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Saying Goodbye

This morning I do not have any marketing tips, personal development techniques nor branding strategies. I do not have any snarky or pithy comments nor industry trends to share. What I do have is a story about a man who fundamentally changed the course of my life.

He did not put a camera into my hands, but without him I would not be a photographer.

He did not teach me how to work in marketing, but without him I would not have spent the better part of a decade doing so.

He did not show me how to be a professional public speaker, but without him I probably never would have presented to any audience.

I first met Bill Greer while he was the professor of one of the capstone courses at the University of Arizona Journalism Department (which later became the School of Journalism). Everything about him was unorthodox – commonly wearing Hawaiian shirts, khakis and oversized orthopedic shoes. His movement around the department were never fast, but a slow shuffling of one foot in front of the other always keeping his gaze straight ahead. His hair, often looking uncombed, had a personality and life of its own.

His lectures were anything but lectures. They were more an informal stream of consciousness, stringing together thoughts, ideas, memories and inspirations. Students of his classes may not have received every bullet point that was on the lesson plan (something I’m certain he created only because he was required to) but if they really listened – there was some fascinating insights from these casual and often undirected conversations.

Greer was never the type of person who talked much about himself or his past – but with 12 years working for the Associated Press and another few decades as a teacher there was an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and experiences – but only if you paid attention and knew how to listen. I tried to do both.

One of his jobs was as an adviser to a student-run newspaper distributed throughout Tombstone, Arizona. After all, what better way to teach aspiring journalists how to interview and report than by sending them 70 miles southeast to a tourist trap town with a never-ended supply of drama.

He placed me into the role of Photo Editor for the publication – although thinking back I am unsure why as I truthfully had zero experience in such a position. My first issue working for the newspaper I took an image of a mock gunfight (something which happened daily in Tombstone) and we ran it on the cover.

Once the issue was out he gathered the staff around in a postmortem – what went well in the issue, what needs to be improved upon in the next issue and so on. He started with my image and held up the paper. “Excellent photo James… excellent.”

That moment, right there, was the first moment I ever considered actually working professionally as a photographer.

However Greer did not solely give praise. Two months later I did another photo which was anything but quality. Truthfully it was trash – figuratively and literally the photo was of trash. A local restaurant was going under renovations and out of lack of understanding of the assignment mixed with laziness, I photographed all the trash they were dumping on the side of the restaurant from the renovation. Had the story been about a restaurant owner making a mess – I could have had a great review. However in that issue’s postmortem he once again held up the paper in front of the staff. “Terrible photo James… terrible. This is sloppy photojournalism.” He held onto that photo for quite sometime and continued to use it as an example to students of what not to do.

Yet I stuck around as there were plenty more issues to come. Some I created work he loved, others not as much – but I never again made a photo he hated.

What did shift however was the way in which we worked together. Back then… how could I be aware that my life was being changed? Little by little it was… until it was entirely different.

He first started asking me to give “guest lectures” to his classes on various topics related to what I had been doing with photography. A position opened up as a photo editor for a small magazine, which he helped me get with my experience working for him. I then began to teach lab portions of his classes. If you were to ask me then (or now for that matter), why I got involved – I honestly couldn’t tell you a real reason other than it just felt like it was the right thing to do.

My priorities in life shifted. On weekend I became less interested in rounds at the bar – and more interested in pushing my work in photography.

It was 10 months before my college graduation when he asked for my resume to be on his desk the next morning. I asked why and the response, in true Greer-style “because I want your resume on my desk tomorrow morning is why.”

In a few days I received a phone call from a company looking to hire someone in marketing. Another former student of his was doing the hiring and came to him for the recommendation. A few weeks later I began my career in marketing, still going to school, still working as a photo editor for both the newspaper and the magazine and still lecturing to his classes.

Upon graduation I stuck around the Journalism Department and, along with another friend who graduated near the same time, continued to help him in teaching classes in photography, photo editing and now how to market yourself as a photographer. But our first duty was to wake him up from his afternoon nap he liked to take on the couch of one of the other professor’s offices.

