While The Bachelorette contender Apollo may have stunned star Sophie Monk with his shirtless scenes on the reality dating show, his physique hasn’t always been quite so chiselled.
“Apollo, you have a B-cup of muscle!” Sophie joked after seeing him topless on Thursday night’s episode.
But the 24-year-old magician from the Gold Coast has revealed he suffered a heart attack aged only 22, forcing him to reassess his health and fitness priorities.
At the time of his 2015 health scare, Apollo – whose real name is Jake – weighed 150 kilograms and was battling mental health issues.
“I went through a rough patch and let myself go and ended up overweight,” he tells The New Daily.
“I was going through some stuff at the time and had a bit of depression. I ended up having a heart attack and then came out of that and reevaluated what was important.”
That involved a career change from security guard to magician, as well as a focus on de-stressing and getting into shape.
“You don’t expect it, you think you’re bulletproof at 22,” Apollo says, “Coming back from that had a lot to do with mental health.”
The fitness fanatic regained his confidence and his wellbeing with a focus on staying active but relaxed, hitting the gym four times a week and walking, surfing or swimming in between.
An avid cook, he also swapped fast food for healthier home-cooked meals.
“I love making pasta, I make a good pasta from scratch and I’m a big stir fry fan. I eat stir fries three times a week because they’re so easy and tasty. And then steak, chicken and lots of veggies. I like to mix things up in the kitchen.”
Apollo says he was able to stick to this healthy habits during his time in the Bachelorette mansion and would often cook dinner for the other contestants.
“I’d cook these massive helpings and we’d play basketball and train in the gym together,” he says.
Still, with all that competition and emotional turmoil, Apollo says he had to treat himself on a daily basis.
“I’m going to throw it out there – I was eating a block of chocolate a night when I was in the mansion,” he admits.
“Chocolate and wine is my jam, so I went a bit crazy. I was having a block of rum and raisin chocolate and a glass of wine before bed every night.”
As one of the youngest in the competition, Apollo has raised some questions over whether the age gap between himself and 37-year-old Sophie is too great.
“I’ve always said it’s all about the connection. It has nothing to do with age or cultural background,” Apollo says.
After the premiere – which he watched with his 94-year-old grandma – Apollo admits he’s been getting plenty of attention, especially on social media.
“There was a bit of an influx [of followers] – in the tens of thousands,” he reveals.
“It’s still going up now. It’s crazy. Today I just woke up and cleaned the house, did some washing and bought groceries and people were texting and calling me saying, ‘You’re in the paper’. I’m like, ‘No, I’m just buying a donut’.”
Sophie’s first date scores a kiss
Farmer Jarrod caught Monk’s eye on the first night and claimed the first date of the season, as well as the first kiss.
He showed his nurturing side as the pair – both of whom feared heights – together challenged themselves to a high ropes course.
When Monk panicked, rather than urging her forward, he encouraged her to follow her instincts and go back.
“I just feel like today you really looked after me. And you weren’t selfish. Like, you didn’t say, ‘Keep doing it’, for your ego,” she said.
Visibly smitten, Jarrod admitted: “There’s definitely a possibility that I could fall in love here”.
— #BacheloretteAU (@BacheloretteAU) September 21, 2017
This was followed by a group date whereby Monk posed alongside her boyfriends in a fun, dress-up shoot.
With some evident nerves among the group of men without prior acting experience, Monk shared some words of wisdom to relax the mood.
“I think just relax and have fun. And because it is characters, just get in character and kind of a bit of acting in there.
“Well, you just try it. It’s just playing a character. It’s pretty easy. I’ve never had acting training and I’ve gotten a movie somehow.
“So just fake it till you make it.”
Monk shared an intimate moment with Blake, dressed in next to nothing in ‘Adam and Eve’ style leaf outfits, triggering jealousy among the boys including Sam who was singled out for the double-delight rose on the first night.
A rivalry has quickly emerged between Blake and Jarrod, after the farmer copied Blake’s idea of buying Monk her favourite kind of shoes – ugg boots – before parading around in them during the cocktail party.