But after laying down the gauntlet in November’s issue of Men’s Health, when we launched the competition, we received hundreds of outstanding entries from readers across Australia hoping to appear on our April 2010 cover. As we sifted through the entries it quickly became apparent: this year’s competition was going to be extremely tight.
We’d made it clear. We wanted real blokes rather than bodybuilders. Ordinary guys who manage to strike a balance between work and play, family and mates, broccoli and beer. We got it, by the bagful. After days of careful deliberation, the judges settled on 12 candidates they believed truly embodied the spirit of the publication. These 12 were invited to attend a two-day photo shoot in Sydney.
Meeting at the boutique Diamant Hotel in Potts Point on January 20, this diverse group of hopefuls got their first opportunity to mingle and share their stories. From 24-year-old P.E. student Jack Swift, who lost the lower part of his right leg in a workplace accident, to 37-year-old ex-AFL footballer Kym Koster, who’s raising two young boys after the break up of his first marriage several years ago, the candidates proved to be a group united by a passion for health and fitness and a commitment to leading full, well-balanced lives.
Day one of the shoot at Sun Studios in Alexandria saw the candidates divided into two groups to be shot in the morning and afternoon respectively. Each group posed for photographer Justin Aveling, chatted with the judges - editor Bruce Ritchie, art director David Ashford and Aveling himself - and filed video and magazine interviews with MH staff. With most of the group appearing in front of the camera for the first time, nerves jangled and brows glowed with perspiration, but throughout the process the candidates maintained their professionalism and sense of humour. Their growing media savvy was further enhanced with a sophisticated group shot with Shelly Horton for the Sun-Herald, as part of a story that appeared in the paper’s Sunday January 24 edition.
Day two at South Curl Curl on Sydney’s northern beaches wasn’t for the faint hearted, with a 5am shoot time and 40-degree heat to contend with. Once again the candidates acquitted themselves admirably, nailing the all-important location shots. The trip concluded with lunch at Manly Wharf Hotel, where, after two gruelling days, the boys took the opportunity to loosen a belt buckle and enjoy a beer or two.
With such a tight field and so many quality shots in the can, choosing six finalists to attend our awards evening at ECQ Bar at Sydney’s Circular Quay in March to compete for the three awards on offer – the 2010 Men’s Health Man, the Face of the Year and the Women’s Health Readers’ Choice – was an unenviable task.Thousands of you logged onto yahoo7.com.au/menshealth to give us your thoughts on the six finalists that were eventually chosen. From there, after much deliberation, the judges decided that down-to-earth father-of-two Kym Koster was our man.A two-time Adelaide Crows premiership player who last played AFL almost 10 years ago, Koster may have secured the cover, but we couldn’t go past 24-year-old Jack Swift for the Face of the Year.
The Women’s Health Readers’ Choice Award, as voted by readers at yahoo7.com.au/womenshealth, went to 27-year-old Ben Anderson whose good looks and knockabout country-boy charm made him the kind of electrician any woman would want to come over to fix a broken fuse.
So there you have it. Our three awards went to three blokes making the best of their lives and continuing to look for ways to improve them. Sound familiar? It’s the kind of attitude Men’s Health actively promotes every month. These blokes are the living, breathing embodiment of what you can achieve if you put that attitude into practice.