He continued to have this unique method of challenging his students. One afternoon I was assisting him going through his student’s recent photo work. I would show him a photo and he would tell me the grade to give. With one image he said “this is a great photo, A+, who took this?” I told him the student’s name to which he replied “Make it a B-”

You must understand, he did not view the project as a stand-alone piece. He instead viewed the student as an opportunity that he personally had to change and mold into the best person possible over the course of a semester. It was not about this one photo – it was about the arc and journey of this student and the role he played to constantly push all of his students beyond what any of them thought was ever possible. My mind went back to “Terrible photo James… terrible” and I smiled.

There is this common expression used to describe selfless people. “They will give you the shirt off their back and the shoes off their feet.” That is how Greer was – literally. One year he gifted me one of his Hawaiian shifts and told me that I had two choices, I could shrink the shirt in the wash or gain a bit of weight and it would fit me. On several occasions he tried giving me an extra pair of his bulky orthopedic shoes which he said were truly amazing and far more comfortable than the dress shoes I was wearing. Those I had to graciously decline.

But his selflessness never tired. I would see, year after year, him go out of way to help a student with a referral, get a job or navigate a challenge. Often times he would do it without the student ever knowing he was involved. He did not need thanks or appreciation for what he did. He truly wanted to see his students succeed.

As part of his nature of giving – Greer headed up the annual High School Diversity Workshop. Arizona high school students from diverse backgrounds were invited to spend several days at the University learning about journalism and being able to put together their own newspaper. Of course I signed on to work at it every year teaching about photography, photojournalism and photo editing.

Even after his retirement – he remained curious about his former students. Over dinners at his favorite Italian restaurant on 4th Avenue he would ask about people. Hearing about their success brought a true smile to his face and although he would never accept credit for it – I’m certain he played a role in their path.

Six days ago he passed away in San Diego. News of his death reached me by Sunday morning and I’ve spent the last week attempting to sort through my own feelings and emotions. I truly question how I am supposed to be able to say goodby.

How can I say goodbye to the man who taught me how to order a real man’s drink, who showed me the importance of persistence, who gave me the opportunity to succeed or fail, who never took “no” for an answer and who never lost faith in me?

Six months ago, eight months ago, a year ago, I wanted to write him and tell him how much he impacted and changed my life – but I didn’t. I wanted to arrange another get together for dinner at that Italian place – but I didn’t. Life always came up and I always thought there would be another opportunity – that our time is not as finite as it was. I struggle saying goodbye because I don’t know if I was ever able to truly come up with the words to say “thank you.”

The last time I saw him – it was at his last birthday party this past summer at a small Irish bar in east Tucson. As the celebration came to a conclusion we hugged and he shook my hand and said, “Keep shooting James… I’m always seeing your work, I love it.” Then after a brief sentimental pause he said, “especially all those beautiful young women.”

I laughed and said to myself next time you need to tell him. He needs to hear how much he was responsible for where I’ve gone and where I will go in my career and life. But there never would be that next time.

He remains this iconic figure in my mind – a representation of a species of man that has nearly become extinct. He had survived this fantastic life of adventure which was later limited by the bandwidth of his health. He then selflessly devoted all of his energy to his students. He despised lethargic and wasted talent so when he saw potential he latched on, he challenged and he pushed people.

What he really did was he gave people the opportunity to succeed or fail.

Thank you for that opportunity Professor Greer.


FMI Roundtable Recap: Differentiating Your Brand Online

This article is part 4 of 4 which recaps the roundtable discussion that were held at the recent FMI conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

After splitting the attendees up into four groups, we assigned each a separate topic for them to discuss. Feel free to click below to read the previous article.

1 – Blogging and Sharing Websites Marketing Efforts (Led by Dave Dreas)
2 – Personal Website Marketing Efforts (Led by James Patrick)
3 – Social Media Marketing Efforts (Led by Kimerbly Miller)
4 – Differentiating your Niche and Brand Online (Led by Teri Simmons-Crenshaw)

The fourth and final discussion we are sharing is differentiating your niche and brand online which was led by Teri Simmons-Crenshaw.

