Fit and Fabulous InFocus

The Complex World of Fitness Modeling

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Kelly COVERWritten by Rick Trottier and with the thoughts of Kelly Levin


Each and every day, we see more and more “fitness models” appear on the scene; in magazine features, in commercial advertising, on television, and in all forms of social media. Fitness Modeling has become more popular than ever for a wide variety of reasons. Partly it is because muscles and athleticism has become steadily sexier in the mind of the American Male and more accepted as an example of feminine beauty. Healthier living and strongly sculpted builds seem to be a reaction against the continued decline of the Average American Physique. More than likely, fitness modeling has become uber-popular simply because there is a pile of money to be made in that industry. Merchandise and products abound and just about everyone seems to be willing to spend any sum on wares that could be of benefit to improving their bodies and how they work.

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The interesting thing about “fitness modeling” is that it really is three related but gently different aspects of an immensely complicated world of genre imagery. Getting to the heart of the definition of what is fitness modeling and what is a fitness model really helps a person in this business know what they are trying to create and how best to showcase their pictures without missing the point of what they are trying to convey.

  1. “Shooting Fitness” means precisely that. A photographer creates a look of an athletic moment by using props, backgrounds, lighting and a model to connote a sense of fitness behavior and health. The model may or may not be a fitness model, because such a specified moniker is not terribly relevant. If the image has a “fitness look and feel”, the objective is achieved.
  2. A Model who can do fitness looks is another slice of these complicated modeling demographics. Most models are interested in acquiring the skill and talent to shoot a fairly wide variety of looks. If she is healthy, toned and “fit” and has the ability to create a sense of character, than a model can step into a fitness shoot and successfully create a “fitness look”. But fitness is only part of a repertoire of the other modeling genres she has mastered.
  3. A “Fitness Model” is often precisely what that term states, a very fit and professionally successful fitness athlete who will often take part in fitness shoots. Most “Fitness Models” are also fitness competitors, sponsored athletes with connections to supplement companies or clothing lines and who are very specific about the kinds of imagery they want to or can help create.

Let it be known that each and every one of these species of the fitness genus is valid in and of itself. Not one is superior, more authentic or “better” than another. But in the past, GlamModelz Magazine has looked at various aspects of a model’s health, how to do fitness modeling or build a better fitness physique without really delving into the thoughts of a “fitness model” and what she thinks about the industry. GlamModelz spoke with Kelly Levin, a successful fitness model from southeastern Massachusetts to get her thoughts on what it means to be a fitness model and where she hopes to go with it in the coming years.


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GlamModelz Magazine: Give us your definition on what you think a “fitness model” is and should be? What are some things that ALL fitness models have to have to be successful?

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Kelly Levin: In my eyes, a fitness model should be a healthy, well-rounded example to others.  It should be someone who takes care of their body and is mindful of what they put in it, and works hard to stay in shape.  To be successful, there are a lot of things you must possess.  You need to be focused, goal-oriented, determined, disciplined, hungry for it, with a never give up attitude.  You should also be friendly with a go-getter personality.  Obviously, you should be well-educated in the sport so that you can answer people’s questions properly.

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IMG_15 - RobynGlamModelz Magazine: Has “Fitness Modeling” improved or declined in quality in the time you’ve been doing it? Explain.

Kelly Levin: In the time that I have been fitness modeling, I believe there has been an improvement in the industry.  There are so many determined, hard-working models out there.  The field is growing rapidly and everywhere you turn you hear more about fitness, eating healthy, etc.


GlamModelz Magazine: How did you get your start as a “fitness model”? What goals have you set for yourself and met in this side of the industry? Are there any goals you have yet to meet?


Kelly Levin: I’ve always had the desire to stay in shape and healthy.  My fitness training began back in high school.  Back in 2003, I entered my first fitness show and knew it was right where I wanted to be.  Doing this landed me in MuscleMag, American Curves, and a couple of other magazines.  Although I continued to work on myself, I didn’t really pursue the dream at the time.  It wasn’t until more recently that I decided to work with a trainer, make more changes in my physique, and compete in another show in June 2014 as I approached 40, which I placed 2nd in Bikini Masters, and 4th place in Open Bikini.  I went on to also compete the following November to place 2nd in Bikini Masters again.  Since I was in such great shape, I scheduled some photo shoots to get some different looks together to present.  I started reaching out to companies until I got a reply.  Barndad Nutrition was interested in using my image for some of their ads!  They have printed these ads in several issues of Train, and Oxygen Magazine.  They also flew me out to Ohio for the 2015 Arnold Classic to help promote their product.  This has made me hungrier, and I will continue to represent Barndad as well as other companies as I see fit.  There has been a definite transformation in my body just in one year and I will continue to make improvements and hopefully compete again soon!



