that follow my stuff know I generally write about nutrition, supplements,
training, and other topics that are more science based than subjective
topics, such as what is covered in this article. I decided to shuck my
science geek persona, and write on a topic I know will be helpful to thousands
of would be and wanna be fitness models.
As well a known "hard core"
science based no BS writer, why I am writing what some will perceive as
a "fluff" article? Over the years I have gotten hundreds, perhaps thousands,
of gals that ask me via email, letters, or in person "how do I become a
fitness model Will? You have been in the business a long time, surly you
of all people should know." I get this from newbies and I get this from
women that have been at it a while but have been unable to "break in" effectively.
The fact is, I have been
in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding biz a long time, and though I
am known as a science and nutrition based "guru" type, I have trained many
a fitness athlete, and judged fitness and figure/bikini shows for the NPC,
Fitness America, Fitness USA, and other federations as well as given marketing
and business advice to all sorts of athletes, including fitness models.
So, it's not as far fetched as it might seem that I am going to use this
space to cover a non scientific topic, which is, how one goes about being
a fitness model.
This article will be useful
to both experienced and novice types looking to "break in" to the biz.
If you are already a professional and successful fitness model, I am sure
you may still glean some useful information from this article.
First the bad news, there
is no one way to become a successful fitness model. There is no single
path or magic secret. There are however some key things a person can do
to greatly improve their chances of "making it" in the fitness biz as a
model, and perhaps using that success as a launching pad to greater things,
such as movies, TV, etc.
Several of the top fitness
models (Trish Stratus and Vicki Pratt come to mind but there are many others)
have gone onto careers in entertainment of all kinds. Bottom line, though
there is no magic secret to being successful as a fitness model, this article
will be about as close to a blueprint for success as you will find.
"Do I need to compete?"
This is a question I get
asked all the time and it's not an easy one to answer. In fact, the answer
is (drum roll) yes and no. The person has to deicide why they are competing
in the first place to answer that question. For example, do you need to
compete if your goal is to be a successful fitness model?
The answer is no. Many of
today's well-known fitness models have never competed, or they competed
in a few small shows and it was clearly not part of their success as fitness
models. However, competing does have its potential uses.
One of them is exposure.
At the upper level shows, there will often be editors, publishers, photographers,
supplement company owners, and other business people. So, competing can
improve your exposure. Also, competing can make sense if you are trying
to build a business that is related to your competing or will benefit from
you winning a show.
For example, say you have
a private training gym you are trying to build. Sure, having the title
of say Ms Fitness America, or winning the NPC Nationals and being an IFBB
pro, will help your reputation and the notoriety of your business. There
are many scenarios were it would help to have won a show for a business
or other endeavors.
On the other hand, it must
be realized that winning a show does not in any way guarantee success in
the business end (and it really is a business) of being a fitness model.
The phone wont ring off the hook with big offers for contracts. Also, it's
very important to realize that it's common that the 4th or 6th or 8th place
finisher in a fitness or figure show will get more press than the winner.
Why? Though the winner might have what it took to win that show, it's often
other gals the editor, publishers, supplement companies etc, feel is more
I have seen it many times
where the winner was shocked to find she didn't get nearly the attention
she expected and other girls who placed lower have gotten attention in
the form of photos shoots, magazine coverage, etc. Something to keep in
mind when you ask yourself the important question "do I need to compete
and if so, why am I competing?" Answer that question, and you will know
the answer to the heading of this section. Winning a title of some sort
can be a stepping stone, but it is not in itself any guarantee of success
in the fitness industry. It's like a college degree; it's what you do with
Now. If you compete for the
fun of it, then by all means go for it, but the above is focusing on competing
as it relates to the business aspect of being a fitness model.
body, wrong federation?
Ok, so after reading the
above you have decided you are going to compete, or will compete again.
If you don't plan to compete, you can skip this section. The biggest mistake
I see here is so many gals have the right body for the wrong federation.
Each federation has its own judging criteria and a competitor will do poorly
simply because they didn't bother to research which show would be best
suited for them.
I will give you a perfect
real world example of this. Recently I judged a show whose criteria for
the figure round was the women should be more on the curvy softer side
with some tone, vs. being more muscular and athletic with less bodyfat
that other federations might allow. At this show one of the most beautiful
women I have ever seen came out. She was very proportional, great muscle
tone, lean, and athletically shaped with narrow hips and waist and wider
shoulders. How did she do at this show? She didn't even place in the top
Why? Because she was not
what we were instructed to look for and didn't fit the criteria. After
the show I informed her that she looked great, but this may not the federation
for her. I told her she had much more of an NPC type body, where a little
more muscle, athletic build, and less bodyfat is rewarded.
The following week I was
judging an NPC fitness, figure, and bodybuilding show and there she was.
