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Not your average cover model

Chance led Jason Baca to a unique modelling career.

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At OptiMYz, we focus on the legion health benefits of fitness and shy away from fitness as a means to achieving a certain look. Today we’re breaking that tradition to give you a glimpse into the life of someone whose fitness regime is his job.

You may not know it, but the people gracing the cover of your favourite guilty-pleasure romance novel are not illustrations. This summer, we got the chance to talk with one of the most prominent cover models, Jason Baca.

OptiMYz: How did you get started in this industry? What peaked your interest?
Jason Baca: I got started in romance cover modeling back in 2006. I had been an advertisement model previously. I found out about romance books after walking through a bookstore and noticing one. The guy on the cover was in terrific shape. I looked over the cover and decided this was something I really wanted to do. I knew that if I wanted to do something like this that it would take 100% devotion and that I needed to be more passionate in the gym. It was something that got my wheels turning. It felt different, challenging, something unique, which is what I’ve always been drawn to.

O: What was your first shoot?
baca-first-modelJB: My first shoot was for a book called The Legend of Michael published by Sourcebooks Inc. which is a huge publisher to start out with. I was a nervous wreck on the day of the shoot. I remember the feeling all too well. I couldn’t calm myself. I wanted them to see me looking my best, in shape, toned up. I got so excited that I had to keep pulling over at each gas station to run to the restroom. I just couldn’t relax. Then I arrived at the studio and I walked in the door. A cool calmness washed over me like a wave. I knew at that moment, this was the beginning of something big.

O: What have you done to become such an in-demand model?
JB: Well I can’t give away all my secrets, but I can say a few. Moments before a shoot when the photographer studio people are working on their lighting is when I like to get the pump going. You never want to be in a photo shoot looking “flat.” You want to look pumped up. I bring a stretch cord or do push ups until I feel a nice burn in the muscles. Just a few minutes of this brings out muscularity and definition. I believe this is good for both men and women fitness models as well. It makes a world of difference when it comes to photos. The veins pop, the blood is flowing, circulating through the torso and legs. That’s what you want.

I believe it has kept me in demand for book covers. I always strive to have a better body. You can always look better, be fitter. I’m always looking at my book covers to see what I can do to improve. I never want to feel “satisfied” with where I’m at, but this keeps me improving. Now that I’m in my 40s, my muscles don’t respond to working out and eating whatever I want. I eat a balanced diet now and only come off the diet one day per week enjoy life and enjoy what I do as a cover model.

O: What is your favourite type of character to play in a photo shoot?
JB: I get this one a lot! I would have to say, my favorite character type is the hunky hero type, the macho man with the tough guy attitude, because it’s the furthest from my normal attitude in everyday life. It’s fun to step into that guy’s mentality.

O: What do you do to keep in shape? What sacrifices do you make compared to the average person?
JB: 1) No eating past 6pm at night. You’re body doesn’t need all those extra calories that late anyway.

2) Have a balanced diet of fish, meats, steamed asparagus and fresh spring water. I eat clean and feel good about it. When I see people give into their cravings then 20 minutes later when they are full say things like “oh why did I do that?” it’s a reminder to me that eating like this is the way to go. Diet is everything now. More than the gym even. I never used to sacrifice anything when it came to diet but was unimpressed with the photo results. I made this correction to my diet and have personally found it works wonders.

jasonbacabychristineposl1I work out 5 to 6 days per week for one solid hour. When I say one hour, I mean hard working out. It doesn’t mean fooling around, watching the TV on the overhead or chatting with friends for 5 minutes between sets. If someone comes up to me and wants to visit, I kindly shake their hand, pat them on the back and send them on their way.

O: What is your favourite part about being a model?
JB: My favorite part is the journey itself. All of this brings me a big rush; I absolutely love it. I’m an athlete by nature, I’m constantly active. Growing up I played high school and college baseball. Our coaches drilled us every day. We were running laps after practice or in the batting cages for hours. I believe that my upbringing and involvement in sports has kept me moving later in life. It’s not torture to go to the gym on tired days. I live for this.

O: Do you have an idea how many books have been sold with you on the cover?
JB: I would have to assume millions. There are currently 477 covers with a few pending release.

O: What do you do for recreation? Athletic and otherwise?
JB: That’s just it, my recreation is preparing for book covers. If I’m not in the gym, I’m eating for a cover. If I’m not doing that, I’m on a bike riding up a hill, or hiking up a steep mountain somewhere so that I can build up my quads.

O: How long will you keep doing this?
JB: Until my heart’s content. Things have taken off in the past year or so. I will allow it to take its course before I start paying attention to my age. The last thing a person should do is stop something they love for a number.

Photos courtesy of Jason Baca.

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