A Day in the Life at the Rehab Bikini Invitational
Bikini Invitaional !?!!
Some men dream about laying in the sun all afternoon while being fed grapes by a host of scantly clad women in eeny weeny teeny tiny bikinis….. Saturday morning, July 12th, (a day with temperature predicted to be around 104 degrees) I arose EXTRA early, and headed off to the Rehab Bikini Invitational at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
I had no idea what to expect. I was about to volunteer my entire afternoon and lose my Bikini Competition virginity at the same time. The only thing comparable I had ever been to were a few Bodybuilding & Fitness expos – where you can smell the egos and attitudes dripping off the oily, over-tanned, neon orange competitors flexing, and puffing their greasy bodies across the stage.
I began wondering what these women competing in the Bikini Invitational would be like ….. Would they have Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie like attitudes ….. vapid, and reminiscent of the “Simple Life” realty TV series back in the day. “Oh, god”…. I sighed. What had I got my self into. My day began behind the desk, checking in and greeting competitors while handing out bikini tops and bottoms. I inventoried the sizes, from small, EXTRA small, all the way up to only a handful of bikinis in large. Soon I found myself only being able to offer competitors extra small as the only size left available. (much to their dismay)
I got many heads shaken at me, and girls coming in and out of the dressing room requesting different sizes as they squeezed into the required pink and blue bikini to be worn for Round 1. One competitor after another came as start time approached with growing anticipation.
I was “hi-fived” and greeted by competitor Sarah Goodin. Her energy and attitude alone made me an instant fan. The gleam Sarah’s eye and half-nervous smile stirred the air full of excitement, semi-anxiousness, and confidence. I could tell this was her first bikini competition too:) She decisively picked her bikini size out of the “assorted array” of extra small and only one medium size we had left, and went on her way.
Upon meeting Sarah I was struck by the epiphany of the enormous amount of courage all these women competing must have. Insecurities in tow and all. I had been in the midst of my own diet and fitness challenge over the past sixty days , with the goal in mind to tone-up and build the confidence to look great with, or without, any clothes on. Even with all the hard work I had put into my own body the last 60 days of dieting and exercising, I still couldn’t imagine being practically naked, self-consciously exposing all my body fat and imperfections to mass of complete strangers. “WHEW!” I remarked.
Registration ended. The girls gathered and we all walked from the dressing room into a packed Rehab Day Club towards the stage for the first round of the competition. I started snapping photos as each competitor went on the stage one by one to “shake that thang”, with one fearless competitor all the way from Kansas even doing a back-flip. A large crowd began to gather. You could feel the hesitation, excitement , and nervous energy, with each competitor as she walked up the stairs to the stage, checked in with the judges, and paraded around to music of DJ Crystal Hefner
Round one ends; we break. Amanda Fantell, a national qualified NPC competitor, personal trainer, and Rehab Invitational contestant, teased me as I commented on her purple highlighted hair and asked what her thoughts were about Organic Whey Protien versus Regular Whey Protein. We talked about the event and Amanda went on to explain she has “bit of stage fright” and “thought going on stage at the pool party would definitely help” for her upcoming bodybuilding/bikini show. “I think being in front of so many people makes me nervous. Every time I do go out there, I gain a little more confidence which I know will help in my stage presence at the NPC nationals” Fantell explained. I found it hard to believe with the physique & fitness level Amanda Fantell has, she struggles with ANY stage fright, but alas I remembered that everyone has their own insecurities and things about themselves they wish could be different.
Jennifer Salyce Johnson, mother of two, and the only bikini competitor who wore glasses, started debating with me as to which one of us had better frames. (as I wore my traditional Ray Bans) Jennifer had a calmness to her that I noticed during registration,”I have never done anything like this before”, despite having to face one of her greatest fears “of being in front of a crowd” she explained. Jennifer calmly, coolly, and collectively awaited the results of the first round.
We started to get ready for Round 2. Sarah Goodin, from registration rolled up to me with another “hi-five” followed by a hug. ” I love it!!!!”, she exclaimed, “Such an experience!!”. What!?!” I said “I could stand up in front of thousands of strangers and own it”.
Sarah went on to explain “remembering that no matter what happened, no matter what the results , it takes a special breed of person to get up there flaws and all and give it your all. Plus those wedges on your glutes !!!!!!!! Lol. I am just glad I got up there. I’m even prouder of the girls that had no plans to join, but said screw it and lived in the moment. Yeah … my friends put me up to it. Lol. I figured why the hell not. I could die tomorrow so I may as well strut around in a kick ass bikini for day. I would do it again for the experience. It was amazing to meet everyone” she smiled.
The day wore on, and finally it came to end. I felt good. I felt grateful for volunteering my time despite my reservations that morning after waking up before the big event. I learned a lot, I met many women, single, married, mothers, all who showed up to represent the true inner strength, grace, and beauty of the female species. (Besides just looking cute in a bikini) I admired and was reminded by these beauties of how everyone has their own fears and insecurities.
I was also reminded that while hyper focusing on those self-percieved flaws we forget and don’t see the awesome things about ourselves that stand out, and that MAKE us unique.
I cherished my experience and was GRATEFUL none of the girls were like Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie from the “Simple Life” at all. There was some sweethearts among us that day and truly amazing people. Bikni Comp virginity gone!!! When can I go again 🙂
As a side note the Rehab Bikini Finals are taking place this Saturday, Sept 6th. Now a seasoned veteran of 3 rounds I plan to make to the finals. Some of these girls have become friends and the competitive spirit and esprit-de-cort of seeing the finalists all come together one last time to celebrate the end of summer will be fun to see:)