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How to Become a Fitness Model and Get Paid to Stay Fit


I booked my first two paid modeling gigs the first month I began modeling. While Paulo Coehlo would simply call this Beginner's Luck, I like to think I gave luck a boost by following the steps outlined in this article.

Want to get paid to stay in shape? First...

Try These Core Exercises For Photo-Ready Abs!

Find An Exercise You Like And Do It

No brainer, right? You'd be surprised...

I'm a huge advocate of finding your thang and sticking with it. Cross-train? Sure, but the key to getting fit and staying fit is consistency.

People often ask me what I do to stay in shape. I'd love to say I lift weights three to four times a week, run several miles a day, and/or do Crossfit (just kidding, Crossfit's lame), but in reality, the only activity I consistently do is WALK. That's right, I walk at least an hour every day, rain or shine. That's it. I've been doing this for over a year and it's kept my weight stable and my muscle tone rocking.

tl;dr: What exercise brings you the most joy? Got it? Do it. Every day or every other day.

Retin-A + Photoshop = great skin!

Retin-A + Photoshop = great skin!

Make Your Face The Best It Can Be

One of the advantages of fitness modeling is that it isn't necessarily about having the most beautiful or "perfect" face. Fitness modeling is about displaying health, strength, and athletic prowess; thankfully, you don't have to have a face like Adriana Lima to be successful. However, you should make sure your skin, hair, and nails are in top condition. Because fitness shoots aim for authenticity, most make up artists will apply very little make up; this means your skin needs to be clear (or close). Find out what works (and what doesn't) for your skin, but note that natural (and alcohol-free) products are usually best!

Eat Well

While I would never recommend one diet over another, I have found the following to be true, regardless of one's body type:

  • Protein + Fat (in moderation)=Good
  • Sugar (in excess) + Carbs=Less Good

With this in mind, eat well and eat often - you'll need fuel to nourish those burgeoning muscles!

I ran varsity track in high school, so running is something I feel comfortable doing on camera.

I ran varsity track in high school, so running is something I feel comfortable doing on camera.

Gather Your Best Workout Outfits

Take inventory of your closet and look for the following:

  • Workout shorts
  • Sports bras (for women)
  • Yoga pants or leggings (for women)
  • Tank tops
  • Swim trunks or a bikini
  • Tennis shoes
Scroll to Continue

Clothes should be in good condition and should flatter your figure. Bright colors "pop" on camera and look great on most complexions. Avoid clothing with prints, patterns, or oversized logos. Also, remember to dress for the sport; that is, wear gear that fits what you're doing (e.g. basketball shorts when playing basketball, yoga pants when doing yoga).

Perfect Your Form

Did you play a sport in high school or college? Excellent! You already have an advantage over someone coming into the industry "cold". Clients want authenticity; they want models who can actually perform exercises on camera, rather than just pantomime them.

Practice, practice, and practice some more until you're 100% comfortable with your sport. Once you can do it in your sleep, have a photographer (or even a friend with a nice camera) shoot you. Don't worry so much about how your face looks in the pictures - concentrate on having fun and proficiently executing your moves and good photos will follow.

Submit Your Photos To Modeling Agencies

Photos You'll Need:

  • Headshot: Tight, warm and friendly, light makeup (see examples below)
  • Full Body: Wear a swimsuit, workout gear, running clothes - anything that shows your body and your current level of conditioning
  • Action: Play the sport or perform the activity - don't just pose

Most agencies offer the ability to submit photos online. Make sure your images are high-quality and are yours to use. Please give agencies several weeks to get back to you; they wade through hundreds of submissions a week (or even each day). Be patient.

Here are some great US-based fitness modeling agencies:

  • Sports and Lifestyle Unlimited (offices in LA and Portland)
  • Wilhemina Models (fitness division, Miami and NYC)
  • Naturally Fit (based in Austin, TX)

Headshot Examples

Bonus Tip: Compete In A Bikini Or Figure Competition

I considered competing in a novice bikini competition earlier this year, but was discouraged by the price tag (entry fee + bikinis + makeup + accommodations=demasiado caro!). However, if you have the time, money, and need the motivation, a figure/bikini competition could be just the ticket to jumpstart your career.

Perform a search for bikini/figure competitions in your area and determine the entry requirements. At the very least, you'll probably have a good time and meet other men and women dedicated to improving their physiques; at the very best, you'll win the competition or at least be discovered by an agent who attends the event.

Submit Yourself For Gigs

Ready to make some money?!?! While awaiting a response from one of the agencies that will undoubtedly sign you, you should be on the lookout for legitimate modeling opportunities. Sites like Model Mayhem host casting notices you can easily submit yourself to for consideration.

Model Beware: There are LOTS of hucksters/creepers/opportunists out there willing to take full advantage of an eager, naïve, and inexperienced model. Keep your wits about you and if something doesn't feel right, say something or leave. Your safety is of the utmost importance and there will be other jobs; don't accept creepiness or harassment for a paycheck.

Here are some reputable outlets I've used to find paid gigs:

Ready to start your fitness modeling career? I hope this article has been helpful.

Best of luck in your journey! Please feel free to share your experiences/questions/thoughts in the comments section below!

Thanks for Reading. Leave Your Comments After The Beep. Beep!

Leland Johnson from Midland MI on March 07, 2018:

amazing article with great, practical advice. thank you!

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