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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sports & Fitness Modeling

A reader asked me to address this type of modeling, so here is it! There are many other niches of modeling aside from the typical fashion, runway and even commercial/print. Because models are needed for advertisement purposes, this means the types of looks in demand can vary widely from company to company.

As we all know, sports is a very profitable industry, both within the USA and in other countries. Brand giants like Nike and Adidas, as well as other reputable athletic companies have their own line of accessories, products and clothing that targets a specific demographic. And in order to market those products to the masses, guess what they need? Models!

The great thing about fitness and sports modeling is that the requirements aren't as strict as with other categories. In general, female fitness/sports models are between 5'5" - 6'0". Male models typically range in height from 5'10" to 6'3". If the male models are actually professional athletes, the height requirement can even be extended to taller than 6'3" (think about those super tall basketball players!).

So what are the physical requirements/stats? In most cases, there aren't stringent measurements that must be met like fashion modeling. The types of apparel modeled for sports and fitness ads don't necessarily fall into the same sizing specs that fashion modeling deals with. Because of this, the body type is what's more important instead of the actual measurements.

Since this does involve promoting the sports/fitness industry, models hoping to pursue this niche MUST be in terrific shape. That means a body that's proportional, toned and muscular. However, you do not need to be a beefcake with rippling bodybuilding muscles (although there are many male models that typically fit this description, there are more slender, yet toned/muscular male body types...fellas, it never hurts to have a six-pack!).

The majority of clients that cast for athletic/sports/fitness models want bodies that are in good shape and toned but not in an extreme way, unless a particular project or campaign calls for it. Remember, your images are being marketed towards the general public so they have to be able to somewhat relate to the models. Not all athletic, everyday folks are fully ripped and bulging with muscles.

Appearance-wise, sports and fitness models must have good skin, a great smile, attractive/symmetrical features (the majority of fitness models do not possess the alien, exotic, strange or unique stand out features that high fashion and runway models do). Athletic models need to have that mainstream, commercial appeal. Below are some images of typical fitness/sports models:

Famous fitness model and TV personality, Jennifer Nicole Lee. Back in 2005 I actually met and interviewed her at a soiree in San Francisco. Very down to earth, approachable and beautiful from the inside out. She used to be 200 pounds and amazingly got back in shape the old fashioned way through exercise and determination after having her two kids. She lost over 70 pounds after giving birth!







Sports models appear in many forms of print media, such as catalogs, magazines, billboards and other publications that obviously target the sports and health industries. A model working in this field could be booked for a Nike campaign, wearing their latest clothes/shoes or demonstrating a new exercise technique as part of a health article in a fitness magazine.

This type of modeling often requires that the models themselves not only look like athletes but have some kind of sports background. Agencies and clients both love models that participate in team sports, are active gym rats or enjoy an outdoors lifestyle. This is because it's much easier to have a model engage in a real world sports/fitness scenario if they actually know what to do, how to perform/pose, etc.

For example, say a client is casting for a female fitness model to do a print shoot for a new tennis racket brand. If the model has a tennis background--whether she plays for fun or professionally--chances are she's going to produce authentic tennis poses that will sell to real tennis consumers. Hiring an athletic looking model with no experience holding a tennis racket or doing poses performing this activity, is not only time consuming due to the fact that she'll likely take a bit longer to learn the right posing and posture, experts looking at the ad will be able to point out if the model actually knows what she's doing.

Further case and point: I was doing business consulting for a client who owns a golf product company. He was looking for stock photography of a female golfer. I referred him to sample photos from stock photography websites I came across. Amazingly, he was able to point out which photos had models who obviously didn't have a golfing background and who was authentic by the way her body was positioned, how she held the golf club, etc.

Does that mean a typical model with an athletic build can't eventually learn how to appear as an actual athlete? Of course not but you can see why clients would prefer to choose the former type of sports model over the latter. Time is money and going with a sports model with actual sports experience is less of a business headache to deal with.

There are not a huge number of agencies that have sports/fitness divisions but they are out there. Some agencies even solely represent these types of models. Below are some resources and agencies that deal with this niche of modeling that aspiring male and female fitness/sports models will want to check out:

All American Guys: A site that is dedicated to professional fitness male models. They have contests, model searches and offer opportunities for undiscovered male models to win a trip to Florida for a professional fitness shoot. It's worth looking into for networking purposes, exposure and to find other male fitness models newbies can turn to for inspiration.

Parts Models Agency, New York: Not all athletic models are seen in their entirety in an image. Sometimes clients only need a shot of a sports model's stomach, legs, arms, etc. Parts Models is one of the most widely known and well respected parts modeling agencies. It's one way for athletic models to book well paying work.

The Sports Book, Miami: This agency specializes in athletic talent and sports modeling. Their list of clients they've booked work for their models through include ESPN, MTV, Nike, Adidas, The Sunglass Hut and The Sports Authority.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least that is the healthiest type of modeling for girls. And there's even plus-size girls that are sport and fitness models as well.

Well, anyway, didn't you know there are pro athletes that are models too? David Beckham, Anna Kournikova, Rafael Nadal, Tom Brady, Maria Sharapova, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dania! I was wondering, if you're attending an open call during the winter months and it's snowy outside, should you still wear a solid coloured tank top, or should you upgrade to a long sleeved shirt? Thanks!

Dania Denise said...

This post is targeted towards actual models who pursue this as a career. I am aware that there are athletes that model as well but that's such general/obvious knowledge that I felt it didn't need to be mentioned in this post. I like to address the average, every day working models more so than the celebrities that have such modeling opportunities handed to them. They're not as easy for aspiring models to relate to, which is why I don't always refer to them.

Dania Denise said...

Hey, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your question in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #196." Thanks for reading!

book said...

Health & fitness magazine publishers are in search of you to showcase in the appropriate placements. You look fresh & happy while doing physical exercise, the body poster reflects the inner you to fit into sports modeling.