On contest days we get a glimpse of people lives (and bodies) but we often wonder what people did away from the contest stage. 

One such body we wondered about was that of Kristian Bray. He's having quite a good run on the bodybuilding circuit at the moment with 5 wins out of 6 comps so far in 2010. 

On stage Kristian appears very confident, a touch of 'blue steel' in his eyes adds to the onstage presence.  But away from the stage we found out he has quite a soft creative side to him too.

Kristian Bray


By day, 31 year old Kristian works with Lifewithout Barriers. His role is to recruit, train, professionally develop and support for Foster Carers of Children in need. Kristian is also about to move into the coordination of a mentoring service that will run alongside a small independent record label to offer recording opportunities for disadvantaged youth. A move which will also combine his love of music - another string to Kristian's bow where is also a singer/songwriter and plays the guitar. 

But that's not all! there's never a dull moment in Kristian's life.  He also does some part time modelling and dancing - so no wonder he's so comfy in front of the camera and an audience.  With so much going on in his life, we just had to find out how he does it all and find time for bodybuilding!

  It's unusual to find such a ‘macho' kind of guy that is so into the creative and artistic side, how did that come about? Did you grow up in an artistic home? Do you think it's good for guys to show their softer side?

I went to Edinburgh to play Rugby at the age of 19 which was an incredible experience for me, especially in terms of developing my own sense of self worth and independence.  The Scottish lads weren't quite sure how to take me at first, here was this cocky Rugby player with dreadlocks who could cook, sing, dance, play the guitar and wasn't afraid to wear pink. 

Over time I had them coming to me for guidance, especially when they saw the reaction from the ladies.  Pink or not, ladies love a man that can cook them dinner then serenade them to sleep and all after a hard day on the Rugby pitch in sleet and snow.

From the songwriting perspective, it helped that my Dad was an accomplished poet and music fan, in fact I'm actually named after country singer Kris Kristofferson.

Have you always had lots of interests going on in your life?

I guess if I think back to my formative years, there was always a lot going on for me.  At one point I was playing Rugby and Rugby League which meant group training, weight training, plyometrics and ball drills 5 nights a week then moving from one game to another one on Saturdays.  My other interests have evolved over time with some help from a tenacious and passionate approach that resounds in everything I do.

Where do you live and train?

I grew up in Papakura but moved to the North Shore when I was 14.  After spending 9 years in Scotland and travelling the world, I came back to the Shore and currently I live in Murrays Bay.  I train at Harbour Fitness in Wairau Road where they are about to complete an awesome renovation including Harbour Hardcore for serious Bodybuilders.

we knew Kristian was an angel underneath all that muscle

Have you also been into health and fitness and sports in general?

Absolutely!  I guess I can pay homage to my Dad again for that one.  He was a very good Rugby player and all round sportsperson so I just tried to follow in his footsteps.  I played Touch Rugby and Rugby at Representative level then Rugby at a semi professional level in an International environment before making the transition into Bodybuilding.  I'm also a fully qualified Master Trainer and Lifestyle Coach.

How did you get into bodybuilding in the first place and when?

When I made the move from Papakura High School to Rangitoto College, my first year was quite solemn.  Most days I would do weights in my lunch break if there wasn't a game of touch going down.  Even back then I lived by the motto "hustle to make muscle" because I knew it would be the difference that made the difference when I was making a tackle or breaking the line to make those extra yards. 

After several seasons playing in Scotland, I became disillusioned with Rugby and took a year off to do some serious travelling.  Within 2 weeks of being back I found myself at a new gym with a new training partner and my training ethic started to take on a new meaning.  I had periods of not training at all but it wasn't until I came back to NZ that I decided to take things to a new level.

Contest achievements 2010 

2nd Novice Over 80kg NZFBB Auckland Amateur and Pro Competition
1st Novice Physique Tall NABBA Auckland Championships
Best Male Posing Routine NABBA Auckland Championships
1st Novice Over 80kg NZFBB Pan Pacific Championships
1st Novice Over 80kg NZFBB Auckland and Combined Services Championships
Best Male Posing Routine NZFBB Auckland and Combined Services Championships
1st Novice Physique NABBA Bay of Plenty Championships
1st Novice Physique NABBA Hawkes Bay Championships

Contest weight
My contest weight started at 94kg and is now 97kg.  Given that this is my first year of competing and I'm doing a number of competitions, I haven't really had an off season but in between comps, my weight can be anywhere from 98 - 109kg.  Creatine plays a big part in that due to water retention.

