Fitness Photoshoots – Do They Really Look Like That?

So, I just saw Mike comment on this post by Jason at Any Man Fitness on Twitter and in my Modafinil’d up state felt compelled to write a post.

Mike Cernovich tweet

Sidenote: I swear I could write a daily blog just of insights, realisations and personal anecdotes I get from reading Danger & Play. It’s amazing finding someone extremely similar to you in personality and values, but 10-12 years ahead in their journey.

Fitness images – Reality or con?

I’ve been in the fitness industry for almost 7 years now, first as a personal trainer and now in the back end working with other personal trainers on their marketing and business. I’ve worked in big box gyms, high end personal training studios and spit & sawdust gyms. I know the industry AND I know the consumer inside out.

Here’s a few insights that underpin my opinions, based on years of experience and much behind the scenes knowledge.

  • ‘Fitness models’ are a massive con. They’re on all of the gear under the sun to sell an unsuspecting layman a bunch of unnecessary supplements. I have no problem with these people, or their use of whatever they choose to use and how they make a living. I see it like pro sports. To compete you have to use what everyone else is using. If society shames it and you stand to lose your career, then of course you should keep quiet about it. A man’s got to eat.The companies, I’m not so sure about. However my general philosophy is if people can’t think for themselves, become educated and question the images the media and especially advertisers give them; then it is their own problem if they get duped. Looking for a magic pill answer to getting in shape, rather than putting in the years under the bar, is no different to falling for a get rich quick scam. The easy solution is going to be too good to be true.

    Question what you’re told and think for yourself.

    Muscle density is built over years of consistency. Notice there is almost no difference between under tension and relaxed

    Muscle density is built over years of consistency. Notice there is almost no difference between under tension and relaxed

     

  • You have to compete. As a personal trainer, your body is your business card and when all of the other trainers are having pro photo shoots with favorable lighting, photoshop, etc. then you have to do the same or they will look better than you in the competitive marketplace.It’s not the case at all, but the lay personal will assume the trainer in better shape knows what they are doing more. This is not at all indicative of the ability to train someone else. Frankly I think a good NLP practitioner or Hypnotherapist will be better than the majority of Personal Trainers. You see, getting a client to push themselves harder than they thought possible, to reach a state of congruence between body and mind with total focus on the movement at hand, and to be compliant with the routine outside of the gym and time spent together, is the hard part. How to do exercises is the easy part to learn and subsequently teach.

    Do you wear a nice suit to the office, to look more powerful and important? You probably should.

    Same time, same place. Simply facing the other way. Massive difference from the lighting and background contrast

    Same time, same place. Simply facing the other way. Massive difference from the lighting and background contrast

     

  • Being in shape year round is achieved through many years of consistency. Most photo shoots you see from non fitness models / professionals are at the end of a short term transformation. Someone’s dropped a shed load of weight and pulled their finger out for 3/6/12 months and have these amazing before and after photos. However, they will often not have the lifestyle habits embedded, not know how to continue progressing their training after newbie gains and not have the muscle density to take a little time off and maintain their stature.To be in shape year round, you need a number of years consistency under your belt. It builds muscle density and they don’t disappear as quickly/easily as someone who’s just pumped up from hitting the gym hard for 3 months. Not to mention after a while, your habits and tastes change to where you default to eating right, hitting your protein and avoid shit food. Not even because it’s ‘unhealthy’, but because you kicked the sugar addiction and simply don’t like it any more.

    Fall in love with the process and you will always be ‘in shape’ without any concerted effort.

    Photo shoot day versus on holiday in Croatia 6 weeks later. Not as lean and vascular but still very lean

    Photo shoot day versus on holiday in Croatia 6 weeks later. Not as lean and vascular but still very lean

     

  • Everyone looks way bigger and leaner in photos than they do in reality. I don’t mean from the enhancements and lighting, its a perspective thing. A still image of someone doesn’t give the same reference as being around that person in reality. The lighting on a still is always going to catch somewhere, making that area look especially striated and lean.I’ve been around body builders, fitness models etc. who do look amazing in real life, but never like in their photos. Even the selfies on Facebook – of course they diet down for the pro ones. I’ve been at photo shoots and the people don’t look anything like as good as the photos make them appear, even before editing.

    Spend some time in elite gyms and you will see this. Plus they’re the best place to train, be motivated and learn.

    Photo shoot day versus 6 months later in Thailand. Look smaller but not but if anything leaner. (I wasn't, that's the better light)

    Photo shoot day versus 6 months later in Thailand. Look smaller but if anything leaner. (I wasn’t, that’s the better light)

     

  • You celebrate your wins. Of course everyone is going to publish and publicise their best selves. They are going to build their website and online image around them in their best shape. It’s their business and it’s their narcissism. Of course they want to look good in front of everyone, to be oggled at for validation.If you assume that everyone is posting their best self publicly you know that in reality they’re maybe 80-90% of that on any given day. Go watch a girl take 6000 selfies and sift through them all for the perfect one to post on Instagram. Heck I use my pictures from a year ago on Tinder today.

    Display your best self.

    Huge difference here. Photo shoot day to 6 months later in Thailand, massive massive difference due to lighting. I'm significantly fatter, but would still have abs in good light.

    Huge difference here. Photo shoot day to 6 months later in Thailand, massive massive difference due to lighting. I’m significantly fatter, but would still have abs in good light.

     

Conclusion

Yes, you can be in shape year round. Of course you will be in better shape when you make the effort for a photo shoot, but I know many people (including myself at times) who could pretty much rock up to a shoot on a week’s notice, no big deal.

It takes years of consistent training to get to that stage, to build the muscle density and lifestyle habits that allow you to maintain shape without focused effort. Or you take the right gear, but I guess that counts as focused effort?

 

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