BRANFORD — Jodi Harrison-Bauer, portfolio in hand, headed down to Miami this week to prepare to take her place in line among a sea of 20-something females starting at 5 a.m. on July 12.
The difference? She’s 58 and Sports Illustrated has never featured a swimsuit model over the age of 50 who’s not a celebrity or full-time model.
“I saw there were no specific age categories,” said Harrison-Bauer, mother of Elyssa, 30, a Florida-based marketing & event planner, and Alexis, 26, a New York publicist. “That was my loophole to go for it.”
Owner of JodiFit in Branford, Harrison-Bauer answered SI’s casting call by submitting a video produced by New Haven’s Mike Franzman. She’s intent on representing her demographic and empowering women to “break out of the box society loves to put us in”—coincidentally, her fitness center’s mantra.
“Whether I’m chosen or not. I’m doing this as another way to share who I am and encourage others along the way that it’s not too late to try something new,” said Harrison-Bauer, who combines 10 hours of resistance training and weight lifting with cardio each week to maintain her fitness.
“I’m 58 and I’ve never felt so confident in myself. I want to get my message out to all ages, but especially women over 50, to ignore expectations by being bold and stepping out of your comfort zone.”
In her 40s, Harrison-Bauer began competing in fitness shows, becoming a 2-time champion in the Fitness America and Fitness Universe Pageants, and appearing on the cover of Generations Magazine. At age 50, she opened JodiFit in Woodbridge to train women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, attracting a client base that spans from millennials to boomers. JodiFit on Branford’s Main Street followed three years later, in 2014.
“I don’t know how this next chapter will read but competing for inclusion in this swimsuit issue is another way of showing that age limits are something we impose on ourselves,” Harrison-Bauer said.
Count Branford’s Deidre Kovaci, 49, a client of Harrison-Bauer’s, as among those drawing inspiration from her trainer’s latest feat.
“Jodi’s mission is to show that women can look, and feel, fit and fabulous at any age. She lives that mission. She’s living it by putting herself out there in Miami.”
The casting call officially starts at 8 a.m. on Friday at the W South Beach as part of Miami Swim Week. Harrison-Bauer plans to be in line at 5 a.m.
A star-studded cast of swimsuit models, including Camille Kostek, Myla Dalbesio, and Danielle Herrington, will meet and mentor contestants through the process. On Sunday, July 14, those chosen for the next round will walk the runway with the pros at the big show.
Follow Harrison-Bauer on Instagram at @jodifit.