Jen Jewell’s top tips on how to become a successful fitness model

Jen Jewell feature image

Regular Fitness magazine readers will know that it’s USN Face of Fitness time again.

Three deserving finalists are currently in studio at the glamorous photo shoot that could provide the launchpad to a career as a fitness model.

There are, however, other avenues to achieve your dream. Whether you entered the cover search competition and didn’t make the final or have ambitions to one day work in the industry, global fitness icon Jen Jewell-Gonzales shares her insights on how to become a successful fitness model.

Getting the basics right

If you’re reading this, I have no doubt that you know your way around the weights room. Healthy eating habits, constantly expanding your exercise repertoire and constantly challenging yourself to become a fitter, healthier you, are all common goals share by those who are passionate about fitness.

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Here we go with this #tenyearchallenge thing…A little insight into these 2 photos because there’s a lot more than body composition that’s transformed over the years! 💁🏽‍♀️ Here’s what was going on with the girl on the left➖ Me at OVER 30% body fat, stuck in a serious workout rut (even though I’d crept up from a size 2 to size 13 I had been hitting the gym but wasn’t consistent with my 🏋🏽‍♀️ & nutrition efforts. I was bored, on autopilot at the gym just going through the motions, was ALWAYS going on a “diet” on Monday only to eat whatever I wanted all weekend because I’d been so “good” on my diet that week and so the cycle went…🙈) low on energy, frustrated with myself & wondering where my willpower to stay on track with healthy eats and consistent workouts was. I was FAR from my most fit and healthy self 🤦🏽‍♀️ At several points I felt defeated as I couldn’t just stick to something and enjoy a healthy lifestyle 🤷🏽‍♀️ So…what changed?!? ✨💥 The photo on the right is now my year round “normal” that I’ve maintained for quite a few years‼️I have more endurance than ever & seriously love being active whenever I can (the girl on the left NEVER would have hopped on a mountain bike or hiked a volcano- or hiked anything unless it ended with bottomless mimosas 😂🤷🏽‍♀️🍾!), I never shy away from travel or social events out of fear it will derail my progress & I am having tons of fun with my fitness! 🥳 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ What finally helped me embrace AND ENJOY a healthier way of life were gradual tweaks to my lifestyle that EVENTUALLY BECAME HABITS ✨🌟✨Here are a few that had a big impact: ✅ Switching up workouts & adopting a more flexible approach by no longer thinking that each workout has to be done at the gym in order to “count” ✅ I’m active in some way each/most days because I LOVE IT not because I feel I “have to” 🙌🏽 ✅ I’ve rediscovered my love for the great outdoors & many workouts are done outside☀️💪🏽= NO MORE WORKOUT RUTS, JUST MORE ADVENTURES💃🏽⛰ ✅ No foods are EVER labeled as “off limits” & I don’t use the term “diet” regarding my approach to food ✅ I track progress based on how I’m feeling in/out of the gym, strength, endurance & more!

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Thumbing through the pages of your favourite fitness magazine, you’ll see smiling faces of fit women from around the world, illustrating how to execute new exercises with proper form or sharing their secrets to help you follow a healthy, balanced meal plan to reach your goals.

But how exactly does one turn their passion for health and fitness into making an appearance on the pages of their favourite magazine as a fitness model?

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Don't feel like going to the gym this weekend? Skip it, head outdoors and try this park workout instead! 💃🏽☀️ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Workout details 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Perform each exercise below for 40 sec,back to back for one set. Walk or jog around the park for one lap, then repeat circuit for another round ☀️ 🏃🏽‍♀️ ⁣⁣ *if doing this in a backyard or elsewhere outdoors, feel free to sub the lap with a quick jump rope*⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Note that you can bring a set of DBs or a band for this workout, too- great for a backyard workout or with partner workout at the park!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Aim for 3-5 rounds 💦 ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Walking lunges ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ wide stance jump squats ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Lateral plank walks ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Bench jumps (like box jumps but onto the bench)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Reverse plank off the bench alternating with knee to chest⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Lateral step-ups with hop on bench ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Push-ups onto the bench (or decline push-ups off bench)⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ Jumping lunges ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✅ 1 lap around the park ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ‼️ Rest briefly, then get back to it for more rounds, completing 3-5‼️

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The competition route

Many fitness models that you see in ads for supplement companies, on the cover of magazines, on social media or dishing out advice in health and fitness articles, have competed in fitness competitions.

