STEFAN POLLMANN was born in 1992 in a small German town close to the Dutch border, with a dream of becoming a professional soccer player. After playing for six years in Germany’s second highest league in a twist of faith he ended up as one of the most sought after male models on the scene.
Editor IGOR CVORO sits down with STEFAN POLLMANN to talk about his path from a soccer player to model, social media and nutrition.
Read the interview after the jump:
Who is Stefan?
A dad to my wonderful 2 year old daughter and a 27 year old guy from the north of Germany. While growing up I was always very shy, but I think that kind of decreased over time. I started playing soccer at a young age, after playing professionally for 6 years I got injured, so in the end it didn’t work out. I have learned a lot on the way for which I am very grateful till this day. Discipline and trust came in the process. I have also learned to be happy I only need a ball and a few friends.
For me being on a clear journey is probably the key to a happy and fulfilling life. Not about money or fame or any of these things, even though these are the ones you are aiming for at the first place.
After soccer how did you end up in modeling?
I was just wrapping up my soccer coach license and already had a contract to train a team of a dormitory for people with mental disabilities. Then my cousin got scouted by a model agency in Hamburg, so my aunt told me to try it too. A few weeks later in a moment of boredom I checked out that agency’s website and sent them some digitals, which my mom took of me in the garden! I signed the contract and a few months later I was in Paris for my first show season. That was 9 years ago!
I am forever grateful I was bored that day and sent in some photos. Big thanks to Frank, who was an Intern at that time, for not discarding my application which was one out of 80 that day.
Did you ever even consider modeling before that day?
Not only did I not think about it, I also had no idea what it even means. I thought I would do a local trade show every few months and earn some pocket money while studying. When I was sitting at the waiting room at the agency one of the agents was talking to another guy about working in Milan, that blew my mind. Until then I have only travelled a few times. I had no idea that to travel for work and make modeling a profession for many years could even be a possibility.
Can you remember your first modeling job?
My first job ever was actually the Tommy Hilfiger Lookbook in Amsterdam. At that time I was in Paris doing the castings for the shows and they booked me and Vinnie Wolston, who become someone to look up to over the years. That was a fun experience. They Booked us a super nice 5 star Hotel in the centre of Amsterdam and I thought: “It could be worse”. On the day of the shooting I had to call Vinnies room, because our cab was waiting outside, he was still asleep. I thought: “A real Rockstar“, but very quiet and super nice guy. I hope he doesn’t mind me telling the story! [laughs].
What’s the biggest misconception about the male modeling industry?
Hard to say. I think one misconception is definitely, that models are arrogant or stupid. In my experience almost everyone I met is very nice and friendly.
I like the quote by Albert Einstein, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university”. I think we should at least try to treat everyone with the same respect. In the end we are all the same. We come with nothing and we leave with nothing.
What advice could you give to young models starting out?
I think again you should always be friendly and respectful to everyone. Always try your best and try to get better. Even if you think a job you got booked on might be the shittiest job ever, you never know what it might lead to in the end.
Especially early on I think you should try to shoot as much as possible and just enjoy the process. Don’t worry about how silly you might look at some times. I also worked a lot with my Acting Coach Ina Holst in Germany and with several coaches in New York. It is definitely pushing out of your comfort zone and it helps to let go. You can learn a lot about your emotions and yourself. Nothing more beautiful than and vulnerable human being.
Important advice to all starting models out there, do your book keeping right and invest you money wisely, if you can…Don’t just spend it on expensive stuff, which doesn’t really add quality to your life. Educate yourself financially no matter how boring that might sound at first.
“Discipline and trust came along the way. I have also learned to be happy with simpler things in life I only need a ball and a few friends. “
Many models give up after only a season, what motivated you to persist early on?
Believe in Yourself and trust in the process and just enjoy the ride. The good times as well as the bed times. In my first years I had times were I spent weeks alone in Paris or London without booking any job and then you see other guys booking all these nice jobs and shows right away and you think: “Maybe this is not the best idea”, but again – trust in the process and work for it. This makes you appreciate good times even more. Booking a nice job and staying in a nice 5 star hotel feels even better, if you know how it is to share one room in bunk beds with 19 other people and share shower and toilets with about 50 people in New York. Don’t want to miss any of that.
What’s your most memorable shoot?
It was very early on, my second shooting for the Candy Magazine in London with Mariano Vivanco, Luke Day and Alex Box. I googled the magazine, when my agent Patsy told me about it. I only found guys dressed as women. If you need a laugh google Stefan Pollmann and Candy Magazine. Patsy told me: “Don’t worry you gonna work with a great team“. I have to say I had a fun day even tough it led to weird questions from my grand parents after they googled my name.
