There’s a stigma associated with models that paints them as women who only dine on salad leaves and spend copious amounts of time sweating it out at the gym. Wander around backstage at New York Fashion Week, though, and you’ll encounter quite the opposite.
I’ve personally witnessed models hungrily chowing down on bagels and schmear, double chocolate chip cookies, and even cheesy pizza topped with potato chips between manicures and blowouts. I’ve also interviewed many of them about their diets when they’re not backstage, and though healthy, clean eating is the norm, they claim that being a model doesn’t mean you have to remit yourself to a donut-less, carb-less, cheese-less life.
With a decent understanding of how models eat, I was curious about their fitness routines. So, over the course of NYFW SS18, I set out to ask models of all shapes and sizes how they work out and maintain their physique. A good chunk of them, including Ana Arto who walked at Monse, were straightforward and admitted to doing, well, very little.
“You’re talking to the worst model,” Arto said while laughing. “I don’t do any exercise. I just do nothing…believe me. I’m like so lazy.”
I got that answer many times over from models, which at first may be a little confusing. However, if you think about it, these are very young women—we’re talking as young as 14 years old, and typically not over 30—who are naturally thin. It doesn’t take too much to maintain your physique when you’re young, born with it, and, well, when you’re walking around constantly.
“I honestly walk 10 miles a day around New York going to all my castings,” said Hannah James backstage at Katie Gallagher. Other models cited the same amount of walking, and said it was their primary method of exercise for the day.
“My favorite way to workout is bushwalking, but you can’t really do that in the city,” said Georgia Pratt backstage at Christian Siriano. “Before I moved to New York, I lived in New Zealand and there was a crazy bushwalk behind my parents’ house. Every morning I’d meet up with my mom, and we’d go bushwalking. Here, I just walk everywhere." (By the way, we asked Pratt what a bushwalk was, and it’s walking around a bush, or a small, dense forest with lots of foliage.)
Pratt added that she really liked yoga “because it’s relaxing and I feel like it’s a good time to meditate a little bit,” and James added that she also does crunches and other quick calisthenics at home. She also mentioned she was a fan of Pilates on her off days.
Turns out, Pilates is quite trendy among the models we spoke to.
“Pilates is fast working, and you feel the burn within like the same minute you start,” explained James. “When you’re working out at the gym and doing ab workouts, it takes like 30 minutes to feel something, and in Pilates you feel it instantly.”
Sanne Vloet, who walked for Cushnie et Ochs, agreed.
“I do a lot of Pilates. I think a lot of people think that if they work out, they need to do a lot of cardio and stuff, but I think weight lifting and Pilates is actually more efficient than running and doing crazy workout classes,” she said. “It strengthens and tones, and it makes you stronger. I think for women, that’s important because it’s about more than just losing fat. I do Pilates five times a week for about an hour.”
Also a fan of Pilates is Jordan Wessel, who modeled for Michael Costello this season. She said it’s her go-to when her body needs a rest from interval training.
“I like to switch my fitness routine up because I get really bored when I work out by myself,” she said. “I like to do a lot of interval training because I know my body responds better to that. I also have really bad hips, though, so intervals sometimes can hurt. I do a lot of elliptical when they’re hurting, and also a lot of Pilates.”
Not all models are about low-key workouts. Take Polina Parker, who walked for Linder, as an example.
“I’m a runner, and I run at least five kilometers every morning,” she said. “I run either at the gym or outside, if the weather is good. I also like bicycling and swimming, and do yoga a few times a week.”
Tay Demery, who also walked for Christian Siriano, said she’s a fitness junkie, too.
“I go to the gym at least three times a week,” she said. “I run, work on my abs, and on my off days I try to do yoga. My favorite ab exercise is laying down and doing cycles, which work really well.” (Clearly, based on that picture).
Backstage at Katie Gallagher, Alexxia Hipchen was also eager to talk about her fitness routine.
“Before I moved to New York, when I lived at home in Florida, I bought 10-pound ankle weights and a resistance band, and in my living room I would do booty-donkey kicks and walk down my hallway with the resistance bands,” she said. “I could see my mom in the kitchen and my dad out in the pool, but I mean, there’s no excuse to not be able to work out anywhere. You can really do it in a confined space—or even grab a jump rope and go outside. You don’t have to pay a personal trainer.”
Obviously, every model’s fitness routine varies, but I think the primary takeaway here is that their regimens aren’t as intense, grueling or painful as what people assume. Instead, many of the models we spoke to focus on building strength and maintaining their physical and mental health, which, TBH, is right in line with what the rest of us are doing.
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