Super Model Weekend
I always kind of wondered what it would be like to be a super model; to be six feet tall with perfect hair and look sultry in photos in exotic locations. At 5’2″ and age 42, my super model days were already numbered at zero, but I found something that came really close: Fitness America Weekend in Las Vegas.
Fitness Universe, Musclemania, Model Universe – they’re all divisions of a giant bodybuilding competition federation that has shows around the world. What makes Fitness America different from regular bodybuilding competitions is that it’s more like a pageant. And can I tell you? It’s amazingly fun.
The check in was Thursday, so I flew in Wednesday afternoon, a day ahead of my family. That alone was worth it. The competition was held at the Golden Nugget and since I had nothing to do and no one that I was responsible for beyond myself, I went to the spa. I got my nails done, sat in the sauna to get rid of water weight from the plane ride and then tried an exfoliating body butter wrap, ’cause why the hell not?
Then I turned on some sexy music and practiced my spotlight walk in front of the hotel closet mirror, making sure to spend equal time in each outfit.
There are three rounds of judging for the model division: Club wear, sports-themed outfit and bikini. I decided to keep consistent with my favorite color (red), so red dress, red football jersey and red bikini.
My family arrived the next day. The kids were on cloud 9 swimming in the giant pool with an aquarium running through it and my husband enjoyed gambling in the casino. Our nephew, Austin, and his girlfriend, Jessica, came up from California to watch the kids on Friday (media day) and Saturday (competition day) so I could focus on pretending to be a super model and my husband could pretend to be James Bond.
Media Day is what sets this federation apart from all others. Most bodybuilding federations say they care about the athletes, but they don’t really invest anything in them. The promoters here will cross-promote your photos on social media and they let you post your headshot bio on their Facebook page, which could potentially send new viewers to your website.
There were a slew of professional photographers there. Everyone dressed up in their bikinis and swimsuits and did a group shot in front of the pool. As it was November though, it was effing freezing (!!) and I wore my faux fur coat over my bikini, hoping that the spray on tan wouldn’t stain it.
Random old men who just happened to be staying at the hotel found all sorts of reasons to come outside to the pool area at the exact time all 426 of us bikini-clad competitors were lounging around. They also seemed to figure out how to work the cameras on their cell phones, which was pretty funny.
Our photo-shoot was live-streamed on MusclemaniaTV and FitnessUniverseTV, which have about 2 million followers. They even had a drone camera flying around and we all waved to it from the pool balcony. (I’m not a model but I played one on FitnessUniverseTV…) I loved it.
But not as much as I loved my own personal photo shoot with Eva Simon! She’s a fantastic photographer and her pictures end up in the fitness and glam magazines, so it was a great experience for me. The photo shoot was separate from media day, but I could justify it for business reasons (my blog and future books).
This was the first glamour shoot I’ve ever done, and by glamour I mean going to some mansion in the dessert, putting on an evening gown and fancy earrings and parting my lips just enough to appear pouty but in a sexy-pouty way that models seem to do all the time in fashion magazines. OMG it was so much fun! For one shot she threw my faux fur inside out over a chair and I leaned into it, twisting my body to look as curvaceous as possible and a giant chandelier was lit up behind me. I can’t wait to get my photos back so I can show you!
I also did some straight up fitness shots in a Victoria Secret sports bra and booty shorts and a few bikini pictures, just on principle. If you’ve never done a glamour shoot before I highly recommend trying it at least once in your life, if you’re into that kind of thing.
That night I went to a posing seminar. Fitness Universe weekend is huge, with almost 600 competitors, so they have categories on stage on different days and times throughout the weekend. By some random fluke the seminar was held during the same time that the bodybuilding bikini competitors were on stage, and since this time I only did the model division, I ended up being the only woman in the class surrounded by male models. For real.
The next day was the competition. Usually I wear clip in hair extensions, but this time I just went a natural with my own hair and had it styled like Veronica Lake and I wore red lipstick to keep with the 1940’s classic Hollywood theme.
Backstage was just so interesting to watch. These women did not play around! Some of the women easily paid hundreds of dollars for their intricate costumes. The age ranged from teens up to a woman who was 69 (but she was doing figure). Most of the women looked to be in their late 20’s to early 30’s.
The model competition was divided into two sections: Commercial (think: tall runway model/fashion magazines) and Sport (think: short spunky chicks like me.) There were 26 women in the sports model category. For each round we did an individual spotlight walk followed by group poses.
Most bodybuilding federations cram as many athletes on stage that will fit and you get 10 seconds tops to do your poses if you are in the bikini division. Model Universe, however, is set up like a pageant, so as you walk on stage the host reads out cool things about you from your bio, so you really feel like a movie star.
This is the club wear round.
The next round was fitness theme outfit. The looks ranged from Halloween costume to sexy hockey players to exercise clothes from the mall, so it was really up to the individual. For my costume I went to the boys section of Walmart and cut up a football jersey and paired it with bikini bottoms and some awesome Harley Quinn boots. Most of us held a prop (like the girl in the middle had a riding crop/equestrian theme and the woman next to me held resistance bands). I held my son’s football.
(Side story – In addition to spray on tan you oil up your skin before you walk on stage to make your muscles look better. I completely forgot to take that into account when practicing with my prop. Try holding a pigskin when you’re oiled up…)
The final round was bikini. The poses in the model division are a little more dancy than an NPC show, so the back photo was snapped mid-arm movement.
My husband cheered me on from the crowd and sent me little text messages throughout the show. He also took all the above pictures with his cell phone. Yay!
I had an absolute blast. While I didn’t place, I think I will do a lot better next time, now that I understand the model walk and what’s expected in terms of the costumes.
While definitely on the older spectrum of the competitors, I held my own and felt confident on stage. For a 42 year old mom of two, I felt great – strong, healthy and happy.
Kudos to my trainer, Robin Johnson Jr. for making me do a bazillion squats with heavy weights and bugging the hell out of me to stick to my meal plan.
When the show was over it was back to Lisa, wife and mom; not nearly as glamourous (I’m a firm believer in messy hair and sweatpants at home) but way more fulfilling. 🙂
Kuddos to my husband and kids for avoiding McDonalds for months at a time to be supportive of my restrictive competition diet and for joining me in the garage to chit chat as I logged in the miles on the treadmill. They earned this vacation too.
We had fun traipsing around Las Vegas…
And then rented a car and drove to Los Angeles. We visited Universal Studios and Disneyland
and ended up celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, so there was a little something for everyone.
Since they have shows all around the world, I’m going to do the one in Costa Rica in May 2017. It gives me a major fitness goal to work towards, an opportunity to be glamourous for a weekend and provides a fun vacation destination for my family. Let’s hear it for bodybuilding!
P.S. – If you’re serious about getting healthy, but need help getting started, try my S.L.I. Method on my website ShesLosingIt.com. Only YOU can do the work, but I can give you the tools that I’ve learned over the past four years about nutrition, exercise and overcoming excuses.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX!!!
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