Major Discussion Points Included:
1 – What is your niche?
2 – Marketing:  Social, print, permission
3 – Recommended reading

We began our discussion by defining what makes us unique in our industry.  It is vital to differentiate in a way that makes your brand stand out.  If you attempt to get the attention of potential clients by marketing yourself as a “better” fitness professional or even a “cheaper” trainer, you are dead in the water.  White noise.  People want to know how you are different and how that helps them.  Examples of attendees who were niche-oriented were The Fit Girl on the Go: outdoor and adventure workouts and the Double Time Twins with their dance-based fitness programs.  We talked about how being a fitness professional is the first layer or umbrella of your business and below that is the title of trainer, nutritionist etc. and then your niche.  Your niche is your specific brand and is what gets the attention of a prospective client.

How do you market your expertise? An example of the mistakes made on Facebook and Twitter is constantly making your marketing about you.  Posting that you just “crushed legs” in a killer workout isn’t attention getting and is potentially annoying.  Alternatively, create posts that reach your market and lets them know how you can help them or have helped others like them.

Using the “Ask a Question” feature is a good option for getting a conversation started and can be attention-getting however, taking a poll on what exercises your Facebook friends want to see you demonstrate isn’t on target either.

We also discussed ideas for making your print marketing “stick”.  I showed them the business cards that I had made through  With the ability to upload up to 50 different pictures/ logos/ photos, the cards stand out and clients can choose whichever card is their own favorite.  It makes it a fun way to engage the people you meet in person.  It’s an icebreaker and a conversation started that will make your card a “keeper”.

Remembering that your clients who are friends on Facebook have given you “permission” to provide information about your business, what you do and how you can help.  Permission marketing is much more effective than random print marketing for capturing the audience that is already interested or potentially interested in your product.  Differentiating your brand by personal (via online) connection with potential clients is an effective branding strategy.

Side note:  having 1000 Facebook friends makes the personal connection much more difficult.  Decide if you want fewer, more likely to buy, clients or just a mass following.  This is dependent on the type of services or product you offer.  If you are all about selling eBooks related to your niche, then having a mass following is fine.  If you are doing small group or private training at a higher end price point you might want the personal connection option instead.

To conclude each mini forum I suggested the attendees read a couple of books on the subject of differentiation and soft innovation that I have found helpful.   Both are by Seth Godin:
Purple Cow
Free Prize Inside.

Teri Simmons-Crenshaw is a fitness talent and the owner and CEO of Dancer Body Fitness, LLC based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Also connect with her on her company’s facebook page at or her personal page at

James Patrick

FMI Roundtable Recap: Social Media

This article is part 3 of 4 which recaps the roundtable discussion that were held at the recent FMI conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

After splitting the attendees up into four groups, we assigned each a separate topic for them to discuss. Feel free to click below to read the previous article.

1 – Blogging and Sharing Websites Marketing Efforts (Led by Dave Dreas)
2 – Personal Website Marketing Efforts (Led by James Patrick)
3 – Social Media Marketing Efforts (Led by Kimerbly Miller)
4 – Differentiating your Niche and Brand Online (Led by Teri Simmons-Crenshaw)

The third discussion we are sharing is social media marketing efforts for talents which was led by Kimberly Miller.

The main topics of discussions for this topic were:

Facebook seemed to be the social media method most commonly used by attendees, and the tool with which people are most comfortable. Facebook allows for both pages and personal profiles and both are helpful to have. Some individuals shared that they have a personal profile where they can friend request people but they use it for branding purposes (e.g., Jane Smith Figure Competitor). Some strategies for improving Facebook utility included the following:

– Share other people’s information – relevant blogs, quotes, pictures and articles.
– Tag others when appropriate.
– Be respectful of posting on others pages.  Do not spam them with your content without permission.
– Insure you get copyright privileges when posting things. (Do not steal others content without giving appropriate credit).
– Look who is “liking” your information and make personal contact with them.  Say thank you.  See how you might help them.  People liking your content are already invested in you.  Work to further build that relationship. This was by far one of the most helpful pieces of information shared during the roundtables.
– Post genuine comments on other people’s pages.
– Post regularly.
– Remember it’s not all about you! Make content more about others.
– Asking questions is a great way to facilitate interaction on your page.
– Offer something free to people (e-books, free consultations, etc.) as an incentive.
– If you are using Facebook to promote your brand or business, be professional and write updates that people can understand.  Inside jokes are not helpful for being inclusive on your site.

