The X Factor: Learn The Key Ingredient To Fitness Modeling Success

If you aspire to fitness modeling success, the need to be fit is a given. Here’s what it takes to stand apart from the rest and become the best.

The X Factor: Learn The Key Ingredient To Fitness Modeling Success

Call time, 7 a.m. My crew and I are in a West Hollywood studio. The sun is about to rise over the hills, but it's still chilly outside. The team is smoking cigarettes and joking around, their normal routine before the workday starts.

No one notices her when she walks in. She sits down by a table outside Studio A, waiting. After putting the team to work, I find the same girl sitting outside the studio, looking lost.

"Hey, how are you?" I say.

"I'm the makeup person," she says, smiling.

I nod and welcome her to the set.

She laughs nervously. "No one recognizes me like this, not in the morning, anyway."

My brain races and I quickly apologize, realizing it's a joke, and that she's the model. "Welcome! We'll have a great shoot!"

I walk away thinking, So that's the famous fitness model I booked? Uh oh...

But as soon as the shoot begins, Ashley Horner's (the girl in these photos) transformation is both immediate and intense. She catches me totally off guard. The shutter fires like a machine gun, click-click-click, and she switches poses in rhythm. The changes are subtle, a body shift here, a different smile there. But she nails each one in rapid-fire succession.

Being fit doesn't make you a great fitness model, just as buying a camera doesn't make you a 
great photographer.

I'm lost in the moment; I lose track of time. At some point, my first assistant leans over and whispers, "Slow down, you're going to blow the ring flash!"

I stop shooting and look over at the assistant, whose nod says, This girl knows her stuff.

I've seen this happen before. As it turns out, the truly great models have a switch they can flick on at a moment's notice, just like that! Wonder why some fitness models get more gigs than others? That's why. At a moment's notice, they can go from a mouse-like creature to a lioness, and they can do that on cue, whenever the need arises, shoot after shoot, year after after.

Being fit doesn't make you a great fitness model, just as buying a camera doesn't make you a great photographer. The need to be fit is a given. Becoming an elite fitness model is hard work. Really, really, really hard work. Modeling is a trade. You have to work at it, twist and turn in front of the mirror to know your angles, learn your body's strengths and weaknesses, study which side of your face is best. Chin down or chin up? Eyes wide open or more hazy-looking? You must learn to hide your weaknesses, always, and highlight your strengths, always!

A good photographer can take all of that and create true art. A good photographer will recognize that particular model's skill set, and take it to another level. But the photographer needs something to work with. You can't come to a shoot expecting to be told exactly what to do. You have to bring your uniqueness to the table. You have to be able to move. You have to be interested.

A 'competition' body isn't always the same thing as a 'modeling body.' Often, they are different.

You don't have to have the best body in the world; it's not about that. It's about showing off YOUR physique in YOUR best angles, together with the facial expressions that meet the needs of that particular shoot and client.

The world's most published and successful fitness models right now are Pauline Nordin, Jamie Eason, and Jennifer Nicole Lee, and for good reason. They all "bring it" to a shoot.

Another common denominator: While they are true athletes, none of these women competes very frequently, if at all. A "competition" body isn't always the same thing as a "modeling body." Often, they are different.

These women also contribute to the fitness world as writers and spokeswomen. Pauline Nordin has her own very successful diet concept, "Fighter Diet;" is sponsored by AST Sports Science; and writes for several international magazines and websites. Jamie Eason is sponsored by and writes for Oxygen. Jennifer Nicole Lee is sponsored by BSN, has successful infomercials to her credit, writes books and articles, and runs her own successful company.

You don't have to be a writer to be a fitness "it" girl. But the competition is fierce, and having something to say along with a beautiful body has worked for these women.

You too can work and develop the "it" factor." It's all about knowing your own body. When you learn to always present yourself from the best angle, to "find the light" on set, to tweak every fiber of your body to your advantage-then you have the "it factor."


Our Team members have enjoyed great career success in fitness and bodybuilding ... as measured by their membership on Team! We asked several memberships to share their best tips for building a career in fitness.

Aubrie Richeson
"Take time to reply to each message from your fans."

Aubrie Richeson

Take time to reply to each message and comment from your fans. Reaching out and being kind and uplifting, no matter what the remark, has helped with my career.

Those people look up to you, and they'll remember what a nice of a person you were. It works both ways: Just hearing that I've inspired a person motivates me to push each workout.

Find Aubrie On BodySpace »
Ashley Johns
"Just believe in yourself and all that you have to offer."

Ashley Johns

Just believe in yourself and all that you have to offer. No goal, no opportunity, no belief, is too big. I seize any opportunity I'm passionate about and approach it with all that I am.

I work hard every day at progressing healthfully and as a person. This, and having a great attitude, are what move me forward in this business and in life.

Find Ashley On BodySpace »
Ali Rosen
"Trust the process."

Ali Rosen

Trust the process. That means truly believing in yourself and your support group, i.e., your coaches and close friends. To help me "trust the process," I keep a notebook in which I write down all of my short- and long-term goals.

I surround those with motivating quotes, often about "the law of attraction." I look at my notebook all the time.

Find Ali On BodySpace »
Jamie Eason
"Keep the goal of a potential sponsor in mind."

Jamie Eason

Keep the goal of a potential sponsor in mind. They're not as interested in the competitions you've won as they are in the following you've created from that exposure.

Use social networking sites to grow your fan base and interact and engage with people in a way that shows your commitment to the lifestyle. The greater your number of followers, the more appealing you will be to sponsors.

Find Jamie On BodySpace »

"meet them face-To-Face."

With companies continuously inundated with sponsorship requests, the only true way to be memorable enough for a company to consider contacting you again is to meet them face-to-face. Attend industry events and find the executives and decision makers at these companies.

Wow them with your personality and then follow up in a friendly manner, expressing interest but not with over self-promotion. A company wants to feel like they chose you, not that you wore them down. Meeting you face to face also will allow them to see if you fit their company culture.

Read Jamie's Articles »

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