team. The decision to enter a fitness competition can be quite overwhelming to an individual unfamiliar with the entire process. While most athletes are comfortable with the commitment required to train for a specific show, the other components such as nutritional planning, posing routines, suits, stage presence, etc, can leave an individual feeling confused and second-guessing their original decision. It’s now common place for athletes to seek out the resources and support of a team to help achieve the end goal of stepping on stage. Over the past few years of fitness competitions, the presence of teams has greatly increased to the point where some coaches now bring several dozen athletes to a particular show. These seasoned coaches have the experience to assist their athletes and teams with a multitude of preparation details. The NPAA has welcomed the participation of all these wonderful teams, including; Impact Nutrition, Tight N’ Curvy, Endurance on 8th, Team Ignite, Pure Fitness, Lisa Parker, just to name a few. Creating a positive team environment helps to boost an athletes confidence by joining others training towards a similar goal. Through these team connections, the members can support and encourage others without feeling The supportive approach to fitness competitions. threatened towards one another. Group posing sessions allow a coach to connect athletes together while polishing their routines. The first time a competitor slips on a pair of five inch heels, an itty bitty suit, and strut around in front of a group of athletes, it can be quite unnerving. An introductory team meeting sets the tone for an encouraging environment. Team bonds begin to develop when athletes create training partnerships and friendships. The backstage experience is non-threatening and less intimidating. Team members pull together and share in the excitement for each other’s accomplishments. A feeling of camaraderie and union is built, extending to include many other athletes and backstage helpers. Audience members have witnessed athletes coming to the aid of other athletes on the verge of collapse from exhaustion or illness. Although a fitness competition is regarded as an individual achievement, the bonds built between competitors is quite apparent. Backstage ‘selfies’ are taken with teammates and new found friends. Laughter and teasing can be heard in the change rooms. Comments and remarks are exchanged about whose pre-stage pump up treat is the tastiest. Being part of a fitness team can be both a resource and a support system for an athlete. It can help with everything from the pre-competition jitters to gaining a thorough understanding of training and nutritional strategies. While certainly not an absolute requirement to prepare for a fitness show, it can be particularly helpful for someone new to the process. Find a team whose philosophy and vision aligns with your own fitness goals and personal values. Lisa Schirok-Dardis Team Schirok Hard Bodies, May 2012, NPAA Coach of the Year 12.