Everybody’s path to success is different and at some point in time in your life you will have pay dues to obtain success and in the fitness industry some people have to pay more dues than others. When I first started in the fitness industry and nobody know who I was; I would pay photographers as much as $1500 to do shoots with them so I can get great images for my portfolio and for editors to take notice to me in the fitness industry. There was no Trade For Prints for me my first year I had to come out the pocket and I would say I easily paid over $5000 in photo-shoots just to get myself out there as a fitness model my first year.
When I got these great photos I started submitting them specifically to many fitness magazines in the U.S. The first magazine that my images were submitted to the editor said in an email to a photographer’s assistant that submitted the photos. “Sorry we can put him in the magazine we don’t put black guys on our covers.” I couldn’t believe it in 2008 that an editor of a major fitness magazine could say this. The images got submitted to more magazines and some of the stuff I heard was the following: “Black covers don’t sell and the last time we tried it didn’t do well”, “You look great but we put a black guy on our cover recently and we are going to have wait some considerable time to give you a chance on a cover since we had a black model already” “You look great but don’t take it personally we rarely put black fitness models on our covers who knows maybe things might change in the near future”.
When I was hearing these things from some of the biggest decision makers in the fitness industry I was thinking to myself I have no chance of succeeding in this fitness industry. How can I succeed in this industry having to deal with this racial discrimination? There were times when I wanted to quit and was very close in doing this because I didn’t think it was possible for an African-American male fitness model or fitness personality to succeed in an industry where so many decision makers were not for giving African male fitness models opportunities and chances on a fitness magazine covers.
I thought to myself I am really going to have to think outside the box in regards to making this industry work for me or don’t have a prayer at all. I was intelligent enough to know that this wasn’t right and nobody should have to deal with this type of discriminatory stuff but that is the fitness industry and you have to figure out and make it work for your respective ethnic look unfortunately. So I thought of trying to venture off on magazine opportunities internationally which was the best thing for me at that particular time because most international countries in my opinion are just not caught up on the whole race thing like the U.S magazines are.
I thought maybe I can really build a big name internationally and maybe those U.S mags that turned me down could be more open-minded after I built up my name in other countries and many of them give me a lot of opportunities. So I travelled overseas on my own dime for about a year for exposure purposes just to build up my name, value, worth and credibility. I spent a lot of money doing that I have to be honest but it was an investment in my fitness career and it was one of those dues I had to pay if I was going to succeed.
I believe that this outside the box theory really worked for me and it’s not for everyone but for me I had to think the box or I would never have succeeded in this industry. In many ways I felt that I was forced to go international to make a name there because I wasn’t given a chance by many mags in the U.S. when I first started out. My first 18 months in the industry I never really made any money. I spent more money during that time period: but all that paid dues stuff, sleepless nights, countless self-marketing posts lead to the following incredible things in my career: over 30 fitness magazine magazine covers over the past 3 to 4 years, one of the most published male fitness models internationally since 2009 and I’ve travelled all over the world making paid appearance as a fitness personality and I’ve landed numerous paid endorsement contracts.
Some of the dues I paid:
- Paid photographers $1500 for shoots for about a year to prove myself
- Flew out internationally out of my own pocket to different countries just for exposure purposes to create a name for myself.
- Had to deal with discriminatory responses from many decision makers trying to get into a fitness magazine or on a cover.
For the record I’ve built up my name, value, worth and credibility in the industry where I don’t have to pay for photographers for photo-shoots anymore and I am not flying myself out to different countries anymore. It is the opposite they are now flying me out now for appearances but I had to pay some serious financial dues to get to that point. The moral of these paying dues in the industry article is not to brag about what I’ve done in the industry but to encourage you if you want something bad enough you have to go chase it and nothing will be dropped in your lap. And you may have to pay some dues in the fitness industry to get there.
By sharing with you some of the stuff I went through very few people would have ever expected that anybody could come out of those circumstances and be very successful. Most people would have given up and rightfully so but if I can attain the success I have presently in this industry with the stuff I dealt with then you have no excuse to not be successful in this industry. If you want it bad enough and are willing to go the extra mile it will happen for you. We all got to pay dues in this industry I can definitely tell you I paid mine. Remember to brand yourself as a triple threat: A triple threat is a fitness personality that can model, speak well on camera and can write very well. If you brand yourself and all of those 3 skills I mentioned are very strong then many opportunies will and should present itself to you.