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Erin Simmons: Top Fitness Model Who Trains Like An Athlete

By Marc Perry / December 22, 2017

At Builtlean, we love promoting the fitness lifestyle and workout routines that help build strong, fit, & athletic bodies.

Erin Simmons is a female fitness model who doesn’t follow the typical bodybuilding workout routine most male and female fitness models follow. Instead, she focuses on athletic workouts and is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and exercise. She is certainly an inspiration.

Erin is a former member of the Florida State University Track and Field team and has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biology from Florida State University. She is currently working on her doctorate at Texas A&M where she is an assistant coaching jumps, multi-events, and strength training for the A&M Track and Field team while still squeezing in time for her own lifting and training for triathlons, obstacle course races, and road races. You can find Erin on her website at ErinSimmonsFitness.me and on Facebook, Twitter.

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 135

Occupation: Graduate Student

Residence: College Station, TX


1. How did you become interested in fitness?

I grew up very active, always involved in sports and working outdoors. As I got older, I began to take track and field more seriously and ended up making it on the team at Florida State University, where I got my undergraduate and master’s degrees. My time as a collegiate athlete really shaped my fitness journey and brought me to the point I’m at now. I hope to continue building my own brand of fitness and helping others discover a healthier lifestyle.

Fitness Modeling

2. How do you prep for a shoot from an exercise and nutrition perspective? Any tricks of the trade? For how long?

I don’t really prep for shoots, I just stick with my workouts that I do all year round. Sometimes I’ll throw in a few two-a-days the couple weeks before the shoot just to try to get as lean as possible, but that’s really it. My diet stays clean year round and my workouts revolve around weightlifting and triathlon/obstacle course training.

3. Can you share any insights about what it’s like to be a fitness model that people may not realize, or understand from the outside?

You have to be strong inside and out, you have to be 110% comfortable and secure with yourself, and you have to be doing it for yourself. If you don’t have even one of those three things, you’re going to fail. You can’t imagine some of the things that people will say about you and your body. Hopefully most of it will be supportive, but there will be plenty of people who will cut you down. That’s why you have to make sure that you’re not doing it to please others, because if you are, you’ll be miserable. You can never make everyone happy, some people like girls with muscle, others will call you a man, others will say you’re too skinny and need to eat a cheeseburger (gross!). If you base your self-image on what those people are saying, you’ll be confused and unhappy. But if you base it on your inner strength, ability to reach your own goals, and confidence in the lifestyle you’ve chosen, then you’ll be successful!

Exercise, Nutrition, and Lifestyle

4. What are a few of your favorite meals, or snacks?

My favorite easy meal is to cut chicken into small pieces and pan cook it with balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Then I steam veggies and boil and mash some sweet potatoes. Altogether it only takes about 25 minutes and it tastes great! As for snacks, I like fruits, yogurt, nuts, and Kind or Cliff bars. Naturebox is also a great resource for finding new, healthy snacks!

5. What is your exercise philosophy?

Make it functional! The point of exercise is to keep your body healthy and increase your athleticism. Focus on doing exercises and activities that will give you the body to accomplish more, whether that’s making it through an obstacle course race, pulling up your own body weight, or running faster. Don’t focus on the looks part of it, that will come as a result of increasing your fitness.

6. Tons of women fear lifting weights heavier than 5 pounds because they will get “bulky.” What are your thoughts?

As with anything else, there are extremes in lifting. Many women see pictures of female bodybuilders and think that’s what will happen to them if they lift, not realizing that many of those women are probably using extreme supplementation, dieting, and exercise techniques to achieve that size. One of my goals is to educate women that strong is sexy and beautiful, that having muscle does not mean you’re bulky, and that lifting doesn’t mean trading in your femininity. I’ve actually written a whole article on the subject, you can find it on my blog.

7. What does your current exercise routine look like?

Right now, I’m transitioning between my lifting-intense “off-season” and my triathlon training. Previously, I’ve been lifting 3x per week (heavy snatch, power cleans, back squat, front squat, step-ups, clean pulls, snatch pulls, bench, push press), doing sprint workouts 1x per week (repeat 100’s, ladders, 7 arounds), speed endurance 1x per week (X’s, stadiums), and long endurance (long runs or bikes) 1x per week. I’ll be transitioning now to my triathlon training, which involves 2 days of lifting (back squat, pull ups, push ups, incline dumbbell bench, hang cleans, lunges), 1 long run day, 1 recovery run day, 1 swim day, and 1 long bike day with an occasional bike/run day thrown in.

8. Can you give a sample workout you enjoy?

Sprint Workout Example:
“7 Arounds” – on a 400m track, sprint 100m and jog back 50m. From that point, sprint 100m again, then jog back 50m. Continue until you get back to your starting point, which should have been 7 100m sprints. Do 2-3 sets of these with 10 minutes rest between sets.

You can find sample workouts of all kinds on my blog.

9. What are your favorite abs exercises? How often do you train abs?

I train abs nearly every day. Your core is one of the most important parts of your body and is critical to every other exercise, so I am not one of those people who think you can over-train your abs. Just realize it’s not just your abs but your entire core that needs the work! You can find some of my favorite ab exercises on YouTube.

10. Do you have a few favorite exercises you can’t do without?

Single leg squats, stadiums, and pull ups are some key ones that I couldn’t do without!

11. What motivates you to train hard each week?

I have a personal standard of fitness and health that I subscribe to and that I enjoy sharing with others. I can’t help others if I don’t have myself squared away first, so that’s a big motivator. I also have a lot of goals for myself that motivate me during my workouts. I like to challenge myself and continually push my limits. I always want to get a better max, a faster time, or another rep. That competition with myself keeps me going.

12. Anything else we haven’t discussed that you would like to mention?

I think it’s important to mention that health isn’t a fad diet, an easy 15-minute workout, or a miracle supplement or pill. It really and truly is a lifestyle that you have to be committed to 24/7/365. It’s hard work, but it’s SO worth it! There will be some things that you have to sacrifice, but the benefits far outweigh the things you have to give up. Your health is priceless, it’s what everything else in your life is based on. So don’t be afraid to commit to it!


  • uncadonego says:

    RE: "You can never make everyone happy, some people like girls with muscle, others will call you a man, others will say you’re too skinny and need to eat a cheeseburger (gross!). If you base your self-image on what those people are saying, you’ll be confused and unhappy."

    I'm saying this, hopefully not sounding sexist.

    Anybody who calls you too skinny or calls you a man is probably speaking from envy.

    You look super fit, but also very feminine.

  • Kristin says:

    Thanks Erin! I've been doing some HIIT worked in with endurance cardio around my weights days. I like your short, middle & long cardio concept. I am going to have to give that a try! And pptpt of those who don't like muscle. Wimps ;b They are just jealous you don't have to prep for your shoots (heck I'm jealous! Awesome abs!).

  • Ms. Hilton says:

    Yes, you hit it on the nail. There are a variety of remarks people will say about your body. Such as looking like a man. I disagree and see fitness as an natural sexiness which doesn't include getting all " made up", like some women do with makeup. Thanks for the insight! I believe people envy bodies that are naturally athletically built and wish they can be as determined with fitness goals. Thank you so much for being open and transparent.

    • Kristin Rooke, CPT says:

      Really glad you enjoyed the article, Ms. Hilton! Erin Simmons definitely shares some great thoughts and insights here. Personally, I think it all comes down to doing the things you enjoy, and focusing on getting better at those things. The activities you do will shape your body in the ways necessary to get better and develop the skills in those activities. Do what you love, and what other people think or say won't matter as much.
      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor