SHOCK WIN FOR male fit­ness model

It was an un­ex­pected but ex­cit­ing win for Chris Ol­wage from Auck­land’s North Shore when he picked up the NZ Fit­ness Model Search ti­tle at the NZ Fit­ness Expo in July.

New Zealand Fitness - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Lor­raine Thom­son

Chris was sur­prised to win the men’s cat­e­gory for the NZ Fit­ness Model Search, as it was not his in­ten­tion to en­ter. “A friend of mine en­tered me with­out con­sult­ing me and told me later – a week and a half out of the event. That meant I had to go into body shock mode,” he says, “tight­en­ing the reins on my diet”.

His friend Alexan­dra Co­hen, en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion as well in the women’s cat­e­gory, but didn’t make the top five.

“I en­tered this to sup­port my friend who was en­ter­ing. To win this was the cherry on the top. It made me feel quite warm and fuzzy in­side. Be­ing a dancer I knew how to work the stage – you have to ex­ude con­fi­dence and per­son­al­ity.”

Chris, how­ever, is no new comer to win­ning on stage.

In 2013 he won Mr Gay World in Bel­gium, fol­low­ing his win as Mr Gay New Zealand.

Last year he danced at the Com­mon­wealth Games as part of the Cul­tural Fes­ti­val.

Then there has been the Kiwi Clas­sic Show Dance. To­gether with dance part­ner Lisa Ju­rakovich, they won this in 2013 and 2014 – and they are look­ing to en­ter again next year.

But wait, that’s not all. Chris has been an en­trant in the New Zealand’s Got Ta­lent 2012 tele­vi­sion show and was lucky enough to be a semi-fi­nal­ist for his solo bal­let on point per­for­mance of The Fire­bird.

It has not, how­ever, been all plain sail­ing for Chris who in his early life suf­fered from child­hood obe­sity.

“I was 129kg at age 14 and con­se­quently suf­fered a lot of abuse and bul­ly­ing from other school kids.”

Chris tells me he suf­fered from de­pres­sion and tried to com­mit sui­cide, twice.

At af­ter school care he just helped him­self to lots of food. Then at home he would have lamb chops, veg­eta­bles and chips for din­ner. In the week­ends he would have lol­lies and ice cream.

“At the age of 15 I de­cided to change my life around. It has been a long process, he says – now aged 29 and weigh­ing 82kg.

Chris stopped eating junk food and com­fort eating to feel good – and started eating more reg­u­larly and healthy. He found a sport he re­ally en­joyed [tai chi] and also started karate. “The weight dropped very quickly af­ter that.”

Born in South Africa, at the age of 16 he came to New Zealand – a turn­ing point.

“No one knew me when I ar­rived and I was not as big as I used to be. It was a new lease of life.”

At Auck­land Univer­sity he stud­ied bio­med­i­cine and clas­si­cal stud­ies. At the age of 19 he went to his first ever gym class at the univer­sity recre­ation cen­tre. He then went on to com­plete a de­gree at Unitec in per­form­ing arts, ma­jor­ing in con­tem­po­rary arts.

At the New Zealand In­sti­tute of Health and Fit­ness he trained as a per­sonal trainer and fit­ness in­struc­tor, achiev­ing a Diploma in Per­sonal Train­ing.

Chris then be­came a fit­ness in­struc­tor at the Auck­land Univer­sity Recre­ation Cen­tre, where he has been for the past ten years.

“Be­ing a dancer I know how to work the stage – you have to ex­ude con­fi­dence and per­son­al­ity.”

— Chris Ol­wage

“I was there do­ing fit­ness classes and then started teach­ing classes [Zumba, Pump, Abs Butts Thighs, Power Yoga and Spin].”

He teaches any­thing be­tween 25 and 150 peo­ple per class, with Zumba be­ing the big puller. In ad­di­tion to the five classes a week Chris teaches at the gym, he also takes another five dance classes a week at Candy Lane Dance Stu­dios – and that’s bal­let, con­tem­po­rary dance, cabaret and bur­lesque.

He has chore­ographed a dance per­for­mance he calls Black Swan, which has been screened around the world. It is his per­sonal story of over­com­ing child­hood obe­sity. It is about chas­ing your dreams and over­com­ing bar­ri­ers. It is also about his scari­est mo­ment learn­ing to dance from scratch at the age of 22 and not be­ing flex­i­ble.

Then there is art! Chris tells me about his re­cent art ex­hi­bi­tion where his oil paint­ings de­pict­ing re­li­gious im­ages, chal­lenged the norm and where six dancers added to the vis­ual en­ter­tain­ment.

To keep on top of such an ac­tive life, Chris eats fairly much a Pa­leo diet – lots of clean food, fresh veg­eta­bles and fruit. He tends to stay away from car­bo­hy­drates and al­co­hol and drinks lots of wa­ter.

Ul­ti­mately, Chris has a goal to own his own in­te­grated arts stu­dio where he can teach peo­ple and em­power them to be bet­ter peo­ple through dance and self-ex­plo­ration.

NZ Fit­ness Model Search male win­ner Chris Ol­wage.

It is hard to be­lieve Chris, in his early life, suf­fered from child­hood obe­sity.

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