Cathy Savage: Fitness legend and calmer of nervesBy Oxygen's Staff Blog|Oxygen Staff|2012-01-24 | Comments: 0The sad reality dawned on me during my conversation with industry veteran Cathy Savage – I am more nervous about competing than Don Knotts in pretty much any role that he’s tackled.
It’s not that Cathy instilled any fear in me– quite the opposite, in fact. The knee-shaking, sweaty-palmed truth is that after our talk, this whole thing became REAL to me. (And when I type in all caps, you know I mean business.)
You likely know Cathy as a former Fitness competitor and founder of Cathy Savage Fitness Camps, a company that has set the standard for teaching aspiring competitors like myself to nail it on stage. At the suggestion of Stacy K, I contacted Cathy to see if I could pick her brain regarding the ins and outs of competition prep. She was happy to oblige, and I was in turn delighted but (as per usual) ridiculously nervous. After all, speaking one-on-one with such a renowned coach and competitor is not an opportunity that comes along every day.
Thankfully, she was warm, friendly and eager to answer all of my questions with a dry wit that put me at ease. Here are some highlights of our chat:
Think of your competition as your wedding. Much like the prep work leading to your walk down the aisle, your walk across the stage is built on many little details that were planned months beforehand – and both can be shell-shocking experiences if you don’t have the correct approach. “In a wedding, you are scared because everyone is looking at you,” Cathy explained. “You have to remember that everyone in the audience is there supporting the person they love.” That means that the audience is more focused on the triumphs of their friend or family member and not your potential fails.
Visualize, visualize, visualize. If you have a history of being on stage for other purposes (for me, that means grade school plays and reading at mass as a teen), close your eyes before bed and take yourself back to those experiences. Even though they may have been nerve-wracking, you survived them, right? As Cathy says, “You are not going to be compared with Madonna or J-Lo. You are just going to go out there and be happy that you’ve reached your goals.”
It’s not ALL about the bod. You might have a physique that rivals Oxygen alumni Lori Harder or Erin Stern, but if you don’t know how to hold yourself on stage, you’ll lose major points in the judges’ eyes. One big tip: master your shoes, but don’t kill yourself in them. “If there’s a hallway in your house, walk up and down it,” Cathy says. “Pretend you are on a balance beam, and have someone film you.” That’s because if you are only judging yourself in the mirror, your eyes tend to wander around your body instead of focusing on your poise. Also, limit your time in your heels to 10 or 15 minutes a day. According to Cathy: “You don’t want your feet hurting – you just want the muscle memory to learn how to pose and walk.”
Tats are a-okay. Cathy explains that at one point in the history of the sport, competitors could be penalized for showing some ink. But not anymore! “Most judging panels are told to not mark down for things like that,” she notes, adding “I’ve seen girls with tattoos across their stomachs win!” Kat Von D I am not, but hearing that little tidbit lifted a weight from my shoulders that had been there since I first decided to compete. Whew!
The main things that I took from our chat was that this should be a fun, calm experience, and that in order to prepare myself I should be asking as many questions as I can. (Well, I’ve got the second one down pat!) Cathy was such a wealth of knowledge that I will be sharing more of her tips in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!
- Rachel Crocker, Fitness Editor