There are some people who can silence a room by walking in, and Katherine Mason is one of them, but the striking beauty only gives you a glimpse of what is to come – a charismatic, open, friendly and exuberant personality. Katherine is a self-made woman, and what’s not to love about that? Her time in NYC has included a contract with Wilhelmina Fitness and recognition as one of SHAPE Magazine’s 50 Hottest Trainers. The best part? She is just getting started- and there are some exciting announcements and career moves in her future- don’t worry, we will keep you posted. Now buckle up and take a dive into the world of one of the most inspiring women we have ever met.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a fitness model?
Becoming a fitness model was actually not something that I aspired to do until I was approached by a model scout and learned more about it. Growing up as an athlete and loving sports, I always knew I wanted to have a career involving athletics—I just wasn’t sure what exactly that would be. Learning more about about fitness modeling, I realized it could be an opportunity that combined many of my passions and strengths; working with some of the biggest fitness brands in the world, having the opportunity to use my athletic talents everyday, fusing my “tomboy” side with my fashionista girly side though “fashion fitness,” and using my creativity by expressing myself through photos. I saw fitness modeling as the ultimate opportunity to become involved with some of the biggest players in the fitness game—and it excited me more than I had ever felt about something before.
The process of transitioning into a fitness model was a risky but exciting one. I started my career when the scout helped me book a national fitness campaign before being signed with an agency. I loved the job and wanted to do more. After doing some soul-searching about my next career move, I found that the combination of me wanting to move to New York for a few years and the opportunity of signing with Wilhelmina Fitness lined up perfectly. The timing of everything made me believe taking a big risk was going to be worth it. I took the leap by leaving my PR/marketing job in Atlanta and moved to New York with the hope and confidence that a career in fitness modeling was possible and everything was going to work out how it was supposed to. After a lot of hard work and preparation during my first three weeks in New York, I was offered a modeling contract with Wilhelmina and knew that big things were ahead.
Tell us about how you got to where you are today. Being listed in Shapes 50 Hottest trainers & working with so many great brands – how did you make it happen?
A lot of drive and hard work has gotten me to where I am today. I still feel like I have so much to do and accomplish, but I am very fortunate to have been given all the opportunities I’ve had over the last 17 months in New York. I am lucky to be signed with a modeling agency that is connected with some of the biggest and best clients in fitness and lifestyle in the world—so most things I have been doing in New York is a result of my awesome agents. The SHAPE Hottest Trainers recognition and most of the other training-related opportunities have come from putting myself out there, being involved with top fitness studios in NYC and taking advantage of every opportunity, meeting, networking connection, etc. that has come about. I make sure to give every opportunities a chance because a lot of the time something will come from them, or you will learn something from it. Just like you said—make it happen.
What is your favorite form of fitness?
After trying almost every fitness method in New York over the past 17 months, I have found a formula that I believe can sculpt your body like no method out there. The combination of HIIT on treadmills and the Lagree Fitness method on the Megaformer has gotten me in the best shape of my life, made me stronger than ever, and has mentally made me be able to handle almost anything that comes my way. Not everyone wants to use the treadmill, but I can confidently say that any man or woman, no matter what their fitness level, injury history or age can workout on the Megaformer and get wonderful results. The machine allows you to combine body weight exercises with resistance, sculpting your body to achieve long, lean muscles. Although this is my go-to workout, I just feel so fortunate to live in a fitness “capital” and have the opportunity to try classes/methods from some of the best studios/instructors in the business.
What is your go-to work out outfit?
Moving around on the Megaformer, I feel most comfortable wearing leggings. I also love sporting a fun workout tank and a colorful, strappy sports bra. Some of my favorite brands are Vimmia, Onzie, Adidas by Stella McCartney, Nike and Michi. They all do such a great job of fusing fitness with fashion. I love being able to feel feminine and stylish in fitness wear, no matter if I want to walk around the city or kick butt in a workout class. When it’s cold I love combining fashion and fitness by sporting fun leggings with an oversized sweater and either a leather jacket and scarf or a tailored puffer jacket. No leggings go without a pair of shearling boots or wedged sneakers.
What advice do you have for other twenty-somethings aspiring to break into the modeling world?
For fitness models, I think it’s important to create a brand for yourself and have a message behind your image. Promote what you believe in. How do you like to get fit? What do you eat to get lean? If you cook, what do you cook and how can the rest of us make it? People look to fitness models as inspiration and a positive influence of what it means to be “healthy,” both body AND mind.
