RE­AL­ITY CHECK

HE CAME TO NO­TICE AS AUS­TRALIA’S FIRST BACH­E­LOR. NOW TIM RO­BARDS IS EM­BARK­ING ON A NEW JOUR­NEY WITH HIS FIRST BOOK

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy JOHN FOTIADIS Styling SARAH FARRELL Words VIC­TO­RIA HANNAFORD

Tim Ro­bards is putting his Bach­e­lor days be­hind him to fo­cus on a new book and build­ing his fit­ness em­pire.

Whether or not you hap­pen to be a fan of re­al­ity-tv ro­mance, there’s no deny­ing the one thing that stands out when you meet Tim Ro­bards in the flesh: the man is good-look­ing.

Even as the 34-year-old rolls up to an in­ner-city cafe in Syd­ney to meet Stel­lar wear­ing an un­re­mark­able out­fit of train­ers, T-shirt and denim shorts, it’s ob­vi­ous why he was cho­sen to don a suit, arm him­self with roses and ro­mance a bevy of women for Aus­tralia’s first sea­son of The Bach­e­lor.

He’s tall, toned and ra­di­ates a con­fi­dence that comes from be­ing com­fort­able with his ap­pear­ance. But to­day, there’s a hint of ner­vous en­ergy, too. Fresh from a spon­sored stay overnight in some fancy digs, he plays a video he made of him­self work­ing out that’s in­tended for so­cial me­dia.

“I’ve been run­ning around like crazy this morn­ing,” he says. “I’m al­ways cre­at­ing videos for the brands I work with; I’m al­ways cre­at­ing con­tent.”

Since his de­but into the spot­light on the dat­ing show in 2013, Ro­bards and the wo­man he chose as his part­ner, Anna Hein­rich, 30, have not only re­mained in­tact as a cou­ple, but have man­aged to par­lay the ex­po­sure from their time on TV into ca­reers as “in­flu­encers”.

It’s a job de­scrip­tion that stems from hav­ing a large fol­low­ing on so­cial-me­dia plat­forms, par­tic­u­larly In­sta­gram, which forms an at­trac­tive prospect for brands want­ing to tap into a fan base.

But Ro­bards has more on his mind than his re­al­ity-tv be­gin­nings and so­cial-me­dia celebrity.

He’s penned a book, The 7:2:1 Plan, and while he’s clearly proud of his new project, he also seems a little ap­pre­hen­sive as he pre­pares to dis­cuss it pub­licly for the first time in an in­ter­view with Stel­lar.

“It’s a mix­ture,” he says of the book, re­veal­ing it matches advice about ex­er­cise with a straight­for­ward ap­proach to eat­ing well, draw­ing on his ex­pe­ri­ence as a per­sonal trainer and chi­ro­prac­tor. “I’ve done yoga and Pi­lates for years, and of all the re­hab I have learnt from a chi­ro­prac­tic point of view – I wanted to put the ba­sics in.

“I want to en­cour­age peo­ple to feel bet­ter; it’s not all about look­ing a cer­tain way or los­ing a cer­tain amount of ki­los. It’s about feel­ing good.”

As for the num­bers in the ti­tle, they re­fer to a sim­pli­fied take on health and nu­tri­tion, with Ro­bards rec­om­mend­ing 70 per cent of meals be “su­per-clean”, 20 per cent be “sen­si­ble”, and 10 per cent be “re­laxed”. The lat­ter, he ex­plains, could be French toast or pizza for two meals per week.

“There are so many dif­fer­ent diet fads out there that are de­priv­ing you, and there are a lot that aren’t sus­tain­able. 7:2:1 is get­ting the sim­ple things right, so you’re not de­priv­ing your­self. Peo­ple get too up­tight about their food. I want peo­ple to cel­e­brate their 10 per cent [of re­laxed eat­ing],” he says.

In the book’s early pages, Ro­bards out­lines his “food phi­los­o­phy” and dis­tances him­self from spe­cific trends in health and well­be­ing; he makes it clear he doesn’t pro­mote a strict Pa­leo diet. In­stead, he’s keen to show­case his ed­u­ca­tion (he has a de­gree in physics, a de­gree in med­i­cal sci­ence and a Mas­ter of Chi­ro­prac­tic) and makes sure the book doesn’t veer into the realm of what he refers to as “big claims”.

“Cre­den­tials help to back up what you’re say­ing, but I’m just try­ing to get the sim­ple stuff right,” he says. “I think it’s re­spon­si­ble on my be­half. I look back to ideas like what our grand­par­ents ate.”

In per­son, there are also plat­i­tudes about work-life bal­ance and want­ing

“Mum would be on the couch hav­ing turns and we’d call the am­bu­lance. It was pretty stress­ful as a young one”

to be in­spi­ra­tional. But be­yond the so­cial-me­dia friendly ve­neer of im­pos­si­bly white teeth, honed biceps and a chis­elled jaw, the con­ver­sa­tion takes a more in­ter­est­ing turn to­wards vul­ner­a­bil­ity when Ro­bards dis­cusses the in­tro­duc­tion in his book.

The pages, which in­clude some can­did pho­to­graphs from his child­hood, re­veal that his in­ter­est in health first started with his fam­ily. He ded­i­cates the book to his ma­ter­nal grand­mother, Doreen, who prac­tised tai chi and had an in­ter­est in Chi­nese medicine, but it’s a de­scrip­tion of his mother Tanya’s strug­gle with an un­di­ag­nosed ill­ness dur­ing his child­hood that is most re­veal­ing. Shortly af­ter hav­ing her youngest son, James, Tanya started hav­ing fits, and Ro­bards, who was around 13 at the time, says he and his younger sis­ter, An­gela, who was 10, had to take charge. He re­calls it as a scary time for them both.

