Let this be your little black book on how to become a fitness model. For obvious reasons I figured this would be a fairly interesting topic for you to get a little back ground info on, well, how to get published.
Everyone is probably going to have their own definition of what Fitness Modeling is. For simplicity purposes, I’d consider it published work. Now days everyone is a fitness model (i.e. instagram) but very few have actually been published, or at the very least, gotten PAID to model.
This could include any of the following:
- Fitness Commercials
- Magazine Spreads
- Fitness Fashion Shows
- Sports ads
- Supplement Ads
*Now in certain cases a model might have to pay in order to achieve the above. It’s not always clear, cut and dry when it comes to getting published.
Anyways, the point of this is to give you the lowdown on what fitness modeling is, what it entails, how to go about doing it.
What it Entails
Fitness modeling is challenging. It’s also not as “glamorous” as you would think in regards to earning money. I’ve booked gigs that paid me thousands of dollars and I’ve also PAID to do photo shoots in order to get published. A lot of depends on what exactly the job is.
For example, a Reebok commercial can pay pretty well. However, you could potentially spend all day on set for make up, fittings, etc. There is also a lot of down time where you just sit so it can be very boring.
A cover shoot doesn’t pay much (upfront). It can be anywhere from $100 to $200. Here's a few things I'll say about "covers/spreads."
- Landing a cover is fun and exciting but don't let it become your defining moment.
- A new cover will come out in 30 days which means you are no longer "popular."
- If your ultimate goal in life is to land a cover, restructure your life priorities because there are more ultimate goals that are better. This is coming from life experience.
In order to be a fitness model you must be in shape. Obviously, right? Well depending on what direction or aspect of "fitness" you want to get involved in you must play the part. If you're goal is to be in a bunch of running commercials or ads you must know how to run OR be good at running.
If you're goal is to be in supplement ads then it might be in your best interest to be ripped up.
More times than not the two avenues of media will be print or video. Get comfortable on camera. If you are doing print work search out a bunch of images of people that have done this before. Find out how they stand, look, smile/not smile. This will give you some sort of idea of what you need to do. If it's video be comfortable on camera or having multiple cameras on you at once.
As mentioned earlier, fitness modeling is a competitive field. Most likely it won't be your main source of income but you can create an extra revenue stream, do some cool things, and build a reputable portfolio for bigger jobs in the future.
How to Get Started
1. Find an agency
You can book A LOT of things on your own, no doubt. However, getting an agent can help drastically (this also doesn’t mean you don’t continue looking for your own opportunities). An agency will find you work that is essentially available in your area. They will have contacts and connections that you don’t have.
For example, I was able to land two reebok commercials and two Nike Golf Fashion Shows. I would have no access to either of these if I didn’t have an agency.
2. Know your Market
What’s you goal? Magazine Covers and Spreads? Reebok, Nike, Under Armor? Sport specific? It’s crucial you find out what your niche will be.
For example, I won’t be searching out editors or spending a lot of time trying to get into Flex Magazine. I’m not a bodybuilder, I’m a little rat boy next to Phil Health and others!
I would be considered a fitness model. Not a physique model or bodybuilder. My niche would be sport specific (former All American) and modelesque. Find yours.
TIP: Make sure you are in shape for the specific gig. If it’s a muscle mag then YES get shredded. Like less than 5 percent shredded. If you’re looking to be more of an athlete, like let’s say for Reebok, then you should NOT be shredded. It's vitally important you know what you are shooting for.
3. Get images [take them yourself or friend]
It's not necessary to spend money right away on photographers. Here's the reason why.
You need to figure out what you look like. I remember my first photo shoot like it was yesterday. I thought I was ripped up and shredded but once I got the images back I was nowhere near where I needed to be. It was very trial and error for me starting out.
The images still need to be quality but doing this step will save you $$.
4. Reach out to REPUTABLE Photographers
Once you have some decent images and you feel ready to reach out to photographers it's time to start researching. It's imperative that you find someone that knows what the fuck they're doing. You want someone with experience that will help you, teach you, and possibly get you published.
It's also nice to have some images (from step 3#) that you can send them when you're scheduling a shoot. It helps the photographer prepare and give pre shoot feedback so you are prepared as well.
Here are some reputable and talented photographers that I would personally recommend
Now, here is the most important thing you must do when reaching out to photographers.
I have heard some horror stories of models being complete jackasses to photographers. There is a sense of entitlement for many "fitness" models and that will flat out ruin your chances of getting published.
Photographers don't care about how many instagram followers you have or how big of a Facebook page you've built. They want someone that is polite, respectful and APPRECIATIVE of the opportunity.
If you can be normal for four hours, respect the photographers time and have a sense of gratitude you will get much farther in the industry than you could have ever imagined.
TIP: Be on time and prepared. Bring a couple towels, baby oil, eye drops, multiple pairs of shorts/outfits and props (if necessary). Get a DARK spray tan and come in ripped to shreds.
5. Reach out to Editors (if magazine is your goal)
LinkedIn is your tool on this one. I would recommend reaching out to a bunch of editors and introducing yourself to them. Just tell them you like their magazine (why) and if there is ever an opportunity for you to provide content. This step separates people who are go getters vs those you are lazy.
Content is king.
Editors are always looking for good articles to put in their magazines or online. If you can write you have a good thing going for you.
Build a relationship with the decision makers. Be willing to go ABOVE and BEYOND to help them out.
TIP: Editors are busy. They get a ton of emails daily. You might not hear from them for months. That's fine. As time passes send out another email with an article and state that you are still interested in providing content.
6. Don’t be a WHORE - guys and girls
Where should I start with this one....
Here is an example of a male fitness model and not a male fitness model
Here is an example of a female fitness model and not a female fitness model
Look, if you're goal is to be a fitness model be a FUCKING fitness model. If you're goal is to be a stripper then go be a stripper. Just don't pretend to be a fitness model.
This really isn't complicated but for whatever reason people get damn close to being naked for a few extra "likes" on social media. You realize these pictures are on the internet FOREVER. Like in 10 years when you're life is completely different people will be able to see these images or your kids will someday google you and see this stuff.
Think about it. Your photos are a direct reflection of you. Be professional and respectful.
7. Be Patient
Odds are this won't happen overnight. It's always a work in progress. Good things happen to those you put in the work and ou'll be surprised at the opportunities that come your way if you're willing to work hard and sacrifice.
Start small and build a resume/portfolio. Set a few goals, get dieted down and set up a couple of photo shoots. Reach out to the decision makers and provide content.
If you are serious about this dream it's imperative that you get used to hearing "NO." You will hear it so much that you will want to give up. Don't give up and stick it out.
I wanted to share this with you as well. Here is the best resource when it comes to Fitness Modeling. The Fit Model Guide: How to Get Published. The author is one of the most respected photographers in the industry and has been published in just about every magazine known to man! If you read through this book you will have more knowledge and information than 99% of the want-to-be fitness models in the industry. Check it out.