That Bridget Hicks has had an affinity with gyms is undeniable for a sporty type who started working out in Hawke's Bay when she was only 15.
But little did Hicks know her flirtation with a discipline at a Havelock North gym was going to shape her into a walking billboard for a health and fitness industry in another country, Australia, more than a decade later.
The 27-year-old from Hastings was crowned ANB Miss Queensland Fitness Model last Saturday after claiming the fitness model novice and fitness model open categories on the Gold Coast.
Hicks, who left here in 2009 as an 18-year-old with her partner, Adam Vernon, 32, of Hastings, for the Gold Coast, qualified as a personal trainer there.
Last Saturday she had entered her maiden competition, which runs simultaneously in other Australian states under the official umbrella of the Australasian Natural Bodybuilding Federation.
"I considered competing a couple of years ago and didn't but then thought why not this year," says Hicks.
Weight training forms part of the nucleus of her profession and is quite addictive, she says.
Her motivation came from fans urging her to take up model fitness, which she hastens to clarify isn't bodybuilding.
"Having my own business now I thought it was a perfect opportunity to kind of get more business as well."
The former Havelock North High School pupil will compete in the Australian Nationals Oxygen Fitness & Model Championship at the Marconi Club in Sydney tomorrow to see if her fairytale run continues.
"Basically I was just out of high school and I didn't know what I really wanted to do," she says.
Hicks and Vernon run their own trainer/owner personal fitness businesses. Her business, BH Fitness, also offers online mentoring which entails everything from healthy eating tips to effective working out.
"I have been coaching a few Kiwis from the Gold Coast who have had great results," she says.
Vernon's into bodybuilding as well but he doesn't compete although he supported her all the way last Saturday.
"We moved over here for an experience, I guess, but we never guessed we'd stay this long and we are still here," she says after they sat a personal training course together and started lapping up the lifestyle.
No doubt it requires immense dedication and huge sacrifices over 16 weeks, on the foundation of hard work, to enter never mind the mental fortitude.
"It's not an easy preparation," she says, revealing she has had to embrace a regimented training programme two hours each day on a strict high-protein diet, including some natural supplementation. "I don't mind the training because it changes closer to the show."
Hicks says it becomes difficult to maintain a social life because sumptuous dinners and drinks are out. She tries to stay away from those types of situations.
However, she reconciles that with the fact that she's only human and rewards herself a treat or cheat food, such as a healthy burger, once a week "up to a certain point".
Tomorrow, she'll be delighted to simply make it onto the podium against pedigree opposition.
"I don't expect to win anything because I'll be up against some really hard competition."
She hopes to give it her all in flying the Queensland flag.
The New Zealand ANB NZ International beckons at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland, the following Saturday but Hicks isn't committing to that until after tomorrow when she sees how she fares in Sydney.
"It'll be awesome to go to it," she says, mindful it'll be more practical and affordable for her parents, Lisa and Mike Hicks, to watch her on stage again after they cheered her to accolades on the Gold Coast.
"They are over the moon and super proud to come and watch me," she says after they jetted back to the Bay last Sunday.
A fellow Kiwi, Karen Plum, formerly of Nelson, has been coaching Hicks in the 16 weeks leading to last Saturday's competition. "I did my research and she was looking good so I contacted her and she's been great."
While Hicks will be visiting her family in January, she has no immediate plans to return here because the couple is doing so well there in Australia.