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Taking the "Fast Track" to Figure

2009 Figure Olympia One of the most frequently asked questions I am asked by clients and competitors within the figure and fitness industry is “How long will it take to be able to attain a pro card?” The true answer to that question would be “Got me?”.  But, there are certain avenues one can take to help expedite this process and create the best possible scenario in order to achieve this ultimate goal.  What is the magic formula that promises to deliver the coveted Pro Card? The secret is: PLANNING-PLANNING-PLANNING! Too many times in our rush to the top, we forego the process of properly planning our competitive year.  We take a misstep in efficiently maximizing our opportunities and we neglect to create an environment that allows us to truly reach our ultimate goal. If your plan for the 2006 year is to compete nationally and you haven’t done so as of present, then it’s time to take action!  Sit down at the end of the 2005 Competition Year and plot the course that will allow you maximum exposure within the competition industry and the polish your stage experience. The NPC provides numerous contests that are available to competitors so let’s take a moment to try and clarify the contest route that best helps your situation. First, if you have not competed in a STATE LEVEL contest, than this is a great place to start. At this level, the competition usually gets tough and the number of athlete’s competing is usually greater. The judging panel may expand to a larger number of judges coming from all over the state who may not have had an opportunity to see you previously in smaller shows. Once you have competed successfully at this level, you are ready to take your wares to the next arena, the REGIONAL LEVEL contests.  These competitions draw a more regional base of competitors from various states, (example: NPC Pittsburgh, Body Rock, Emerald’s Cup, etc.). At this next level of competition, everything becomes even more serious.  You will encounter a larger number of competitors in each division in addition to the fact that your challengers are now coming from all over the country vs. only locally. Obviously one of the main motivators for stepping up to this level of event before doing Nationals is EXPOSURE-EXPOSURE-EXPOSURE! Whether it is the need to be seen by a more diverse judging panel that hails from places other than your current region or it is the opportunity for more media exposure, the fact remains the same------you need to be seen. When you’re going to National’s and you are standing on stage with as many as 40 competitors in your division, it will be a tremendous benefit to be a familiar face & physique.  In this way, you aren’t as prone to be “lost in the crowd”.  Regional level events are great opportunities to introduce yourself to the next level of competition, and get critiques from the judges who may be judging you again at National’s.  This allows you time to work on any weak areas that need improvement in order for you to be truly competitive in the next phase. Once you have tackled this chore and have done well at the regional level, you are ready to take the plunge into the NATIONAL LEVEL pool. Within this arena, you have six National figure events per year, each carrying their own merit, some offering distinct advantages in the attaining of a Pro Card than others. Jr. USA’S offers one IFBB pro card for the overall winner and is usually early in the year
  • Jr. Nationals offers one IFBB pro card for each class winner and to date there are four classes
  • Figure Championships offers one IFBB pro card per each class winner and to date there are six classes
  • Figure Nationals in New York offers two IFBB pro cards per each class winners and to date there are six classes
  • North Americans offer two IFBB pro cards to the overall and next highest in voting to the overall
  • Master’s National’s now offers an IFBB pro card to its overall winner.
So as you can see there are a number of competitions and combinations of competitions that you can put together to allow yourself a great opportunity to achieve your IFBB Pro Card. When choosing a National level event to participate in, remember to factor in the  timing of your contest prep in order to allow for competing in two or three shows consecutively. Five of the six qualifiers are grouped within a four month span, so please choose wisely which shows may be your best opportunity to present your physique.  Make the most out of the fact that these shows are available at such a close proximity to each other. You may find that the Jr. USA’s is a great place to test your look early in the year, thus enabling you to have more time to make proper adjustments to your physique for national events later in the summer. I recommend taking special care in planning also due to the fact that not every one is a sponsored athlete and proper planning can help keep the cost of competitions manageable. Now remember, each competitor’s definition success at a state or regional level event will differ!  Gauge your success by the number of competitive athletes in your given show and the quality of these competitors. If several of the competitors in your class have prior experience at that level and you place within top three, then your chances to be competitive at the next level should be pretty good. Of course the chances become greater with higher placing such as over-all titles, etc.  Also, don’t be afraid to consult with the judges to ask their opinion on your current status and what they feel you may need to improve in order to become more competitive at the next level. Advice is just that, advice! Process it, and apply what you feel is harmonious and in keeping with your own goals for your physique and presentation in Figure Competition. So, when speeding down the highway to success, please take a moment to carefully plan your route to make sure you reach your destination.

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