Be like Mike: Exercise tips from TV's buffest host

Mike McRoberts' shirtless beach photo caused a social media frenzy on Sunday.
Mike McRoberts' shirtless beach photo caused a social media frenzy on Sunday. Photo credit: Twitter

When respected news anchor Mike McRoberts woke up on Monday morning, he was shocked to find he had become an overnight sex symbol.

Feeling "pretty chuffed" at completing his first Ocean Swim in Wellington Harbour on Sunday, he had posted a photo of himself shirtless on the beach to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. 

He then went to the movies, turned off his phone like a respectful audience member and forgot to turn it back on until the next morning. 

He woke up to "like, 300 notifications", many of which were from social media followers detailing their appreciation of McRoberts' physique using increasingly R-rated language ("Newshubba-hubba" was a personal favourite of his).

The onslaught of lust left him "speechless".

"I've learned words that I never knew existed. What the hell is a 'zaddy'?"

Note: Urban Dictionary defines 'zaddy' as "The slang term for a really 'handsome' guy who is very appealing and looks really fashionable. He has to have swag and sex appeal and look sexy and attractive".

The question on many people's lips was, simply, how? How does a 51-year-old man look better than most men half his age?

It's somewhat of a relief to learn that the physique that broke the internet doesn't come easily. McRoberts is devoted to an exercise regime that is as varied as it is intense - from running to cycling, yoga to squats, he does it all.

"I'm pretty fit," he admits modestly and somewhat redundantly. "I feel stupid even saying that."

But that hasn't always been the case. 

"I'm in a lot better shape than I used to be. Probably, when I first started reading the news, I was quite chubby. That seems like a long time ago now."

Indeed it does. Here are McRoberts' top exercise tips, so you too can be like Mike.

Run, Mike, run

For McRoberts, running is the ultimate form of exercise. He started doing long-distance a few years ago and says it took him a long time to stop looking like "an old rugby player out for a run". 

He's a member of Get Running, an Auckland club with "fantastic support and good people to run with". 

It must be working - he ran three marathons in 2017, with a personal best of 3h 53m. 

"Running's had a bit of a bad rap over the years, but I think most people who do it go hard out at the start and then get injured," he says. 

"The advice I always give to people who are starting out running is it's not about distance, it's about frequency. If you can get out three or four times a week, even if it's just a couple of k's, it doesn't matter.

"You gradually build up and get to the point where you can mix it up."

To gym...

But you don't get a body like that through running alone. McRoberts follows a detailed gym regime several times a week and has a "brilliant" personal trainer, who pushes him through it.

"It's all geared around strength or running, strength for my core, that kind of thing. Stuff like deadlifts and squats, pull-ups."

...or not to gym

For those without personal trainers or gym memberships, all is not lost. 

"Just mix it up a bit to make it interesting," says McRoberts, who tried yoga for the first time last year.

"Things like running and swimming, you can do that anywhere. You don't need to have expensive gym memberships or whatever to do that. 

"And there's so many apps and different things available in terms of body weight exercises."

Mike McRoberts travels a lot, so his exercise regime has to be flexible.
Mike McRoberts travels a lot, so his exercise regime has to be flexible. Photo credit: Newshub.

McRoberts travels a lot, meaning he has to be flexible about his exercise regime. This weekend he'll be in South Korea covering the Winter Olympics, but he won't let that stop him from working out.

"There probably won't be a gym there and I certainly won't be running in minus-10 in Pyeongchang, so I'll probably just do some body weight exercises - push-ups and that kind of thing."

Energising events

McRoberts loves the "physical challenges" of events like Le Race, a 100km cycling race from Christchurch's Cathedral Square to Akaroa, which he took part in last year. 

He learned to swim in six weeks to prepare for Wellington's annual Ocean Swim event and is considering entering the 2019 NZ Ironman, if his newly-acquired swimming skills are on track.

In February, he'll bike around Sri Lanka to fundraise for children's charity Variety. He has a fundraising page for donations to the Bikes for Kids programme that gives bicycles to children from poor families. 

As a high-profile media personality, he promotes his involvement with athletic events publicly to encourage other New Zealanders to do the same. 

"For me, as a Māori man, one of the greatest things about doing a bit of publicity around the events I've been involved in is that I've heard from other Māori men that it's got them into fitness, which is great."

A little goes a long way

His mantra is simple - anything's better than nothing.

"I try to do something every day, even if it's just a walk. The key is to have different intensities. Saturday's normally a long run for me, Tuesday's another long run, and then the other days are maybe speed work or the gym."

For those struggling with motivation, McRoberts says the key is to make exercise fun and doing it with other people can help enormously.

He says fitness is its own reward. 

"It took a while, but it's a good feeling, when you feel fit and feel on top of things. Mentally, as well, when you're dealing with a bit of stress, it's great to have that physical fitness to fall back on, and even just to clear your head by going out for a run or a swim or whatever. 

"It's a way more positive way of dealing with stress than going to the pub, or binge watching something and eating a pizza."

For those feeling personally attacked by that last comment, rest assured that you don't need to be an award-winning journalist to get in shape.

You just have to be motivated - and be okay with the Instagram attention. 



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