“Mum would be on the couch hav­ing turns, [we would be] hav­ing to call the am­bu­lance, and they get there and don’t know what to do, and you don’t know if your mum is about to cark it; it was pretty stress­ful as a young one,” he says.

“She was di­ag­nosed with ev­ery­thing from chronic fa­tigue to nar­colepsy, and in the end it was more of an is­sue with nerves and in­flam­ma­tion on the spine. It was seven years un­til grad­u­ally the turns started com­ing less and less. She would have them ev­ery cou­ple of weeks and she would be bedrid­den for days.

“For Mum, it was a hard time be­cause she couldn’t be there for my little brother as much as she would have liked.”

Ro­bards says the ex­pe­ri­ence made him grow up quickly, which is un­der­lined by photos pub­lished in the book that cap­ture him bot­tle-feed­ing James as an in­fant. Yet he man­ages to put a pos­i­tive spin on the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“In a way, it was good be­cause we had to learn,” he says. “I had to half-raise my brother, make my lunches, cook din­ners and do all that sort of stuff, so that was good. Mum had us clean­ing the show­ers for a bit of ex­tra pocket money.”

When Stel­lar speaks to Tanya a cou­ple of days later, she re­flects upon

“I owe The Bach­e­lor so much be­cause I found a good girl through it. I’m a quiet guy, but I re­ally grew as a man”

the past with a sim­i­lar pos­i­tiv­ity. As a nurse, she has also seen the ef­fect that poor health can have on peo­ple’s lives, and is philo­soph­i­cal about her ill­ness dur­ing her son’s child­hood.

“You get chal­lenges in life,” she says. “I’m very proud of Tim and his sis­ter. My daily liv­ing was com­pro­mised and you feel a whole lot of guilt as a mum, think­ing, ‘I should be do­ing more than this,’ but they stepped up to the mark and it gave them an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally show what they’re able to con­trib­ute, and they cer­tainly did. There’s no longer any guilt be­cause that set An­gela and Tim up as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Tanya is equally proud of Ro­bards’s de­ci­sion to use his time in the spot­light to pro­mote health and well­be­ing. “Be­ing high-pro­file gives him a place where he can have a fair in­flu­ence on peo­ple,” she says. “He can put for­ward his story and not ev­ery­one gets that chance. He’s worked hard and he has been ded­i­cated; I think he’s got a good ground­ing.”

RO­BARDS’S DE­CI­SION TO cap­i­talise on his fame and start a busi­ness in the well­ness in­dus­try is far from un­charted. He fol­lows in the foot­steps of Michelle Bridges, who also rose to promi­nence through a re­al­ity-tv show – in her case The Big­gest Loser – and then built an em­pire based on her diet and fit­ness pro­gram. In 2015, she joined the BRW Rich Women List with an es­ti­mated net worth of $53 mil­lion. For Ro­bards, his well­be­ing em­pire might still be in its in­fancy, but he’s al­ready spruik­ing ex­er­cise equip­ment, an app and his own ex­er­cise pro­gram.

With the re­lease of The 7:2:1 Plan, he’s also hop­ing to cre­ate a dis­tinct iden­tity sep­a­rate to his role as Aus­tralia’s in­au­gu­ral Bach­e­lor. He wants to be known as more than one half of Tim-and-anna, and while Hein­rich ap­pears in some of the book’s pho­tog­ra­phy, she’s very much a sec­ondary pres­ence.

“I owe The Bach­e­lor so much, be­cause I found a great girl through it,” he ad­mits. “It was a re­ally good, strength­en­ing time for me. I’m a quiet guy, but I re­ally grew as a man.

“As much as Anna and I do so much to­gether, this [book] is me as a pro­fes­sional. I’ve been in the fit­ness in­dus­try for 15 years. This is my book, and I wanted to have all my clos­est peo­ple in there; Anna gets an equal share with the rest of the fam­ily.”

But Ro­bards hasn’t man­aged to com­pletely leave be­hind the re­al­ity-tv per­sona that made him and Hein­rich house­hold names. While he might be happy to talk at length about his love of sci­ence – he pep­pers con­ver­sa­tion with ref­er­ences to physics and Ein­stein – he’s still the guy who broke hearts on The Bach­e­lor. At one point, mid-flow in a sen­tence about the im­por­tance of epi­ge­net­ics, he gets sud­denly dis­tracted by the sight of his own re­flec­tion in a win­dow opposite his perch in the cafe.

Be it the soap-star looks, or the fact that his Tv-born ro­mance has sur­vived, but con­sen­sus is that most Aus­tralians still con­sider him the orig­i­nal and best Bach­e­lor from across the tele­vi­sion show’s four sea­sons.

“I’ll take that,” he says with a laugh.

TIM WEARS Witch­ery shirt, trousers and shoes, witch­ery.com; (opposite) Witch­ery knit and T-shirt, as be­fore

TIM WEARS Witch­ery coat, knit, pants and shoes, witch­ery.com

COM­ING UP ROSES (clock­wise from above left) Tim Ro­bards with girlfriend Anna Hein­rich last month; on The Bach­e­lor in 2013; at age six with his mother Tanya and younger sis­ter An­gela on hol­i­day in Maui.

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