Financial Cost of Competing


The other day I was going over my monthly expenses to trim whatever was not necessary. I suppose this means I am officially a grown up. Each time I do this, I notice the spending related to my health and fitness goals is substantial- particularly since I am a competitor. It made me think of preparing for my very first competition and how I WISH someone would have just given it to me straight so I could have financially prepared for the second most expensive day of my life (weddings come first)

  1. Coaching (posing coaching/ personal training): If you are a beginner and you can afford one on one coaching with your nutrition and training from a qualified professional, I highly recommend this. You will learn proper form that is priceless vs. being in a group class setting or watching videos of exercises. You also will get a great starting point for where to begin your macronutrient intake. I stumbled upon Mike Vacanti’s website where he said: “calculating macros is 90 percent fact and 10 percent art”. I agree. You can only get so far with most calculators.

What to look for in a coach

Pricing typically relates to the experience of the person and how much they delve into your background to make a truly custom plan. If you aren’t asked at least a handful of questions about what you’ve been doing or eating, it is not likely you will be receiving a custom plan. Find a coach that is continuing to learn, keeping up with current research, and striving to better themselves in coaching. I have been in fitness since I was a child but only have been competing in physique competitions for about four years and I can tell you so much has changed! Also, match your personality! You want to be able to openly communicate with your coach and receive the push you need during your prep. If you need tough love, find that, if you prefer gentle coaching, find that.

Cost: Prices vary- most are between $200- $600 a month for online training, one on one sessions may be included in the package in a limited amount or paid for separately. If you are training one on one with someone, nutrition may or may not be included. Make sure you know what is and what is not included in your monthly rate as well as how much contact you will have with your coach (do you check in once a week/ biweekly/ monthly)

  1. Supplements- You do not need to go crazy with the supplements. Get a quality whey protein powder (or pea protein if you don’t do whey), some branch chain amino acids, and a multivitamin and call it a day. Use coffee for your caffeine if you want to skimp on pre workout for the time being. Keep things simple.

Cost: 5 lb of protein is between $50- $120, you can get 2 lb containers, but you might as well get the larger size to save the money. Look for discount codes or check out sites like for great deals. Branch chain amino acids are between $30- $60 for a container that ranges between 30- 40 servings. A quality multivitamin is about $15- 40 for a one month supply.


  1. Meals– I don’t want to perpetrate the cliché that it is more expensive to eat healthily. I know I saved skipping out on my Starbucks trips and alcohol. Purchasing protein sources can be pricey, though, so watch your cuts of meat and plan accordingly. During my first show, I was walking in and ordering filets (19.99 a lb) instead of sirloin (7.99 a lb). Not my wisest moment.

Plan for 4- 6 meals per day including a protein source at each of those meals.


  1. Suits and posing heels– You’ll need to order your heels in plenty of time for practice and to break them in, so the sooner you have them, the better. Suits can be outrageous in price depending on the crystals used as well as who the designer is that crafted the suit. Like anything, name brands exist in the competition suit world. You can rent a suit to save money, which I HIGHLY recommend before purchasing one. If this is your first competition, make sure you love competing before you fork out the big bucks. If you do spend a ton on your suit but decide to stop competing, you can sell it.



Shoes- approximately $50

Suit: rental: $75- $150, purchase completely encrusted $400- $1200


  1. Makeup artist – Even if you are talented in completing your makeup looks, you will want to have at minimum a consultation with an MUA (makeup artist) that has worked with fitness competition clients. The colors used must match your tan, ideally blend in your tan to your face flawlessly while transitioning to a lighter center concealer/ foundation color. Having the appropriate amount of false eyelashes is necessary, as you do not want ones that are too thick and can cast large shadows on your face from the stage lights.


Makeup class or consult: $60- $200 for you to learn how to achieve the look yourself

Day of makeup application: $100- $200 PER DAY. You must take into consideration if you are competing in a one or two day show and plan accordingly. Also, make sure you have the ability to get touch ups from your MUA. If not, make sure you have the items needed in case you need to make a few touch-ups yourself.


  1. Hair- This is the one thing I prefer to do myself for the simple reason that I hate hair products. I keep it simple and go with straight or slight waves. I also have naturally long hair. Some competitors choose to use clip in extensions for length or volume. You can ask about grouping hair and makeup together since typically MUAs provide hair services.

Cost ranges from $50- $80 to style natural hair, possible charges to add in clip-in extensions

The cost for extensions that are placed in professionally: $400- $1200 depending on the amount of hair used and quality.


  1. Registration fees and membership card fees– in the NPC you will need to obtain a membership. The membership is good for one calendar year. You will show the card at your competition check in and pay your registration fee for that particular competition. Before you arrive at check-ins, make sure you have the proper funds to pay your fees if you have not paid in advance.


Cost: NPC membership card: $125 good for the calendar year (if you buy one in November, it is only good until December 31st)


Registration fees: $80- $100 for most shows due at registration but can be paid in advance.


  1. Tan– If this is your first competition, book a spray tan by the company that is on site AND BACKSTAGE at the competition. First timers usually make mistakes and need last minute touch ups before they go on stage. If you purchase a tan from a company other than who is backstage, the company that is backstage will not be able to give you a touch-up! The tanning products do not mix- and they do don’t pro bono work.

Should you decide to tan yourself, purchase the kit beforehand and do a trial run to make sure, you can apply the color evenly and flawlessly while also obtaining the shade of tan needed for the competition.


Cost: About $35 for a self-tan kit. Liquid Sun Rayz, Jan Tana, or Pro Tan will have options available. The kit will allow for more than one application and touch up.

I recommend using the tanning company you will be tanning with scrubs and prep products for your skin the week before you tan.

$100- $120 for a tan that includes unlimited sprays, the cost is per day.


This comes out to approximately $1275 using the least expensive coaching and stage look options. This total is without including meals that may increase your grocery bill if you have not been purchasing many protein sources previously. You will likely also spend approximately $600 in supplements in the 12 weeks (typical prep length) leading up to the show using the least amount of supplements suggested on this list.


So you are there, you forked over the cash, and you took home the gold! What do you win? There is not a cash prize that I know of in an amateur league. If you obtain your Pro Card, you have the opportunity to win cash prizes for placing in the Top 3-5 depending on the competition.


My humble advice to you: if you have a dream to step on stage, plan in advance. Start saving now. Stress is never good for your physique, and the last thing you want to do is get your stomach in knots over financial stress about expenses. Competing is an expensive hobby, but I have found that it pays back in ways that are priceless.

Need more help planning for your first comp?! Check out