How to prepare for a fitness photo shoot

prepare for a fitness photo shoot

About 10 weeks ago, I got an email from my editor confirming that I would indeed be one of the models photographed for the exercise demonstrations appearing in my upcoming book (you can pre-order your copy of the Ultimate Booty Workouts now through Barnes and and Chapters/

While I felt very strongly about representing for the ‘over-40 female crowd’ (one of the book’s underlying messages is that women need to strength train for function as well as form), I have to admit that I was also quite apprehensive about the upcoming shoot.

prepare for a fitness photo shoot

What if the other model was ‘Oxygen’ magazine calibre? Would photographs of a woman with a more ‘realistic’ physique sell? What if I embarrassed my inexperienced self at the shoot?

Unsure of how to prepare for a fitness photo shoot, I sought advice from friends, colleagues and a figure competitor or two. I read blog posts and how-to guides and immersed myself in the science of ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ and ‘peak week’.

Suggestions included upping my cardio, cutting my carbs, eliminating fruit, taking fat burners and following low calorie diets that relied on specific food pairings to shed weight, fat and water without burning muscle (all while remaining cheerful to be around and capable of helping my children with their math homework…). I tried the low-carb thing last year and we all know how that went…

While I have no doubt that each of these suggestions has merit (and many have been shown to work for physique and figure athletes ‘leaning out’ in the weeks preceding a competition), in the end, I felt that resorting to such focused, extreme and potentially unhealthy measures would completely undermine my initial reason for wanting to be photographed for the book.

If I couldn’t create the physique shown in the book by simply following the programs I’d written and cleaning up my diet, why should readers believe they could (and hence, why should they bother buying the book)?

So then, how DID I prepare for a fitness photo shoot without starving myself and alienating my friends and family?

  • I increased my strength training workouts from three, 30 minute sessions per week to three 45 minute sessions per week (yep, that’s it; an extra 45 minutes in the gym each week and using the butt and leg workouts in the book to make sure my booty was camera-ready)
  • I reduced my intake of starchy carbohydrates from 2 servings per day to 1 serving per day (not even noticeable)
  • I gave up alcohol and dessert for the three weeks immediately preceding the photo shoot (unless you count that 1/2 glass of wine and the creme brûlée I ‘tasted’ while out for a fancy, date night dinner with my hubby…)
  • I kept the frequency and intensity of my cardio workouts exactly the same as always; three, 30-minute sessions of interval-style training per week
  • bought two new workout outfits in styles that flattered my body and colours that brightened my skin
  • I succumbed to last-minute jitters, tried an all-natural diuretic and drank a ton of water for three days before the shoot (other than keeping me running to the bathroom and tiring me out by draining me of electrolytes, it didn’t do a darned thing; muscles looked exactly the same as they did last week)
  • I spent the day before the photo shoot relaxing with a dear friend, went to bed early, then put on my new clothes, sucked in my belly and squatted and smiled for the camera

prepare for a fitness photo shoot

Did you catch my real-time Facebook and Instagram updates? Here’s a montage of some behind-the-scenes videos I took at the shoot (which was so much more fun than I had anticipated. And the other model? Another ‘real’ woman also without experience modelling for fitness photo shoots who enjoyed it just as much as I did! Way to go Nadia!



  1. Love your honesty about how you decided to prep. And I wouldn’t imagine anyone being a better model for your own book than you.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Why You Want to Lose Weight Affects Your SuccessMy Profile

    • Aw thanks so much. I must say though, that I did enjoy having dessert this weekend (that was a long haul without for me!)

  2. love love love love loved being a part of it all.
    Miz recently posted…MizFit RE-exposed (four year update).My Profile

  3. Nice to see you didn’t do anything crazy for prep! You look great!
    Danielle @ Labelsarefortincans recently posted…Food Lately: Meatballs and Miso Cauliflower SoupMy Profile

    • Thanks! Crazy did cross my mind, but only for a second. I’m more about the sustainable…

  4. At the end of the day, you are you, and should be proud to be so — plus or minus trivial pounds. Looking forward to the end product!
    Contemplative Fitness recently posted…22 is no age to start working…My Profile

  5. So exciting – can’t wait to check out the book!!!
    Kim recently posted…Texas FunMy Profile

  6. AWESOME and so excited for you!! Great tips!
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted…Why I don’t map out my runs: RUNsplorationMy Profile

  7. Tracey Tur says:

    You are an awesome inspiration chick. 😉 Cant wait for the book.

  8. Awesome! So cool that you got to be part of this!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Fall 5 and 10 October Recap and WinnersMy Profile

  9. i just love you and the whole approach!
    Lindsay @ Lindsay’s List recently posted…i am her.My Profile

  10. I am so with everyone else! I think women are tired of too perfect people & especially older women! We want some real people! I have done the bodybuilding so I know all about pre contest dieting & it ani’t fun or pretty!!! You look amazing always & in the video! Perfect for this shoot & your book!!!!

    From a person that has tried to be just a reader model for years with all no’s, it is so refreshing that they let you do your pictures. Whoever that publisher is, thankful for them.
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Lots of Gratitude on Monday!My Profile

    • Yes, I am so glad that the publisher and editor agreed with my perspective; I really wanted a ‘real looking’ woman to do the shoot. And I got two in the end!

  11. What? It’s your book and you didn’t get to select the model? Nice read, Tamara… I am glad that you decided to let your workout prepare you for a photo shoot about YOUR WORKOUT!

    • Elle, the world of publishing is very different from blogging! There are many things that the author doesn’t get final say on. And you know, the publisher does tend to know what sells… But my editor was great. She supported my desire to model for the book and helped to make it happen!

  12. This is so awesome, Tamara. Thanks for being so real!
    Colorado Gal recently posted…A Staycation in DenverMy Profile

  13. Love this and love that you kept it real and didn’t do all the crazy stuff. So excited for you and proud of you too!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Running to Give BackMy Profile

  14. I just wanted to say that I think it’s so great that you did not resort to unhealthy, crazy tactics to get your body looking a certain way for the photo shoot. I hate that models do that and perpetuate a mythical body that they can’t even keep up with full time. I love that you showcased your real body! And may I add, that your real body is amazing as it is!

    • Thanks so much Amanda. I’m happy that I went the route I did (and would do it all over again, exactly the same way)

  15. Loved your approach! You look great 🙂
    PlumPetals recently posted…Negotiating PainMy Profile

  16. Love it!! And totally chuckling at the whole thing because I can relate with all of it. I’ve had two professional photo shoots and each time was way too stressful. I think you took the right approach by accepting that this is YOU and how YOU look and that’s perfectly perfect. And by the way, you will probably not like most of the pictures for various reasons, but you’ll be the only one :D. Can’t wait to see the book!
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted…Friday Roundup: Move More, Eat Smarter for Faster MetabolismMy Profile

    • Me too! Thanks for all of your support (and I’m sure there will be lots of photos that I don’t love; but I’ll keep it to myself!)

  17. Ah, this is why I think you are so awesome. Because YOU really are awesome!
    Coco recently posted…Six Reasons Why Giant Pick-Up Service Doesn’t Work For MeMy Profile


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