How did she do? She won the entire show with all judges voting her number
Conversely, if your body
type tends to be more rounded and toned, but with a little more bodyfat,
wider (but not fat!) hips, you may be better off competing in say the Fitness
America Pageants. If you are going to compete:
(1) find out exactly what
the judging criteria is for that federation and
(2) go see those shows as
a spectator for several different federations and see which one your physique,
style, etc will fit into best.
(3) You have to decide if
you truly have the athletic abilities to compete in a fitness competition
(which requires a routine) or a figure/bikini competition.
I often see women who would
do well in a figure show but really don't have the athletic abilities do
the routines required to be competitive with other athletes in the show.
Some shows will allow you to do both competitions and some wont.
101: dos and don'ts...
In so many respects, this
is the area that will make or break you in any business, and yet, people
in the fitness industry do an amazingly poor job at it. If you don't network
and market yourself properly, you can pretty much forget about having any
real success as a fitness model, or a success in virtually any business.
For the sake of space, we will stick to fitness.
When I first started out,
I was a self marketing machine. I could be found at every show I thought
might be an opportunity, walking the isles of trade shows, bodybuilding,
shows, fitness show, and others. I gave out a zillion cards and I took
a million home with me, and followed up on each and every one. I went to
as many industry related meetings, outings, parties, etc. as I could get
into. I now have the reputation and experience in the industry that I don't
have to go to such a show unless I feel like it, or have meetings, but
they were quite helpful in the beginning.
I am always amazed at the
number of fitness models who contact me who have never even been to the
Arnold Classic Fitness Weekend, or the Mr. Olympia, or the trade shows
like the NNFA Expo West and others. If you want to make it in the fitness
business you sure as hell had better treat it like a business.
I have seen many a pretty
girl who wants to be a fitness model who thinks if they stand there looking
pretty long enough, someone is going to offer to put their face on the
cover of a magazine. News flash, there are millions of beautiful women
out there and to be noticed, you have to hussle to get that business like
everyone else by networking your butt off, or having a good agent (if you
can afford such a thing) who is doing it for you.
Pick a few major industry
shows to attend (some of which were mentioned above) and go to them every
year. Have a plan of attack of exactly how you plan to market yourself
and network. Many fitness models, bodybuilders, etc see a show as one big
party. If that's you, then have fun at the party, but don't think you are
really marketing yourself as a serous business person or athlete.
Another thing that always
amazes me is the number of fitness models who either have no business cards,
or have some cards they printed up on their bubble jet printer at home!
They ask me to help them or what ever and I say "give me your card" and
they look at me like "I am so pretty I should not need a card you fool."
This attitude turns off editors, photographers, writers, and industry people
faster then if they found out you were really a transvestite. Don't do
it. For every pretty girl out there who thinks the world owes them a favor,
there are 100 who are ready to act like professionals.
Ever wonder why some fitness
model you know is doing better than you are even though you know you are
prettier than her? That may be why…never ever go to a show to network without
good cards, bios, and professionally done head and body shots you can give
to said editors, publishers, photographers, industry types, etc. Don't
stand around looking pretty assuming they will find you, find them first
and introduce yourself. And of course it should go without saying you should
be in good condition and have something of a tan to look your best.
You want to go to the shows
and party? Fine, but do it in private after the work is done and don't
make a fool out of yourself at some industry sponsored get together. Hell,
I was virtually poured into a cab at last years Arnold Classic after going
to a sushi place with some well know industry types and companies owners
(you know who you are!) but at least no one saw me! We had our own little
private get together after the show to let loose.
Let me give you one final
real world example of how NOT to market yourself. Last year I was on retainer
as a consultant to a mid sized supplement company. The owner of the company
asked me if I knew a couple of fitness model types that could work his
booth for a trade show. In fact, he requested "unknowns, some new faces
people had not seen yet but had real potential to grow with the company."
I went and found him two such gals I thought fit the bill.
He offered to pay their flights,
room, and food plus a thousand dollars each for the days work. The two
girls were told to be at the booth 9am sharp. The night before at the hotel,
I saw the two girls getting in a cab at 11pm or so dressed to kill, clearly
on their way out to party. The next day they showed up at the booth an
hour and a half late and hung over! What was the result of this? (1) it
embarrassed me to no end as I had recommended them to the company owner
(2) they would never get work from that company again (3) they would never
get any work from me again and (4) they would not get a reference from
either of us for other jobs.
I see this type of thing
all the time in the fitness biz, and it's not limited to fitness models.
Amazingly, a few weeks after the show they emailed me and the company owner
wanting to know when their next job would be! Amazing…
loves you baby?
If there is one universal
truth, it's that the camera either loves you or it does not. Any professional
photographers will tell you this. For some unknown reason, some people
are very photogenic and some are not. Truth be known, there are some well
known fitness models (who shall remain nameless as they would probably
smack me the next time they saw me) who are not all that attractive in
person. It's just that the camera loves them and they are very photogenic,
but not terribly pretty in person.
