So You Wanna Be a Fitness Model?
People that follow my stuff know I generally write about nutrition, supplements, training, and other topics that are more science based than subjective topics, such as what is covered in this article. I decided to shuck my science geek persona, and write on a topic I know will be helpful to thousands of would be and want to be fitness models.
As well a known “hard core” science based no BS writer, why I am writing what some will perceive as a “fluff” article? Over the years I have gotten hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gals that ask me via email, letters, or in person “how do I become a fitness model Will? You have been in the business a long time, surly you of all people should know.” I get this from newbies and I get this from women that have been at it a while but have been unable to “break in” effectively.
The fact is, I have been in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding biz a long time, and though I am known as a science and nutrition based “guru” type, I have trained many a fitness athlete, and judged fitness and figure/bikini shows for the NPC, Fitness America, Fitness USA, and other federations as well as given marketing and business advice to all sorts of athletes, including fitness models. So, it’s not as far fetched as it might seem that I am going to use this space to cover a non scientific topic, which is, how one goes about being a fitness model.
This article will be useful to both experienced and novice types looking to “break in” to the biz. If you are already a professional and successful fitness model, I am sure you may still glean some useful information from this article.
First the bad news, there is no one way to become a successful fitness model. There is no single path or magic secret. There are however some key things a person can do to greatly improve their chances of “making it” in the fitness biz as a model, and perhaps using that success as a launching pad to greater things, such as movies, TV, etc.
Several of the top fitness models (Trish Stratus and Vicki Pratt come to mind but there are many others) have gone onto careers in entertainment of all kinds. Bottom line, though there is no magic secret to being successful as a fitness model, this article will be about as close to a blueprint for success as you will find.
“Do I need to compete?”
This is a question I get asked all the time and it’s not an easy one to answer. In fact, the answer is (drum roll) yes and no. The person has to deicide why they are competing in the first place to answer that question. For example, do you need to compete if your goal is to be a successful fitness model?
The answer is no. Many of today’s well-known fitness models have never competed, or they competed in a few small shows and it was clearly not part of their success as fitness models. However, competing does have its potential uses.
One of them is exposure. At the upper level shows, there will often be editors, publishers, photographers, supplement company owners, and other business people. So, competing can improve your exposure. Also, competing can make sense if you are trying to build a business that is related to your competing or will benefit from you winning a show.
For example, say you have a private training gym you are trying to build. Sure, having the title of say Ms Fitness America, or winning the NPC Nationals and being an IFBB pro, will help your reputation and the notoriety of your business. There are many scenarios were it would help to have won a show for a business or other endeavors.
On the other hand, it must be realized that winning a show does not in any way guarantee success in the business end (and it really is a business) of being a fitness model. The phone wont ring off the hook with big offers for contracts. Also, it’s very important to realize that it’s common that the 4th or 6th or 8th place finisher in a fitness or figure show will get more press than the winner. Why? Though the winner might have what it took to win that show, it’s often other gals the editor, publishers, supplement companies etc, feel is more marketable.
I have seen it many times where the winner was shocked to find she didn’t get nearly the attention she expected and other girls who placed lower have gotten attention in the form of photos shoots, magazine coverage, etc. Something to keep in mind when you ask yourself the important question “do I need to compete and if so, why am I competing?” Answer that question, and you will know the answer to the heading of this section. Winning a title of some sort can be a stepping stone, but it is not in itself any guarantee of success in the fitness industry. It’s like a college degree; it’s what you do with it.
Now. If you compete for the fun of it, then by all means go for it, but the above is focusing on competing as it relates to the business aspect of being a fitness model.
Right body, wrong federation?
Ok, so after reading the above you have decided you are going to compete, or will compete again. If you don’t plan to compete, you can skip this section. The biggest mistake I see here is so many gals have the right body for the wrong federation. Each federation has its own judging criteria and a competitor will do poorly simply because they didn’t bother to research which show would be best suited for them.
I will give you a perfect real world example of this. Recently I judged a show whose criteria for the figure round was the women should be more on the curvy softer side with some tone, vs. being more muscular and athletic with less bodyfat that other federations might allow. At this show one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen came out. She was very proportional, great muscle tone, lean, and athletically shaped with narrow hips and waist and wider shoulders. How did she do at this show? She didn’t even place in the top ten!
Why? Because she was not what we were instructed to look for and didn’t fit the criteria. After the show I informed her that she looked great, but this may not the federation for her. I told her she had much more of an NPC type body, where a little more muscle, athletic build, and less bodyfat is rewarded.
The following week I was judging an NPC fitness, figure, and bodybuilding show and there she was. How did she do? She won the entire show with all judges voting her number one unanimously.
Conversely, if your body type tends to be more rounded and toned, but with a little more bodyfat, wider (but not fat!) hips, you may be better off competing in say the Fitness America Pageants. If you are going to compete:
(1) find out exactly what the judging criteria is for that federation and
(2) go see those shows as a spectator for several different federations and see which one your physique, style, etc will fit into best.
(3) You have to decide if you truly have the athletic abilities to compete in a fitness competition (which requires a routine) or a figure/bikini competition.
I often see women who would do well in a figure show but really don’t have the athletic abilities do the routines required to be competitive with other athletes in the show. Some shows will allow you to do both competitions and some wont.