Tales of a "Bikini Babe"
figure competitor, author, model
A normal life?
I am an athlete. My life is consumed by my sport. I spend it eating six or seven times daily, training a couple of hours per day, and doing copious amounts of cardio. I make sure I get my eight hours of sleep, and carry a gallon of water wherever I go.
Open the biggest cabinet in my kitchen—you’ll see a few jugs of BCAA’s, surrounded by 3 huge containers of protein powder (to assure that I NEVER run out), glutamine, and a collection of smaller bottles with colorful caps inside.
Look around. Staring back at you, on the countertop, is an enormous box of oatmeal from Costco…along with a bottle of Se7en and Hot Rox Extreme, and at least 10 more gallons of water.
Now open my fridge. Awww…were you looking for a soda?? SORRY, all I got is chicken, eggs, broccoli and some steak for that special occasion. I SAID I’m prepping for a contest!!
You were hungry and HAD to stop by Micky D’s because there wasn’t anything healthier around? I understand. I would do the same…if I didn’t have a trunk-full of pre-made chicken with rice and a purse-full of tuna packets with me at all times! Does your lady run to the restroom to “freshen-up” at work? I do the SAME!! Except “freshen-up” means “down a shake” in my language—not “reapply mascara” as it does in hers.
Does your idea of a party involve beer?? I know how to party too!! My idea of a good time involves a squat rack and a bucket for vomiting after each grueling set…
Bikini contest with no athletic ability
Didn’t mean to get carried away, just wanted to introduce myself. Hi. How you doin’? My name is Olesya Novik. I’m a figure girl. I compete in figure competitions. You know the ones. Some like to refer to them as “bikini contests” that feature girls with “no athletic ability.” Just a bunch of “cardio bunnies” prancing around the stage in high heels. I’m one of those ladies.
Why the bitter undertone, you ask? Come train with me—or better yet, spend a day living my life—and you will see why I’m fed up with reading articles and posts all over the web stating that competing in figure requires no “special abilities, athleticism, or discipline of any kind.”
I get upset any time someone who knows NOTHING about my lifestyle goes on a board to post that figure doesn’t belong as a division of any bodybuilding federation since women competing in it aren’t “real athletes.”
What should my body look like
My life as a figure competitor is stressful enough just knowing that unlike the bodybuilding division of my sport, figure doesn’t have any set rules or requirements. While bodybuilders look to simply gain as much mass as humanly possible and get ripped to shreds prior to getting on stage, I have to determine a way to be ripped—but with no visible striations, and have very full—but defined muscles with no water OR thin skin.
My physique can not just be muscular—it has to be aesthetically pleasing to the judges of that particular show. I have to be perfectly balanced—create the illusion of a wide back, a tiny waist, capped shoulders, sculpted legs—all without looking like I have too much muscle in any portion of my figure. I have to look curvy, but strong. I push beyond physical boundaries to get my body unnaturally lean to show off the musculature I work so hard to get. I then have to work on ways to look “full” to MASK that leanness, so as to maintain my feminine appeal.
So what makes bodybuilders more “athletic” than us figure girls, anyway? Is it the fact that they get to walk barefoot on stage, and we have to pose while cramping up in heels? Or maybe it’s the fact that they don’t have to worry about their hair looking perfect, their makeup being flawless…their false lashes staying in place through the day, and their blush being visible on an orange base?
Wait, I know—it’s the fact that male bodybuilders get to hike up their bikini bottoms to show off the striations on their glutes, while I have to Bikini-Bite the barely-there “V” of the bottom portion of my suits to my ass and pray it doesn’t get unglued as I’m trying to balance in my 6” heels while looking graceful in my walk, remembering how to pose perfectly and SMILE!! All while trying to not fall because OUCH…my left leg cramped up! And WHOA…the bikini bite didn’t hold up too well…
Guess what? My barely covered booty is now disqualified from the competition.
Funny, we seem to train just like those 'real athletes'
Here we go again—back at the drawing board. Pack on some muscle to balance out my physique a bit more. Some old school training does it best for me—yep, those same Deads, Squats, Rack Pulls, Chins…those Barbell Rows and Bench. Those are what I do, just like the Bodybuilders. Just like the “real athletes” of my sport. I bust my ass, lift over twice my weight in most of those compound movements I listed. Just like them. I have deep scratches on my shins, calluses on my palms, long bruises on my back—where the squat bar rests. Yet somehow, according to so many posts on the net, what I do requires “no discipline.”
Now comes the 'easy' part
It’s nothing more than a bikini contest. And it’s time to step on stage. I’m walking slowly, approaching the entrance, grabbing onto the bottom of my suit as I walk—NO WAY IN HELL will I let that Bikini Bite fail on me this time! As I press the suit into my skin, I feel myself getting more nervous—and overwhelmingly excited at the same time. My entire body feels weak, dehydrated, shaky. I can barely see because of the heavy makeup covering my eyelids. My right foot has been cramping up ever since I got into my heels…and all I can think is…SMILE. Try to.
Be graceful, FEMININE. You’ve spent hours covering up the scratches from those Deadlifts, the bruises from the Squats to look flawless—like a lady should! Now it’s your turn. GO! SMILE! Don’t flex too hard! Don’t trip! Rock the hips when you walk! NOT THAT MUCH—watch the Bikini Bite!!
WHEW. It’s over. I did it. The prejudging is done. Time to rest, re-touch my makeup, remain “dry” yet full-looking, fix the hair, and not ruin the tan—which means stay away from water. ANY water. Well…I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma. I DO want the perfect tan—with no drip marks anywhere on my body—for the night show. But nature calls. I’ve GOT to pee. I’m NOT a male. My anatomy makes it impossible to just “stand & aim.” I need to sit, and risk splashing water onto my perfectly tanned bottom. Yes, this too requires ingenuity. I end up peeing in a plastic cup to avoid any marks on my tan.
As soon as I’m backstage prior to the night show starting, I begin helping other girls with their dilemmas. One ruined her tan by not being as resourceful as me when she had to pee. Another competitor had the look of death on her face because one of the straps of her suit broke. Armed with a sewing kit, a few of the girls jumped to help her—while a few others (myself included in this group), went to comfort her and convince her that all would be OK!
As I was thinking of ways to make her understand that what was happening to her was in no way a life-or-death situation, something occurred to me. I DID want to win. Badly. But this isn’t what amazed me—the reason for my desire to win is what was truly surprising!
Squats, 3am cardio ...and life
Unlike male bodybuilders of my sport, I would NOT be rewarded for my efforts in winning the show with a cash prize. All I would be getting is a plastic trophy. The trophy, along with recognition for being the best athlete on stage that day. That is what meant a lot to me. The Squats, the Deadlifts, the Rack Pulls…the bruises, and cuts on my shins. All the vomiting on leg day. All those times I was up for cardio at 3am, before eating a cold chicken breast on my way to work an hour later. ALL WORTH IT, for that recognition!!
I placed first at the show, which, of course, made me happy. In all honesty, however, it’s the weeks leading up to the show that taught me a whole lot about why I love my sport. I learned a lot about who I am, and how determined the iron, the treadmill, and that chicken breast have made me. I learned that I definitely do not give up easily! And hell, if I can lift those 350lbs for sets of 13 reps…I sure will have no problems dealing with just about anything else life throws my way!
A human body is a machine, controlled by the mind. If the mind believes it, the body will achieve it. At least that’s how MY mind works. You know—the mind of an athlete…