As we’re sure you all have read on our previous posts, we both competed in our first show on 23rd April 2016, with Pure Elite in Margate. It was an amazing experience with some conflicting emotions, so to give you a real sense of our feelings on it, we decided to write our reviews entirely separately and honestly. We have written our own review without reading the other person’s in advance, so you should get an uncensored view of how our weekend went!
Well the day finally came… show time. Everything that I had been through was for this moment. I was really excited on the days leading up to the show and any nerves seemed to fade away. I felt that I had worked as hard as I could to reach my goals and whilst I did feel that I should have come in leaner I am happy with my physique and considering where I started on January 1st I was over the moon!
We traveled down to Margate early on Friday 22nd April to get our tans done. This was an experience!! Getting sprayed mahogany in a room full of other naked women isn’t something I am used to! Anyway the experience wasn’t too bad although I was bloody freezing and I seemed to take forever to dry off! The rest of the day went by very quickly and we met a couple of competitors throughout the day all getting ready for the show. Our trainer made his way down and we had a meeting that night before going to bed with a glass of wine to dry out! I slept like a log, clearly the wine finished me off and knocked me out!
We were up early on Saturday 23rd April to get to the venue for our tans to be checked and for me to get my hair and makeup done. Suddenly the nerves started to kick in. As soon as I got my bikini on I started to feel a rush of adrenaline but I was still excited more than anything! It was a long day and I was on and off the stage throughout the whole show. Whilst I am glad I entered a few categories in hindsight 5 was too many and I was exhausted by the end of the show and I couldn’t relax as I was constantly thinking about which category was coming up next. I got extremely nervous and my T-walk for my first category was dreadful, I looked like bambi on ice, my legs were like jelly. Thankfully it did get easier as the day went on and my confidence kicked in, but that initial moment on the stage was just embarrassing!
During the course of the day I spent a long time chatting with other competitors and everyone was so lovely to me. A lot of people had heard about my story and it was interesting to meet so many people who have followed my journey. I got to talk to the other ladies in the transformation category and it was wonderful to hear their stories and how they had transformed their own lives and bodies.
My last category was transformation which was the last category of the day. So the awards ceremony started and my first category to be called up was tattooed muscle. This was the category where I made a mess of walking so I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of placing…. much to my surprise I placed 2nd!! I was over the moon as not only did I place but I received my pro card, enabling me to compete at the pro show at the indigo O2 in London on November 5th! I didn’t place in mums that lift or fitness model and I will get feedback shortly on this so I can find out which areas I need to work on for the future. In couples we placed 2nd which sounds good but with only 1 other couple competing it felt bittersweet. I was genuinely devastated that we didn’t win the couples category or at least earn our 2nd place. It was the category that meant the most to me and we had worked so hard on our routine and everything about our prep had been done together and winning couples would have been a perfect way to celebrate that. But again I will be asking for feedback and I have no doubt that we will be back competing in couples category again. Finally the results for transformation came. 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd place all awarded and I remained on the back wall. I honestly didn’t think I could ever come home with a winning trophy but when Audrey called out my name and number my heart nearly stopped!! I had WON! 1st place transformation and another pro card! I stood at the front of the stage with 3 trophies in my hand and 2 pro cards, all from my first show! I was ecstatic but devastated at the same time because I knew Mr C hadn’t placed in any of his solo categories and whilst we received a trophy for 2nd place couples we didn’t get pro cards. This left my success feeling very empty because I knew he would be devastated that I would be able to compete at the pro show and that he would have to go home feeling worthless. I met him backstage and I was right he was totally gutted. Obviously he was proud of me and happy for me but he couldn’t hide the sadness in his eyes and it did take the shine off my win. I don’t blame him for feeling this way, I know I would be the same and we both went back to the hotel with mixed emotions.
The after party came and went and we went to bed exhausted. The next day we made the journey back home and discussed at length the future plans. Mr C was very upset and couldn’t really figure out what he wanted to do at this point. It was all too raw. I just wanted to make him feel better but I knew I couldn’t and knowing how upset he was brought me to tears. I wanted to be jumping for joy but instead I was crying and feeling like I had cause all this hurt.
