Try to track down Elyse Knowles on the weekend, and chances are you’ll find her outside. Camping, motor biking, walking her dog Isla, surfing with partner Josh Barker.
“Nature brings a smile to my face,” says the model, entrepreneur and former Women's Health cover star, who shot to fame after winning reno show The Block with Josh in 2017. “It’s so important for kids to travel, and teenagers to learn how bloody good we have it in Australia, and how wonderful our country is.”
The great outdoors gives so much to the 25-year-old, who is the new ambassador for health powder Vital All-In-One, and she’s determined to give back where she can. Starting with a surprising addition to her beach days…
What’s your approach when it comes to the environment?
Living on the beach, you see how much rubbish is around and how careless people are. It’s a footprint we’re making and we’re so oblivious to it. So, every time Josh and I go for a walk we take a bin with us and we pick up rubbish. It’s a time we have together, and we just talk and compare how much crap we’ve picked up basically. How many straws, and what that straw would do to a turtle if it got stuck with it. You find some amazing things: huge plastic garbage bags, materials from construction sites, syringes… The other day I went for a walk and this guy was teeing off golf balls into the ocean. And it’s like, ‘you idiot, what are you doing? Do you not understand the effect that golf ball will have once a fish swallows it?’
What other changes have you made?
No plastic bags, so I’ve always got recyclable bags on me. Green bins, and always shopping at markets. Making sure that the produce I’m getting is fresh, natural and from organic [sources]. With meat and seafood, you don’t know what’s happening to all the animals and how it’s been processed, so if I know I’m getting it from the right source and they’re doing the right thing, then it’s okay.
How do you love spending time outdoors?
We always try to get away on the weekends and escape from the routine. We go down to the beach – Josh will surf and I’ll go for a long walk with the dog if it’s cold. If it’s warm, I’ll get in [the water]. He taught me how to surf! We love just spending time together and doing adventurous things, getting back to basics, coming back down to ground level, getting away from technology and signing off, and then coming back for a new week. We’ll go to the river, motorbike riding and things like that. Sleep in a shed, live in the dirt, live off a fire and cook your own food. It’s fun. That’s how I was brought up, doing those adventurous things out in the environment and just embracing where we live.
How did the surfing lesson go?
Depends on what day it was! But I have fun. If Josh is there with me to save me, we’re good. There have been a few times in Byron [Bay]… I love surfing up there because there are cruisy little waves and it’s warm, warm water. This one time, I was so pumped, I got this ripper wave. I was like walking up and down and then I surfed right into the rocks, and I literally felt like I was drowning. Josh had to come over and he was like “take the board off your leg!”, and he got me on his board. Mine went flying. Then a magical moment happened, and we saw about 10 dolphins! I was crying and then dolphins come flying at me... And then I was like “You go get the board, I’m not going back out there!”
Let’s talk nutrition. What’s your philosophy?
Everything you put in your body, you’ll have an outcome from it. And with busy schedules and so much on our plate these days, looking after your body is key. I’ve been using Vital since I was 17 years old – when you find something that works, you stick to it. Health gives me energy, positivity, confidence, strength, and it gives me empowerment to do whatever I want to do. I set my goals pretty damn high, so I need everything I can get to try to achieve them.
What are your pantry and fridge staples?
Frozen bananas, eggs, fish, chicken, goat’s cheese, vegies, pesto, raspberries. I go to the market and buy four packs of raspberries, and only two will come home. I’ll have one walking around the market, one in the car. Every now and then, I’ll make batches of healthy treats, too. I put so much in one bliss ball it’s not funny: dates, crushed almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peppermint essence sometimes, cacao, a bit of coconut oil to make them stick together. Whatever I can find.
Lastly, tell us a surprising fact about you.
I was a really, really shy child and teenager, and found it hard to speak my thoughts and have confidence to stand up for myself. I think I’m coming into myself, as I get older. Now I have confidence to speak my own words and just embrace who I am. Also I hate blood and guts and images like that. I’ll faint. I’ll go down. No scary movies for me. I’m all about happy, funny comedies.