Sunday, 20 March 2016

Competition Tanning Tips from the experts

Having the tanned look is essential to showing off your hard earned work on stage. It adds definition to your muscle tone and stops you looking anemic under the lights. But do not rely on turning up on show day and expect to get the best looking tan. Like everything you have worked so hard for the tan deserves preparation, thought and time.You will need to pre-book your tan at least three months from show day, as it gets very busy and sometimes you will need a pre-tan before your show tan so please talk to a professional  to ascertain your exact needs to prep correctly.

 I have asked expert tanner Caroline O'Leary to help me with this blog (find her contact details at the bottom of this blog). She has tanned more bods than I have had hot dinners, so naturally she was the lady to ask for advice.

 ****Please note*****
This advice is specifically tailored towards the special competition spray tan, rather than any general advice on tanning or tan beds or tanning products outside the spray tan process***

Skin Regime - 1 Week out

The better the condition of your skin the more flawless the final tan will look, it will also enable the tan to fade evenly after your show.

Start your special skin regime a week out from your competition spray appointment by exfoliating and moisturising. On Monday and Wednesday make a thick paste of baking soda and a thick gel soap (such as Simple refreshing body wash) and gently wash your entire body. Then, using a good quality salt or sugar scrub exfoliate from head to toe using nylon exfoliation gloves or a nylon mesh cloth.  Caroline recommends staying away from loofah's, loofah gloves pads and sponges and use a sugar scrub to shave rather than bar soaps.
When exfoliating pay special attention to knees, elbows, hands, feet and heels where the skin is thickest and roughest. After exfoliation use a thick body butter to moisturise.

On the day of your tan appointment do not use the baking soda mixture.....just moisturise and then paint your finger and toe nails with clear nail polish to prevent them staining in the tan process.

Hair Removal

You will need to get rid of unwanted hair.....if you shave make sure you shave the night before or a minimum of eight hours before you have your tan applied. Shaving and waxing opens up pores and pools of tan can accumulate if the skin does not have a decent resting time before tan application. If you are a regular waxer make sure you wax a minimum of 72 hours before tan application. If you are waxing for the first time do it 7-10 days before tan day so your skin can settle down.

Tan Day

Do not use perfume, make up, cologne or deodorant when you go have your tan, these products can raise the ph of your skin and cause the tan to go green. 

Make sure you have done any hair removal at least the night before your tan appointment.

You will need to take with you loose clothing to ensure the tan dries as evenly as possible. Try to avoid anything that pulls over the head, has zippers or is elasticated. Use drawstring trousers over elasticated waists if you can and wear flip flops for even feet colour.

At your appointment be sure to take any necessary coverings for your modesty (if you have any). Girls can be sprayed nude to allow for wearing different bikini's, men will not be sprayed nude so you will need to take something smaller than your posing trunks so you don't have any visible tan lines. Caroline says a black sock will do...yes! You read that right!

A hair cap and sticky feet will be provided to avoid staining in these area's, barrier cream applied and then the spray tan will be applied. Expect two coats of tan, which can take about 40 minutes to apply and dry may feel a little sticky until the tan is completely dry.

You will need to wear loose, over size clothing to sleep in, this will prevent any tan getting on your sheets and any hand marks during sleep. Please take a duvet cover to sleep in at the hotel so you do not incur any extra room charges for destroying their linens.

Between your tan application and show day you will not be able to shower or shave, or wear deoderant, perfume or cologne.

Show Day

Do not shower or shave before your competition, it will ruin your tan. Do not use perfume, cologne or deodorant these products can raise the ph of your skin and cause the tan to go green. 

Drink through a straw. I have also heard that women pee through a cup to avoid splashback (that was a new one on me)......I have also been advised that you can use a pint milk carton to a similar end. Just cut off the bottom and pee through that end so it flows through the small end and to minimise drips and accidental splash.

Pre-book your make up artist well in advance, they are always super busy on show day. If you do your own make up use colours that will compliment your tan (remember you will be a totally different skin shade to normal) and are strong enough to stand out on stage. Wear waterproof mascara!

