Do you think that fitness and bikini competitions are your best path to becoming a published fitness model?  Think again! You can start fitness modeling without ever stepping on stage.

In this blog and video I cover how to get published whether you are an active competitor or not.  Read on or click the video to learn more:

When women come to me for competition prep they often comment that they want to do a competition because they want to do fitness modeling at some point. They say that this is their goal, or bucket list item or even that they hope to have a career in fitness modeling. The fallacy is that you have to compete in order to be “discovered” for fitness modeling.  The truth is, you have a choice.  You can compete and pursue fitness modeling or, you can do fitness modeling only.

Here’s something to consider:  If you want to do a photo shoot why don’t you just do a photo shoot?  The beauty of doing a photo shoot and not competing is this:

  1.  The photo shoot is about YOU. You don’t have to win.  You just have to show up.
  2.  You don’t have to spend extra money on a competition suit, entry fee etc. that you would need for competition.
  3. Being completely “ripped” isn’t required (as a matter of fact, it is often frowned upon)
  4. Photo shoot images are what you need for your portfolio, not stage images!

Let’s face it, competitions can be brutal.  You’re up there on stage against many other very fit women and you are basically being judged on who looks the best.  Period.  You don’t have control over who else shows up or what the judges are looking for on that day.  The best body on stage wins.

Still Want to Compete?  Have a Plan

Now, if you have your heart set on competing, that’s great!  I’m a competition coach so I’m all for it.  However, if you want to prepare for a competition and a photo shoot there is a way to do it.

First, keep in mind that most magazines look for models who are fit and healthy looking. In the competition world, the look that most closely relates to this is the bikini division.

If you are set to do a bikini competition, then plan your photo shoot for the day after. Many fitness photographers travel to competition locations. Keep your diet in check for an extra day so that you will be ready for your shoot. This means no going crazy with donuts or cheeseburgers after you step off stage!

Don’t worry, if you are a figure competitor you can definitely still be a fitness model.  If you plan to shoot right after your competition consider submitting your photos to magazines like Muscle & Fitness Her’s or Ironman where the look is a little more hardcore or, shoot a week or so before of after your competition so that your look is a bit softer if your goal is Oxygen or Shape magazine.

Work With a Well Known, Connected Photographer

Whether you are shooting right after your competition or just booking a shoot and not competing one of the most important things to remember is to really communicate with your photographer.

Many well known photographers like Noel Daganta, James Patrick and Paul Buceta are very well connected with the top fitness magazines.  Let them know that you are working on your fitness modeling portfolio.  It’s also important to let them know in which magazines you are most interested in being featured. Flat out let them know, “Hey, My goal is to be on the cover of Oxygen Magazine.”  They know what look the editors want for the cover and they can coach you in your shoot to get this look.  When you book your shoot find out how many “looks” you will get and how many edited images. For fitness modeling covers you will need white screen images and for feature articles you may need active or gym shots. This translates to two to four looks depending on how many clothing changes you want for each background (white screen and gym).

Whether you are shooting and competing or just setting up a shoot to build your portfolio, keep in mind that reaching out to magazine editors is key. You will be in charge of submitting your photos and following up with editors.  Make sure that your brand / look matches their brand and your chances of being published will be better.

Get Certified and Published!

Finally, the third way to get published is through your certification organization. Personal Training Certifying Organizations like ISSA and NASM very often use their certified trainers in their magazine and internet advertising.  Reach out to the CEO to find out if this is an option.  They are often also looking for bloggers for their online sites.  Writing feature articles with your photos helps you to build your portfolio of tear sheets.  You can use these tear sheets to show other publications your work and look.

One short aside before I wrap up.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to be signed to an agency in order to work as a fitness model.  In fact, many traditional modeling agencies will only hire models who can crossover in to mainstream modeling.  They often have height requirements for this.  It is often a tough sell at castings if you have a fit look.

If you want to be a fitness model remember that competing isn’t the only way to get there.  Do the work:  Set up shoots with connected photographers, build a portfolio that is representative of your brand and where you want to be published and contact editors and follow up consistently.

Good luck!