It’s been said that bodybuilding is made up of 80% diet and 20% training. Those numbers, however, downplay the importance of the intangibles of stage-readiness: posing, choreography, even tanning.

For nearly 20 years IFBB figure pro Marie Allegro has made it her mission to help the next-gen fitness athletes make a mark when they strut the stage, and recently she’s made it part of her profession, with the creation of Stage Ready by Marie, her program that instructs and guides new competitors learn the ins and outs of everything from how to hit the front double biceps to how to apply the proper tanning lotions.

“I’ve always done this, and fitness has always been in the background,” says Allegro, who finished second at this year’s IFBB Karina Nascimento Pro Show. “I just never really slapped my name or slapped a label, everyone just knew me as Marie. Then last year, one of my clients said to me, ‘Marie, you need to brand yourself—get paid.’ I was like, yeah, I need to be recognized.”

Her website says it all: “Whether you need a tan, posing guidance, stage presence, or mental preparation…Marie provides a one-stop shop for all of your competition needs.” With anywhere from 10 to 25 clients at each session in her downtown studio, she can’t do it alone and is often helped by a bevy of IFBB pros such as 2017 NPC Universe Classic Physique winner Charles Donaldson, and Roxanne Edwards and Elizabeth Maurice help perfect everything from the walk, the strut, the pose, and the attitude to up-and-coming bodybuilders.

Brooklyn native Ulysses Montague was one of Stage Ready’s first clients, getting ready to make his debut in the Classic Physique Division A–165 at this weekend’s Brooklyn Grand Prix. Montague had himself adequately prepared in the gym and the kitchen, but when it came to putting together the total package, he needed a pro’s know-how to set himself apart from the rest.

“The hardest aspect of it has been posing. Marie, Charles, and the others have helped to clarify and simplify the posing and choreography,” Montague says. “I was familiar with the five classic physique mandatory poses [front double biceps, side chest, rear double biceps, abs and thighs, and favorite classic pose] and the quarter turns. However, I did not fully understand the mechanics and breathing of the posing. Marie’s classes have helped to bring clarity and understanding of the mechanics and breathing of posing.”

Today, Montague’s eagerness to learn is perhaps the exception and not the rule, says Donaldson, who has his eyes set on next year’s New York Pro. It was always ingrained in him from Day 1 that posing was as important in success as either carb counting or supersets, yet Donaldson sees the this final polish on a competitor’s repertoire neglected. Big mistake, he says.

“Lately I noticed a lot of competitors get onstage and just wing it,” Donaldson says. “They believe having a great body is all they need. They don’t realize an OK body with great stage presence can easily beat someone with no stage presence.”

For anyone looking to make their first bodybuilding or show, or needing to enhance their stage presence, Allegro offers these five tips to help elevate swagger.