Pictured above are the division Overall winners from NPC Team Universe last year. That’s me in the tangerine bikini third in from the right. I took home the following placings last year from the NPC Team Universe (you can click on the image to enlarge it):
Overall Master’s 40+ Bikini
1st Place Master’s 40+ Bikini B Class
1st Place Master’s 35+ Bikini B Class
4th Place Open Bikini D Class
I just realized that for the first time since 2009, I am not slated to travel to New Jersey to compete at the NPC Team Universe! No wonder I feel a bit out of sorts. I had grown so accustomed to flying to New Jersey and missing the July 4th festivities in the Los Angeles area, lugging bags full of food and competition gear and stressing out over whether I am dialed in sufficiently to do well onstage. It truly is an odd feeling not to be wound up like that!
It’s also bizarre to regard the NPC Team Universe as an event which is dear to my heart, because prior to 2013, it had always been an event in which I never placed very well. No one wins a Pro Card by placing 14th, 11th, 12th or 8th. There was something magical about the first week of July last year, and by the time I arrived in New Jersey, I knew that I would finally attain my goal of winning my Pro Card.
The NPC Team Universe is a fantastic event, and I am so excited for every single person who is competing this weekend! Best of luck to all athletes who are competing this weekend!
Ah yes, the Pro Card. The International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) awards Pro Status to hardworking bodybuilding athletes everywhere. Plenty of individuals who are enchanted by the idea of chasing after Pro Status in the bodybuilding world are under the erroneous impression that their lives will change dramatically upon winning a Pro card. While it is certainly a privilege and an honor to achieve Pro status, don’t think for a second that fame and fortune will suddenly descend upon the new Pro. The majority of new IFBB Pros still have to hustle to get sponsorships lined up, and they still have to figure out how finance upcoming competitions. With the slump in print magazine readership it has become more difficult than ever to secure a cover or a feature article, even as a Pro.
It is far more important to showcase your particular talents and strengths and build your career and your brand well BEFORE even attaining Pro status. Every single thing I have done since I started competing in 2009 was done as an amateur and was fueled by my desire to increase branding and exposure. So for those of you who hunger for that Pro card, don’t forget about what you are doing right now. The path you are walking in that race for the Pro card is your foundation for a great future in fitness and bodybuilding. Don’t risk messing up that foundation by forgetting about all the details which will get you to the Pro ranks.
One final note: I am aware of a large number of people who have jumped ship and joined other federations in their quest for Pro status. While some have made the switch in a diplomatic way, others have been so dazzled by the Pro status prize that they opted for an easier route. If switching federations is a better fit for you, then fine. But if you just want a Pro title so badly that this is the ONLY reason for switching, you might shift your focus on building your brand instead and hang up your competition hat. Remember, competing should be FUN. When you stop enjoying it, you need to retire from the stage.