Fitness cover model Erica Wilick says for years entering a bikini competition was done mostly by women looking to gain exposure – they wanted to launch a fitness modelling career and raise their profile in the health and fitness industry.
But now more than ever a trend is emerging – ‘average women’, mothers, career women and students regardless of age, are signing up to step on stage in a skimpy bikini and spray-on tan.
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Erica Willick is co-founder of Sisters In Shape, is the financial controller at a $100M plus engineering firm and mother to a 2-year old. While Erica is not the stereotypical bikini competitor, this accountant and mother recently became UFE’s Pro Bikini Model Champion.
Erica and her real life sister Andrea Bradley founded Sisters In Shape, they write blog posts, make YouTube videos and design graphics about the many aspects of competing from the perspective of the everyday woman.
The Sisters In Shape Facebook community, for example swaps tips like how to ‘bedazzle’ a bikini, and provides fans and members with practical support such as a child-friendly protein banana bread recipes, as well as motivation.
Erica believes that one of the greatest parts about competing is the real sisterhood that will be found amongst the women who compete. Although there will always be doubters, the support, encouragement, kindness and respect the women share with their fellow competitors is incredible.
She says that this support and encouragement extends also to those just starting out, as women are very willing to share their knowledge and encouragement.
She believes this sisterhood comes from two parts of the competition preparation process.
– Firstly, there is a significant mental aspect in preparing for a competition, as you are more likely to succeed with a positive attitude and optimistic mindset.
– Secondly, there’s a mutual respect for the dedication and hard work it takes to accomplish this goal, especially for women who often wear more than one hat in their lives.
Too Hardcore or too healthy?
Erica believes that if a woman told her friend she was aiming to shed a few pounds by cutting out ‘junk’ and exercising to ‘get in shape’ her friend would likely sympathise and say she should do the same. But if she said, “I’m training for a bikini competition”, the reaction would be very different.
The general public does not understand that bikini competitions are a bodybuilding category and when run by a fitness federation, an actual sport.
But is choosing to push one’s fitness limits by competing in a bikini, figure or fitness model competition actually too hardcore for real life and the ‘average’ woman?
Ask any competitor and she will agree that the training is intense and the diet is strict.
But ask the women at Sisters In Shape and they think that as a society we’ve swung way too far away from a healthy lifestyle that the term ‘health nut’ paradoxically is frequently used for people who feed their bodies with real food (the kind you make yourself) and who exercise most days.
While a fitness competitor does spend hours in the kitchen prepping her food and avoiding the unknowns of eating-out, Sisters In Shape believes it is actually sensible and smart for your health, not crazy.
The average women spends just 5.4 hours per week preparing food and cleaning up from food prep.
Compare this to the 1950s when her predecessor would spend 20 hours per week on this household duty. While ‘cutting the apron strings’ was a sign of girl power, it has left the majority of women from all around the globe to become not just fatter, but also sick from obesity related diseases.
Erica points out that while cooking is a particular challenge for the time-crunched working woman it is a necessity for the sake of her health, whether she is competing or not.
And what about that crazy exercise programme competitors follow? Who has time for that?
Erica explains that the average US woman spends 2.53 hours per day watching television and only 13 minutes on sport and exercise.
With heart disease, cancer and lifestyle-related diseases plaguing our society, how can sitting on the couch seems preferable to working out?
Sisters In Shape sees real girl power as getting in the kitchen and flexing an educated approach to feeding yourself and your family nutritious meals. Erica and the Sisters In Shape community are using the goal of competing to stay disciplined in eating only what comes out of their own kitchen and choosing the macronutrients that build up health and the body.
And you want to see real strength? Erica says hit the gym, not the couch. With the challenge of a competition date looming you will be more motivated to do so and to learn about weight training and body shaping than ever before (think teeny- weeny competition bikini!).
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