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Emotional Rescue

Be prepared to express yourself if you?re looking for bookings

Being a fitness model involves more than having ripped abs and the ability to flash those pearly whites. Sure, you have to have a great body and a killer smile, but you also need to practice a repertoire of facial expressions to convey emotions that may be required of you during a photo shoot. Most new models get their start in the pages of fitness magazines, which calls for a lot more variety than the typical all-smiles cover shot.

Take a look at the photos that accompany articles like ‘How to Avoid Injury’ or ‘Tired of the Same Old Food?’ If you’re booked to pose for an article like that, the photographer may want you to look as if you’re in pain or bored beyond belief.

The other day I was helping a photographer friend of mine shoot a new female model for an article about how conflicting information makes it hard to choose a training program. I suggested a lead-in shot showing the model looking overwhelmed and confused. I thought that would be an interesting visual for the magazine’and would also serve as a great tear sheet for the model’s portfolio.

The photographer was excited about the idea and told the model what he wanted her to do. The girl had never been on a professional shoot before, and I saw that she was apprehensive. As hard as she tried, she wasn’t able to express herself the way we wanted.

Let me tell you, that’s not a great way to start a professional modeling career. It’s your responsibility as a model to work with and take direction from the photographer. You’ve got to be able to put your fear or your embarrassment aside and give the photographer what he or she wants.

I’ve found that it’s much better to be over the top and have the photographer tell you to tone it down than it is for him or her to have to beg you for a certain look. Photographers call me back not because I have the world’s greatest abs’although they’re right up there’but because I’m open to their ideas and give them more than they expect.

In order for you to pull this off, I recommend practicing in front of a mirror. Try a range of expressions’confusion, frustration, fear, anger, excitement, pain, boredom, half smiles, big smiles, smirks and anything else you can think of. You’ll have more fun on your shoots, you’ll impress photographers and clients, you’ll get some great stuff for your book, and, chances are, you’ll get a lot more work.

Editor’s note: Send your questions to [email protected]. His new book, You Too Can Be a Fitness Model, is available from Home Gym Warehouse, 1-800-447-0008 or at

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