Competing as a couple has both positives and negatives. Whilst you can share the experience together and work at it together you go on stage alone and if one person does significantly better than the other it can cause resentment. That first day after the show was a difficult one but I had to give him space to think things over and decide what he wanted to do with his future in this industry. A couple of days later and he started to emerge from it all and has made some decisions about where to go from here. We have another show after a 4 week gap and the prep diet and training has recommenced, he is going to give it everything and not let the disappointment from not placing in this first show stop him from trying again. I am glad he is not going to let this beat him because I was incredibly lucky to place in my first show, I fitted my categories a little better and going forward we realise that fitness model is not the right category for Mr C, but the experience of competing should be seen and looked back on positively. He has achieved so much just going out there and getting on that stage and he should be as proud of himself as I am of him.
What a weekend. Having built up to this for about 17 weeks in proper prep, and psychologically for months before that, the show finally arrived. I worked right through to the Thursday so Mrs C covered a lot of the logistics and food prep so we were ready to go. On the Friday morning we got up around 4:30 to do final showers and get everything packed to go at about 6:30 or so. The journey for us was around 260 miles and takes over 4 and a half hours, but with the fact that we were at the end of a water depletion cycle there were quite a few loo stops to slow us down! We actually made good time and arrived at about 12pm at the hotel to check in and unpack.
Our tans were booked with Get Bronzed (one of the official tanners for Pure Elite) at a local community centre, Mrs C at 1:30pm and me at 2:30pm. I dropped Mrs C there and parked the car nearby then took a stroll around Margate for an hour, past Winter Gardens where the show would be, and through the town where I got to look longingly into some lovely-looking cafes and restaurants.. I duly showed up at 2:30pm for my tan, dreading it but trying to hide that (those who know me in “normal life” will testify that waxing/tanning etc. are not typical for me!!). I was given the dreaded sock (Spiderman – nice touch with the superheroes..) and put in a pop-up tanning tent then painted a rather striking shade of brown! The ladies were all very good at setting people at ease and just getting on with the job, since they’ve seen it all a million times and had huge numbers of people to get through it was probably more of a production line to them. That said, there were surreal moments when you looked around and saw loads of naked guys (except for the superhero sock) getting sprayed and strolling around, and you were left wondering just what in the hell you’re doing.. Next step was to be moved over to the drying area, basically standing in front of a big fan to get the tan dry without flaws – this was a great way of doing things because as long as you look after it, the show day then starts with quick touch-ups and a glaze before you go on stage, and that’s that, nice and simple. They’re on hand right through the show, and I did have to get a little help as mine started to wear where I’d sweated. I have to say the Get Bronzed ladies were fantastic throughout, and I’d always use them in future.
Once the tan was done we headed back to the hotel to sit about and try not to ruin it! Andrew Smerdon mentioned in the Facebook group that he was in the same hotel so he popped up to our room to introduce himself – he turned out to be a genuine, humble and inspiring guy who we ended up spending most of the rest of the weekend hanging out with because we got on so well. He has more of a bodybuilding background, but after arranging to compete in Pure Elite got hit by a major personal curveball – rather than drop out he stuck with it and ended up leaving with a well-deserved Pro Card. We nipped up to the athlete’s registration at 8pm and bumped into Bev, who Andrew knew already. She also lovely and a bit mad (in a good way!), and was competing in Miss Bikini, though unfortunately we didn’t get to see her as we were on stage just after. From the pictures though, she clearly did a fantastic job and looked amazing. Hanging out with these guys backstage all day was a great laugh and they made it a lot of fun.
Anyway, registration was fairly uneventful and we got back to the hotel to get a glass of wine in (drying out) and get to bed after checking in with our trainer, Genna, who arrived after a long drive down with bad traffic!
So, show day arrived. We got ourselves ready and headed down to the venue for 8:15 as this was when Get Bronzed needed Mrs C for her tan check (she only needed a little patch fixing). Mine was at 9:30 and I needed a light coating on my back and legs but that was fairly quick and easy. Pure Elite had arranged a lot of filming to be done during the show, some following specific people – it turned out that one of the crews was there filming their guy in the tanning area, with no real consideration of who was in the naked in the background! I clocked this immediately and had to ask the tanning ladies to make sure I wasn’t filmed, as I’m not ok with that!!! Interestingly, that same film crew interviewed me later in the day and fairly rapidly tried to steer questioning to my thoughts on steroids, so I’d be very curious to see what spin that programme has on things..