Twitter is growing quickly in popularity and can be a helpful tool in connecting with others.  If you haven’t tweeted it helps to get tips from others who are familiar with the application, so you understand how to use it.  Some strategies for using twitter include.

– Connect with groups.  These are like-minded people with shared interests.  This can be helpful in building your followership and staying in the loop.
– Watch what you post.  People are paying attention to what you write.  Make sure your posts represent what you aspire to do and how you want to be perceived.
– Tweet to others and recognize people’s accomplishment.
– Follow people and companies you have an interest in working with and get to know what they are about.  This makes you more aware of who they are.

LinkedIn is widely used in the professional realm and serves as a mechanism for people to connect with others with whom they might want to do business.

– Spend some time thinking about how you want to represent yourself on linked in and develop a profile.
– When requesting connections, if you don’t know the individual, take the time to write a personal note stating who you are and why you want to connect.
– Be selective about who you include in your network.  Others will look at your network as a representation of you.
– Post status updates on linked-in, or consider linking some of your social media networks so that you only have to make one post and all mediums are updated.
– Pay attention to key words you use when you write your profile.  These are searchable.

Social media can easily consume your time; thus, it’s helpful to set parameters on usage.  Set aside an hour a day (or whatever time frame you have available) and dedicate yourself fully to it.  Once the time is over, turn it off and move on.  This will help you stay on task.  Social media can be a valuable tool in building your business and worthy of the time it takes.  If you are not currently using it, start with one medium and go from there.

Kimberly Miller is a commercial and fitness talent, stylist and writer based in Arizona. You can connect with her through her website at or listen to her as the co-host of TheProExposure podcast.


James Patrick

February 2012 Featured Talent Interview with Parker Cote

Inside Fitness Magazine
Inside Fitness Magazine

For my second interview, I chose to talk to Parker Cote. I first had the opportunity to meet and work with Parker in Los Angeles at the 2010 FMI conference. We shot together again when FMI came out to Scottsdale. It was shortly after that when we worked together yet again in Las Vegas around Olympia. Our last project being again in Los Angeles at FMI which was published both in Inside Fitness Magazine and Max Sports & Fitness Magazine.

For those of you that know Parker, you know how relentless and passionate he is about what he does and what he wants to achieve. I’ve greatly admired his tireless drive and as such have chosen him to be the February 2012 Featured Talent. I hope you enjoy the interview!

James Patrick: What was your first push in the fitness modeling industry?
Parker Cote: I first started to pursue fitness modeling as a 20-year old college student. I had been exercising regularly and eating well since my freshman year of high school and I decided that I finally had the physique to go after my dream. I found my first opportunity on a forum where I saw a thread that was looking for people to feature in a national ad campaign for the site. The best part was that they were looking for “real people” who used their site with success, not professional fitness models. I submitted some pictures my dad took of me in my home gym and a few months later I had a full-page ad in all the major fitness magazines. From there I booked my first workout spread and interview in a national fitness magazine.

JP: Understanding there are a lot of guys in great shape; how did you separate yourself from others?
PC: The fitness industry is fiercely competitive, but there are a few things that I’d like to think makes me unique. The first is that I have a story that people can relate to.  A picture in a magazine of someone in great shape is good, but that same picture with a story of how they got there is infinitely more valuable.  Having a story with experiences that others can relate to is a great way to establish your identity in the fitness industry.

For me, I began weight training when I was 15 years old and weighed only 145 lbs. I made consistent progress over the course of several years until I became a professional fitness model. I took pictures throughout the entire process, I even have a photo from the day I started. When people see that picture of me as a skinny high schooler it can inspire them to get in shape.

