At our beachside photoshoot in Sydney, our photographer is snapping Elyse Knowles The Model – a side of the 25-year-old pro that’s landed her major campaigns for brands including Bras N Things, Billabong and EMU Australia, not to mention an epic new gig as the face of iconic Aussie brand Seafolly. Another side to Knowles? The self-described tomboy, who loves skateboarding, motorbiking, camping, wakeboarding, skiiing, snowboarding, surfing... everything active, really.
“I just like to give anything a crack,” she tells us. “I’ve always had this saying that if a boy can do it, I can do it, too.”
This may not surprise fans of The Block who watched Knowles get stuck into a reno and be crowned the show’s record-breaking winner with her partner, carpenter Josh Barker. The nation was smitten with her warmth, hard graft, grit and positivity, not to mention that infectious laugh (“people want it on a ringtone!”). It’s safe to say 2017 was the year Australia fell in love with Elyse Knowles. And, as we chat about future ambitions, resilience and the power of sweating like a pig, it’s really not hard to see why.
2017 WAS HUGE FOR YOU! HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK ON IT?
I never thought any of this could happen to me, but I’m super appreciative! I came out of the TV show alive [laughs] and with a smile on my face. It was something completely different and pushed me in different ways, but it was good because I found new hobbies and talents. And then I travelled to Timor-Leste [in South-East Asia] for WaterAid [she’s an ambassador]. Going there really grounded me again and made me appreciate every single thing we have in Australia. We turn the tap on every morning and don’t even think twice about it. People [there] have none of that. They’re getting sick because they have no sanitation. It’s sad ... but then [we] get to come back to Australia and express what’s happening so others can help, too.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY ON A PLATE LOOK LIKE?
I don’t really drink coffee, but I have lots of water. Breakfast might be scrambled eggs with a little bit of pesto, goat’s cheese, avocado and spinach. And then at lunchtime I’ll have a salad – lettuce, some vegies, spinach, salmon ... Just delicious, healthy, wholesome food. Or I’ll have a smoothie with banana, natural protein, cacao, cinnamon, almond milk, ice and sometimes maca powder or Vital Greens. Dinner will be either salmon or chicken with veggies, and sometimes avocado for good natural fat. And usually some blueberries for dessert if I’ve got a craving. I eat quite a lot of fruit and always have healthy snacks on hand, such as protein balls [or] a cacao or green smoothie.
HOW ABOUT WORKOUTS?
A typical week for me usually [involves] doing a class at my gym every morning – a mix between cardio and weights. I really like getting my heart rate high ... I walk out of there sweating like a pig, but I feel amazing! I just feel so much better when I do exercise in the morning. I find it hard to get myself to the gym in the afternoon, because I’ve had so much water, I’ve eaten food, and I just get stitches all the time. But in the mornings I feel light and energetic; I’m ready to go.
WHAT DO REGULAR SWEAT SESSIONS MEAN TO YOU?
For me, it isn’t all about your body and appearance – it’s more about my head, keeping positive and just being day-to-day happy. If I don’t exercise I feel sluggish and I’m not motivated, and everything becomes more of a chore. Overall it makes me feel toned, and then I feel confident in myself too. And confidence in this industry really is key because you need to go to a job and feel your best. You need to feel vibrant and happy with who you are because you’ve got to strip down to bikinis or underwear most of the time, and you’ve got 30 people watching you.
Read more of our chat with Elyse – including how she handled the mental pressure of The Block and the women she most admires – in this month's Women's Health, on sale Thursday January 4.
On the cover Elyse wears miléa resort mini rib fixed tri top with matching miléa mini rib double band hipster.