Fitness Models: Amber Dunford

1) Can you tell us about your background ? How you got started in fitness and how you jumped into modeling?


Although I am relatively new to the fitness industry, physical activity and fitness have always been a very large and very natural part of who I am. I grew up in Central Ontario in a small town and spent most of my time outdoors. I was always fit and athletic as a result of my surroundings and in school I played almost every sport. Once I started college, however, my athleticism decreased immensely and I gained the dreaded “freshman 15”. I moved to Toronto for my studies where instead of swimming in the creek in my backyard, or mountain biking on provincial snowmobile trails to keep fit, I now had to go to the gym.  When I first started, I hated the gym. It took a long time to accept this new type of physical activity, but eventually, I fell in love with it!

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In 2006, I took up a part-time job at the front desk of a gym. I started to learn more about the fitness industry and met some people who “competed”. After doing some research, I decided that I too wanted to compete and I took my training to the next level. After my first show, I was hooked! Fitness modeling opportunities came as a natural extension of competing. I did a few photo shoots with various photographers and participated in some modeling projects.

2) Now I talk to a lot of hopeful models and they have no idea where to start. Is it as simple as getting professional pictures done and posting them online or joining model mayhem? How does an aspiring model get more attention?

Getting exposure in any industry is all about self-marketing and perseverance. Fitness for me is a personal hobby. My career is in communications and I work in a “9-5” office setting, therefore, I do not put as much time into gaining model exposure as one might if he or she were looking to pursue modeling as a full-time job. A good way to gain exposure for fitness modeling is by competing in fitness or figure competitions, but it is equally important to get your name out there by booking photoshoots, attending shows, talking to potential sponsors, and volunteering in projects that can get you free exposure.

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3) How many weeks out do you start training for a shoot and do you start intense or work your way into it?

I try to schedule photo shoots around the same time as fitness competitions so that I will be in my best shape. Generally for a competition, I will start modifying my diet and my training program about 8-10 weeks out from a show. I train year-round and eat fairly clean in the off-season so that I can get into shape quickly if I need to.  My training and diet is gradual and I make small changes as I get closer to the show/shoot to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

4) What was your training like? Was it your typical bodypart split 4-5 day routine or did you focus on specific areas?

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My training routine is always evolving to keep up with the changes in my body and I generally don’t do a program for longer than 4 or 5 consecutive weeks. I have had several sport-related injuries in the past and try to incorporate ongoing rehabilitation into my training regimen. Since I am self-trained, I am constantly researching new training methods and come up with plans that work for my body. Right now, my program consists of a lot of plyometrics, calisthenics and various exercises that will help to maintain my body symmetry. In the off-season, I tend to do very little cardio and mostly lift heavy doing traditional body-building spit routines.

5) Diet wise, what do you feel works best for your body? Very low carb or timed carbohydrates around your workout?

I find that I am very sensitive to carbohydrates and notice the effects of limiting them in my diet almost immediately. Therefore, if I am trying to lean out, I begin by cycling high and low carb days into my diet and time my carbs to make sure that I have plenty of energy to train.

6) What’s next for you Amber? What projects are you working on?

I am currently training for the WBFF World Championships in September and I will be competing in the open class fitness modeling category. As for modeling projects, I am looking forward to booking some shoots around the time of the show and continue to gain more exposure in this industry.

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