In addition to having a story, I know my market. I don’t feel pressure to gain a lot of size or vascularity to get into the hardcore bodybuilding magazines, or sign with a supplement company. I’m certainly not the most muscular guy in the industry, but I know my niche.  I want to appeal to the mainstream-people who want to look normal in clothes but great when their shirt comes off. Knowing where I stand makes my efforts much more focused and purposeful.

Finally, I’m always professional. I show up to shoots in shape, on time, and ready to work. I also make sure that the photographer and I are having fun – it’s important to show your personality and make the shoot an enjoyable experience.

JP: Early in your career, what were some of your goals in the business?
PC: In the beginning I simply wanted to be published in national fitness magazines with the dream of one day appearing on a cover. I also wanted to share my transformation story to help motivate others. It has grown and evolved since to include other aspects of the industry with a larger focus on helping others achieve their goals.

Group photo after shoot
Group photo after shoot

JP: How did you go about selecting photographers to work with to build your portfolio?
PC: I did my research. Since my main goal was to be published, I wanted to shoot with the photographers who were being published. I looked to see who was shooting for the magazines that I thought I would be a good fit for, and then contacted them. I also made sure that they specialized in fitness. In the beginning, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of being a model and shoot with anyone with a camera. It is important to take your time and select photographers who will advance your career. There is also something to be said about the photographer’s personality. If they are easy to work with and we get great images, I keep that in mind when I’m looking to refresh my portfolio.

JP: What lessons did you learn about successful tips for shooting and also things to avoid doing?
PC: The best piece of advice I can give to someone getting ready for a shoot is to avoid extremes. The first photographer I ever shot with taught me that. I was so excited about my first shoot I was thinking to myself, “I’m going to diet so hard for this and get as lean and shredded as possible.” I was reading up on supplements to take to cut water, and other tricks to get me super lean. Thankfully the photographer warned me against that, and I decided that I needed to get into shoot shape without supplements or any drastic measures so I could reproduce it whenever I needed to. There are some minor changes in diet and training that I will implement leading up to a shoot, but it is never anything that puts extreme stress on my body.

It is also important to come to your shoot with an even tan – either natural or from a tanning product. Make sure you get a full night’s sleep the night before your shoot so you look your best, and always bring some healthy food with you so you can keep your energy levels up throughout the day. It is also a good idea to bring some business cards or comp cards to the shoot for networking purposes. Someone on set may even know of another job you’d be good for, so make sure you come prepared.

Looking great is only half of the job.  It is equally important to be professional and pleasant to work with on set. Show up on time, have a positive attitude, and enjoy yourself. While it can be a lot of fun, it’s still work and you are there to get a job done for a client. Make sure you don’t have any other plans the day of the shoot. I have had ten hour days on set when I was expecting a four hour shoot.  It is never appropriate to ask when the shoot will be over, complain, or ask if you can leave. Avoid texting or calling people while you’re on a shoot, it is disrespectful. When the shoot is over, thank them for inviting you to work with them that day and leave on a positive note. If someone does a favor for you or you enjoyed working with them, send a hand written thank you. It’s old school manners that will get you remembered in a good way.

Special note- if you are hiring a photographer to shoot portfolio images, the same guidelines apply. However, if you post the images online, make sure you ask the photographer for permission and give them photo credit, they are trying to grow their business as well.

JP: You travel a lot and attend a lot of shows and conferences. Explain your reasoning behind this.
PC: The main benefit to attending shows and conferences is networking. Unlike fashion and commercial models, fitness models are their own best agents. Industry events provide you with the opportunity to meet and speak face to face with magazine editors, photographers, supplement companies, and other models. Submitting pictures through email is fine, but allowing the decision makers to meet you and get to know your personality is invaluable. Plus, they are a lot of fun to attend and it’s a great way to become friends with other fitness models.

