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A professional modeling career might sound like a cushy existence, but for self-proclaimed sports fanatic Jenny Fletcher, years in the biz couldn't shake the sense that something was missing. Upon nabbing a steady stream of jobs as a fitness model, it dawned on Jenny that perhaps her athletic ambitions needn’t be sidelined by her pretty face. “I thought, ‘I can take this to a whole other level,’” Jenny recalls. “I didn’t want to get jobs because I was a model. I wanted to work for it, and earn it, and get the respect of the athletes I was competing against.” After independently completing her first triathlon, Jenny became hooked—so she took a leap of faith, dramatically scaled back her modeling commitments, and began training for a career as a professional athlete.
Breaking into the triathlon circuit brought its own set of challenges. While Jenny was convinced that she could have it all, it took time for her body to catch up with her mind. “The constant thing I heard from people was, ‘Give yourself time to let your strength build,’” she recalls. “I’m so hard on myself, and for a while, I was really struggling.” Though athletic prowess wasn’t instantaneous, Jenny found a satisfaction in training that her time spent in front of the camera had never been able to provide. “In modeling, so much of your success is based on what other people tell you or give you,” Jenny explains. “This was something I worked hard for on my own, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. As much as I wanted to prove it to other people, I wanted to prove it to myself.”
Though Jenny has continued to secure modeling jobs through her sponsors, she sees herself as an athlete first, a model second. “I’m not just a face on the wall,” she declares proudly. “I’m not just a model running. I’m a professional athlete.” Any career change is bound to require a degree of soul-searching, however, and for Jenny, the layover between posing and pedaling brought about a considerable amount of introspection. “It is a weird thing to give up your whole career to pursue another one,” Jenny admits. “You’re like, What am I going to do? How am I going to survive? I just never gave up, whether things were going well or not.” Ultimately, the satisfaction of going after a dream far outweighed the stress of switching gears. “I lost a lot, but I gained so much more. I’m not just pursuing one thing—it’s kind of a multi-career, in a way.”
A multi-career means a multi-wardrobe, and Jenny’s packed schedule of training sessions and modeling gigs has made her a master in the art of the quick change. Though most of are more likely to find ourselves dashing from the spin bike to the staff meeting, we had to ask: How can we make a model-caliber transformation from the gym to civilized society? “Twist your hair up in a little messy bun, put on a little mascara and your sunglasses, and you’re in business,” Jenny answers easily. “I try to keep things very simple. If you take care of yourself, it usually shows.” Translation: good health equals good looks. Now that’s a beauty regime we can get behind.
—Emma Aubry Roberts