The Secrets of Fitness Models That Might Surprise You

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Photo: Natalie Uhling for Yellowline Photography
Although these stunning fitness models won the genetic lottery jackpot, each works hard to maintain her toned, athletic physique.

Most work out and teach fitness classes daily. “I identify as an athlete first, and the appearance that comes from it is an added benefit,” says Nicole Sinquee, a Wilhelmina fitness model based in New York.

As athletes and models, they’ve learned lots of healthy lifestyle methods for eating well and cultivating magazine-cover-worthy bods. Just what are they? And what can we fitness civilians borrow from them?

We sat down with six top fitness models, who shared the toning tips, eating habits, and healthy practices they’ve learned on the job. —Melisse Gelula

Originally published July 8, 2013.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 11.38.53 PMJESSE GOLDEN

Jesse Golden, a certified yoga teacher based in California, frequently does yoga modeling and has appeared on the covers of the New York Times Magazine and Yoga International. Other modeling gigs have included Lucy Activewear, Under Armour, Nike, and C9.

Her go-to workout
My ballet background helped give me a lean foundation, but the one constant in my life now is hiking. It helps to keep me trim, and get very clear in my thoughts.

How she tones up quickly for a big shoot
I do some form of exercise every day, but I believe diet plays a bigger role. I eat my big meals earlier in the day, finish dinner by 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. Then, in the morning I feel light and ready to shoot. It’s not about not eating, it’s about eating clean.

What she eats
Lots of fresh veggies, fruit, proteins, and gluten-free breads. All organic, GMO-free, antibiotic-free, wild, and free range. I do splurge with my family and go to a movie and eat candy and popcorn. You can’t be too strict, because then you have no quality of life.

Her workout ethos
I grew up with a very strict regimen of ballet, and it did a number on my body. Now I take a softer approach to my workouts. Some days I have all the energy to push! But on days that I don't, I just go for a nice long walk.

Favorite snack on the run
I try and eat "real" food as much as possible. I’m not a big fan of nutrition bars. You’ll always find raw almonds in my purse, or I’ll make a raw protein shake or grab a piece of fruit.

Photo: Todd Cole

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 11.42.10 PMLAYLA LUCIANO

Luciano is a favorite fitness model of many boutique fitness brands. She’s featured in the most recent international campaign for Barry's Bootcamp, as well as CYC Fitness, and is a popular fitness instructor in New York.

Workout ethos
Consistency. There is no magic exercise, magic number of reps or sets, or secret diet pill...there’s only hard work and consistency. Regardless of whether I have a shoot, I work out every day.

Fitness regimen
My ultimate combination of workouts is Barry's Bootcamp and SLT. I do Barry's almost daily and SLT four times a week. I also love to salsa dance at least once a week, and I just discovered aerial silks! I love trying new fitness classes.

Eating habits
I was raised vegetarian and have never eaten meat or fish. I do eat dairy and eggs, however. With long, demanding days, I usually eat five or six meals. Yesterday I had an egg-white omelet with veggies for breakfast, a snack of banana with peanut butter, a black bean burrito with brown rice, grilled veggies, and avocado for lunch, a protein shake snack, and a veggie burger with sweet potato fries for dinner.

Thoughts on dessert
I don't ever deny myself something want, I just make sure I don't eat a ton of it.

Photo: Guido Venitucci Photography


Sinquee is a New York-based athlete, Wilhelmina Fitness Model, math teacher, and mom. She has modeled for Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more.

The workout she credits most for getting toned and fit
The tempo run (a 20 to 40 minute run at a hard, controlled pace). It really stresses the system and I’m sure it significantly boosts my metabolism.

Best way to get ready for a big modeling job
Jump rope, pull-ups, and push-ups. Jumping gets the sweat going and strength training gets me more definition. My primary concern though is my race schedule: I’m always training for something. I'm an athlete who models, not the other way around.

Weekly workout schedule
During the school year, I run about 35 miles and cycle 4+ hours a week. In the summer, I can amp it up and run about 45 miles (a 2-hour long run, a tempo run of 10 miles, speed work on the track, and junk miles) and ride about six. (I do duathlons.) I’ll swim when I can, and lifting the baby counts as my weights session!