Aside from modelling social media also plays an important part in your career. Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started and how you found your own voice in the space?
In the beginning I simply enjoyed editing pictures and sharing my impressions from my travels with my friends and family. Later on I realised it is also a tool to express yourself and use it as a kind of an extended portfolio.
You are close to 200k follows only on IG, what is the advice you have for people who are trying to gain a following on social media?
That’s a tough question: Firstly, I think it is way more about who is following you, rather than how many Followers you have. And there is no one size fits all. Many accounts have a huge amount of followers and they only work with Smartphone Camera`s and others only use high Quality camera photos.
I think you should focus a lot on what you enjoy sharing and what message you want to get out there, if any.
“I love to learn new things and I love to see my daughter learning and growing as well. The best thing is to travel with my little family and explore new places and cultures. I think it`s all about getting wiser in life and maybe share what you learned with your close friends and kids.”
What’s your socials routine like?
I like to share a mix of my private life, my work, some behind the scenes and travel experiences. I also love to share ideas of books I’m currently reading or people I admire in their fields. May it be Health, Nutrition, Psychology or Philosophy. Love to see when people actually get the books that I recommended. But to be honest I still try to figure out how to optimally use social media.
Which Instagram accounts motivate you?
I love to see how Tim Ferriss @timferriss views the world. His Podcast is definitely worth listening too. Another Account love to follow is @__nitch, they share thoughts of great thinkers of our time. I think nowadays there are a lot of well and less known photographers out there to discover on Instagram. Can’t think of one account in specific that motivates me, but I like accounts, that do things differently than everyone else.
Your dream job?
I already had the pleasure to do a lot of great jobs with super talented and inspiring personalities. But my absolute dream would be to shoot a major fragrance campaign such as Armani, Calvin Klein or Paco Rabanne. Maybe even with my daughter! I’m very happy with all the jobs I was able to do so far. Big thanks at this point to all my agents, all the casting directors and people that made this happen.
What does a typical day in your week look like?
When I have to travel for a job. I usually wake up early, meditate for 10 minutes. Then I try to get in a workout before my flight. Usually have to rush to the airport as for some weird reason I am always late, no matter how early I wake up.
During flights and travel I love to listen to podcasts or read a good book. I actually stopped watching movies during flights. I write down things I’m grateful for and ideas I have, I think it´s always good to write down Ideas you have. Depending on exams I might also get some studying done, I do a distance course in business and psychology.
When I´m in a new city I always try to walk around and absorb the vibe of the people around me. I love to watch people.
What about your nutrition while travelling?
I start eating around 2-3pm as I do time restricted eating about 5 out of 7 days a week. When I do have a long flight to L.A or Sydney I even fast for 30 or more hours and only drink water and black coffee or tea. Starts Autophagy in your body and it helps with jet lag a lot or bloated belly. I try to go to bed on time and drink a lot during the day to look fresh for work. One secret Hack from my nutrition Coach Ricardo Riskalla – Eat 1 to 2 cucumbers, so you look a little leaner the next day. Cucumber is the strongest natural diuretic. I might also play with some potassium and salt intake.
What do you like to do when you have time off?
When I have a day off I try to wake up before our daughter and meditate. When she wakes up we play around for a while and then I´m ready to make breakfast for her. She usually tries to help. [laughs] In the summer we love to go to the beach with friends and family. When time allows I love to read and to play soccer. I also love to play Fifa on the PlayStation. I guess that’s still the kid in me! I never had a PlayStation growing up!
What do you enjoy the most in life?
I love to learn new things and I love to see my daughter learning new things. The best thing is to travel with my little family and explore new places and cultures. I think it`s all about getting wiser in life and maybe share what you learned with your close friends and kids.
Your personal passion or hidden talents?
My Passion is stoic Philosophy and Fitness and nutrition. I always try to keep up to date with the newest research and try to implement it in my life. I also love investing and the stock market. Love to analyse how companies work and why they work and others don`t. Little nerdy here. [laughs]
Fitness plays an important role in the life of a male model. You’re following a science-based work-out routine. What is the basic idea of the work-out?
I love to work out, but especially since I´m a dad I have a limited time schedule. So I try to train as effective as possible. The idea is to build muscle you need to accumulate volume over time to actually train more than you can recover, so your body is forced to get stronger. This principle is called super-compensation.
So, what does your training plan consist of?
My workout is based on periodization. So I start with a one week delaod, to reset my central nervous system and to delaod the accumulated volume I did over the past weeks. That’s very low intensity and volume. Then I increase the volume week by week, but I keep the intensity in form of weight per exercise the same. So I will start with about 2-3 sets for the main lifts and then add one set each week, without increasing the weight. After 4-5 weeks I reach the peak and I´m at my absolute max capacity that I can recover and I do the deload again and start the next cycle with slightly increased weights.
