By Tom Peaks @MrPeaksNValleys
Tanner Chidester is not your typical hot male model. With a bio that includes being raised in the Mormon faith in a huge Texas family, Tanner also was a fearless linebacker for the BYU Cougars. Later, he became a fearless model shocking the conservative BYU community with his steamy images. Tanner has transitioned his modeling career into developing his own health business, and pursuing a more sedated approach to the sexual inclination of the fitness photography industry. In our interview with wellness guru Tanner, you will see that he is as disciplined as he is opinionated, offering up frank viewpoints regarding the world of fitness modeling as well as keys to healthy living and weight management.
Included are fashion images of Tanner by Provo, Utah-based photographer Kyle Navarette of Island Boy Photos. See the links at the bottom of the page for more info on Tanner and Island Boy Photos.
So, Tanner, first some basics. What is your age, weight, and height? Hair/eye color? Birthday? Do you have representation? What is your hometown and current residence?
I’m 24 years old, 6’2” & range between 190-210 pounds depending on my conditioning. I have blue eyes and my birthday is 1/16/92. I had representation one time and hated it honestly lol, been solo ever since. My hometown is Houston, Texas & I currently live in Provo Utah. However, I’ll eventually end back up in Texas one day for good.
We will talk about modeling in a few moments, but you have managed to turn your popularity into a health and fitness business. Tell us about that.
Well, being a model, I just look at that as icing on the cake. I quickly learned while I was in college that I didn’t want to work for anyone, and that I wanted to start a business. In my eyes I needed to play to my strengths which had always been sports and fitness, but I also wanted to make a lot of money to provide good things for my current and future family. I’m from a family of 9 so I know how tight things can get financially, so I’ve always wanted to provide the best for my future family.
Most personal trainers etc. don’t make the kind of money that I have my goals set on, and they have to give so much of their time. In my opinion the only way I could capitalize and help people while also making the kind of money I wanted AND not be a slave to a work schedule was to have an online business. Building a strong following/personal brand has never been more important then it is today. With a personal brand you can sell or push almost anything you want.Obviously you should believe in it and want to help people but having a loyal following whom trusts what you say is the key to a successful online business. Provide good and valuable information enough times and you will gain the trust of the masses.
Where does this calling to help people come from?
Honestly if you’re not helping people then what are you living your life for? It’s just as important how you make your money than just the amount you make.
Marketing is always critical to running a business. Who do you see as your typical customer? Who are you targeting?
My typical customer is one seeking to lose weight, typically in the 25-40 year old range. Most people don’t want to spend hours in the gym and be serious bodybuilders. Most just want to lose a few pounds and feel good about themselves in a pair of trunks or a bikini on the beach. Those are the people I’m trying to help, who are the majority. Only a fraction of the population really wants to have sub 8% body fat year round and have that “fitness model” look.
One thing I notice about many of the young internet fitness counselors is that they don’t seem to direct their efforts to older or truly obese individuals, but more the vanity market. Many times people who need real workout and diet solutions have unmet health needs that aren’t remotely similar to the lifestyle of a fitness model. How do you adapt to those type customers?
Again that is my target demographic. I can help everyone, but there are far more individuals like the ones you’re describing who need help, but don’t prefer to live a fitness model lifestyle. My angle is just that if I can get shredded to the bone at under 5% body fat then why can’t I help the average person get under 15% body fat?
In fact, right this moment ALL of my clients are men and women aged 25-40 who just wanna be healthy. You have to approach these kinds of people with a sustainable plan for the long term and not some cookie cutter hardcore approach. Most people will quit if you push too hard too fast. Ease people into something sustainable and give them the confidence that they can maintain it long term.
In a very broad, general sense, what are one or two fitness roadblocks that many people have to overcome?
Consistency hands down. Many people go to the gym for a few weeks or months, but then quit. Just like it can take years to become obese, it can take the same amount of time to get in the shape that a person might be envisioning.
In todays world EVERYONE wants instant results and gratification. Nobody wants to put in hard work and be consistent. People need to realize motivation doesn’t last, discipline & consistency is what sets successful people apart from others. —Tanner Chidester
What is your ultimate career goal, Tanner?
My ultimate career goal is to help as many people as possible while building a million dollar plus business per year. I’ve never been a materialistic individual but I’ve always wanted to be able at any time to take care of anyone in my family financially. I never want money to be an issue during my lifetime.
If people want to reach out to you specifically for fitness counseling, what is the best way to contact you?
Email is best – email@example.com
So, let’s backtrack now! Tell us about how you grew up near Houston, TX? You came from a big family.What was that like? What were you like in high school?
Being in a big family at times was difficult. I had to work for anything I wanted, and you can imagine the fights that went down with 7 children in the house. I am super grateful now though because it taught me hard work and discipline. Kids who have everything handed to them don’t know how to work hard and struggle in their 20’s usually.
You attended college and played football at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Why BYU? For readers who don’t know, BYU is an excellent academic institution what is affiliated with the conservative Mormon religious faith. What was the BYU experience like for you? And you were a linebacker, so you liked tackling people, huh? ☺
Honestly, it was my best opportunity to play college football, and I was raised LDS so my entire family wanted me to go there. If I’m being honest I didn’t enjoy it for various reasons that I won’t delve into, but again all experiences in life teach us valuable lessons. I did play linebacker and loved it! I always liked playing defense over offense because if I didn’t get the ball every single play, I didn’t like it lol.
Tell us how you arrived at fitness modeling.
When I started my fitness business I saw it as a way to promote myself. I did one local shoot which got me noticed by another local photographer. After that I got noticed by one of the biggest photographers in the industry –Michael Downs. He is the one who kind of gave me my big break and put me out in front of the industry. We’re still good friends to this day, and after I shot with him things just started to escalate into more and more photo shoots and opportunities.
