Before I set off on my fitness modelling odyssey I had in my Prada handbag Touché Éclat, a copy of Vogue and a pair of my favourite Chloe sunglasses. Now, in my gym bag I have protein powder sachets, a copy of ultra-FIT and a tattered pair of Asics!
Sitting in my kitchen one cold winter’s morning I was bored out of my mind googling sports companies because I wanted to leave the corporate world and pursue my passion in the sports industry. The gods were smiling on me when after a tenuous enquiry to a start-up sports company I got a response.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
And to quote the response it said, ‘Are you joking??!’ It turned out the director was looking for fitness models and by seeing my profile on Facebook he thought I conformed to the mould saying that he had two fitness models that weren’t particularly fit. And so the odyssey began!
Back in my homeland of Norway I started jogging with my dad at the age of 11 in the forest. He made me choose whether to rest when I was exhausted or carry on but I didn’t want to be on my own so I pushed myself. Through my father I learnt an important lesson, that when you think you absolutely cannot carry on there will be another ten percent there to give and I have never forgotten that to this day.
I represented my school at handball, but this coincided with my late teenage years, a burgeoning social life and boys. I was frustrated by not competing at a high level because I knew I had to train harder, then after a serious injury I decided the life of young socialite was going to take precedence. As much as I hate to say this I sacrificed my strong desire to be successful for a life of sun, sea and shopping.
Making the change
Whilst working in the corporate world I’d always loved training but it was a means to an end – to look good in my Jimmy Choo’s for a night out in China White’s. Now, two years I on, I am the current Miss Fame UK fitness modelling champion and recent top 10 finisher in the World Championships in Las Vegas and of course ultra-FIT model search winner.
Entering the fitness industry
I decided to become a personal trainer for a top London gym as I flirted with fitness modelling and quickly picked up a client base. My lifestyle changed and I could no longer afford my Prada handbags and I moved into rental accommodation that I affectionately call my ‘sleeping place’. My personal training mantra is practice what you preach so I trained with my clients and ate what they ate and loved it!
Whilst working in the gym I met my future coach – Erik. He identified my obvious passion for training and encouraged me to look at the fitness modelling championships as a goal to all my training. Back then I read all the magazines cover to cover and nothing else.One particular article that caught my eye was a feature on Duncan Bannatyne and how he made it, lost it and made it again. Reading these inspiring articles had an effect on me and hopefully I can do the same in some small way.
Choosing fitness modeling
“Mental toughness and sticking to the plan is very important as clichéd as it might sound to some people”
If someone was to ask me why I chose fitness modelling then I would say first and foremost the challenge. After all, luck conspired for me to land in the modelling world and my passion for fitness ticked the other box. And through my upbringing and the encouragement of my parents I developed a competitive drive and will to succeed. If you are going to do something then be the best, otherwise why bother with it.
Entering my first competition/managing my week/training
Entering fitness championships didn’t take much consideration and I embarked on the journey with enthusiasm. However, I soon realised that I had to prioritise many things that used to be normal for me. As a result sacrifices were made, not least the social life. I would wake up at 4.45am to go for my hour-long power walk around Hyde park every day as part of my training. My friends quite plainly and simply thought I was nuts!
They were actually quite discouraging on the whole and because I wasn’t fulfilling their own personal agendas I had to cast off one or two people and distance myself from most of the others to begin with. I even gave up alcohol, enough said! I won’t lie – I had my dark days too. Going from the life of a young popular socialite to an almost reclusive competitor had some bumps in the road.
One particular evening I was on the rowing machine and I just stopped. I couldn’t give any more and I just picked up my things, bitched about it to some of the gym staff and went home. I felt lost as I went to bed but the next day I got back on track – you find out a lot about your character on your quest. I spoke to Erik about this and he insisted I look at what happened beforehand to see if something wasn’t working then adapt my training as a result.
