Over the past few years, as I’ve furthered my work as a photographer in the health and fitness industry, I’ve made it a point to entrench myself as much as I can in the field to understand it on entirely new levels.

This has included me dieting and training for months to step on stage as a fitness competitor in early 2012 as well as training and running in a half marathon later that year.

Last week I continued my exploration of the industry as I worked as a judge in a local fitness competition Although it was not a large show; sitting there with my score sheet I gleaned an interesting insight into the fitness world.

What was the most important facet I noticed as a judge? More than looks and body condition? It was the talent’s presence on the stage. It was the ability to walk out and pose with pure confidence that radiates through the auditorium.

When I say “confidence” I don’t mean cockiness or giving off the impression that you’re too good, etc – but the willingness to have fun with the experience. To make the eye connection with the panel of judges and bring them into the energy and emotion of the experience.

From a women in her 60s doing a fitness routine that many people 40 years her junior could not do, to a fitness talent winning her second award with high energy and positivity.

The experience, to me, harkened back to my work as a public speaker. Whether I was speaking in front of an audience of several hundred or a group of a dozen – it never changed in that the best information can easily get lost in a poor presentation.

Whereas many may not remember all the specific details and information in the presentation – their determination of whether or not they enjoyed it was that they will and do remember the speaker’s stage ability, presence and energy.

Thus, in that way, stepping on stage as a fitness competitor is similar to giving a presentation. It is not one a one-way communication effort. Instead, it goes back and forth as a two-way communication. The energy you give off stage is received and reciprocated back by the audience and the success of your efforts can be determined by that.

James Patrick
Twitter @jpphotography
Instagram @jpatrickphoto