We arrived at the venue – a theatre in Newport – and I queued up to register. The organisers were checking each competitor’s routine music there and then, and… mine wouldn’t play. 😦 Vicky of the BNBF was lovely and assured me she’d do everything she could to try and find a way to make it work, but she did say that I might just have to do my routine to music they’d provide for me. Noooo! I went and sat with my Mum, trying not to cry!
Physique and Figure were in a room together: 8 figure girls and the 3 of us. It was a bit like the most bizarre girlie sleepover you’ve ever been to. Makeup bags, hairdryers and dressing gowns all over the place. Wine and chocolate. Sweets and brownies. Oh and bejewelled bikinis and heavy dumbbells. Ha!
Physique was the last class to go on stage, so we had a bit of a wait. I felt bloated and uncomfortable from carbing up, and I told anyone who’d listen that I really wished I could poo. Finally – hooray! – I was able to go, and not a moment too soon. What a relief! I’ve no idea if it made me look any different but I felt much more comfortable.
Annie glued me into my bikini and glazed me up. I suddenly felt as if I had no idea what I was doing, nor why I was even here. What on earth did I think I was up to? I ate some chocolate and started to pump up. Holding the weights in my hands, I felt more at home and calmed down a bit. I looked good, I could see that, but I had no idea if it was enough and I was terrified that I’d freeze on stage, or forget a pose, or just not be able to control my body.
There wasn’t any more time for worrying. Eve, Carole and I made our way up the stairs to the wings, where another lovely BNBF volunteer ran us through what would happen. Eve and Carole had both competed several times before, so he aimed this mainly at me (I’d already told him I didn’t know what I was doing, and asked him to speak to me slowly and in words of one syllable where possible). “All you need to worry about is whether or not you’re free in September to come to Glasgow for the finals,” he joked. I laughed nervously and told him I’d get back to him on that one.
The MC announced our class and I followed Eve on stage. We stood in line under the lights, me in the middle (we were in alphabetical order). One by one, the MC called us through our quarter turns. All I could think about was hitting those poses exactly right. I was flexing my quads so hard that they were shaking violently and I thought they’d never stop.
We weren’t on stage for long, but it was long enough, and he worked us pretty hard. Despite it only being a class of three, he moved us around “number 2 and number 1, change places please” and asked us to repeat some of the poses twice or three times. It was hot and I was shaking. At one point, we turned to the back and I lost my balance completely, almost falling into Eve.
But what a buzz. I loved it up there. I hadn’t been sure I would; I knew there was a 50/50 chance I’d be petrified and panicked. There was a small but very real chance I’d hate the experience and come off stage saying “never again”. I had no way of knowing.
As it was… I had a complete ball. Yes, it was hard work. My calves were cramping and the small of my back ached. I was hot, my heart was pounding. But every time I hit a pose, my nerves settled and I looked out and up into the lights and smiled without any effort at all. Before long, I felt at home and confident, hitting my poses and trying to inject a bit of flair into them. As I hit a side tricep, I heard a man in one of the front rows say “wow…” I looked for him, caught his eye and turned my tricep towards him with a smile.
“Thank you, ladies….” The pre-judging was over and we were walking off stage. I was shaking.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.