5 valuable tips for competing for the first time on a budget

Are you thinking about doing your first-ever bikini or bodybuilding competition? You heard and read so often that it's so expensive and that you have to spend thousands of pounds/dollars to get on stage and look good? If you're willing to pay that much money, this isn't a blog post for you. However, if you want some smart tips on how to compete on a budget, you're definitely right.

Fist things first: Yes, you definitely have to spend some money for key items, but you don't have to spend a fortune. There are things you definitely need, and things you don't really need. Don't worry, you won't look like a scrimper.

A few weeks ago I competed in my first bikini competition in London.

I was lucky that the venue was near my home, so there were no travel costs for me, other than the bus ticket.

Here's what I payed for my first bikini competition:

That's it. Makes a total of £463.99. Let's make it £470 including travel. It's still a lot of money in my opinion, but it's way less than people wanted to make me believe I have to pay. I was told to make myself ready to pay £1000-2000, so £460 was totally fine with me. Especially with the fact in mind, that you can reuse most of the items. Only the membership (yearly), the make up, the tanning and the body scrub are recurring (clocking in at £136 total).

And nope, I didn't look like I saved money. Here are some pics of my bikini and my show day:

I didn't mention things like food in the list above, because basically you're saving money here during competition prep. You're on a restricted diet, so you probably buy less food than normal. No expenses on junk or processed ready meals either. Furthermore, I didn't mention expenses like gym fees. I simply assume that you were registered in a gym before you decided to compete. Therefore, you have to pay gym fees wether or not you compete.

Here are some valuable tips, how you can save money when competing, but nevertheless get the best out of you.

Hiring a nutrition and training coach

As you can see in my personal cost calculation above, I didn't hire any coach. That's because I didn't need one. We live in a century, where you can research everything! There are so many great articles and vlogs out there. Use them!

Read, research, ask people who competed before and learn. Try things out, see how your body responds and change if needed. You have plenty of time to adjust your diet, if something's not working out the way you want to.

Losing weight and competition prep is really no rocket science! Actually it's just common sense! Just listen to your body. I know it's trial and error, and it can be really scary sometimes to be your own coach, but you got this. Plus, it will save you £500-1000! Now, everyone has to decide on his/her own, but I had enough knowledge about nutrition before I decided to compete, so I really didn't need a nutrition coach. If you feel like you really need one, go ahead. But keep in mind that you have to find a good one! Most are just really bad and will - quite frankly - fuck you up. So make sure your coach of choice has a track record of sort!

Do your own tanning, make up and hair

Some of the shows will have their own tanning company and make up artist at the venue. The costs for that are about £100-200. You can easily avoid these expenses by just doing it yourself.

But you have to use high quality products (you will still save money!) for a flawless application. For tanning I used the products by ProTan. They are super simple to use and come with explanation videos. They provide a really great service. However, you will need some help of a friend to apply the tan properly, for instance on your back.

My make up skills are very bad, so I've chosen to hire a make up artist. I contacted her via Instagram and I was lucky that she offers a really incredible pricing. If you're also not that good with make up, maybe consider asking a friend of yours who knows that stuff better.

Another suggestion is, go to the Mac store or another make-up counter and ask them to do a sample "pageant look". It's a dramatic, smokey eye look. Take a picture of yourself and try to re-create it on your own. Keep in mind, your make up and tanning has to match. The lights are very bright and you could end up looking washed out. Choose a make up base, that is a few shades darker (don't worry, if you bought a too dark one, you can mix it with a lighter base to get the perfect shade you need).

A lot of girls like to do manicure and pedicure, which cost another £15-60. I simply applied some nail polish and that's it. Getting nails done is definitely nothing mandatory.

Same goes for waxing. If you've never had a waxing done before, I would not recommend to do it, because you will not know if your skin reacts with irritations, especially when it comes to applying the tan. It's totally enough to shave yourself properly everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere! And possibly you'll need some help there, too. If you have enough time until your contest, you can try waxing and see how your skin reacts. But no experiments days before the contest!

When it comes to hair, it was pretty simple for me. I just curled it. I bought a hair curler at my nearest drug store and tried it a few times before show day. And it looked really great. You can also go for straight hair.

Opt for a suit for less

It's one of the biggest expenses of competing - the suit. But it doesn't have to be. A good quality suit can cost up to £2000, depending on designer and how many stones/crystals you want.

Here's one thing: Judges don't care how many crystals you have on your suit. They won't devalue your body composition, because you don't have enough bling on you. However, they will note the fit of your suit and where it hides or cuts your physique. So no, Primark is not an option here!

I spent quite some time to research for good quality suits for an affordable price. Then I found MuscleDazzle. Check them out, if you're still looking for one. They also have a really amazing costumer service.

Many designers also have discounted suits (even if they don't have them on their website, just send them a mail and ask) or plain competition suits, which come at a fraction of the normal price. MuscleDazzle sells plain competition suits for £104. Unbeatable, if you ask me. If you opt for a plain suit, you also can add some stones yourself.

Furthermore, there are some Facebook groups, where girls sell their old bikinis for a fraction of the price. Usually, you can get suits there for £100-300, depending on designer and how often they wore them. But you have to be fast to grab the one you like, and it's not tailored to your measurements.

Another tip are fitness expos, like Bodypower. Usually at least one of the booths is rented by a bikini designer and they often have good prices as well. Plus, since it's face to face, you have some wiggle room in regards to pricing ;)

I also didn't buy any jewellery. It just felt unnecessary to me, because I wore my hair down and my bikini already was really shiny, so I personally didn't want too much of the bling. If you want some jewellery, but don't want to spend so much, search on Amazon. You can find something there for incredibly low prices. Remember, the jury is sitting quite "far" away from you. They can't tell if it's a £15 or a £500 earring. Nor do they care.

Posing classes

Hands down, nailing your posing routine is really important. You have to learn how to pose for your unique body composition. Some poses maximise and some poses minimise your strengths and weaknesses. It can be beneficial to hire a posing coach, but there is no problem with doing it yourself.

There are a lot of Youtube videos teaching you how to pose and walk properly, and which poses are better for specific body types. Just make sure to inform yourself about the poses your federation wants to see.

A good tip is to record yourself during posing and walking. Therefore, you can judge yourself and see where you have to improve.

If you think you need some posing training, look for group seminars, which are much cheaper than private lessons. Also, you're usually good to go after 2 or 3 sessions. Film yourself and adjust a bit after that on your own. It'll also give you a better feeling and understanding for the poses. You don't need 12 classes or more, unless you're having a really hard time getting it right.

Make your own body scrub

Even though it isn't a big price point, you can even save here by making your own body scrub. Plus, it's really simple.

Here's all you need. You'll most likely have all ingredients already at home, therefore no extra cost for you:

  • 1 cup ground coffee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Start with melting the coconut oil and allow it to cool down, but not to solidify. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container or a mason jar.

Use this body scrub regularly the week before your competition and before you do your tanning.


See, there are expenses that you can justify and expenses that you just can't. This is something you have to decide on your own. In the end you have to feel great on stage. Do you really need that extra bling-y bracelet to feel more comfortable on stage? If so, than go ahead and buy it. If not, just don't. You will not place better by wearing a bracelet.

What are your experiences with budget and competing? Do you have more tips? Please let me know in the comments!

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