Bikini aftercare

Although a dry tan has minimal rub off some colour will come off on your bikini. To minimize this make sure your tan is completely dry before you put the bikini on. For any area's where tan has rubbed off Caroline recommends that you wash normally (that is gentle handwash on the affected area's) and add lemon juice or a dash of washing up liquid. Baby wipes can also be useful for this, but remember to only use them on the inside...the outside sheen of the fabric and the crystal glue can be affected by washing the surface of the bikini.

I will be writing a whole blog on bikini care...look out for it!

Contact Caroline O'Leary:

Sunday, 13 March 2016

How to stick down your bikini

Ever wondered how the pro's suits stay exactly where they want, and need, them?

Read on!

Of course, when it comes to bikini and knicker slippage we are all aware of how uncomfortable and embarrassing that can be....but if it happens on stage under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to yoink! your bum back in place....

Having your suit made to fit you exactly goes a long way to prevent this from happening, but if you have particularly developed assets no bikini can resist the power of gravity and friction......unless you absolutely stick-it-the-hell-down!

Where to stick it!

So, here are your choices:

The most popular product by far is Pro Tan's Bikini Bite:
All of my clients swear by this product, it rolls on (you can also get a spray version), you stick the bikini on it and hold until dry. From then on in DO NOT TOUCH, otherwise you risk releasing the bond.
It's also really easy to get hold of, just google it for price comparisons.
Or here are some handy links:
Cardiff Sports Nutrition

Here's how you stick it on:

Getting it off is another will be most successful with a toothbrush, a super mild fabric detergent and some elbow grease.
Please do not scrub the outer of your suit as you will find that it destroys the shiny fabrics and crystal finishes.

You can also use double sided tape, it does exactly the same job, and could be easier to remove as it should in theory pull off after you're done with it. People have used anything from 3D carpet tape ( read that right) to toupee and fashion tape...make sure you get the extra strength one.

Of course there are other similar products available, and I would like to know if you use others and how successful they are. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Know your Fitness Federations

With more and more events in the competitive fitness industry there has never been a better time to strut your hard work on stage.

For some people stepping on stage is the final achievement of personal goals, for some a career stepping stone and for some a lifelong passion. So whatever your reasons, be sure to pick the right event for your goals and personality.

For ease of comparison I see there as being two fitness more pageant oriented and the other that see themselves as a competitive sport. The shows feel entirely different from an audience point of view but the ultimate aim, of course, is to showcase the best athletes.

I will also say, at this point, that many of the federations are also competing with each other for competitors so some degree of snobbery and favouritism are be careful who's basket you put your eggs in, and make sure it's the right one for you.

Firstly I am just going to concentrate on the events that run in the UK, as this is my native country and I know more about these ones.

Pageant Fitness Federations include:
This is the WBFF , where all the competitors do exactly that...parade in all their gorgeous finery. This is a totally entertaining show, full of sass and sparkles.

When you are in the audience it feels like you're watching a show...... the lighting, background visuals, nightclub volume music (for hours and  hours). The production is high key, and impressive and the forerunner of most of the other pageant style shows that began afterwards.

Sports Federations include:

This is the UKBFF, a very different beast indeed. Stripped of all the show trappings, and no distractions you just see the athletes in all their glory. 

So, if you are thinking of competing I would highly recommend going to several of the shows and checking them out for yourself. Figure out where your personality fits within the fitness industry before diving in headlong.

With new federation spin-offs popping up all the time it shows that this is a growing industry with a massive fanbase and it's here to stay!

I'll be following up with more in depth look at each federation, including rules, how they judge and their individual bikini preferences....

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Bikini fit - The 5 minute boob job for competitors

Part of being a bikini designer is fitting, cutting and sometimes stuffing. Ultimately my job is to use all my couture making skills to make a bikini that enhances the body. Sometimes this means hiding flaws with clever pattern cutting....and using enhancing techniques without going overboard.

One of the things I'm really keen on as a designer is correct fitting. No matter how much bling you have on your bikini poor fitting can leave you uncomfortable and exposed on stage.

We're all familiar with this feeling...

Do not worry if you have natural boobs. There are many ways of padding and fleshing out your bikini. But what you need to do first it get the right size. Buying a cupped bikini 2 or 3 sizes too big and relying on chicken fillets will do you no favours at all come show day!