Tanner, you have been photographed in a lot of sexy, revealing images. Did you get a lot of grief from family and friends? Was this a shock to the BYU community?
Absolutely I did. But if you knew me personally you would know I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I always do what I feel is in my best interest to reach my goals. At the time I thought it would bring me a following (which it did) but it brought me the wrong type. You want people to follow you for what you say and preach and not how you look.
All those images brought me followers who idolized me sexually and not for what I was teaching, that’s why today I regret it and no longer shoot revealing images. It’s much more important WHO follows you and not so much how many people follow you.
So, you regret posing for some of your more provocative modeling work. Do you think fitness modeling is too edgy and sexual?
Yes I do. I believe it is becoming a very sexual industry. Go look at fitness model pages and most are wearing next to nothing (especially on female pages). There’s a definite difference in motivation and inspiration as opposed to straight-up soft-core porn. I admit I used to be a part of the problem, but that’s why now if you go to my pages you won’t see any provocative pictures anymore. I either delete them or crop them up so they can help and inspire others, but also not be as sexual.
Steve Cook in my opinion has done things the right way from day 1. If I could go back in time, I would have taken a similar approach. He has never taken any provocative photos and has built a massive following, and the respect of many. People always wanna take the easy route (myself included at the time) but it’s so much more fulfilling to maybe take longer to build a following the “right way.”
Obviously, male fitness modeling attracts a disproportionately gay male audience. Given your background, has this ever been a challenge or point of discomfort for you?
It was at first, only because I wasn’t used to it. I mean I went to BYU for heavens sakes lol. Now, not even a little! In fact my best friend (who will one day be my best man at my wedding) is gay. I have no problem with anyone who lives that lifestyle. In fact I’m glad I started modeling because it led me to meeting so many great individuals that I never would otherwise. Off the top of my head, people like: Golden Czermak. Allan Spiers, Abel Cruz, Jorge Freire, and Luis Rafael. All of them are not only top photographers who have huge hearts, but are great people. I never would have met them otherwise.
What do you find most rewarding and enjoyable about modeling? Do you find satisfaction in expressing yourself creatively with your body?
It just feels good to show off all my hard work and to know it might help inspire even one person to make a change; that’s enough for me. After football ended, I never wanted to just live a “normal life.” I’ve always wanted to make a name for myself and be the best I can be.
What advice would you give aspiring young fitness models? What pitfalls might you warn them about?
- Get in shape. So many people talk to me about modeling, but they aren’t even physically ready yet. Diet down, get shredded, and THEN you can reach out to photographers.
- Get noticed. Shoot with a local photographer and start marketing yourself. I was discovered by Michael Downs that way and from there things just blew up.
- Stay away from sexy shots. Once it’s on the internet there is no taking it back down. While it might not kill or hurt your career, in my opinion it’s not necessary and brings the wrong attention. If your goal is to build a business and inspire people to lose weight there are no reasons for those images.
You talked about shooting with popular photographer Michael Downs. What was that experience like for you?
I’ve shot with Michael 3 times. It’s always a fun experience and me and Michael also have a great personal relationship. I would hang out with him regardless if he was shooting me or not, which is always a bonus.
You have shot with so many of the top fitness photographers, Tanner. And made numerous magazine covers. Tell us a strange/funny/unusual experience you had on a shoot.What was your favorite shoot to do?
Funny experiences always include shooting in public locations. At malls, parks, fountains, people will stare and point and I always get a kick out of it lol. Honestly about 90% of my shoots I have loved. I won’t name everyone because that could take a while lol.
Tanner, you were considering doing physique competitions, but changed your mind. Tell us what happened.
Getting ready for a show is very draining and takes extreme dedication.Sometimes you have to sacrifice too much at the time.
Cutting business hours, social events, etc. are all factors I have to look at. If I feel an area of my life is suffering too much I’ll pull back from a show. I can always do a show but my business and family have to always come first.
I am prepping for a show in December right now though, and things are going very smoothly. I will keep you updated through social media.
Personally, what would be your ideal weight and body fat?
I like being fairly lean between 5-8%. I don’t think I’ll ever be 215 pounds at that percentage but that would be my sweet spot. Right now I am around 190-195 at the body fat percentage.
Upon reflection, describe your personality.
Funny, outgoing, disciplined, untrusting (you have to earn my trust), loyal, ambitious.
Tell us about being one of Dallas’ hottest eligible bachelors in 2014 for TV’s “Inside Edition.”
Haha that was a fun experience! I didn’t like that we shot for practically 12 hours,and they only used about 5 minutes of footage. It was definitely cool being selected for it.
Now, the Flash Bulb Rounds…fast, quick, simple answers:
–Favorite all-time movie? “Inception” or “The Dark Knight”
–Favorite college & NFL team? Texas A&M and Houston Texans
–TWO exercises that you find most beneficial to you? Squats and bench press
–Favorite sin food? Pizza and brownies
–Favorite underwear brand and style? Lol I just wear Hanes briefs
–What do you wear to bed typically? Briefs
–What TWO physical attributes do people compliment you on the most? Arms and legs
–Most famous person whom you have met? Terrell Owens (NFL receiver)
–Favorite vacation site? Bahamas
–One thing people would be surprised to know about you? I play piano
Tell us the best ways for fans to reach out to you on social media?
Direct messages. I read all my messages and will respond as long as it’s nothing sexual, weird or just “hi.” Get straight to the point lol.
You can find Tanner Chidester on social media and the web at:
You can follow photographer Kyle Navarette at: