Behind the Scenes of Coach Nicole's SELF Photo Shoot


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  75 comments   :  19,723 Views

Big news in SparkPeople land! I'm so excited that SparkPeople has partnered with SELF magazine to bring you an amazing workout that I created for their September issue. This workout is part of what they've dubbed the SELF Diet Club, a special (and free) weight-loss program that combines my fat-burning workout plan with a healthy, no-deprivation diet to help participants drop a healthy 2 pounds per week. The September issue is on newsstands now, so grab up a copy before they're all gone. What a way to Spread the Spark, am I right? (WOOHOO!)
While I have done a few photo shoots in the past, this SELF photo shoot was unlike anything I have EVER been a part of—so fun, interesting, and cool. I can almost sum it up in three words: THE. BIG. TIME. Before this experience, I never would have guessed what goes into creating what you see on the magazine pages you flip through, so I thought it would be fun to share some behind-the-scenes details and photos of what it was really like.
Before the real photo shoot happened, I worked with the amazing fitness editors at SELF for a few weeks. We discussed concepts for the workouts and what they were hoping to see, and then I created the exercises. It starts out with me taking frill-less photos at the office (like the one you see to the left, which turned out to be the image you see at the top of this blog) to show the various exercises I was thinking about, and little by little we work together to craft the perfect plan, which is a marriage of their vision and my workout expertise and ideas.

Finally, we have all the exercises selected and it's time for the big shoot! But before we get there, I had to send a photo of myself in a bikini to the photo editors so they can decide what kind of clothes to put me in. that was no small feat for me (I don't even own a bikini!), since many of you are familiar with my body-image struggles over the years and the fact that I didn't even wear a bathing suit for almost a decade. But I sucked it up and sent in my picture and sizes, hoping for the best.
The magazine's stylists and photo/art directors decide what you'll wear for the most part. I wanted to be open to whatever it might be, but inside, I was really nervous. My biggest fear was that I'd have to wear lots of very tight, tiny, body-revealing clothes (think short shorts and sports bras), which isn't really my style. Then of course I was worried that I wouldn’t look good enough or that they'd want to Photoshop my body to look better. So I arrived in New York City for the first day of photos. It was just me on a soundstage for a whole day. The plan was to shoot all 16 exercises for the tear-out cards in the magazine, along with a video demonstrating every move. I've done this kind of work before, so I wasn't too nervous—just about the clothes!
When I arrive, I see this rack of clothing: tiny shorts, tiny sports bras, hardly any shirts. None of them were in my size (all were 1-2 sizes smaller than what I usually wear). GULP.

Luckily, I was put at ease right away. They let me select what I felt most comfortable in (shirt, please!), which relieved a lot of my fears. I didn't expect any of it to fit based on the clothing sizes, but the photo director let me in on a photo shoot secret: They tend to put everyone in smaller, more fitted clothes because it photographs better. When clothes are larger, it adds a lot more fabric, which can add bulk to your frame and make it harder to see your body, which is exactly what people NEED to see in an exercise photo. Overall, I think the images turned out really well and I have to agree…she was right. Remember this tip the next time you take any photos yourself and I think you'll be pleased with the outcome of looking a size smaller!
It was a small team on day one: a hair/makeup stylist, a couple fitness editors from SELF, a wardrobe assistant, the photo director for SELF, and the amazing photographer (and a few photo assistants). I was thrilled to see healthy foods available for breakfast, snacks and lunch throughout the day. (I wouldn't expect anything less from SELF though!) It took about 8 hours on set (that included breaks, hair/make-up and outfit changes) to shoot the 16 cards you see in the magazine and the video, which I've embedded below. Check out these hardcore exercises!

As if things couldn't get any better, there were even more photos to do—this time in The Hamptons (fancy). No, I've never been anywhere even close to the Hamptons or any place resembling it, so I was pretty excited about this! To my surprise, I wasn't alone for these shoots. SELF brought along five models. They're the buddies that you see working out (with me and with each other) and enjoying the delicious SELF Diet Club food on the other pages in the magazine. So I became nervous all over again when I knew I'd be sharing the frame with professionals who do this sort of thing all the time!
But it was the best two days ever. The wardrobe was STOCKED with hundreds of fun tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories and more, and while their stylist dressed us, I did have a say in whether or not I'd wear certain items. I'm happy to stay covered up a bit—it's just more fitting for me. (No, I didn't get to keep any of the clothes—everyone asks! Most are "samples" lent to SELF from various companies that must be returned.) I probably wore 7 or 8 different outfits, all awesome, all 2 sizes too small (but I was getting used to it at that point). We took photos running, walking, stretching, doing a fitness class, biking—and so much more.