Make sure your bikini designer creates a balanced bra for you, you can go for the cup size that fits you now and pad it up or go down a cup size from the get-go. This small cup with underwires and moderate padding fits Kat's delicate frame perfectly. A bigger cup or heavier decoration might have overwhelmed her overall balance.

Kat Freeman, Miami Pro wearing a bikini by Miss C.

 Triangle cups are perfect for smaller busts because you can bikini bite them down on all sides and stuff them.....

Since Stephanie Phillips has already made a great video on how to stuff your bikini to give yourself a 5 minute boob job I'll just leave this here:

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Nail your first bikini competition

10 Top Tips from bikini competitors

Bikini competitors, November 2015 UKBFF Model Division, Chingford Assembly Hall

10 - Go see lots of shows across federations 

Nowadays there are a whole host of federations that serve whatever style of fitness you are into, and new one's turning up all the time. It's really worth going along to a few competitions as a spectator to get a feel for where they are all at because one of them will be a more perfect fit than others.

9 -  Decide what you want to look like

You should make all the decisions about what you want your final body to look like, to truly walk on stage with confidence. You should discuss this with your coach, and keep an eye on achievable goals without doing harm to your body or mental health.

8 - Get a coach you trust 

It is true that you can prep yourself, but a good coach that you trust will have your back all the way. When you can't face chicken any more, your strength has sapped and you are at the end of your mental tether ( will have those days!) your coach is there to help you push yourself through that wall. Not only that but a great coach will never let you do something harmful to yourself and won't let you get on stage unless you are totally ready.

7 - Organize yourself 

Mark Spitz's quote "If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail." rings true for almost every important situation, and competing is no different. With competitions becoming so popular there is a possibility you won't get to compete at all unless you enter well in advance, it also gives you a deadline to focus on. Make sure you read the rules with regards to your suit, heels and jewellery....some federations have been known to turn competitors away for not having appropriate attire.The run up to competition day is busy, especially for the make up artists, tanners and hair dressers, do not expect them to be able to serve you on the day without booking them well in advance. Hotels also tend to get booked up quickly, especially at any finals, so make sure you're sorted not stressed out.

6 - You cannot practice posing enough!

Not a truer word said, posing practice will  help you understand how to utilize and show your body off to it's best and impress the judges with your stage presence. Even when you are lacking confidence inside (lets face isn't easy to stand on a stage in front of a crowd in a bikini and heels) you need to project ease and comfort as if this stage malarkey is something you do every day. There are plenty of posing coaches that offer group classes or one on one tuition, so there is no excuse to squirm when you hit that stage. 

5 - Your competition survival kit

  • needle and thread, double sided tape, safety pins
  • liquid, water
  • headache tablets
  • music
  • prepped food
  • small treats
  • bikini bite

4 - Don't compare yourself to others

Don't do your head in comparing yourself to other competitors. Ultimately you have no idea exactly what the judges are looking for, and you have no control over only have control over yourself. So don't waste your energy doing it. 

3 -  Take some music to focus on

Everyone has different ways of tempering the nervous excitement, or anxious doubt that can creep in competition day. Music can be a great way to block out the crowd so you can focus on what you have to do.
2 - Don't worry about the result

It's really hard not to feel the sting of disappointment if you don't get a call out or walk off with a trophy, but don't let it overwhelm you. Use it to motivate where you go from there, what improvements you want to make or whether that is the end of your competition journey....only you can decide. 
1 - Don't gorge on food afterwards

 Straight after the competition is a stampede to get back to the car or hotel to get fed. Competition day is a really tiring day, especially if you are in one of the last categories, and it is tempting to celebrate by gorging on rich food you have denied yourself for weeks....don't! Your body is no longer used to processing such complex foods and you could actually make yourself ill. Be sensible, treat yourself, but don't go bonkers and get your fluids back up. You'll feel better for it.


Friday, 24 July 2015

Meet Lisa Kelly, rising star in Body Fitness.

It has been my absolute pleasure to have been Lisa Kelly's bikini designer for the past two years, I have seen her go from strength to strength and look forward to many more competitions working with her. Lisa has been such an infectious inspiration I asked her if she would share her experiences with me, and I hope that you also find some inspiration to dig deep on your fitness journey too.

