Becoming a fitness model is an increasingly popular, and competitive, profession. Fitness models are killing it on social media, in magazines, and in television spots for brands like Nike and Adidas, making it a rewarding and lucrative field, especially if you have a passion for fitness. Though you may be in great shape and good at snapping good workout photos, it can be tricky to stand out from the crowd. Want to learn how to become a fitness model? Committing to a healthy lifestyle and physique is only part of what it takes to be a professional fitness model. We’ll go over everything you need to know, including fitness modeling requirements, working with a fitness model agency, and how to create an online model portfolio and get fitness model jobs. Let’s get started!
What are the Physical Fitness Modeling Requirements?
Eating clean, working out daily, and having an athletic build are all key fitness model requirements. Most fitness modeling agencies look for body types that are lean and fit, with defined muscle tone. Being fairly tall—no shorter than 5’6” if you’re a woman, and six feet and above if you’re a man—is usually standard in the industry. Many fitness models also have a healthy glow, great skin, shiny hair, and a nice smile. Agencies are always searching for fitness models with a commercial look that will appeal to a broad range of consumers, as this makes them easier to book for clients.
While maintaining a fit physical appearance is key, it’s just the first step. Landing fitness modeling jobs takes more than a good physique; having a strong fitness model portfolio and a unique look can also catch the attention of fitness model agencies, and help you book fitness modeling jobs.
Who are the Top Fitness Models?
To give you a better sense of what it takes, let’s take a closer look at some of the top fitness models in the world.
Female Fitness Models
Jennifer Nicole Lee: Known as JNL to her fans, she is arguably one of the most successful female fitness models in the industry. With numerous fitness magazine covers, swimsuit calendars, and endorsements, as well as branded workout DVDs and books, JNL is considered the gold standard for fitness modeling. She also has a compelling backstory; she weighed 200 pounds after the birth of her second child, and then lost 70 pounds to be crowned Miss Bikini America.
Michelle Lewin: A former nurse turned top female fitness model, Lewin hails from Venezuela and has 14 million followers on social media. With her strong, healthy physique and gorgeous looks, Lewin has scored partnerships with workout brands and health companies, as well as her own range of workout equipment and a line of supplements.
Male Fitness Models
Lazar Angelov: Angelov started bodybuilding while in the army and then played basketball professionally for 10 years before becoming one of the top male fitness models in the industry. With his enviable ab definition and athletic look, Angelov has landed magazine spreads and endorsement deals with fitness companies. The 32-year old professional fitness trainer puts in a lot of work to maintain his chiseled physique, especially now that he has become known for it.
Simeon Panda: This male fitness model started lifting weights at home in high school and soon became hooked on building muscle. He has competed in numerous fitness competitions and starred in modeling campaigns for major fitness brands. He also owns an eponymous sportswear company, Simeon Panda.
How Do I Create a Fitness Model Portfolio?
A well-crafted fitness model portfolio can make or break your foray into fitness modeling. Fitness model agencies are looking for fitness models who photograph well and know how to frame their body for the best shot, and have a good online fitness model portfolio featuring their best shots. Here’s how to get yours going:
Choose the Right Online Portfolio
Go for for a website builder that will showcase your photographs in an appealing, accessible way. Make sure to pick an online portfolio with fresh, modern templates, to show off your best fitness modeling shots, and Instagram integration, so you can feature any amazing Insta pics on your portfolio. A built-in online store is also great, as it allows you to sell branded merch to your fans. A good website builder will make it simple for you to adjust features on your site with just a few clicks, no coding required, so you can upload beautiful images in a matter of minutes and build your fitness modeling brand.
Need some inspiration? Look up other model portfolios to get a sense of what works and take notes on what other fitness models are doing to showcase their work online.
If you want more tips, check out our guide to how to build your model portfolio.
Practice Your Fitness Modeling Poses
If you want to learn how to be a model, you have to get your fitness model poses down! Posing in photographs can feel a bit unnatural at first, especially if you’re trying to highlight your muscles or build. There are so many options when it comes to posing, from full frontal to profile to seated. Finding the right pose as a female model or a male model that highlights your body can take practice.
Don’t be afraid to try a few different poses so you can feel confident in front of the camera and create great shots for your fitness model portfolio. Look at the top fitness models on Instagram and other social media to get a sense of how they pose and frame their shots.