“Booking a nice job and staying in a nice 5 star hotel feels even better, if you know how it is to share one room in bunk beds with 19 other people and share shower and toilets with about 50 people in New York. Don’t want to miss any of that.”
Is there a rule how many times a week you should work out?
Right now I split my volume over 5-6 Workout a week. But you can get the same results training only 3 times a week. You just need to split the same volume in form of sets and intensity into those 3 sessions. So there is no one size fits all, but science suggests best results occur with hitting each muscle about 2 times each week. Local protein synthesis also slows down again after about 2-3 days after hitting a muscle, so it makes sense to set the next muscle stimulus 3 days after. If you work out too often or with more volume than you can actually recover from you collect a lot of junk volume, that just extends your recovery phase, but doesn’t do anything for muscle hypertrophy.
You recovery also gets influenced by sleep, nutrition, if you are in a caloric deficit or surplus and how much stress you have.
How important is nutrition when it comes to getting the perfect shape?
I think for the perfect shape nutrition is the tool no one can get around. To see abs and vascularity you need at least 8-10% body fat. To reach that goal you need to be in a caloric deficit. But to keep in mind while being in a deficit it´s almost impossible to grow muscles. Therefore you need a calorie surplus, unless you are a beginner or you have a very high body fat percentage.
I think once you grew some muscles and you want to shred down it is super important to be patient. Put yourself on a 200-500 calorie deficit a day and track your calories, my fitness pal is a good app for that. If you have a bigger deficits you might loose more muscle and it might be harder to stay with the diet. 1 kg of fat is about 7000Calories. I would rather recommend to go very slow and increase protein slightly in the diet to about 1,5 gramms of protein per Kilogram lean body mass. You don’t have to cut out carbs at all! That’s a big myth.
And what are the main things you should look out for?
Everyone is different and it might seem to go faster, but research shows in the long run a low fat and high carb diet works better for people. Don’t get me wrong fats are super important. Especially keep an eye on omega 3 to 6 ratio. And the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, you can only get them through fatty fish or algae. A 1 to 3 ratio with omega 3 to Omega 6 supports an anti inflammatory state in the body, so it also helps to decrease ageing. Most people in the western world have a 1 to 15 ratio or higher, which also leads to a lot of health problems. Even my ratio was 1 to 9 before I started supplementing Omega 3.
Also I would suggest cutting out alcohol and sugar in all forms, if possible, and
I would also suggest a plant based diet. Especially for health and ageing reasons.
Do you have any beauty routine you stick to daily?
I use a good moisturiser in the morning and in the evening. In the night I´m cleaning my face with micellar water. Except that I think its most important to have a good diet. Have your Omega 3 levels right do decrease inflammation wrinkles and acne are only sign of inflammation and ageing, but I like my wrinkles [laughs]. I supplement with Vitamin D, most people have very low levels or even a deficits, especially in winter months. It´s not really a vitamin, its more a hormone that effects many processes in our body. My skin also got way better, when I cut out animal products and especially dairy products. If your digestive system doesn’t work well, you can`t absorb the right nutrients and that might also show sooner or later in your skin. Last but not least I drink about 4-5 litres of water every day.
5 facts about you people may not know.
1. I don´t drink any Alcohol for about 5-6 years now.
2. I don’t like partying at all.
3. I study on the side.
4. I´m plant based since for 6-7 Years now excepts fatty fish about once a month. I did it mostly for health reason and due to skin problems. I´m currently cutting out fish too, just need to find a good Omega 3 supplement that gets absorbed as good as Omega 3 from fish.
5. I`m left handed
Name three places that you want to travel to.
1. China. I wanna visit my friend Hao in Beijing.
2. We are planning a trip to Costa Rica this summer.
3. I used to live in Tokyo for about 7 months, but I would like to show my family this incredible place.
What’s on your current playlist?
Currently there is a lot of German Rap, which I listen to during Workouts – SSIO, GZUZ, Haftbefehl, Genetikk, Trettmann. On the other Side I love old Music like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
What are your plans for the future?
I enjoy the ride and travelling the world with my little family. The plan for the next weeks is to start a Spanish Course, since we live in Barcelona right now and my daughter is almost speaking more Spanish than me. I also have a few other things in mind, but nothing ready to announce yet.
Keep up with Stefan on @stefan_pollmann
Photographer Jose Martínez – josemartinezphoto.es
Stylist Beñat Yanci
Makeup and hair Laura Gallardo
Model Stefan Pollmann at Sight Management