The crew was bigger this time—and the make-up artist, Joy, was a SparkPeople member! Healthy eats were provided all day, and we got to take in views like you see to the right in between photos, which took place at various McMansion sized homes that we rented for the day. Whenever I had downtime, I'd wander through the houses snapping pictures of their cool rooms and décor.
All of the models made me feel right at home and offered all sorts of tips that I'll surely use if I find myself in a similar situation in the future. I also learned another industry trick: They often skip the socks! In many of the photos, we don't wear any socks; the purpose is to create the appearance of longer legs. Who knew! One other great thing about these models: They were FUN. We talked and joked and had dinner and drinks together every night. And yes, ALL of them ate…a lot, which I was thrilled to see. Yay for models who aren't starving to stay thin! When we took photos of the exercises together, they all agreed that this workout was tough.
So no, I don't run the streets in full make-up and big hair with my beautiful friends every day, but it sure makes for some fun and inspiring photos that accompany what turned out to be a great, high-energy and motivating spread. I'm happy to be representing trainers and women who have real and attainable bodies! Another thing you might not expect: I didn't diet, detox, "cleanse," cut calories or deprive myself of any foods leading up to this shoot. In fact, I did the opposite. A couple days prior, I ate half a large pizza! (I was CRAVING it!) And I followed my normal diet (healthy, but with occasional desserts) and workout plan each day. I'm really proud to be featured for who I am--a healthy, fit, size 8, 150-pound woman. And SELF really embraced the real me without altering my appearance or expecting me to be different. I love them for that!

I will try my hardest to never forget this experience. And I'm still just tickled to death to have been included in SELF magazine. It's been an amazing experience so far, and I appreciate everyone's support, as well as the hard work of everyone involved in making it happen. I hope you'll join me in the SELF Diet Club these next few weeks and pick up a copy of the magazine on newsstands while it's available. None of this would have been possible without SparkPeople and our amazing members, so thank YOU for helping me make this dream come true!

For more photos that didn't make it into the blog (including the wardrobe and shoe room), check out my Facebook page!
Have you checked out the magazine yet? Are you a fan of SELF?

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    Great blog. Thanks for sharing all the inside scoop! - 8/28/2012   1:15:04 PM
  • 74
    Amazing - 8/27/2012   7:59:27 PM
  • 73
    WooHoo Coach Nicole. I am on my way to the store to purchase the September issue of Self and join the Self Diet Club. - 8/27/2012   1:31:26 PM
  • 72
    It sounds like a great experience for you Nicole, and that you enjoyed it. Can't wait to see the article. Congratulations! The video and your moves are amazing I can't wait to try them! - 8/26/2012   11:37:39 AM
  • 71
    I know that body image issues are not related to reality but to perception and emotional baggage, but maybe it's time to throw out some of that baggage and see yourself as other (healthy-minded) people do. You look fabulous! You have a body I could aspire to. If I ever did attain a body likes yours I would be so vain. ;) I don't understand how the clothes are 2 sizes too small, the fit you so well. I understand the desire to cover up though. Thanks for being such a beautiful inspiration. - 8/25/2012   11:21:36 AM
  • 70
    Wow, what an awesome experience. You look great! - 8/25/2012   9:15:05 AM
  • 69
    I loved reading about your experience! Thanks for sharing! It's so cool that Joy was a SparkPeople member...small world! Keep up the good work! Thanks for the encouragement! Spark on! - 8/25/2012   8:01:03 AM
  • AMBER461
    Thanks coach Nicole. you are an inspiration and you looked nice in the pink top. - 8/24/2012   11:17:25 PM
  • 67
    So proud of my bestie (in my head)!
    WooHoo! - 8/24/2012   10:26:16 PM
  • 66
    Got the September issue in the mail today. Couldn't wait to read the article. Nice job! Fun knowing what goes on behind the scenes and seeing the outcome. Congrats Coach Nicole! - 8/24/2012   9:50:35 PM
  • 65
    Congrats and thank you for being a "real model." My oldest was diagnosed with an eating disorder. She is very muscular and plays select soccer, but still thinks she is fat. I wish ALL magazines would consider the "rest of the world" when hiring models. Many models are very unhealthy and do horrible things to their bodies just to be a mode. Bravo and thanks again for "keeping it real!" - 8/24/2012   2:45:11 PM
  • 64
    Congratulations on your new relationship with SELF magazine - I hope we can still count on you to help all of us on Spark who continue to need your motivation to keep us going.
    I think quite highly of you, and you should know that I have unofficially adopted you as an honorary granddaughter. All of my "adoptee's" are strong young women who feel more than comfortable at what they do, and are as outgoing as you seem to be.
    You are a great example to women of all ages, and my DW (41 years in October) has used you as an example to our oldest granddaughter.

