It’s not uncommon to find professionals who have multi-faceted careers and "extra-curricular" achievements. A lawyer may not just practice law; he might be a vlogger on weekends, an occasional Insta influencer, or perhaps a baker running an online dessert business. You can never really tell what people are up to these days just by what’s written on their business cards.
Bench Ortiz is a classic example. A Gold's Gym fitness instructor as well as a licensed nutritionist, the six-footer also works as a part-time runway model and was first runner up of Mr. Gay World Philippines. We spoke to Bench about his active and busy life, and looked back at a time when his current physique wasn't what it is today.
"Nung college sobrang taba ko. Maximum weight ko was 240 lbs. 18 or 19 years old ako nun. Tapos nag join ako ng org na parang running. Pumayat na ako ng pumayat," he recalls.
"Now, I do six group classes per day, so yung pinaka-last class ko dun ako sumisigaw kasi dun ako kumukuha ng energy. I do spinning, boot camp, dance, [and] core classes,” he says.
In terms of being part of today's online fitness community, which isn't all that large just yet here in the Philippines, Bench appreciates how the categories of fitness influencers or motivators now vary depending on expertise. “It’s more relatable to different people who are different sizes and at different levels of fitness. Dati kasi body-building lang, pero ngayon…you can be fit and be sa fitness level na gusto mo," he explains.
As an openly gay man, Bench has had his fair share of socially discriminating encounters at work. Says Bench, "Since I’m gay and I’m working in the fitness industry it’s kind of hard for me because people always [make] comments. Lalaking-lalaki pa ako [nung] first two years ko. Then nung nag group class na ako tsaka ako nag out. Then nagkaroon ng maraming comments."
Rather than engage in possible word wars, Bench sought to teach misplaced mockers a lesson through a simple display of brute strength. "Kung kaya mong buhatin yung kaya kong buhatin dun mo ako laitin. So ngayon yung mga tao accept naman nila ako kasi di nila kayang buhatin," he shares.
In his spare time, Bench struts the catwalk thanks to his height advantage and move smarts from dancing. He also has a role model to look up to when it comes to championing fitness. "My fitness idol would be Aaron Valenzuela. He’s Brazilian tapos gay din siya. He’s a trainer and a dancer. Kumbaga parehas kami ng peg so parang iniidol ko siya."
With a degree in nutrition under his belt, we wondered which bad habit most impedes his clients in achieving their health goals. "Sa diet, hindi sila kumakain ng breakfast. That is a ‘No’! You have to eat like a king pag breakfast, queen pag tanghali, and konti lang sa gabi," he notes.
We also picked Bench's brain for ultimate workout moves that do more than define one section. "Sa lower body, squats kasi natatarget niya buong legs. If you’re planning to do a total body workout, focus on your legs. It’ll help develop your core. Sa upper body naman, pushups. Siya yung pinaka baseline na workout kung gusto mo mag benchpress, pull-ups, or back workouts." Here's a routine we've scouted out for you to try that combines both of Bench's recommended moves:
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Produced by Julia Arenas | Cinematography by Jana Jimenez | Photography by Vyn Radovan | Makeup by Julia Arenas | Shot on location at The Upper Deck PH Sports Center, 1 Doña Julia Vargas Ave, Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines | Special thanks to Don Allado for Upper Deck PH