Parker Cote
Parker Cote

Another benefit of industry events is that it is a great place to shoot.  All of the industry’s best photographers and models are usually in attendance, so if you plan ahead you can get some great shoots in. At an expo I recently attended, I had the opportunity to shoot with a very well known female fitness model for cover submissions – a chance I wouldn’t get if I had flown myself out to shoot with the photographer. I usually schedule anywhere from 2-5 shoots per event I attend. It is an efficient way to get work done.  Since I live in Boston I have to make the most out of every time I travel.

JP: You have recently been picked up but a multitude of publications. How have you gone about marketing yourself to various magazines?
PC: There are several different ways to be featured in a fitness magazine. You can book a shoot through an agent, a photographer can shoot and submit you, or you can directly submit yourself.  I have found the most success submitting on my own.  I have gotten a majority of my own work without an agent. What I do is find out who the decision makers are (editors, art directors, etc.) and present them with what I have to offer in a professional way. I’ll typically email them a couple of my best images, introduce myself and provide some background information, and tell them I am available to shoot whenever they need me. I also follow up consistently, but not so much that they become annoyed. It took me a full year of following up for me to book a shoot with Men’s Health – it all depends on how badly you want it.

JP: Now that your name is a bit more established, what are some of your goals moving forward?
PC: In the past year I have matured beyond a myopic view of myself as only a fitness model. I have expanded into commercial modeling and writing, and started my own website where I sell workout and nutrition plans. When I first started in the fitness industry, I never imagined I’d be shooting with Mark Wahlberg or appearing on a billboard for a clothing company. I also never thought I’d be writing for national magazines. That is the direction my career is headed and I couldn’t be happier. As far as future goals are concerned, I want to continue to be published regularly as a fitness model and writer, book more covers and commercial work, and increase presence on my social networks and website,

James Patrick

Fitness Diversity Shoot Feature: Gyda Loveres

My name is Gyda Loveres and I’m from Tucson AZ. I am a personal trainer and a model. I was born and raise in the Philippines and moved to the US when I was 18 yrs old. Being in the fitness career has not only improve my lifestyle but also helped me inspire other people to be healthy. I want to serve as a role model to all other beautiful cultures who wants to live a long and healthy life. I always believe in the saying that “Your body is your temple” so treat it that way. We need to nurture it every single day for the rest of our lives.

I am so happy to be a part of the diversity photo shoot shot by phenomenal photographer James Patrick. This is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity showcasing different cultures coming together to promote beauty and health. It is a pleasure working with beautiful models Elena and Shandi and I am looking forward to working on more projects with them in the near future.

Interview with Fitness Model & IFBB Pro Karen Mullarkey

Karen Mullarkey IFBB Pro
Photo by James Patrick –

What came first, the modeling or the competitions?
Competitions for sure. It started out as a joke between a friend and I to see if we could get on stage without falling down in those shoes. She and I both played Division 1 Field Hockey in college, so we were used to training. It finally came to the point where we decided to do a competition so I started training with Ernie. In my first competition I took 3rd in my division and from that point on I was pretty much hooked. The best part of it was; each time I did a competition all the way up onto nationals, my physique continued to get better and more proportioned.


How long did it take you from your first show to your IFBB?
My first show was in November of 2004 and I went pro in July of 2007.

What did achieving the IFBB initially mean for you with less than three years competing?
It was a pretty big accomplishment. I’ve known people that are still on stage that I’ve competed at the national level with back then. It is very hard to accomplish. So just the self satisfaction that I continued and didn’t give up. Each time I competed I went back the drawing board to see what I needed to improve upon for the next show. It was an unbelievable feeling.

So what changed in your career once you had the card in hand?
Nothing really to be honest. You are under that assumption that I’m a pro now, so I’m going to be doing bigger shows so hopefully I’ll get noticed and I’ll get an endorsement, and things are going to start to change for the better for me. But they didn’t.

What I learned over time was that I needed to use the IFBB status to promote myself in the industry and with my business here locally. Anytime I’m writing a magazine or anytime of company, the title is always IFBB Pro. Which I hope gives me a little bit of credibility. I think that is how it led to me being a contributing writer for Physique Magazine.