GlamModelz Magazine: Who are some “fitness models” that you look to for inspiration? What is it about them that helps to inspire you?


Kelly Levin: Jamie Eason and Michelle Lewin are two of my inspirations.  Jamie Eason is close to my age, she fought breast cancer at age 22 and that sparked her interest in getting in shape.  She earned her Pro Card after her first fitness show.  She is a spokesperson for and has been in a ton of magazines.  She is married with a son and continued to stay in amazing shape after the pregnancy.  She is an amazing woman and has overcome and accomplished so much.

Michelle Lewin is an ex Playboy cover model.  She is an NPC Bikini competitor as well.  She has been on 14 magazine covers, and has a ton of great fitness videos.  She has a phenomenal body and is very down to earth.


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GlamModelz Magazine: We see some fitness models go into various forms of risqué fitness glamor. Should fitness models be diverse in their interests of modeling or should they stay in the realm of classic fitness? Is diversity good for the model? Good for the industry? Both? Neither?


Kelly Levin: The more diverse you can be in fitness modeling, the better.  You should show that you are versatile so that you can appeal to a larger audience, especially if this is how you make your living.  I believe you should show different sides of yourself.  After all, you have worked so hard to look like you do!

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GlamModelz Magazine: What do you think the primary positive reason for the explosion of interest in fitness modeling has been? Have there been any forces at work that have hurt the image of fitness modeling?


Kelly Levin: Let’s face it; I think everybody wants to have a fit, toned body.  Not everybody is willing to work for it.  There are also different definitions of “fitness modeling”.  Some of it is super conservative and tasteful and others push the limits of “sexy”.  “To each his own” is my motto.

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GlamModelz Magazine: When you start getting ready for a shoot, what are the preparations that are most important to you for looking your best in front of that camera? What are things that make fitness modeling more challenging than other types of modeling?

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Kelly Levin: Before preparing for a photo shoot, you should be in more of a “prep” mode meaning that your diet and training should be spot on weeks before you are going to shoot.  You want to make sure you are not retaining any water so that your muscle tone will be apparent in the photos.  This makes this type of modeling more challenging due to the fact that you are going to be showing more skin and want show off all that hard work you put in at the gym.  You want to stay well-hydrated so that your skin will look its best.  Summer is a great time since you will probably have a tan and have that healthy glow.  Your wardrobe should be well thought out to achieve your goal always packing extra just in case.


GlamModelz Magazine: If you had to give three bits of advice to a woman thinking about going into fitness modeling, what would they be?


Kelly Levin: Three bits of advice I would give a woman thinking about getting into fitness modeling would be:  Diet and training is key, you must have thick skin to be in this industry, always work toward your goals, things don’t happen overnight!


While the written content of this article is based on the thoughts, knowledge and experience of Kelly, the imagery is a mix of many fitness models and women who shoot fitness to a greater or lesser degree. As always, GlamModelz Magazine wants to bring its readers the most incisive information on topics related to the modeling and photography industry and the imagery we proffer is meant to support that topical content to the fullest. Thanks to all the young women who are a part of this article-feature.


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    IMG_28 – Kelly

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    IMG_2 – Jennifer

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    IMG_6 – Liz D

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    IMG_8 – Amy

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    IMG_11 – Nichole

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    IMG_15 – Robyn

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    IMG_23 – Robyn


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GlamModelz Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 1, October 2015,

Featured in this issue Cover Model, GlamModel:Dpnna Brook, Featured GlamModelz: GlamModel: Donna Brook, GlamModel: Jessica Rose, GlamModel: Marisa James, GlamModel: Paola Alba, GlamModel: Billy Pointe, GlamModel: Whitney Nicole, Makeup Artist, Sarah Elizabeth, Featured Articles: Jewels of Immeasurable Worth, Complex World of Fitness Modeling, The Morning Light Effect, Inspiration vs Emulation, The Theory and Practice of Posing,


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Managing Editor, GlamModelz Magazine I’m a Central New England photographer based out of Worcester, MA, just one hour west of Boston. I specialize in fashion and glamor commercial imagery as well portraiture of all types. My style is a blend of commercially viable work melded with artistic innovation, whether on location or in studio. I prize collaboration quite highly and am proud of the fact that most of my work displays the ideas and designs of my models as much as it does my skills, efforts and planning. Rick has published 80, articles with GlamModelz Magazine.

Connect with him on:

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