Mental toughness and sticking to the plan is very important as clichéd as it might sound to some people. Cirque du Soleil is my favourite and it amazes me every time …the capabilities of the human body. Imagine being able to push yourself that far not only physically but mentally as well. I like to think of it as a ‘Cirque du Soleil’ of the mind.
I went on a date once and as the guy across the table drunk his beer I used a pint glass filled with water, cracked open a protein powder sachet, dumped it in the glass and supped on it. The look of disbelief on his face was priceless and he tried to take a picture to show his mates! In terms of my training no two workouts were the same and the reps always changed each week.
I quickly realised that Monday and Tuesday were the days I had the most power after being rested. On Saturday night I was in bed by nine reading (ultra-FIT of course!) to help me get to sleep. At the beginning of my four months of training for the Fame UK Championships I focussed on compound (multi-joint Ed) exercises, longer workouts and rest periods.
As I got closer to the championships the workouts and rest periods got shorter with more super-sets and a focus on smaller muscle groups. The life of a fitness model is sugar-coated – it’s all the work that isn’t seen that makes you a champion.
The diet has to be immaculate! It’s as simple as that. A tearful fair-well to sea food prawns from my favourite restaurant. If on one of the rare occasions I managed to get to a bar I would even refuse an orange juice, it just wasn’t in the plan. Also I measured everything and stuck to the plan my coach and I devised. One day I measured out 20 grams of blue berries and at work a friend almost helped themselves to them to which my abrupt response was ‘Step away from the blueberries!’
When I finally got to the big day of the FAME competition I was nervous and thrilled at the same time because the moment of judgement had finally come around and I had a lot friends supporting me. They wanted to see where this madness ended and had come to see for themselves.
The level of competition was mixed but straightaway I felt I had a strong chance because I truly believed my training, preparation and sacrifices gave me a fighting chance. When the announcement was made that I won I was naturally over the moon and I had trouble putting one foot in front of the other to receive the applause, I was overwhelmed.
Next on the horizon was the world championships in Las Vegas which I was automatically entered into. Let me tell you, training for that was no cake-walk. You would assume that after the victory I would be on a roll but I needed to rest and unwind for my own sanity. But I was still working and by not having a proper rest I was having serious doubts on top of which I had to find sponsors to help fund the trip.
I thought I was back in the forest with my Dad again, I thought I had nothing to give and I was questioning my femininity. I started to literally take it one day at a time and trusted that I would find a way and thankfully after much encouragement from my friends who were now on my side and a little luck I found some sponsors and started training hard again.
I cannot emphasise the value of a strong support network even if you find they might not be on your side at first! I landed in Las Vegas in great shape. I trained on my weaknesses and I was quietly confident. At the event I noticed several differences to our national championships.
The women were a lot more professional in their outlook and funnily enough friendlier and willing to share their training equipment. The way I look at it is that you are competing as much, if not more with yourself than with your rivals, over whom you have no control over and I picked up on this vibe back stage.
Advice to aspiring models
It was also a great way to network and learn. For any aspiring fitness models out there I would say look at the way you promote yourself. Clean up your Facebook page, go to Expos and other events and always, always look your best. Find respected people in your industry, such as photographers that you’d like to work with and get in touch.
My launch pad was winning FAME UK, so entering a competition and doing well will not only teach you about the new lifestyle you have to lead but also give you the opportunity to succeed in the industry. I came seventh overall in LA and if I’m honest I’m a little bit disappointed because I thought my body was in great shape especially after looking at some of the competitors that were ahead of me.
But then again I learnt another valuable lesson in that the way the leading ladies carried them self and communicated their confidence enabled them to give off an aura. This is something that you can only learn from going to competitions and competing and generally being in the thick of it.
Since FAME UK and Las Vegas my exposure has obviously increased and I have been featured in a lot of magazines of late. I dream of starting the Linn Hansen brand one day, be it in nutrition, fitness or another arena but right now I’m focussed on training and working as a fitness model.