’t aware of them, she hadn’t even been taking it at all, which could have been helpful for her workouts!
  • Everyone takes time to learn what “100%” really is. I thought I was really good about my diet, but when I was told to eat one cup of rice, I would sometimes would scoop a heaping cup of rice and didn’t think it mattered! But honestly, that wouldn’t have counted as 100% following the plan!




My takeaways

Now that I’ve seen a bodybuilding show in action, I know that it will take a lot of composure to keep a strong presence and game face on stage. And even if I’m not called out in the first round (or second or third..) I know I have to keep it together.

The experienced girls watching in the audience would point out their observations on what was going really well, and areas of improvement. For example, they advised me to keep smiling! Some competitors were shaking from standing so long while judging took place and you could tell others were upset when they weren’t called (which is understandable!). However, they all said that you can’t let that discomfort show. You have to keep smiling and “fighting for it” and who knows, maybe the judges will call you up from the back and bring you out to the front.


Fuelled with Inspiration

Now that I’ve seen how a show works, I’m determined to give my 100% for these final 4 weeks! Yes, I will admit that I’ve slipped and “cheated” with extra rice, some sushi rolls, Whole Foods take out (But’s Whole Foods!! Doesn’t matter says my coach – it’s not prepped at home!) but, at least I bounced back.

I know a former version of myself who may have slipped and eaten cookies, and then decide “Well too late now! Might as well devour the whole box!”As mentioned in my previous post on positive habits and mindsets that I’m adopting from competition prep – I now know it’s OK to slip or fall, as long as you learn to get right back on track.

I stayed at my mom’s place after the show and am glad her building has a nice gym so I could continue with my training!

This is me seeing if I have a visible bicep yet, and sending a progress photo to Eric since as he began is 3+ week work trip to the Netherlands! Come on muscles, I’m excited to meet you hahah!


Meeting up for Tea

After watching this competition and leaving in awe, I met up with Sarah over tea. I’m liking these new alternative social gatherings – meeting up and chatting over healthier activities, as opposed to just eating out all the time!

We found this cute little place called the Great Wall Tea Company and Sarah treated me to a delicious market spice tea as a belated birthday drink. It was smooth and sweet due to the cinnamon spice and as a bonus – it has caffeine! Hellooo!!! My new go-to comforting and cozy drink.


Sarah was one of my first friends that I met in person and shared my ambition to do a bodybuilding contest. Right away she asked, “Can I watch!?”. I really appreciated her enthusiasm and support.

Like me, she also researches a lot online, and I loved getting her messages of encouragement and fascination at learning the process involved behind meal prep and training. Sarah is a dedicated marathon runner and knows all about the discipline and determination neccesary behind intense training!

More of What I Ate


This week I’ve moved on from yams as my primary carb source, and onto rice. While I used to have yams several times a day, I’m now having the rice just around my weight training. The vitamins in the corner include a daily women’s multivitamin, calcium, vitamin D, probiotics, digestive enzymes, L-carnitine and a giant Omega 3 pill.

Progress Photos

After relaxing in the sauna post work out, I took my progress photos at 4 weeks out and sent them off to my trainer to see what changes I needed to make next in my plan.


Unexpected Friendships

As I was taking the photos and practicing posing at my mom’s gym, a woman asked me if I was doing a bodybuilding show! I guess the shoes gave it away 🙂 We ended up having a fun chat and exchanging numbers to keep in touch and chat about fitness. She was considering doing a show too and I promised to share my experience, such as where I got my shoes and outfits, through this blog!

More examples of positive ripple effects in action – having random conversations and making new friends.

As always, please ask your questions below, and check out the rest of my series for more information:

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