While this is not a prerequisite to earning a magazine feature or becoming a fitness model, it certainly is a great place to start in the fitness industry.

From following the contest preparation workouts and meal plans, and challenging yourself to create your most physically conditioned physique to date, to stepping on stage with grace and poise all glammed up, for many (including myself) competing in a fitness competition or pageant is considered a stepping stone to fitness modelling.

You learn a lot about what it takes, physically, mentally and emotionally, to achieve this level conditioning and fitness through the contest preparation process. This can serve as a great learning experience.

Carefully consider collaborations

When you step on stage at a competition you are also showcasing yourself, not only to the judges and audience, but to photographers and other important industry players as well. While each show is different, as are the many different federations you can compete in, the industry is relatively small.

You are, therefore. likely to encounter the same professionals at different shows who may have connections to particular magazines.

However, it’s up to you to network and get yourself out there backstage and after shows.

It is also important to select the photographers you work with wisely. Do your research and make sure that they are reputable, and that they consistently shoot models in the fitness industry and most importantly, that they get published.

Since the goal is to become a published fitness model (and not just have a collection of pretty photos for Facebook) make sure you work with photographers whose recent work is published in magazines around the world or, at the very least, are staff photographers at a magazine.

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Workout alert 💥💪🏽💥 What muscle groups do you like to train together? ⠀⠀⠀⠀ When I’m pressed for time (or just want to switch things up) I love to combine legs and shoulders 🏋🏽‍♀️ At the gym or home workouts, combining these two muscle groups has also been a way for me to continue to train around injuries (so no PR on the squat rack for me these days) as each combo is quite challenging without having to use a “heavy” amount of weight 💪🏽 🏋🏽‍♀️⠀⠀⠀⠀ A few of my favorite leg/shoulder combos: ⠀⠀⠀⠀ 1️⃣ Split squat to a shoulder press variation 2️⃣ Side lunges with front raise 3️⃣ Plie squat to upright row 4️⃣ DB walking lunges to lateral raise 5️⃣ Bentover rear delt row to reverse lunge, alternating legs throughout the set 💥 🔛 🏃🏽‍♀️💦 For an extra cardio blast you can super set each of the numbered exercises above with a 30 sec round of jump rope right after each exercise 🔥 Do 3-4 rounds, then move to the next combo & repeat! 💥💪🏽 ⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📸 @audraodenphotography PS- actually super sweaty during this shoot because 1) I was working out and 2) Humidity & temp levels plus no AC in that area = 👹😂

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Be social media savvy

You should also post pictures on social media to highlight all of the hard work that came to fruition when you stepped on the competition stage.

Check out Jen’s Instagram page to see how a successful fitness model managers her account and interactions.

If you want to work in the fitness industry as an active fitness model you also need to know how to harness the power of social media, so posting your competition photos, gym workout pictures and helpful tips for your community will highlight this ability to anyone who searches your profile.

It is, however, vital to carefully consider and manage everything you post on social media. Think of the implications of everything you say and do online as it can and probably will go viral.

When you post on social media, you create a brand or image for yourself. Be mindful of how you act and interact with others on social media, as people are often paying more attention to the details than you would think.

No off-season

Throughout my career as I fitness model and sponsored athlete, I’ve also learnt that there is no “off-season” when it comes to staying in shape.

While you don’t need to maintain competition level conditioning all year round, you do need stay close to photo shoot-ready condition to ensure opportunities don’t pass you by.

Opportunities can pop up when you least expect them and you should always be ready for the unexpected. For some, being ready to shoot on short notice can make or break a career.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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