What's the highlight of your Bodybuilding career so far?

Winning is fantastic but for me the highlight is being able to share the experience with my partner who not only has a creative interest in my style but also has a genuine understanding of the sport.

This is your first year; did you set out to do so many shows? And how do you mentally cope with being in the ‘diet zone' in between your comps.

Actually my original intention was to do one or two and call it a day.  When I came so close in my first competition, I wanted to know how it would feel to win.  From there I thought if I could focus my attention on getting bigger and staying conditioned, I could do a few more competitions and gain that vital on stage experience, particularly with regards to posing.  I guess my philosophy has been, keep getting better and you will keep winning.  Hopefully that ethic will get me a top 3 place in the Nationals for both federations.

Kristian on his modelling jobs with guitar not too far away

Bodybuilding is all about focus on training and diet, and yet you seem so many strings to your bows with your various jobs - how do you prioritise your jobs and training. Do you get stressed by it or excel on it?

I'm lucky as I don't have set hours with my job and there tends to be several nights where I work late so I can plan the rest of my week.  I'm also privileged to work for an organisation that supports me in my endeavours.  I'm also lucky in the fact that I have a fast metabolism so while diet is important, it doesn't take control of my preparation.  I don't want to build up a sub conscious resentment towards to the sport or training in general so I enjoy treats right up until the week before a competition.

What has been the hardest part about juggling all your jobs and interests?

The nature of my job is such that if there is a crisis, I need to respond so that will always take precedence over training.  As much as we hate to admit it, life is all about routine and I've found a good routine that works well for me.  It wasn't always that way and took a few months to really define the best way to work, train and maintain my lifestyle. 

  Behind every man is a great woman and we see your girlfriend Tarsha Myles with you at all the shows. How important has she been in your contest prep and helping you maintain some sanity in your life.

Regardless of everything going on my life, my number one priority is my partner.  Without her, everything means nothing.  In terms of pre-competition, she plays an integral part in tracking my training, food preparation and focus on diet and feedback around routines and posing. 

left: Kristian with his great woman, Tarsha 

On the day she does my tanning, keeps me focused and of course takes photos so we can identify weaknesses.  I guess I'm a little different in the fact that despite the diet and dehydration, I still have a lot of fun and don't get grumpy or overly irritable.  I really can't put into words how I feel about the support and direction that Tarsha provides.  I know wholeheartedly that having her by my side has been the most critical component in my success.

Have you had a role model - perhaps a physique - who's inspired you?

I'm a huge wrestling fan and was always hypnotised by incredible physiques like Ravishing Rick Rude, The Ultimate Warrior and Mr. Perfect.  In terms of Bodybuilding though, of course Arnold was a pioneer but seeing the legs of Tom Platz was a turning point for me.  My biggest inspiration however and the two people who I believe have revolutionised the sport are Ronnie Coleman and Kai Greene.

What was your favorite part about competing? And the worst?

My favourite part is getting to eat chocolate and jellybeans all day knowing you can eat whatever you want the next day.  The worst part for me is certainly the dehydration.  Although it is getting better, I still suffer from chronic cramp before, during and after a show.

What advice/tips would you give to some of the young men starting out on their Bodybuilding journey?

First of all don't take symmetry for granted and work on your weaknesses.  When I started out, I trained arms and chest without training legs at all.  The last few years have seen me train legs twice a week in order to get them in proportion.  I have also worked hard on getting my shoulders bigger after hearing feedback from a number of reputable athletes which brings me to my next point; listen to the people who have had success.  Don't think you know it all like I did with regards to Rugby.  I learned the hard way that wisdom comes from experience and if people take an interest in helping you, it's usually because they can see the potential you have.  Pride can be poison if you don't use it in the right way.

What is your ultimate goal in bodybuilding? And perhaps out of bodybuilding...in career and life

I have quite a few competitions lined up this year including representing NZ at the Asia Pacific Championships in Rarotonga.  I also have the Nationals in October with both federations and I'm hoping for a Top 3 finish in both. 

After that, I will look to qualify for the Nationals next year with the final 2010 competitions and focus my attention on my next challenge.....setting up a recording studio and a youth mentoring service that will work synergistically alongside each other to offer recording opportunities for disadvantaged youth. 

Add to the mix releasing my first EP for friends and family, 2011 should be a busy year.  Oh......and of course I want to cement my future with Tarsha.  Like Beyonce say's "if you like it then you gotta put a ring on it"

Kristian Bray
21 July 10
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