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The Physical Reality of Being a Model

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Written by Rick Trottier – RJT Images

Bre-coverWhile it is often that I denounce the state of modern life and culture, there are many things about our world today that are superior to the past. One of them is the acceptance of diversity. Embracing a more diverse society has opened doors for many groups of people politically, socially and economically. And one place that is far more open-minded than has ever been is modeling.


Once upon a time, a model had to be very slender, very tall, have no real feminine curves and sport no body decorations of any kind. Times have certainly changed. Models come in all shapes and sizes, are of all ethnicities, have all types of body décor and can be of any style of fashion for hair and makeup that can be imagined. But one thing that has NOT changed is that models have to be fit. That does NOT mean a model has to be skinny. In fact, thin models are too often not in appropriate physical condition at all. Fit means that a model has to be able to stand up to the physical demands of this industry, at a shoot, from week to week and as the months stretch into years. Too often young women are not prepared for the physically demanding realities of what modeling really means.

IMG_21 - Nancy

IMG_33 - ChrissyDuring the first half hour of a shoot several years ago, I once had a young lady tell me that she thought modeling would be easy, that she would just stand around looking pretty and she was shocked at how HARD this was. As years of photography have stretched into decades, I come back to that statement time and again, especially as I have watched the young women of my studio climb the ladder of the professional ranks. Modeling is hard work, even though it may seem simple and glamorous to the uninitiated. The many demands on a girl are what often grind them down and wear them out before they reach their late 20s. While the emotional/psychological strictures of The Industry are often the most punishing, the physical aspects of modeling are the obvious daily toil of the business, and anyone entering this field needs to go in with eyes wide open as to what is expected.


Being a “fit” model requires serious dedication to Four Pillars of occupational health and preparedness. This is not solely about looking good in front of the camera. Certainly that is a happy by-product of being fit, but far more important is what fitness can do to make a girl a successful model. Some of the curviest models I know exhibit all four of these values and live a life devoted to making sure they are prepared for the strictures of what is asked of them when modeling. Some of the thinnest and prettiest girls I’ve ever seen wilt under the demands of what true modeling is.

IMG_22 - Gina


The First Pillar is that of Strength. The muscles of a model must be strong and toned. There is an old saying in this industry, “if the pose feels awkward, it’s right”. To attain that dramatic, dynamic, awkward-feeling but superb-looking pose, a model must have command of strong core muscles, strong leg and gluteous muscles and very strong back muscles. Some girls have a naturally powerful physique, giving them a distinct edge. But all models must, over time, commit themselves to some form of strength training regimen that tones muscles in such a way that they can be pushed to attain pose forms that are hyper-idealized and not natural. For many years, I have likened modeling to the hockey I played as a youth. Unlike all the other sports where simple conditioning prior to the start of the season would prepare an athlete, no matter how hard I trained, I still hurt the first couple of weeks. Hockey uses muscles that no other sport tests in the same manner. Modeling is just like that. To achieve those curvy glamor poses, a model must lift and push her bust, and backside, while at the same time throwing a hip one way and arching her back counter to all those motions. And of course, she is doing this in high heels, often times in a state of partial or total undress. The mental focus necessary to accomplish all this is considerable, but the physical strength needed is of an order that is beyond that of most average girls. Before starting any serious modeling, a young woman is best served to add some form of strength training to her workout regimen, one that she feels confident in as part of a health program that will follow her through many years of her life, for the demands of modeling should be something that will support all the healthy interests of an active lifestyle.

IMG_17 - Sophia


IMG_28 - KaityThe Second Pillar is the converse of the force and power of Strength. It is the endurance of a robust Stamina. I am one of the few photographers I know who actively tries to conserve time and energy in a shoot and not wear out the model by reducing the number of frames I shoot and limiting the length of a shoot. Most photographers shoot far too many frames, more than is ever needed, and many treat a shoot as a social engagement, spinning it out for hours and hours on end. Far worse are the creeps that make a shoot a lengthy test of faith just because they want as much time with a pretty girl as they can carve out. While I may categorically disagree with such foolishness and actively discourage it, it is a fact of The Industry and models need to be prepared for that reality. Many shoots are 4-8 hour ordeals, with 1000-4000 frames shot, some even more so. I know several Massachusetts photographers who happily crow of their 10+ hour shoots or that they shot 5000-7000 frames. I am happy for you that an appalling travesty of time and energy wasting has been visited upon the model, but obviously there were underlying reasons why the photographer chose to spin out the affair long past the point of reason. Models need to be armed to the teeth to get through such experiences. Even my shoots, which have a business-like pace, can be physically demanding due to the convoluted, intense poses I often ask for. But most photographers do not give direction like I do. So models are forced to craft pose after pose, for hour after hour. It is physically and mentally exhausting. So the smart model who wants to be thoroughly prepared adds to her strength training regimen, that of a cardio-vascular program that provides the stimulus to increase energy levels. Cardio workouts are a tricky thing. There is such a thing a “too much”. So finding a balance between strength and cardio is always worthwhile. Talking with a licensed, reputable trainer is a great idea. Seeing a doctor before-hand is not a bad thing too. Getting a sense of what kinds of workouts will best fit your body type, pre-existing injury conditions and how your body has changed since your teens will make the likelihood of success that much higher.