When you began to hit the pavement with marketing yourself and your IFBB card; what are some strategies you used?
I started my personal training business a year after I got my pro card. The first year was difficult, but I hired a PR team after that first year which really helped a lot. So much of the work was just putting my name and face out there. Revamping the website, making sure I was visible and active on the social media channels, was doing some video reels as well. Also, FMI was a huge turning point in 2009.

Why is that?
I learned to market myself better. I wasn’t quite sure how to contact the magazines and publishers. I was shooting with photographers, but I needed to learn how to get work with those photos. FMI was great about educating how to do just that. And also just the connections I made there were invaluable.

What do you think has the greatest return on investment in your marketing efforts?
I think the PR people I hired, Cruz/Wood Communications, was the best thing I did in respects to marketing because they are able to handle a lot of the social media channels and media blasts and getting me onto local TV to promote my personal training business. Now that I have a good client base, I get a lot via word of mouth and referrals.

So do you encourage others to hire a PR team then?
I would absolutely. I’ve had them on for a year now and I certainly plan to keep working with them. It allows me to focus on other things. They also help me get in touch with the national publications. Above all they keep me on track; are you doing this, are you doing that.

Apart from your PR team, you do a lot of branding outreach opportunities, such as writing for magazines you mentioned. What spurred that?
When I went to FMI, Clark Bartram suggested I start blogging on his website. At that time I was also revamping my website with a blog. So I started blogging and writing again, and realize how much I missed writing. Eventually I turned the blogs into articles and started submitting. About a year ago I did a shoot with Ralph DeHaan. I packaged those photos with an article I wrote and sent that out to several publications and two ended up picking it up. A light bulb went on in my head and I realized I could do a lot more with this. That is when I was able to get the monthly column with Physique Magazine as well as a few other pieces with other publications. Had you said to me a few years ago I would be writing for multiple publications I would have laughed. It is interesting the route this journey has taken me on.

What is the most unique opportunity you’ve had in this business?
The most unique is when I got the casting for the infomercial in LA. I literally got a phone call on a Tuesday evening “hey can you be in LA tomorrow morning.” I said okay, booked a flight, was in LA for 2 hours and flew back just to go to one casting. The whole trip I kept telling myself how crazy I was for spending the money and what was I thinking. Then just a few days later I got the call to say I was given the part. To get that job for a nationally televised infomercial was a big deal for me.

What is upcoming on your radar?
Continue writing. I actually signed on with a local agency in Arizona. I’ve been on two auditions in the past week so I hope to do more commercial work. I of course am on the quest to get the first magazine cover. I’m signed in another agency in Portland called Sports Unlimited. I was in their other office in Los Angeles and told them I wanted to do more audition work there. If you are really going to get into the fitness industry you need to be willing to work there. As it stands I may be going to LA once a week or once a month for auditions. To land a national campaign ad for a major sports company would be just amazing. Looking back at how I got started, it is easy to see that my focus has shifted. There is no money in competing. It is great to keep your face out there, but in regards to building my brand I want to target more commercial work.

How do you feel your personal brand in what you do is different from others? Meaning what sets you apart?
Just the name! (Laughs). No, I’m kidding. I like the name of my business No Mullarkey. I look around at the other personal trainers and they are serious names that sound all tough. The name of my business shows not only do I have a no BS approach, but that I have a sense of humor and like to have fun.

As a model, my brand differs based upon the road I took. I never thought in my life that the age of 34 I would be doing this. I didn’t grow up thinking I would be doing commercial work or trying to be pretty. I was the tomboy growing up. People who knew me as a kid send me messages on how they had to do a double-take.

What I’ve learned is that you have the ability to inspire people by your actions. I’ll get a message, “hey I saw you in this magazine and I hung the photo up for motivation.” That right there is extremely rewarding.

Lastly, what is something unique about yourself that most may not know right away?

I’m very involved in outdoor activities. When I lived in Colorado I did a ton of backpacking. It is a little bit harder here in Arizona. A dream has always been to travel to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.

See more of Karen Mullarkey and her work on her official website