How I scored a chance to work for ESPN for a day. And what it taught me about running my business.

Last week, I had the opportunity to work for ESPN as a judge for the Fitness Competition portion of their Fitness Universe Weekend in Ft. Lauderdale. How did I get such a cool gig? Well, simply by running a solid business. They Google’d for dancers dance teachers in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, and discovered my CABARRET website. When they learned I was not just a dancer and dance teacher, but also a Pilates and fitness instructor, I was a natural choice! Not only did they ask me to join the panel of judges, but they asked for my help in recruiting other dance people! Frankly, I felt like I had won a competition! Finally, someone was noticing all the work I was putting into my business! And not just any someone- ESPN!

Lesson Learned- Do The Work. Even when you’re tired. Even when it seems like it isn’t making a difference. Keep doing what you know needs doing. It matters. The Universe is noticing.

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Now, since joining Isagenix, I’ve heard about fitness competitions. But I really had no idea what they were. In my head, it was bizarrely muscled people in small swimsuits, awkwardly posing. So, when they told me there was a talent portion, where each contestant had to perform a 2 minute routine, this movie in my head became hilarious. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger doing an interpretive modern dance. That’s what I was picturing.   

Turns out, not so much. The Arnold-like bodies were competing in the Physique and Muscle Mania categories. These people were, for the most part, former gymnasts and dancers. (And, since all but 2 were women, I’m going to write the rest of this post with the feminine pronouns.) While definitely fit and muscular, they were not what I had imagined. Each contestant had clearly put in a ton of work on her routine, her costume, her music. And we had to score them on all of it. But, importantly, we were not to compare the routines to each other. They even took away our score sheets quickly to make sure we couldn’t. We were simply to judge each contestant on her ability to create, execute, and really perform, her own routine. This actually took a bit of mental work, but was a great lesson. We weren’t “allowed” to remember 1 girl did back handsprings, one girl did them with twists, and one didn’t do them at all. It wasn’t about being more advanced than someone else. It was really doing your best, against your stiffest competition- yourself.

Lesson Learned- Comparison happens. But it really doesn’t matter. Work to be better than you were yesterday. At the end, you are evaluated on the work you put in, and the execution you pulled off. Don’t get caught up in the flashy, fancy tricks. They last a moment. But a consistent, well-thought-out, excellently done, your-own-style performance is what will get the highest marks.

Lesson Learned- Only you are you. Your creativity and style makes you stand out. Don’t shy away from it. Rock it.

We saw 3 categories of performers- Women’s Open, Men’s Open and Pro Women. As I mentioned above, there were only 2 men. While I agreed with the decisions we, as a panel, reached for the 2 women’s categories, I vehemently disagreed with the men’s. As did the other dancer/dance teacher on the panel. But, I do think my background as a dancer/dance teacher and a fitness instructor gives me a good insight into what is required in these routines. Turns out, we don’t all have the same appreciation of the skills required for certain physical execution. However, since we weren’t supposed to be comparing the routines to each other, but only to the rubric, perhaps my other judges were right. The truth is, we don’t know what other people see. We can all be looking at the same thing, but see something totally different.

Lesson Learned- Perspective matters. Your background will color what you see. And it may not match everyone else’s. Stick to your guns. You’re allowed to like what you like, don’t what you don’t. You do not need to explain away or excuse the points of view that make you who you are.

I don’t know that I will ever participate in a fitness competition. After watching one, I think I could, and do fairly well. However, I’m not certain that’s how my performing skills will best serve me. I do know that I was thrilled for this opportunity and the lessons I learned from it! My business coach, Erika Lyremark, has been hammering home for me the importance of personality and individuality in business. This was just another opportunity for me to learn those lessons.