IMG_14 - Tiffany

IMG_4 - KellyThe Third Pillar is the one most consistently overlooked and often times left out for reasons of time and interest. But in most cases, Flexibility is the most important element of physical health. Stretching and limbering muscles and joints to prepare for exercise as well as increasing the tissue elasticity to improve the range of posing are essential to muscle and joint health as well as modeling success. Many professional athletes who enjoyed lengthy, healthy careers at the top of their game credit flexibility training to their longevity. As with strength training and cardio vascular exercise, flexibility programs need to be melded with an overall regimen where each pillar supports the other. The more flexible and lithe the muscles and joints, the better prepared they are for vigorous exercise, and the converse is true. Muscles that are fit are in a better position to become lithe. The benefits of flexibility for modeling are obvious. Whether it is fashion, glamor or artistic nudes, a greater range of posing and the ability to create dynamic tableaus make a model far more appealing to a photographer than one who cannot. I have seen many beautiful young women over many years who were terrible models because of stiff, inflexible bodies that could attain nothing of interest for poses. But the very best models of my studio are not only beautiful; they are capable of dramatic and fabulous poses. As was mentioned earlier, consulting a fitness professional and/or a doctor is a good idea. Improperly done stretching can be damaging. Some people need only simplistic regimens of stretching, having naturally limber physiques, while others need to be committed to extensive stretching programs. Still others might consider yoga to blend flexibility and a specialized form of strength training in one package. Whatever approach is adopted, like strength training and cardio vascular exercise, flexibility is part of the overall scheme and all three parts are essential to health and modeling success.

IMG_24 - Brittany
IMG_10 - Mia JeanneThe Fourth and Final Pillar delves into lifestyle choices and includes making wise decisions when it comes to Eating Choices and Clean living. Neither of those two categories requires punishing behaviors like abstinence, starvation or hardships. Most models are young women between the ages of 18-30 who like to go out, have fun, enjoy life and seek various forms of diversion. As with the afore-mentioned Three Pillars, it is ALL about balance and moderation. Avoiding excesses of any type is always the best plan. No workout program should be so challenging that it causes injury or complete exhaustion. Similarly, no lifestyle regimen should deprive any model of fun and happiness. It is all about finding a pattern of healthy habits that dominate the majority of your week, and when the pattern breaks BRIEFLY for an excursion into a more exciting realm of behavior, the break in the pattern is short and the healthy pattern is adopted again without guilt, anger or depression. Just as some days, you just can’t push yourself as hard on the elliptical trainer, there will be days when eating or drinking habits might change for a short period of time. Seeking the advice of your doctor and/or a nutritionist is also a very good idea especially because the body’s chemistry is constantly changing as metabolism shifts. What works as eating choices for some people is a mistake for others. What one person considers going to bed early and getting enough rest is ludicrous for another. Determining your body’s needs will help you determine how to make your soul happy too for a body firing on all cylinders will create a template for a mind/spirit response that will be equally positive.
IMG_9 - Jaden

The key to preparing the body for the demands of modeling is knowing that the choices and actions taken to make your body perform excellently under all modeling conditions are the same choices and actions that will help lay the ground work for being a healthy person for years into the future. Like athletics, modeling expects precisely honed skills which depend on body systems that are at peak efficiency. The girl who just expects to be “hot” in front of the camera, may get away with that briefly when shooting with hobbyists or shutterbugs of an undesirable ilk. But when asked to perform on a professional level, girls can’t hide behind a pretty face for long. Truly professional models hone, sculpt and train their bodies to be works of beauty but also machines of impeccable quality and precision. Anyone who seriously steps into modeling needs to understand that like any athlete, they will be tested. Passing the test means stepping up to a whole other level of performance, expectation and reward.

  • IMG_33 - Chrissy

    IMG_33 – Chrissy

  • IMG_1 - Bre cover

    IMG_1 – Bre cover

  • IMG_2 - Chrissy

    IMG_2 – Chrissy

  • IMG_3 - Marianne

    IMG_3 – Marianne

  • IMG_4 - Kelly

    IMG_4 – Kelly

  • IMG_5 - Amy

    IMG_5 – Amy

  • IMG_6 - Kaity

    IMG_6 – Kaity

  • IMG_7 - Gina

    IMG_7 – Gina

  • IMG_8 - Amanda

    IMG_8 – Amanda

  • IMG_9 - Jaden

    IMG_9 – Jaden

  • IMG_10 - Mia Jeanne

    IMG_10 – Mia Jeanne

  • IMG_11 - Liz D

    IMG_11 – Liz D

  • IMG_12 - Emily

    IMG_12 – Emily

  • IMG_13 - Chrissy

    IMG_13 – Chrissy

  • IMG_14 - Tiffany

    IMG_14 – Tiffany

  • IMG_15 - Patrice

    IMG_15 – Patrice

  • IMG_16 - Marisa

    IMG_16 – Marisa

  • IMG_17 - Sophia

    IMG_17 – Sophia

  • IMG_18 - Bre

    IMG_18 – Bre

  • IMG_19 - Liz A

    IMG_19 – Liz A

  • IMG_20 - Alyssa

    IMG_20 – Alyssa

  • IMG_21 - Nancy

    IMG_21 – Nancy

  • IMG_22 - Gina

    IMG_22 – Gina

  • IMG_23 - Kayla Mariie

    IMG_23 – Kayla Mariie

  • IMG_24 - Brittany

    IMG_24 – Brittany

  • IMG_25 - Jasmine

    IMG_25 – Jasmine

  • IMG_26 - Kelsi

    IMG_26 – Kelsi

  • IMG_27 - Amy

    IMG_27 – Amy

  • IMG_28 - Kaity

    IMG_28 – Kaity

  • IMG_29 - Marianne

    IMG_29 – Marianne

  • IMG_30 - Jamie

    IMG_30 – Jamie

  • IMG_31 - Liz D

    IMG_31 – Liz D

  • IMG_32 - Danielle

    IMG_32 – Danielle


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.

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