If Denham Hitchcock’s assignment du jour were to compile a report on his own life, how would he start it? Perhaps it would be in the surf at Sydney’s Dee Why in the summer of 2016, when he glanced to his right across the break and noticed a woman on her board. “She was paddling around in a Brazilian bikini, which is eye-catching,” recalls Hithcock. “She was surfing with another guy, and I was just hoping he wasn’t her boyfriend.”
Except, it’s not Hitchcock’s style just to sit there hoping. That kind of passiveness . . . well, it doesn’t get you anywhere, does it? “So I waited for him to catch a wave, then I paddled over and said hello.”
The beauty turned out to be Mari Borges, a (single) Brazilian expat and hostel manager. She and Hitchcock hit it off, bonding over a shared love of fresh air, exercise and salt water. “We’ve been inseparable,” says Hitchcock, who was 40 at the time. They’re getting married next February.
It would be a decent opener, and it would speak to Hitchcock’s don’t-die- wondering approach. But it’s a mite too soft and sentimental for a journalist of his ilk. This isn’t a bloke who shadows the dressmaker before a royal wedding. This is Sunday Night’s toughest operator, who’s in his element reporting from a Middle East battlefield or buttonholing a slippery murder suspect.
You’ll have noticed by now that Hitchcock is in ridiculously good shape. Better shape really than any dedicated journalist is entitled to be in. Better shape, possibly, than any journalist in the history of journalism. That may sound like rank, tabloid-TV hyperbole. Until you see him in the flesh.
His secret? Well, he says, it’s part luck: it just so happens he loves doing the things that create a granite-hard physique.
“Look, I’ve never had a personal trainer, never had someone guide me through routines or tell me what I should be doing,” he puffs between sprints at dawn at Sydney’s Dee Why beach. “I love being outdoors. I love physical exercise. And I do the workouts I do because I like the way they make me feel.”
When at home in Sydney, those workouts are a combination of heavy-duty weights sessions (dominated by tri-sets, the middle set a brutal cardio hit), soft-sand running and surfing. But the point to make here is that Hitchcock often isn’t at home. He spends up to six months of the year interstate or overseas on assignment, often with no access to a crummy gym, let alone a glorious shoreline.
Right there would be his excuse to let the exercise slide, but he never does. Don’t give him this ‘no-time’ crap. Or ‘no space’. “If you have two square metres to work in you can do 12 push-up burpees every minute for 10 minutes and I guarantee you that will be one of the hardest workouts you’ve ever done.” It’s the same with food: he craves the stuff (meat, eggs) that makes muscle, and has no interest in the sweet delights that your body will store as fat. “Even as a kid my birthday cake was a roast lamb with candles in it.”
Read Denham's full story in the latest issue of Men's Health, on sale September 3rd.