A fitness model has scooped a top prize and gained himself professional status as well.
At a contest in front of around 1,000 people in Atlantic City in America, Gianni Fabrizio took the first prize in the World Beauty and Fitness Federation (WBFF) event.
But the 36-year-old former police dog handler from Onchan pronounced himself ‘shell-shocked and lost for words’ when the results were announced.
‘I did not expect to win. It’s not something I would ever say – in fact, I’m a good loser,’ he said.
To make matters more complicated, a bout of food poisoning just two days before the contest put him immediately on the back foot.
‘On the day, what with being ill and seeing the quality of the other competitors, I had already resigned myself to not winning. At around five foot six, or seven at a push, I was the shortest and I thought that would be my downfall.
‘They call out the winners in reverse order and they got to second place and called out the name of an Australian competitor who I thought was going to win. I actually stepped away slightly assuming the winner was going to be another entrant to my right.
‘So when they said my name I was totally overwhelmed.’
The win was the culmination of around 15 months’ training, but he did allow himself the odd few days off.
‘It was my wedding in August so I did have a bit of time off,’ he said.
At around five foot six, or seven at a push, I was the shortest and I thought that would be my downfallGianni Fabrizio
‘But then it was straight back into it.’
Fortunately, his wife, Rachel, is also keen on fitness and training, and was in fact competing in the same show.
‘It really helps that we both do it,’ he said.
He says the discipline is not really body building, but more focused on fitness and muscle tone.
Despite his modesty, Gianni has had other successes, winning his very first contest in New York back in 2012.
After that, he competed in a different category in 2013-15, in contests run by the WBFF, all at London’s O2 Arena.
‘I was getting top 10 finishes but not winning anything,’ he said.
‘Then I was advised by the show director to switch from the Fitness Model category to the Muscle Model category, and I ended up winning and gaining professional status too.’
In fact, he says the judges look not only at a contestant’s physique but also at their stage presence, posture, marketability and even their social media presence.
Since leaving the police in August 2015, after 15 years, he has been working as a personal trainer. Much of his work currently is online, he says, rather than running classes.
‘I don’t do “boot camps”. More of it is one-to-one and I focus on things like nutrition.’
He is an athletes’ representative for the food supplement brand Reflex Nutrition and, in the wake of his win, has been asked about doing a photo-shoot for them during January, which means too much Christmas excess was clearly out of the question.
He hopes to do more of this kind of work in the future.
As far as the next competition is concerned, he’s set his sights on the WBFF World Championships, expected to be in Dubai in summer 2018.
‘It gives me 15 months or so to prepare but I’ll need to up my game again as I’ll be competing against professionals,’ he said.
‘It’s exciting, but it’s also a case of your idols becoming your rivals.’
He thanked staff at Carrefour gym in Douglas for their support.