What she eats
I'm nursing right now and nothing I eat is sticking. But I always eat a lot. Mornings it's bacon, eggs, a muffin, and oatmeal. I’ll eating two rounds of lunch—I get so hungry!—a bowl of soup, yogurt, salad, and an entrée, like meat, veggies, or pasta. I eat several pieces of fruit to ward off hunger. When I get home, I have a glass of whole milk. Dinner’s usually something like a big salad, a bowl of cereal, pasta, and dessert.

Foods she avoids
I don't eat or drink low-fat foods.

Photo Credit: Mark Pfeffer, Fife Images

Astrid_McGuire_fitnessASTRID SWAN MCGUIRE 

Los Angeles-based McGuire started modeling professionally at age 15, and has done high-end editorial to commercial catalog and now focuses on fitness modeling. She’s a highly sought-after personal trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp instructor.

Typical work week
I love my life! I get up between 4:30–6:00 a.m., and try to work my private clients and photo shoots around my teaching schedule at Barry's Bootcamp six days a week. I might shoot a fitness clothing campaign (I love a sneak peak at new fabrics and styles) or a "how to" feature, like for Self Magazine.

Her go-to workout
I work out six days a week at Barry's. It’s why I started working there; it changed my body. I’m not afraid of lifting heavy weights, but so many woman are… I also will mix in yoga, Pilates, and spinning. I try to take Sunday off to let my body rest.

How often she eats
I eat every 3 hours on the dot. I swear my stomach can tell time. I’ve been dairy- and gluten-free long before it became a trend. Lunch and dinner consists of chicken, fish, or steak with salad and vegetables.

Favorite healthy snacks
Between meals, I love to put kale or spinach in my Vitamix along with whatever else I have in the fridge. I call it a salad in a straw! I’ll also cut up an apple with lemon and cinnamon on it, and I love flax crackers with homemade peanut butter. I try to plan for my day, so I never have to grab something unhealthy out of desperation.


Amanda Russell is a former Olympic-caliber distance runner, and is a model, fitness expert, and the founder of AR Fit and the popular training channel.

Top workout tactic
Intensity. I’ve found that if your workout doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. I know I need to get uncomfortable and push my limit. There is no “easy pass” to getting toned and fit. You need to put in the work.

Eating habits she swears by
I'm all about the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the time I eat healthy foods, fueling my body with whole grains, protein, fruits, and veggies. But, I believe that one of life’s pleasures is food, friends and drink, so I indulge about 20 percent of the time. So, I'll have an ice cream on a hot day, or a glass or champagne or two with my girlfriends. Part of being healthy is being balanced and enjoying life.

Anti-bloat tip
If I'm bloated and need to wear a figure-hugging dress, I take a teaspoon of Angostura Bitters (yes, the liquor that you can buy in any grocery store). It helps the bloat vanish. I have SO many little secrets I could write a book on them.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 11.57.46 PMNATALIE UHLING

Uhling is represented by the W Fitness division of Wilhelmina, and is currently the face of Under Armour Women. She is a group fitness instructor at SLT and at 24 Hour Fitness  in New York City, where she teaches SPX Fitness (Pilates) and Turbo Kick Boxing.

Her daily workout
Every day is a little different … I mix my ratio of high- and low-impact training. It's important to shock the body! I teach kickboxing and Pilates a lot each week, so I get a great workout then. But I also love taking classes, especially IntenSati and hot yoga. I’ll do each of these about three times a week.

Training philosophy
Intensity, not time! I like to work really hard for 1 hour to 1.5 hours and then be done.

The workout every woman needs
Body weight training! Your own body is the best equipment out there.

Her go-to workout for fast results
Kickboxing! It’s a major sweat session and full-body workout.

How she eats
I eat REAL food! No junk. It's pretty simple. Diets are not a lifestyle, and I want to be fit for life, so I fuel my body with quality nutrients.

Favorite snack
Bananas! I always have one in my bag. Also, I make my own green juices, so I usually have that in a mason jar with me.

Photo: Scott McDermott with Hair & Make-up by Olga Postolachi, for Under Armour "What's Beautiful" campaign

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