Breaking into the modeling world as a 20-something can be difficult. Many models start at a very young age and have been building their portfolios for years, so I definitely think that is an important thing to keep in the back of your mind. Breaking into the modeling world is tough—you have to be super driven, have a tough skin and not let your emotions take control. This industry is an emotional roller coaster—lots of highs and lows—so you need to keep a level head the whole time and not let anything get to you too much. Here are a few other tips:
- Do your research. Find out what modeling agencies are in your region. What type of talent do they represent? Learn everything there is to know about them. Make sure that when you are seeking out agencies they have girls that have a similar look and feel as you. If you are a super commercial face, a high-fashion agency probably won’t be the best fit. If you looking to specialize in a specific area—fitness, swimsuit, etc. find out what the best agencies are for your focus and talents.
- Organize a portfolio. What photographers does the agency you want to sign with use for test shoots? You don’t always have to come to agencies with a full portfolio, especially if you are new to modeling and are trying to sign with a smaller local agency. Bigger agencies are going to want a really strong portfolio, so be prepared. Either way, make sure that you have some photos with quality photographers that are going to help put your best foot forward. For me, I wanted to have the strongest book possible with my meeting with Wilhelmina. I did my research. I found out what photographers shot the Wilhelmina Fitness girls portfolios and set up photoshoots with them. I also had some swimsuit, headshot and lifestyle photos taken to show a more lifestyle and commercial side. Once I had a number of top-notch photos pulled together from these shoots, I complied them and met with Wilhelmina. It was this second meeting with them that got me signed.
- Don’t lose sight of yourself, your initial sights and standards. Keep your head up no matter what and stay grounded. The modeling world has its ups and downs—criticism, not booking jobs one after another, a casting where you feel super out of place, or feeling like your killing it one day and then a week later feeling like you should just give up are common feeling with this industry. It’s a constant roller coaster, so having other passions and focuses apart from modeling is a great idea. Once I incorporated personal training and business development into my career I felt a lot less pressure to book modeling jobs. Not having that pressure makes you appreciate the process much more.
You are also passionate about healthy eating, what is your favorite recipe?
Oh that’s a hard one. I have two that I make almost every week. My Verde Chicken Enchiladas and my Ultimate Kale Salad. Mexican is my favorite and these healthy enchiladas provide that warm comfort food feel without the guilt. I make a cashew crème using my Vitamix, which gives the enchiladas a creamy, cheesy texture. I have also varied the recipe as a “breakfast burrito,” adding scrambled eggs, spinach and pico. Sliced avocado on top takes it to another level.
Although I’m not a big salad fan in general, this kale salad is a game-changer. The homemade mustard-lemon dressing really pairs well with the kale, softens it up and tastes great with the butternut squash, cranberries, toasted almonds, etc. that I put on top. In the past year, I have come up with all sorts of variations of the salad, adding fresh blueberries instead of the dried cranberries, adding beets to the mix, and topping with goat cheese or parmesan if you don’t mind the cheese. Both the enchiladas and the salad are pretty much fool proof and make enough to have leftovers! My food blog, Kat’s Kitchen has a bunch of easy, healthy and delicious recipes that I have created or adapted from other recipes. I love cooking and find it really fun to take any recipe and make a healthy (or healthier) version! I’ve figured out how to use gluten free, dairy free and healthy substitutions to convert a recipe in minutes!
For twenty-somethings struggling to get into a fitness flow, what words of advice do you have?
Brainstorm your fitness goals and write them down somewhere where you can see them everyday. This will remind you what you want, keep you motivated and hold you accountable.
After you write down your goals, find a way to achieve them. Try out a few fitness classes and find one that you really love going to. Go three times a week and add a few runs to that routine. If you find yourself skipping classes, get a workout buddy to help hold you accountable and get you into class. If that doesn’t work, a trainer might be the best answer. You will be paying enough to where you will want to get your moneys worth out of it and you also have someone expecting you to be there at a certain time. Accountability and consistency is everything.
Eat well. My favorite fitness quote is “abs are made in the kitchen.” Everyone has abs—yes some peoples are stronger than other peoples, but the difference in being able to see those muscles or them hiding is by what you eat. Try to eat at home as much as possible so that you know exactly what is in your food. Stock your fridge with lots of healthy snacks and try to plan out your meals ahead of time so that you don’t slack off due to a busy schedule.
How do you spend your days off?
Because working out and being physically active at a high intensity is so much a part of my everyday life, my favorite way to spend my days off is relaxing with friends. When the weather is nice, being at a sports game or enjoying a drink and some food outside is perfect. I am not a big cold weather fan so if it’s the winter I love to be curled up comfy on the couch or in front of a fireplace talking with friends or watching a movie.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Although I love to cook healthy food and eat well in general, there’s nothing I love more than having a cheat meal when you deserve it! Mexican with cheese dip and a margarita, pizza and beer or sushi and saki. Notice the trend here. I think it’s so important to have a balanced lifestyle and eating habits (which means eating healthy and having some indulgences every now and then) and not take yourself too seriously. Life is better with food, enjoy it.
For more on Katherine Mason visit her at: www.katherinemason.com