A Day in the Life of a Fitness Model
This article was written for ActivewearUSA.
As a fitness model, I must maintain a body that can be camera ready within two weeks of a shoot date, and sometimes I don’t even have that much time. Casting calls can come as short as 24 hours notice, so it is absolutely crucial to be eating clean consistently, and keeping to a dedicated workout routine: I’m in the gym six days a week. Training for a shoot is a little different than regular training. Normally, I am a heavy lifter, and I focus on the heavier weights for fewer reps in order to build the muscle. However, when I am shooting, my workouts for the week before shift to a higher rep count with lighter weights, to help bring out and carve the defined look that I’m aiming for.
For a shoot, I allow myself a week to adopt a preparation diet: for the first few days, I consume high quantities of water and sodium, and low carbohydrates. A low carb diet will help to blast fat and shred the muscles, while excess water and sodium flush out your system and keep you hydrated. By mid-week, I taper down my water and consume an absolute minimum of sodium, to ensure minimal water retention. On the day of the shoot, I will try not to eat anything before shooting if possible. The less you eat, the less your stomach will swell, and the tighter you will look. However, if the shoot is in the later afternoon or evening, not eating before hand is unsafe, if not just impossible. So I will usually eat a light breakfast of egg whites, and any other meal will be a protein shake.
The morning before a shoot is very involved. I wake up, have my breakfast, and head to the gym for a quick weight lifting circuit, and some plyometric cardio. To use the old cliché, having a ‘swell’ certainly helps to enhance the active look of muscle. Then it is time to prep myself – normally, the photographer and I have already confirmed a general theme or style for the shoot so my outfits will already be packed, but I ensure that all my additional maintenance (showering, exfoliation, shaving, moisturizing, manicures and pedicures) are done on the day of the shoot for the best look.
Once you arrive on set, makeup application can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. Makeup for the camera is very different than what you might wear for a night out as it often has to be darker and more exaggerated to hold its presence over varying light sources. It truly benefits to be patient with the makeup artist, as their meticulousness makes you look better. During the make up process, the photographer lays out their plans for the shoot, numbers outfits, and tests the lighting – it too helps to be patient with lighting, as it is the key to a spectacular photo.
As soon as the camera is clicking, I start to move. I’m aware of where my hands are, if my muscles are held tight, if my face is catching the light – all the while maintaining an expression that is intense, genuine, and appealing. I am not a static poser- I never hold the exact same pose for more than one click of the camera unless requested. Everything is a motion, and the slightest movement can change a picture. Turning your eyes, exhaling, shifting your hand, everything creates a new moment. Depending on the shoot, I must be en pointe and focused for 1-3 hours of shooting time – sometimes more, especially when on location shots are needed. I have to be ready to self direct, but to oblige what the photographer asks. I have to prepare to bring my best no matter how cold or wet I may be, and keep it looking as if this unnatural pose is the most natural thing in the world. It is a challenge… but it is also like living art.
When the shoot is over, it’s time to eat.