After tan checks it was supposed to be the athlete meeting before the show, but that didn’t really materialise to be honest. The Pure Elite team was so busy and there had been so much information given prior to the event that it wasn’t necessary anyway so that was fine. We did get in on the Pure Elite clothing photo though, which was nice. After that, it was just a case of getting ready to go on stage. The athlete parade was the first thing in the show at 12:30pm, and our categories were the first on stage after that. Our categories were spread right through the whole show and we were actually in the last categories at around 8:30pm as well, so it was a long day!
My first category was Tattooed Muscle, straight after the athlete parade at the start of the show. There was a lot of confusion around getting the athletes in the right order and in the right place, due to the sheer volume of people moving off stage! As a result, I was pretty much thrust on stage without having time to pump up, prepare or think (the former being a shame, the latter being probably good!). I only entered this category on a whim because I have one mid-sized tattoo on my back, but I don’t think I really should have, in retrospect. I felt a little silly because in most of my poses you can’t see a tattoo, so it must have looked a little odd! Still, it was good experience anyway, and gave me an extra taste of the stage.
Next was couples, and I really enjoyed this one. We always said this was the most important one for us, because we have been on this journey together and everything we’ve done has been closely linked – we’ve supported each other, pushed each other, helped each other get over insecurity and weak moments, even taken over each other’s meal prep when time was tight for one of us. I guess it’s just been something we’ve shared in every way possible, and that may go some way to explaining why it was such a focus for us, and why we desperately wanted a good result. We discovered there was only one other entrant, so we also hoped our chances of winning would be good. We spent months putting together our routine and even practicing our quarter turns and walks together so that we moved in sync – everything we could do to have the best chance possible. When we came out for our T-walk they started playing our routine music and Audrey (the show’s MC and our posing coach) told the audience we were doing our quarter turns, so everything was going wrong!! We ignored all that and stuck with it though, and I don’t think it affected us at all, so I’m pleased with that. Next was the quarter turns, with both couples up front, and they went pretty smoothly. Finally our routine. I felt brilliant doing it – everything seemed to go well and all our planning and rehearsal seemed to set us at ease and unfold exactly right. I stayed in the wings and watched the other couple afterwards, and though they did very well I have to admit I felt like our planning and confidence gave us an edge so I had very high hopes of winning this category.
Next for me was Fitness Model under 75kg. I felt quite small compared to the others in this category as I came in around 69.2kg, but felt that the category was intended to be less muscular than Muscle Model and more of a lean, fitness model (Men’s Fitness was in my mind) look. There was a huge women’s category before us and we were a huge category too, so they split us into 2 groups and called us backstage early to get us in order. The downside to this is that I’d taken on some sugar and started a pump up straight away and by the time I got onto stage I had crashed following the sugar and lost my pump – more learnings for the future there! Still, the T-walk and quarter turns went well, though I found the guys to be very “alpha male” and pushy in the quarter turns! To be honest, I found that atmosphere within the group quite uncomfortable because of that, and just afterwards I did say to Mrs C that I felt hesitant about doing that category again.
Finally, Transformation. Mrs C and I went through our transformations at the same time, at the same pace and side by side, just like everything major that we do. I guess I felt confident because it was a big life/appearance change and I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in, so I felt like I had a good chance. The other guys in the group seemed really nice and all had very good transformations too though, and my major problem is that there aren’t really any photos that show how bad I actually got – I avoided them back then! But the T-walk and quarter turns went well and I was happy with that.
So, the results.
Tattooed, I didn’t place. I expected that and wasn’t too concerned as it was more of an afterthought anyway.
Fitness Model, again, I didn’t place. This one bothered me a bit more, as it was my “main” solo category and the biggest judge of condition and stage presence.
Transformation, I didn’t place. This did bother me because I really thought I had a chance of a place in it.
Couples, we got 2nd place. This really hit both of us. We really put our hearts and souls into it, and it meant so much to us. We really do achieve our best together and we saw it as our chance to reach the ultimate goal as a team. Second place sounds good but, as I said, there were only 2 couples so telling people has become very uncomfortable because we don’t feel we can say we earned that place. We desperately want our feedback on this one as we want to know what went wrong for us.
