How to Become a Fitness Model

Turn Your Love of Exercise Into a Modeling Career

The days of excuses are behind them
Cecilie_Arcurs / Getty Images

Are you in great shape? Does the camera love you? If you are you 100 percent committed to physical fitness and living a healthy lifestyle, then you might just have what it takes to become a fitness model.

Fitness modeling (sometimes referred to as sports modeling) is a highly competitive industry that takes hard work and dedication. And, even though fitness models are seen everywhere—on the cover of magazines, in commercials, and in all kinds of advertisements—many people don’t know a lot about fitness modeling or what it takes to become a fitness model.

Common Misconceptions

Many people equate fitness modeling with the rippling muscles and extreme definition of bodybuilders and figure competitors. In reality, most fitness models are toned and in good shape, but not in any kind of extreme way.

Fitness models shouldn't be confused with fit models, who are the models who work behind the scenes with designers and manufacturers to ensure each garment has the ideal sizing, fit, feel, and movement.

What Are the Physical Requirements?

The great thing about fitness modeling is that the physical requirements aren’t as strict as other modeling niches, such as fashion and runway. In this particular area, body type matters more than measurements. Both male and female fitness models should be lean and fit, with firm muscle tone. Women typically range in height from 5’ 4" to 6’ and men are anywhere from 5’ 10" to 6’ 3," and taller.

In addition to in-shape bodies, fitness models also need to be attractive and healthy looking, with great skin, glossy hair, and a beautiful smile. And, unlike fashion models, fitness models need to have a commercial, marketable look that appeals to a wide range of clients and consumers. 

What Kinds of Companies Do They Work For?

Fitness models often work for supplement manufacturers, athletic wear companies, fitness companies, and fitness magazines. Their photos can appear in everything from catalogs and magazines to promotional materials and billboards.

Most fitness models work part time as a secondary source of income. Don’t forget, maintaining your perfect physique requires full-time dedication and a lot of workout time.

Who Are the Top Fitness Models?

Jennifer Nicole Lee

JNL, as she’s known in the modeling world, is one of the world’s most successful and accomplished female fitness models. She’s landed over 40 fitness covers, has appeared on national talk shows, countless swimsuit calendars, and has dozens of workout DVDs and endorsement deals to her credit. She’s also written several books and cookbooks because being and staying healthy is a part of the game.

What’s interesting about JNL is that she had no athletic background whatsoever before becoming a fitness model. She actually weighed 200 pounds, but after the birth of her second child she lost 70 pounds, was crowned Miss Bikini America 2006, and the rest is fitness history.

Lazar Angelov

The 32-year-old Bulgarian professional fitness trainer is also considered the world’s most famous fitness model. He learned bodybuilding in the army and then (before becoming a fitness model) he spent ten years as a basketball player. He recalls that as a child and teenager he dreamed of being a basketball player, but his many magazine spreads (and lucrative endorsement deals) prove he made the right decision. He also admits that it's very hard work maintaining his sculpted body.

How to Get Started

One of the best ways to get noticed by top fitness companies, magazines, photographers, and agencies is to enter a fitness modeling competition. If that’s not up your alley, it’s also very common for fitness models to get scouted online.

By submitting your photos to a reputable online model scouting agency, your photos will be seen by the most important agents and scouts in the world. This is the most legitimate and cost-effective way to get the attention you need to kick-start your fitness modeling career.