Conversely, I have seen the
reverse many times; a girl who is much better looking in person than in
photographs. Such is the fate of the person who wants to be a model of
any kind, including a fitness model. If you find you are not very photogenic,
keep working with different photographers until you find one that really
captures you well and pay that photographer handsomely!
Now, to be bluntly honest,
there are also some wanna be fitness models who are not "unphotogenic",
they're just "fugly"! There are some people out there who have no business
trying to be fitness models. It does not make them bad people, it just
means they need to snap out of their delusions and find a profession they
are better suited for, like radio personality….
do I get in the magazines?"
This section sort of incorporates
everything I have covered above, and adds in a few additional strategies.
For example, as I mentioned before, competing in fitness shows and or figure/bikini
shows can increase your exposure, thus getting the attention of some magazine
publisher or photographer. Networking correctly at the various trade shows
may also have the same effect, and of course having a good portfolio done
by a photographer that really captures your look, a good web site, etc.,
will all increase your potential for getting into the magazines, or getting
ad work, and so on.
However, all of these strategies
are still somewhat passive versus active in my opinion. It's still the
fitness model waiting to be "discovered." As far as I am concerned, waiting
is for bus stops and pregnancy tests. Success waits for no man…or woman
as the case me be. So, after all the above advice is taken into consideration
as having an added effect to getting you magazine coverage, what else can
For one thing, you should
read and be familiar with all the magazines you want to be in so you know
who is who and what the style of the different magazines are. I can tell
you right now, if say the Editor-in-Chief of a good sized fitness or bodybuilding
publications and says "hi, I am the Bob Smith what's your name?" and the
fitness model has no idea who Bob Smith is, Bob will not take kindly to
that. Why should he? You should know who the major players are in the publications
you want to be seen in. He is doing you the favor, not the other way around.
You should know who the major players are and actively seek them out, don't
wait for them to "discover" you.
If you look at the masthead
inside any magazine, it will tell you who the publisher is, who the Editor-in-Chief
is and so forth. The mailing address for that magazine, and often the web
site and email, can also be found. What is to stop you from looking up
those names and mailing them your pictures and resume directly? Nothing,
that's what. If you see a photo spread you think is really well done, what
is to stop you from finding out who the photographer is and contacting
them directly and sending them your pics? Nothing, that's what.
My point being, you want
a get a break in the business, make the break, don't sit there thinking
it's looking for you, because it's not. Be proactive, not reactive! Luck
is the residue of design. Be successful by design. As my older brother
used to say to me as a kid when I told him I was too scared to ask out
a pretty girl "what's the worst that can happen Will? All she can say is
no." That's the worst that can happen to you also.
Beware of web idiots, schlubs,
morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids!
This part is sort of self-explanatory
but worth mentioning. As with all industries that deal in entertainment
based media (e.g., television, theater, modeling, etc.), the fitness industry
attracts its far share of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags,
and sleazoids, to name just a few.
There is also the class of
person known as the schmoe, but we will leave that for another place and
time. Point is you want to meet the right people while not getting involved
with that group of worthless types who will only drag you down, delay you,
or just flat out screw you up and over.
For example, a guy comes
up and says he wants to "shoot you" for the magazines, but what do you
really know of this guy? He has a camera and some business cards, so that
makes him a photographer right? Wrong! If someone want to shoot you and
they are not a well-known name (and you should know who the well known
photographers are because you researched that already!), find out who they
are. Do they have references you can call? Girls you can contact he has
shot before and were happy with the work? What magazines has he published
in? Does he do it professionally or as a hobby? That type of thing.
Another thing I see is the
big web scam. I'm amazed how many girls get scammed by these web idiots.
Lesson here is you get what you pay for, so when some person wants to build
you a web site for free, you are getting what you pay for. Yes, there is
good money to be made on the 'net, and the net can be great for marketing
yourself and making contacts, but most of it's a scam.
You are better off paying
a good web designer and web master who has experience with other fitness
model types and has references you can talk to. I can't tell you the number
of girls who have been screwed over by some internet thing that went to
hell, like the "fan" who volunteers to build a free web site and either
runs off with any money made from the site or puts their picks on porn
sites and any number of other things that made them regret like hell ever
agreeing to the site in the first place.
Clearly, I can't go down
the list of all the possible pitfalls of the web idiots, schlubs, morons,
perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids out there to be found in the entertainment
business, but you get the idea. Be careful!
Well that pretty much concludes
my down and dirty guide to the basics of "making it" as a fitness model.
Of course there are tons of business related issues I could cover and tricks
I could give, but the above is the best advice you are going to find in
s small space and will do more for you-if properly followed-than you may
Now, if you want to know
my opinions on the best ways to lose fat by diet, training, and exercise,
so you can look your best as a fitness model, you may want to read my ebook Fat Loss Revealed.
If you are looking to add
lean mass with a minimum of bodyfat via diet, training, and supplements,
then consider reading my ultimate guide to gaining muscle mass Bodybuilding Revealed.