Trained by the legendary Eddie The Savage Abbew, and sponsored by First Protein, Lisa Kelly recently stormed the stage at UKBFF qualifier in St Albans and then took the UKBFF Grand Prix Body Fitness over 163cm and overall body fitness title a couple of weeks later.

Huge congratulations Lisa! Please share with us some of the experiences you have had on your journey...

Thank you... I am absolutely over the moon with my recent success. I have competed 7 times now and each one has meant that little bit more to me. I firstly competed back in April 2013 when I set myself the goal of getting on stage after my eldest sister Karen passed away in December 2012. Karen was left deaf, blind and brain damaged after her vaccinations at 16 months old. I first choose to compete because of her, because I had choices and freedom to live whatever life I chose unlike her. Her strength that she displayed daily inspired me to chase after my goals and achieve them no matter what it took and that’s how my competitive career began.
I had my sights set on being a bikini girl from the outset and never listened to my coach when he repeatedly told me my shape was destined for bodyfitness. Needless to say after trying my luck at bikini in Kent 2014 I switched categories 2 weeks later and won the bodyfitness class in Birmingham. On to the UKBFF finals and I didn’t get a call out which fuelled my fire and has driven every single training session since October last year. Every time I felt like giving up or missing training I remembered back to that feeling on stage last year of being ignored and it pushed me through. When I won my class in St Albans on 28th June, every training session felt like it had been worth it – I proved to myself that hard work pays off!!

It is really interesting what spurs someone to decide to change their lives, be it a traumatic experience, an aspiration to achieve a goal or simply a eureka! moment. Although I am not a competitor myself I can relate to the challenge of self improvement....where do you see your goals heading to from here?

Earlier this year I went to Ohio to support my savage sister Claire McKee at the Arnold Classic. I spectated and sat in the audience dreaming big and aiming high and said to Eddie “one day I would love to represent the UK on the international stage” and after competing at the UKBFF English Grand Prix on July 5th, that dream has been realized and I have been invited to compete at the Arnold Classic Europe in Madrid in September. My goal is to work hard, get my head down and make some improvements before I step on stage again. I believe in hard work and with the support of such an amazing coach and team I believe the sky is the limit and success comes to those who never give up.

Yes, having met so many of the Savage Team now, I think it is amazing to have such a supportive team and an epic mentor like Eddie The Savage Abbew.

Their support and encouragement is second to none and when any of us step out on stage and hear the support and cheers from the whole team you can’t help but feel 10 feet tall – even the compare commented on how we raise the roof!! Haha.

How did that all come about?

I started lifting weights and training because like many others I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I had tried numerous diets over the years and was fed up of feeling fed up with myself. I was bored of starting over every Monday and when I finally accepted that my get up and go had got up and went I knew I had to make a commitment to change my lifestyle and my eating habits once and for all. I contacted Eddie and made an appointment to go and see him and I have never looked back since. Eddie is a one of a kind coach. Aside from the fact he is completely childish and never appears to take life seriously at all – when he means business – it’s on. Eddie believes in all of us. He supports us all like we are his extended family and genuinely wants each and every one of us to succeed. His support and encouragement is contagious and cascades down through the whole team. He makes us want to work hard and succeed and the results from the shows are merely the icing on the cake.

Speaking of cake, how do you deal with the diet restrictions and the on-off nature of the competitive beast?

Off season is the hardest thing to get your head around. I feel as a woman we are conditioned to want to lose weight and celebrate our success when that number on the scale goes down which is the complete opposite to the requirements of off season. As a member of team savage our check in procedure is very personalised and whilst many of my friends are bodyfitness athletes – our off seasons are all completely different. Due to changing categories in the last year over Christmas my plan was to go very off season so I could build some muscle and I enjoyed the process. Every week I check in with Eddie and he assesses how everything is going, and that for me helped me deal with what I was doing to my body. It was a process and it was controlled so even though the scales kept on going up – it was all part of the plan. I embraced my off season and kept telling myself that it’s not about how I look now – what matters is how I look next time I step on stage. The thought of being ignored again drove me to get on with it. I’m not saying I didn’t have my melt downs – I certainly did, but the good thing about being part of such a supportive team is that there are always people around that will help you deal with the struggles you are having.
l-r Michelle Leach, Eddie Abbe, Hannah Barrie, Lisa Kelly

Many people I have talked to find the diet regime much harder than the workout sessions, what would you say is a typical week for you?

