The Ins and
Outs of Creating a Top Fitness Routine
by Kristi Wills
Month after month you’ve been dieting,
posing, weight training, and doing cardio to get your physique in competition
shape so you can stand on stage in a two-piece and 5 inch heels, knowing
you look the best you ever could. However, the physique round is only
part of the battle. In addition to all of the above, a fitness competitor
also has to have put in many hours of practicing a fitness routine that
will need to be performed flawlessly in front of a panel of judges and
a crowd awaiting to be wowed. You only have two minutes to express your
talent and prove that you have what it takes to be a top fitness competitor.
Today the routines are being scrutinized with many people saying that
they are not as good as they use to be. If you want to have a top scoring
routine, there’s a lot that needs to go on behind the scenes well before
The following are necessities for performing
a fitness routine:
1. Wrist guards and kneepads
2. Sneakers which should be lightweight or a dance shoe such as BLOCH
3. A professional DJ who can mix some great music. Most DJs have a turnaround
time of about a month. Music can be no longer than 2 minutes. Make sure
you have at least 2 CDs and a tape of your music and bring all copies
to your show!
4. Choreographer-once you have your music, call so you can start putting
your routine together. Three months before a show is not early!
5. Costume designer-most need 3-6 months. If you are tight on funds,
buy one from another competitor!
6. A place to practice your routine, such as your fitness club, a dance
studio, or a school gym.
Putting Together Your Routine
Once you have all of the above, you are ready to start
putting together an entertaining
routine. It’s always a great idea to watch fitness routines from past
national or pro shows. Either by being at the shows or by buying videos,
you will get a better idea of what the judges are looking for and also
learn some moves to include in your own routine. There are six mandatory
moves that must be incorporated into fitness routines and they are the
1-arm push-up, leg extension hold, high kick, straddle hold, full split
front, and full split side. In addition to these mandatory moves, the
rest of your routine should emphasize your talent, such as your strength,
dance, gymnastics, and /or flexibility. You need to make the routine
fit you, otherwise you’ll look very awkward during your performance.
It is highly suggested that you have some sort of a theme for your routine
and that your costume fits this theme. My past routine was a devil theme,
so my costume was red and black with flames. All of my songs were devil
related, such as “Devil went Down to Georgia” and “Devil in Disguise.”
When talking to your D.J, you want to tell them to add sound effects,
include fast music, and maybe have voice overs. From my past experiences
with talking to NPC judges after my shows, I was told that slow music
and the use of props are not what they enjoy. Right from the start you
need to come out with a lot of energy and make smooth transitions from
one move to the next. As you practice your routine and you get closer
to your competition, it’s a great idea to videotape your routine so
you can see how it would look from the judges’ and audience’s point
of view. You and your choreographer can then make any necessary changes.
It’s also a great idea to practice your routine in blocks. When you
first get your routine, do not expect to make it through the whole thing!
It takes weeks of practice to learn your routine and build up your strength
and stamina! You may be able to section off your routine into 4 blocks.
Practice each block individually and then when you are ready, join the
blocks together. If you give yourself 2-3 months before the show to
practice, you will be ready by competition time! I suggest having a
day during the week where you just practice individual skills, such
as your strength moves and gymnastic skills. Depending on your time
frame, a couple of other days during the week should be dedicated to
practicing with your music. Before I go to bed, I always close my eyes
and picture myself doing my routine perfectly. An old gymnastics coach
taught me this and it has paid off considerably!
A Few Last Pointers
We all know that when we perform a fitness routine,
our bodies take a beating! It is very helpful to engage in daily stretches
before and after workouts and to get massages as frequently as you can.
You might also want to enroll in yoga, pilates, or coreboard classes
to increase your flexibility. Gymnastic classes can also help you learn
some new skills. In addition, always practice your high kicks and splits.
When practicing your routine, make sure your working area is at least
32 ft. wide by 12 ft. deep. This is the working area of most national
stages. When I practice, I always tape off the distance, so when I get
on stage I know exactly how much room I have. There is nothing worse
than getting on stage, knowing you do not have enough room for your
routine, and so, you have to alter it. Once you feel comfortable with
your routine, don’t be afraid to practice it in front of a crowd. A
small crowd at your gym can help you tremendously prepare for the judges
and audience you are about to perform for. If you are planning on doing
a new routine for a national show, you may want to do a small local
show first to get your bearings and see how it appears to the audience.
Then, you can make any necessary changes for the national show, and
you’ll feel a lot more at ease, knowing it’s not the first time you
have done the routine.
As a final note, while waiting to perform your routine,
listen to your music backstage on your CD player or walkman and go through
the routine in your head. Remember, you always picture a flawless routine!
Then, when it’s your turn to perform, make sure you play up to the audience,
make the hard look easy, smile, and most of all have fun!!
About the Author...
My name is Kristi Wills and I have
been a fitness competitor for 1½ years. I compete in the NPC.
In April of 2004 I was the overall fitness winner at the Jr. USA’s.
I then went on to place third in the short class at the USA’s
in July. My goal for 2005 is to earn my Pro Card. I am very fortunate
to have great genetics and a strong background in gymnastics.
In addition, Cathy Savage from Savage Choreography and Kim Oddo
from Body By O have developed a workout schedule, diet, and fitness
routines that have helped me to be a top contender at the national
level. The best things about competing for me are being able to
entertain the audience with my fitness routines and walking out
on stage with the confidence that I know I did everything I could
do to look my very best. With each competition, I learn how to
better prepare myself, not only physically, but mentally. However,
the most important thing is that you compete for the love of the
sport and strive to reach your own personal goals.
As a 4th grade teacher, I promote a healthy lifestyle
to future generations. I have led class discussions about the
importance of diet and exercise. In the past, my students have
nicknamed me “Miss Muscles” and get excited when they know I have
a competition coming up. They wonder about some of the foods I
have to eat and ask me if I went to Florida recently because of
the tanning products. In the words of a nine-year-old, they find
it to be “cool” and “I can’t believe my teacher can do flips and
one-arm push-ups.” Besides the students looking forward to seeing
how I do in competitions, I also hope that they will choose to
follow my example of eating healthy and exercising regularly.
For present and future fitness competitors, I
am also available to help you learn the ins and outs of the sport.
Over the past year and a half, I have gained many resources necessary
for the high heels you need to walk in, the stage make-up you
should wear, costumes, DJs, etc. This is a sport that you can’t
go into blindly, as too much goes on behind the scenes. If you
have questions about anything, feel free to e-mail me at:
With my past experiences and list of reliable
resources, together we can get you the help you need. Good luck
to you all, and remember, it’s all about having fun and being
proud of the personal goals you have reached.