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