    I tell my DIL's and granddaughters they can be anything they want to be, except maybe for being the starting shooting guard for the LA Lakers. - 8/24/2012   1:16:11 PM
  • 63
    Got the email yesterday. Very awesome and congratulation.
    3 Spark Cheers for Coach Nicole - 8/24/2012   10:39:11 AM
  • 62
    Congratulations! You look great! So slim and toned. - 8/24/2012   9:54:19 AM
    Interesting article! And you look SOOO pretty! Especially in the bright pink tops! - 8/24/2012   9:45:42 AM
  • 60
    I'm so impressed! I have a whole new admiration for magazines now.There's so much that goes on behind the scenes. - 8/23/2012   11:34:24 PM
  • 59
    I'll be sure to pick up a copy. Way to go Nicole! We're so proud of you!! - 8/23/2012   4:43:48 PM
  • 58
    Thank you for being your'SELF' and not trying to change your healthy body to be something it is not before the photos! You inspire me. Also, I teach group fitness at our local Y and have just recently become an AFAA certified personal trainer. I love the new workout and have used a couple in my muscle class this morning and plan to use a couple more in tomorrow's class!! Thank you for sharing your great ideas and helping me help others as well. - 8/23/2012   4:37:35 PM
  • 57
    Thanks for sharing! A really enjoyable article, very interesting! You DO look great and you're a great representative for Spark and for healthy women everywhere! Thanks, Nicole! - 8/23/2012   3:58:12 PM
  • 56
    Awesome, Nicole! Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I used the sample video in the blog for today's video workout by doing it several times and focusing on different moves each time. Gotta go look for the magazine! - 8/23/2012   12:17:23 PM
  • 55
    Awesome, Nicole! Thanks for sharing this experience with us. I used the sample video in the blog for today's video workout by doing it several times and focusing on different moves each time. Gotta go look for the magazine! - 8/23/2012   12:17:23 PM
  • STEPH1048!
    What a great article. I would never know in a million years that you hard a hard time with your self image. I guess it is something we never get over. I made myself sick over a class reunion. When I built up some nerve I went... Guess what people were happy to see me. - 8/23/2012   11:58:23 AM
  • 53
    Thrilled for you!
    Excited to pick up the magazine!!!
    WOOHOO!!! - 8/23/2012   11:37:11 AM
  • 52
    i love that you remind us that we don't have to be stick thin to be healthy. thank you for that. - 8/23/2012   11:37:03 AM
  • 51
    Congrats on all your success Coach Nicole!
    I joined the Self Diet Club, even though it shouldn't be about dieting it should be about healthy eating. That's the mag's choice though.
    I'm definitely going to go pick up my issue soon! - 8/23/2012   11:07:49 AM
  • 50
    Congratulations, Coach Nicole! Because of you, I joined the Self Diet Club. The exercises you picked are great and challenging! - 8/23/2012   10:34:55 AM
    You look fantastic!! Thanks for sharing with us.
    Rob - 8/23/2012   10:22:55 AM
  • 48
    Awesome blog and I love your hair all curled. We are so proud of you!!!! - 8/23/2012   10:20:40 AM
  • 47
    You must be a tall girl because I would never guess that you weigh 150 lbs? You look so small. Just goes to prove that the number on the scale is just a number. Love you longer hair! You are such a beautiful women. - 8/23/2012   9:52:42 AM
    Wow! What fun! Thanks for sharing. - 8/23/2012   8:53:23 AM
  • 45
    Thanks for taking the time to write down your experiences. It was an insightful look into the cellophane world of fashion photography. So glad it was a positive experience! - 8/23/2012   8:44:04 AM
  • 44
    WooHoo! I got my copy of SELF! - 8/23/2012   8:32:58 AM
  • 43
    amazing! - 8/23/2012   8:01:57 AM
  • 42
    So glad you had fun. Couldn't have been a more deserving person. I think you are awesome! - 8/23/2012   7:57:33 AM
  • 41
    You look awesome! I would never have dreamed what your actual weight is but the number on the scale doesn't matter! - 8/23/2012   7:47:54 AM