Mrs C did very well in Transformation (1st) and Tattooed (2nd) and picked up a Pro Card for each. My first feeling when this happened was pride and happiness for her, there’s no doubt about that. I want her to do well regardless of my results, and she certainly deserved those results.
So how did I feel about all this, and how did I process it?
The transformation result was a little difficult for me because our transformations were so closely linked that I guess I have always seen them as just as impressive. But for Mrs C to place 1st and me not place at all left me reeling a little. I think it’s because she did gain a little more than me and proportionally (on a smaller frame etc.) that made the loss bigger for her, and also because I have no pictures showing the true scale of my former issues! Ever since the media first picked up on our stories there has been massive interest in Mrs C’s story and very little interest in mine – I’d always put that down to people loving the female “fat to fit” story and my lack of decent pictures of fat Ste, and I think that is the case to some degree. But I think it’s time to accept the fact that even though our journeys were the same and the life changes were made together and were just as hard for us both, Mrs C proportionally lost more and it made more of a visual difference to her. Though trying to rationalise it as best I can, I sometimes find it hard to process Mrs C becoming a weight loss media celebrity for the last couple of years and ending up winning the Transformation category, even though I shared (and was responsible for actually starting) that same journey and only ever got “You didn’t look that bad before” and a “Did not place” in the show. I do know Mrs C also feels a little awkward about this, because she has said on a number of occasions that she would never have been able to lose the weight without me supporting her and actually doing it with her, so she perhaps feels a little guilty that I’m always left out on the sidelines. I think I just need to step back and accept that one though – it was never about the attention anyway, it was about improving ourselves. Still, while Mrs C was very pleased about winning this category in the show, there is an element of her that is sick of being typecast as “that woman who lost all the weight” and she wants to be recognised in her own right as she looks right now, so in a way I think she feels somewhat uncomfortable about this one as well as pleased and proud.
Tattooed was a little more straightforward because it wasn’t something I can ever be competitive in – the requirement is to “have a tattoo” but it’s more about having “the look”, which just isn’t me. Mrs C didn’t place in Fitness Model which is her “core” category, so in terms of reaching a show-placing fitness model condition we both have progress to make; however, the Tattooed category was really good for her because it gave her confirmation that she has a good look and has a place in the industry. It gives her legitimacy and proves she has a lot of potential, and I am genuinely pleased and proud of that.
Neither of us placed in our “core” solo categories (Fitness Model), but to be honest that is to be expected on your first competition. Most people need the feedback and experience to be able to place when they compete again, and I’m ok with that. The major worry for me was that I felt so uncomfortable in that category, and my physique didn’t match up to what they want. I had originally planned to enter Beach Body, which is more my category when you look at the size and shape of past competitors, but Pure Elite didn’t run that category this time. Speaking to Stewart Armstrong, the CEO of Pure Elite, after the show, he confirmed that I would have to add quite a bit of size to fit the Fitness Model category. From the category description and name (under 75kg) I had a very different view of what the category was, and thought I could fit, but it seems that the look they want would have to be quite close to the weight limit and (what I see as) quite muscular, especially in shoulders and lats. This left me in a difficult place, because I’ve always said I don’t like that bulky, overly muscular look that I feel wouldn’t suit me. I had a very bad few days after that trying to work out where to turn, to be honest. My confidence is still quite low really.
During my conversation with Stewart, he advised me that I should work out what is right for me, and not try to change just to fit a category, as I have to live with the results and the effects of getting there. It took a few days, but that advice did get through. I think after having to abandon the idea of the Beach Body category for this competition, I lost sight of how I want to look and what my goals were. I ended up trying to be an under 75kg Fitness Model because that was the closest fit, but that just isn’t me. In retrospect, that meant I never had a chance. Unfortunately that also means that in the 3 solo categories I was in for this show, I didn’t fit a single one. This further knocked my confidence because I felt like, with hindsight, Pure Elite didn’t have a place for me in this show, and having been something I’d spent so many months preparing and training for that was a difficult thought to process.
