Character in Training: An Intro to Fitness Cosplaying

April 1, 2013

Getting in shape for cosplay, and getting in shape for yourself are one and the same. Cosplay is a great motivator if you are willing to push yourself, but what about after you’re done with the costume? When you put your spandex away and go back to the real world do you stop working out? Do you gain back the weight?

The answer should be “no.” However, more often than not, the answer is always ‘yes’ and that’s because life gets in the way, we get absorbed with our procrastination: food, holiday’s, working, sleeping.

We don’t bother breaking a sweat, and after a while your clothes don’t fit and you realize that you gained all that weight you worked so hard to lose back.

So here’s my personal journey into getting in shape. For me it isn’t about just losing weight and inches off my waist, but about getting muscle tone and becoming stronger and far more flexible. I want to be clear here: This is about being a strong female, because in the media everyone is so focused on one size fits all, and that’s not accurate since no two bodies are made of the same genetic material and DNA (even twins have SOME differences).

Sometimes I’ll be down, because no workout/weight loss regimen is perfect, other times they’ll be educational, but more often than not I will come back to the point that working out and being strong is important.

I’m Katarina and I am pleased to make your acquaintance.

IMGP1602 My fourth convention season has already started with Emerald City and Sakura-Con. I have been working out, trying to eat healthier, and losing weight. This journey is not easy, and some days I am more motivated than others. My costumes that I have pushed myself to get in shape for are: Lara Croft, Tomb Raider Reborn (See my facebook for photos!), Juliet Starling, Lollipop Chainsaw, and WonderGirl from Young Justice. As with every character in my cosplay roster, the one that really pushed me to get strong was Lara.

Last year I wore an alternate outfit for Juliet Starling at PAX PRIME and found that although I looked fine, I wasn’t satisfied with my body, so hopefully by this summer I will look better in my costume and get a proper shoot done.

Sakura-Con and ECCC are in the same month, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t been very good about working out as often and have definitely been making excuses for myself on not going to the gym. The reason why I personally prefer going to a gym versus working out at home is that I get out of the house, and I don’t have the distractions of my cell phone going off, emails ringing, or the television and the couch calling to me. However, not being able to have a car to drive DOES put a damper on my chances of just up and going whenever I want!

I have already noticed a difference in how I look in photographs versus last years’ convention season. My arms look more toned, my stomach is smaller, and my face is thinner.

I am working out at home, but I’m craving a good long swim and run. I need cardio! I find that dancing around the house helps quite a bit to boost my cardio and keeps my blood flowing; it takes a small amount of space making it accessible for anyone. My friends motivate me and without them, I wouldn’t be as in shape! We post motivational photos to facebook, and talk to each other about working out. I ask them for feedback and tips, and sometimes it feels like a competition: “I did 100 crunches today!” can be a common push for me to get off my butt and GO do crunches, sit ups, planks, and side curls, just to text my friend back and say I did it too.

Cardio, strength training, and a healthy diet are the three key things everyone needs to live a healthy lifestyle and drop the pounds. Cardio-wise there are countless options, from outdoor sports to things you can do indoors, even video games offer a chance to get up and move now!

Tomb Raider was a game I grew up playing and Lara is an icon. When I saw the new game trailer, I knew I had to cosplay her; although it wasn’t until June of last year that I decided to really push myself to get in shape and look like her. She’s a strong female role model, and even though she doesn’t have special powers, she’s trained in archery, horseback riding, and acrobatics/tumbling. For the past year I’ve wanted to get more into acrobatics, and I’m still working on that my flexibility is getting better but my muscles still need definition. To get in shape for her, I focused on building strength by running, swimming, dancing, and walking more, as well as (sort of) watching what I ate. However, I found watching my eating habits caused me a lot of stress, so calorie-counting was quickly out, and I found that I preferred eating what I enjoyed, but adding healthier options and less fast food and sugared drinks made things easier on my body and mind. I eat until I’m full, and try to drink water with every meal.

Little ways to boost your heart rate when you’re stuck without much space:
Do as many jumping jacks or high knees as you can (or alternate between both) in under 3 minutes while you’re cooking something in the microwave or during commercial breaks.
Do 10 pushups and 20 crunches randomly throughout the day.

Dance.
Do 20 frog crunches and Russian twists (each side).
Get small weights (3-10lbs) and lift them, do reps of 10!

Never be afraid to push yourself, go slow, and if you have injuries or aren’t capable of a particular move, modify the workout routine. Always stretch pre-and-post work out! Stretching, squats, lunges, and plies are my go-to movements for getting my legs looking nice and building muscle slowly. I don’t use any special gear than the weights that have been with my family, or a medicine ball and a yoga mat (at the gym).

I started this journey in January 2013 at 140 lbs. By March 2013-a week before Sakura-Con, I was down to 129 lbs. If I can lose weight, so can you. It’s not easy, it’s not overly fun, I sweat and I don’t wear makeup to the gym, and once you start working out, it actually is addicting. When I am at the gym I focus on myself, or if I’m in a class, I focus on the teacher. I listen to music on my phone or ipod and just zone in to what I am doing. Sometimes it really is painful, and my body is sore for the next couple of days, but that just means that I did a good job and pushed myself. I always prefer those days because then I know that my body is alive, and it makes me thankful to feel everything.

Getting in shape should be about you and what you want. If cosplay pushes you, then keep looking at those videos, images, and other costumes that inspire you, but ultimately you still need to get off the couch and get active to see results. Keep your ideal image of yourself in your mind’s eye and you will get there.

My Goal:
125lbs by June 2013.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to be taken as professional medical advice. Consult your doctor before beginning any fitness regime.