  • 40
    Coach Nicole! they couldn't have picked a more spectacular, dedicated, normal person to represent all of us at SparkPeople! you are in inspiration, and a gem! I am thrilled that you could experience all the fun and excitement during your photo/exercise shoot. There is not a more deserving person! Congratulations, and keep up your great work for yourself and all of us! - 8/23/2012   7:17:36 AM
  • 39
    SELF could not have picked a better trainer to put an exercise video together. I'm glad you had the opportunity to experience "the big time" of working with a major periodical to produce this exercise video, an experience I don't think you will ever forget. If anything, this could open doors for you for other opportunities. You really looked great in the videos (the clothes you wore) and I love the way you explain and demonstrate the movements involved in the exercises in the video as well as letting us know what muscle group the exercise is working. You're a natural at this. You make it sound and look so easy. Your smile and positive, can-do attitude give us the belief that it's fun and we can do this. But I know this is a higher level exercise routine than I can probably handle. If I tried it, it would take quite a long time before I could do the exercises the way they were intended and for the goal time time to do them. But then again, the goal for this exercise video was to burn fat and lose 2 pounds a week. I believe this video could accomplish that goal! - 8/23/2012   7:10:48 AM
  • 38
    Everything looks and sounds awesome!! Congrats on doing this. - 8/23/2012   6:32:29 AM
    Everything is great, amazing; Thank you. - 8/23/2012   2:41:07 AM
    Wow!! What a great experience! I thought it was kind of cute when you said you were going to try your hardest not to forget the experience. I'm thinking you don't have to "try" too hard. It'll always be with you. - 8/22/2012   11:34:55 PM
  • 35
    No, I'm not a Self fan but certainly am a Coach Nicole fan. Great blog! Loved hearing the behind the scenes details of doing a shoot. I will pick up a copy of magazine and I loved the exercises, really great. Thanks so much for sharing this. Now I'm headed over to Facebook to ogle at clothes...sigh...... - 8/22/2012   11:21:23 PM
  • 34
    Congratulations Coach Nicole. Sounds like a wonderful experience. You did a great job! SparkPeople is lucky to have you! WooHoo! - 8/22/2012   11:07:35 PM
  • 33
    congrat can;t wait to pick up the issue - 8/22/2012   10:29:17 PM
  • 32
    Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing with us the fun and the nerves. I appreciate your honesty and am truly happy for you to have that experience. Thank you for all that you do to encourage others! - 8/22/2012   9:35:41 PM
  • 31
    You look great! Thanks for sharing, both the shoot and the tips! Awesome! - 8/22/2012   9:20:31 PM
  • 30
    Wow WhatAn Amazing Experience For You Coach Nicole! You Look So Beautiful on That Video! You Are Well Deservig For This Opportunity and Many More To Come. I 've Been To The Site But Haven't Decided If I Will Try The Program There.AlthoughThose Exercises Are Inviting! Thank You! :) - 8/22/2012   8:00:53 PM
  • 29
    I was in the store earlier and took a peek at the exercises....they look too tough for this gal. It is fun to have new experiences and I am glad Nichole had a blast! - 8/22/2012   5:12:34 PM
  • 28
    Thanks for sharing this with us, Coach Nicole! As usual you have great exercises for us to try out. I loved the video and am excited about trying the new moves I haven't seen before. And you look so lovely! I am excited that more people will get to know about you from the exposure you will get from Self magazine. - 8/22/2012   4:50:47 PM
  • 27
    That sounds like so much fun- can't wait to see the article! - 8/22/2012   4:06:15 PM
  • 26
    Thanks for sharing the inside scoop! - 8/22/2012   3:59:27 PM

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