Work with a Fitness Model Photographer
Fitness photographers have the training and expertise to make fitness models look good. Go for a fitness model photographer who has proven experience photographing fitness models and athletes. Many fitness photographers also have contacts in the industry and can refer you to potential fitness modeling jobs, too.
If you aren’t in a financiak position to pay a fitness photographer for their work, why not try a TFP shoot? “Trade for print” means you and the photographer work for prints, rather than cash, so you both leave with valuable shots without having to spend a cent.
Focus on What Makes You Unique
With so many fitness models out there, it’s important that you determine what makes you stand out. Maybe you have a unique backstory or background. Maybe you have an inspiring journey to fitness or a really honest take on working out. Think about how you can be distinct and focus on this aspect when you’re building your online portfolio website. Having a compelling backstory can help you land fitness modelling opportunities.
Building a brand identity around your unique look can be a good way to add cohesion to your online portfolio. Having a good sense of what makes you unique can make you more appealing to fitness model agencies looking for something new and exciting.
How Can I Book Fitness Model Jobs?
Now that you’ve created a killer fitness model portfolio, it’s time to land your first modeling job. Some options for landing fitness modeling jobs and getting your name out there include:
Send Your Portfolio to Fitness Modeling Agencies
Modeling agencies are always on the lookout for new talent, especially in the burgeoning fitness industry. Once you’ve built the best portfolio you can, send it out to the top modeling agencies. If you’re a fit, they will sign you and start looking for fitness modeling jobs for you. Small jobs can turn into big fitness modeling campaigns and exposure to bigger and bigger clients who may want to book you.
Enter Fitness Modelling Competitions
Many fitness models will participate in swimsuit competitions and fitness pageants to show off their body and get the attention of fitness modeling scouts. Check if there are local or national competitions in your area, and sign up. Even if you don’t win the competition, putting yourself in the running can raise your profile and let scouts know you are a fitness model worth paying attention to.
It can also be a great way to practice posing and give you a sense of the competition in the industry.
Submit Your Fitness Photos Via Social Media
Fitness modeling agencies and fitness brands are starting to use social media to scout for new talent by putting calls out for new models. They also run photo contests where you submit your best fitness modeling shots to get their attention. Look up fitness brands on social media and watch for any calls or contests. Submit your photographs and a link to your fitness modeling portfolio to increase your chances of booking a fitness modeling job.
What Kind of Fitness Modeling Jobs Are Out There?
Many fitness models start out doing small fitness modeling jobs like promoting a fitness product on social media or doing a sponsored post on their website. Small fitness modeling opprt like these can result in low pay, or payment in free product. But these smaller opportunities can lead to bigger things, such as a marketing campaign with a major fitness brand or a calendar shoot with a fitness magazine. Bigger jobs like these pay a lot more and can help you maintain a sustainable career as a fitness model.
Being social-savvy with platforms like Instagram can help you cultivate relationships with fitness brands, especially if you have a large online following. Don’t be afraid to use social media tools to boost your online presence, as it can help you land small, paying gigs that can lead to more exposure, and bigger pay cheques.
What Can I Do to Build My Career as a Fitness Model?
Having the dedication and drive to be a fitness model is half the battle; you also have to work hard to continue to build your career and make it sustainable. Becoming a fitness model takes perseverance, and you can keep your career viable with a few steps:
Stay Fit and Active
The life of a fitness model is often unpredictable, as you may get called at the last minute to do a shoot or promote a product. To make sure you look your best, try to be consistent with your workouts and stay in shape as much as you can. Follow a schedule and exercise on a regular basis so you can be ready for any opportunities that come your way.
Many fitness models also do shoots that are physically demanding and require a lot of exercise. Sometimes it can take hours of jumping, squatting, and lunging to get one perfect shot. Be prepared for tough shoots and surprise fitness modeling opportunities, by staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Keep Your Online Portfolio Current
Once you’ve taken the time to build an amazing fitness model portfolio and have sent it out to fitness modeling agencies, don’t let it get stale with old content. Update your portfolio regularly with new fitness photos and news about your emerging career as a fitness model so you can draw visitors to your site and boost your online profile.
We’re confident your career as a fitness model is going to work out!
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*Header Image Credit: Trainer Academy