My daily routine is largely the same. I eat 6 times a day, every 3 hours starting at 8am.
I work Monday - Friday in a preschool and train in the evenings with Eddie and Norbert. Weekends are spent at the gym helping with check ins and then catching up with family and friends. I usually have my cheat meal on a Sunday which works well for me as after my cheat meal, its bed time and Monday is a fresh week and a new start.

It is really important to work with the genetics you have, instead of trying to force your body to an unsuitable type. As you mentioned earlier you originally had your sights set on being a bikini competitor...what appeals most to you about body fitness?

The food! I tried to be a bikini girl but it didn’t suit my body type at all. My body loves the dietary requirements for bodyfitness and for the whole of my last prep I was hardly even hungry on the food I was on which was a welcome change in comparison to prepping last year. I also love the training, I grow tissue quite easily (whether it be muscle or bodyfat) and I am able to train hard and heavy and feel like I have achieved something with each workout.

For me now, I would say I am body confident. Training and competing has helped me learn to love my body and accept it through all the different phases I put it through. The main thing for me is knowing that I am in control of how I look and with a few tweaks here and there I can feel happy and confident in my own skin. For me, that’s been the biggest plus about this whole lifestyle change. 
And building up to competition've trained hard, stuck to your diet and done everything Eddie has advised what else gets you excited about the big day?

Having the right bikini is one of the most important parts of presenting your physique on stage. Since being introduced to you by my savage sister Hannah Barry, I step out on stage each time feeling beautiful and trusting that I can showcase my hard work without having a bikini mishap (i.e. connectors breaking and you showing the audience parts of your body they do not need to see!!)
Having a bespoke bikini allows you to showcase a little bit of your personality and seeing your ideas come to life each time you receive a design layout and then the actual bikini is one of the most exciting parts of the whole process. There are some hard days when competing but choosing your bikini helps you dig deep and work hard as you can’t wait to put it on and show it off on stage.

And finally what's the last thing you do before you step out on stage?

The last thing I do before I step out on stage is take a deep breath, smile and think to myself “I have done everything I can – so go out there and enjoy it”. If there is music playing ill always do a silly dance to loosen up and try and relax too! Hehe. 


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Stage make up basics

Stage 1 - Get the foundations correct.

Your overall stage presence is as much a part of being judged in fitness and bodybuilding as the sculpted body. You've spent months dieting, exercising, lifting, getting the perfect bikini, posing practice so you don't want your make-up to let you down.

If like me you know next to nothing about going about creating that finished look for stage I asked Samantha Davidge for her top tips on looking your best on the day. And as with everything else, it requires good preparation. Here are her top tips for getting stage made up.

  • Firstly moisturize your face as normal, then apply a good makeup base or foundation primer.  This has the effect of smoothing out pores and blurring wrinkles as well as creating a barrier between the makeup and your skin. This way your skin won't just absorb your makeup and dehydrate.
  • Colour correct. As flash photography and stage lights go straight through the foundation layer it is important to disguise any problem areas. Use the theory of colour opposition to cancel out blemishes.
  •  Create dimension in the T-zone with highlighting in the T-Zone. Because your tan will be dark highlight with a lighter matt foundation or concealer. Always remember to use matt foundations and go easy on any shimmer make-up as the stage lights make everything sparkly and too much sparkle can make you look greasy.

Samantha advises that you don't blend your face and neck  the same colour or you could end up loosing chin definition on stage. After the depletion and dieting the face can suffer so use makeup to define, plump and smooth the contours of the face to give a youthful look.

  •  Set your T-zone and under eyes with a fair bit of translucent powder and dust off the excess.

  • Apply blusher on the apples of your cheeks. Remember to pick matt colours rather than those with a shimmer.

That's your foundation comes the exciting part.