Finally, couples. This was, as I said, tough for us both to miss out on winning. However, having watched Mrs C gain a 1st and a 2nd, and 2 Pro Cards on her own, this was my only shot at being able to come out of the show with something tangible to celebrate and show to people. Not to mention being my only shot at a Pro Card and knowing I would be on stage at the Finals with Mrs C carrying on our journey together as we’d started. The biggest hit to me all weekend was knowing that yet again I went on the same journey as Mrs C, through all of the hard times, all of the prep, all of the weak moments and insecurities, everything, but she came out of it a Pro 2 times over and with an armful of trophies while I came out of it with a consolation “2nd of 2” and without the legitimacy of Pro status. I know I shouldn’t judge myself against Mrs C’s achievements like that, but when you share the journey so closely and go through the same experience it’s difficult not to feel you both earned a similar level of success. Of course, we are separate people, and the second you step on stage in separate categories you are not linked from the judges’ perspective. On top of that, everyone worked as hard as they could to try and gain a place, in every category. Anyway, on the plus side, Mrs C has been very supportive over it all and seems to have as mixed emotions as me about the results. For my part, I’m just making sure not to get to a place where I’m jealous of her success or anything, because I need to make sure I encourage her to enjoy her well-earned success. It’s not fair to take that away from her, even a little.
After the results we got back to the hotel, showered (brown water!!), changed and went to the after party. The food was very good and I did console myself with that a bit, but we couldn’t go totally mad because we have the UKUP competition after a 4 week gap. Next morning we did get a “cheat” breakfast which was amazing after 17 weeks of prep food! Travelling home was pretty uneventful, and things have been mad busy since then while we catch up on all of the domestic/work stuff.
So what next? Well, UKUP to start with. The mandatory posing for that is a bit different, and we needed to do another 4 week run into show condition. I felt like I was quite flat in terms of physique, and lost fullness in the muscles on stage for the Pure Elite so I want to build fullness back to arms, shoulders and abs for the UKUP stage, and I want to try something different for carb/water manipulation. I still desperately want a result to restore my confidence really, so I’m going to do everything I can to get that, though I may still have the same issues with size expectations there – I just don’t know so I’ll have to find out on the day.
Mrs C will be competing in the Finals in November so that’s her “solo” focus for now, and she also wants to have another shot at her “core” category soon.
My “solo” focus in the short term is going to be on working out my direction and where I fit. Right now I feel as though I don’t fit any niche categories so I shouldn’t try for them. I’m Beach Body and I didn’t get my shot at it. I feel like I need to right that wrong, so I’m going to spend the summer tweaking things to take as strong a look to the stage as possible to win it, get my Pro Card and book my place in the Final alongside Mrs C where I belong. I’m massively stressed about it because I’ll only get one shot and I’ll be devastated if I don’t make it and have to sit in the audience at the final watching Mrs C live out half of our goals. My eggs are well and truly in one basket and I’m acutely aware of that, but I don’t think I have much choice – I’ve just got to use the next 6 months to make it happen, and try and ignore the potential for another failure.
We also both feel that we want another shot at the Couples 1st place – it’s still the most important bit to us and something we’re committed to achieving. There would be nothing better than being able to celebrate that achievement on stage at the Finals, with the person who challenges and supports me most in the world. We set out to make it together and we want to finish it at the top. Together.
Allowing for the mixed emotions around the end results, we did have a fantastic time at Pure Elite and the weekend confirmed for both of us that Pure Elite is a great fit for us (full complement of categories allowing!!). We felt it was well run and the team really care about the competitors and making it a safe, healthy and enjoyable experience for them. We learned that we wouldn’t do more than a couple of categories in future because it was too manic and impossible to get in the right condition for all of them. We’ve got some good ideas on what we need to work on over the summer in terms of physique (though we hope to expand that with our feedback from the judges). We got some great pictures of the results of 17 weeks (and more) of hard graft in exercise, food and posing. We got invaluable experience of being on stage in little more than pants (people actually have nightmares about that…). We got to sink into our own little 2-person world and perform our routine together in front of people who seemed to love it. We met some lovely new friends. I’ve come out of it a little bruised and insecure, but with direction and plans for the future. Most importantly we’re both proud of ourselves and each other for proving to ourselves and each other that we can do this.
We’ve yet to finalise the details of what happens after UKUP, but watch this space soon for more.
So that was Pure Elite for us! Updates will be more regular and more in-depth as we get more time back in our lives over the next few months – we have a list of subjects we want to cover, so keep checking back in just after UKUP for the results and review of that, and more!
Mrs & Mrs C