Ok, I’ve already done a bit on how to become a model, and I’ve had a surprising number of people e-mail me and tell me that they were actually interested in specifically becoming fitness models.
I didn’t know this but apparently the pay for this particular area has shot up in the last ten years due to the obesity problem in the United States and the subsequent deluge of diet and fitness programs, books, dvds, gym memberships, etc.–all these things need advertising, and they’re almost always going to want a good-looking model to be associated with the product, right? Bingo (or, jackpot, if you’re a good-looking fitness model 😀 )
Networking and Competitions
You don’t need to compete to break into the fitness model business, in fact if you don’t like doing it then I would really recommend you don’t waste your time–put your time and energy into something else more useful, such as putting together the best portfolio you can, going to go-sees (these are what job interviews are called in the model business), etc.
The really useful part about competitions is the opportunity to network: at the major competitions there will be a lot of the people in business who are looking to hire, such as editors-in-chief of fitness magazines, top photographers, supplement company owners, etc.
This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with these people, network, and hand out your comp card (you do have a comp card, right?). If you don’t know what a comp card is, real quick: this is something all professional models have, it’s essentially a business card that you give to modeling agencies and potential clients. A comp card is a two-sided card which should have a large photograph on one side and the flip side should have four smaller photographs.
Because a fitness model is primarily showing off a superb physique, the pictures need to include body shots where you’re wearing fitness apparel or a bikini. The back of the comp card also needs to have your statistics, like height, weight, and body measurements.
Something else you need to remember about competitions is that where you place in the competition has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on how much attention you’re going to get as far as offers go: oftentimes, the girl who placed first won’t get as many offers as another girl(s) who placed lower simply because she’s not as good-looking overall as other girls who placed lower (you don’t have to be pretty or photogenic to win competitions, you just have to have the body). So don’t worry about winning competitions unless you just want to for you, which is cool, but don’t think that it’s going to effect how well you’re going to do in this business.
A great way to get familiar with these competitions is to just go see them as a spectator a few times to learn how things work and how you will be judged–different Federations have VERY different judging criteria, some of them heavily emphasize muscle tone and low body fat, whereas others are looking for a much more feminine and curvy beauty contest sort of look, it just depends and you need to learn the difference because you might
very well place 1st in one and not at all in another. To see where various competitions are and learn more about competing I highly recommend you use this tool: Competition Info at Bodybuilding.com.
Agencies and Agents
In short, just like any other professional model, you need a good agency. Nobody in the modeling industry works solo without an agency, it just doesn’t happen. As soon as you say that you’re not with an agency, they immediately know that you’re not to be taken seriously. Getting an agency is a lot like getting a job: you just need to apply, interview, and send your portfolio out over and over again until someone takes interest.
If you’ll go see my post on how to become a model, I’ve got several video interviews on there with a booker who’s represented the likes of Tyra Banks and Christie Brinkely, but do keep in mind that he’s entirely worked in the fashion model business, and a lot of what he says (like how you have to be at least 5’8″) doesn’t apply to fitness models.
I emphasized this about fashion models in my other article, and it applies to ALL models, including fitness models: you need to be where the market is, this is by far the most important factor in determining how successful you’re going to be in this business.
Honestly, modeling is such a relatively small industry (how many models are there versus electrical engineers, doctors, or lawyers?) that there’s really only one major market for them in the entire United States: New York City.
The funny thing is that even when a client wants a shoot done in some place like Miami or Los Angeles, they’ll just fly in New York models instead of hiring local talent. Why? Because all the best go to New York, that’s why.
Plus, all the major agencies (well, pretty much ALL the agencies in the U.S.) are located in NYC. If you’re not in the U.S., then other major cities with comparable markets to New York are London, Paris, Milan, and Tokyo, that’s it (I told you, this is not a huge industry).
Additional Resources for Getting Started as a Fitness Model
There’s a lot of fluff out there, and something I learned a long time ago applies to advice from people: if they haven’t actually done what you want to do, they probably don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about, no matter how well-intended their advice may be.
There is actually a whole pre-packaged program that’s been put together by a fitness model (Jennifer Nicole Lee–former Ms. Bikini USA, Oxygen Magazine cover model, etc.) that’s intended for people who want to get into shape for the specific purpose of becoming a fitness model, check it out here: Look Like A Fitness Model.
This is an excellent article by Will Brink on how to break into the fitness model business.
This is a wonderful, motivating story by fitness model Christina Lindley on how she got started as a fitness model.