Rachael Finch Raising the Barre
She’s navigated her way from model to Miss Universe Australia, to TV presenter, radio co-host and author. And this year she made a grand jeté into delivering her own dance-inspired wellness program, helping others improve health and happiness through diet and dance. With a young family and new start up, Rachael Finch is a busy woman. She’s also a goal setter, determined self-starter and North Queensland’s sweetheart, as we discover.
Rachael Finch is the epitome of the girl next door. She’s a natural beauty, an advocate for health and wellness, mindfulness and happiness, and she still retains a hint of the old North Queensland twang. Her instagram feed is filled with inspirational quotes, workout videos, modelling shots, nutritious food and her much-loved family, husband Michael “Misha” Miziner, three-year-old daughter Violet and baby son Dominic born just a few months ago in March. There’s also the odd fold-out clothes hanger shot, crammed with wet washing that shows she really is real.
The 28-year-old, who’ll turn 29 this July, is best known as a model, Miss Universe Australia contestant, brand ambassador and TV presenter, but, by her own self-admission never started out as a girly-girl.
Growing up in Townsville with her mum and two older brothers, Rachael’s childhood memories are of days spent playing outdoors — building dirt castles on the spare lot near her dad’s place in Mount Louisa, riding go-karts with her brothers and stepsisters, and playing sport, sport and more sport, any chance she could.
“I spent a lot of time outdoors, in the sunshine, roaming and running and just breathing in that fresh air,” recalls Rachael.
Far from dance studios and dress ups, the former Ryan Catholic College student (pre-school through Year 12) spent after-school down at the back oval, training for cross country, touch footy, athletics, swimming, netball, soccer, whatever activity the day presented. “My goal in high school was actually to compete in an Olympic Games; 200 metre and long jump were my key events.”
But at 15 years old, Rachael was scouted by mango farmer and Home Hill Fashion Bash organiser Henry Peterson at Townsville Airport, and the exchange of a flyer changed her life forever. She entered the model search contest, teetered her way down her first runway, in her first pair of high heels, and won, despite the bruises and scratches that dotted her legs.
“I still remember them calling out, ‘The winner is number 35’ and I was just standing there with my ‘number 35’ tag swinging from my wrist, unaware I had won.”
That first contest, at 15, won Rachael a contract with an agency in Brisbane, which led to modelling jobs between her schoolwork. Once high school was over, Rachael left her Olympic dreams at the starting line and packed her bags to pursue modelling, living and working in Singapore, Germany, London and New York. (“A phenomenal experience!”)
In 2009, Rachael wore the Australia sash at the Miss Universe contest in the Bahamas, earning the third runner-up place and launching herself to a wider audience. After Miss Universe came TV jobs, radio gigs, brand ambassadorships and two reality TV shows — MasterChef Australia and Dancing with the Stars, on the set of which she met dance partner and future husband Misha.
Since 2009, Rachael has crafted a celebrity career, eclipsed her beauty pageant label and managed to not only maintain her wholesomeness but also mint a new business from it. In January this year she launched her first book, Happy Healthy Strong and a few weeks later added an online fitness, food and lifestyle program accessible by participants online.
That program, BOD by Finch (the BOD stands for body of dance) marries Rachael’s passion for nutrition, with Misha’s expertise in dance. What makes Rachael’s program different to other celebrity fitness programs on the market (other than using regular pantry ingredients like olive oil in her recipes, which many programs prohibit) is the focus on dance and self-care.
“Looking after yourself is beneficial to you, as well as those around you. When you feel good, you have more energy and are more attentive to those around you,” points out Rachael. “You know that when you do take the time to do something for you — take a hot bath, have a cuppa on the balcony, go for a walk in the park, whatever it is that you enjoy — you feel good.
“I don’t want to be a 10 per cent version of myself, so I’m trying to be the best I possibly can be, every day.”
– Rachael Finch
This sentiment is consistent throughout Rachael’s book, her social media accounts (via the many meditation photos and positive affirmations), BOD by Finch and in speaking with her.
“Health and wellness is my ultimate passion. I love getting out of bed feeling awesome and amazing, which I’m sure everyone does, and I want to know what is going to continue to make me feel like that.
“Misha and I set out to create a program for people who want to exercise without feeling like they are exercising. And who want a healthier, happier life. It’s not about fitting into a bikini after 12 weeks, or dramatic weight loss. It’s about something sustainable.”
The poster girl for wholesomeness, Rachael actually knows her stuff. While pregnant with Violet during 2013, Rachael achieved certification as a health coach, graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. Currently, while on “maternity leave” with Dominic, Rachael is working towards qualification as a personal trainer. “I love knowing what makes the body tick,” she says.
“I knew [while pregnant with Violet] that looking ahead I would be at home more, and not able to be so full on with work and my normal schedule,” she explains of her decision to pursue study.
“BOD was actually both Misha and my ideas. I think that’s one of the most magical parts of our relationship; we work on pretty much everything together. There’s not really one thing in our lives that is separate. Some people might think that’s a bit too much, but it gives me goose bumps because I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel our minds are growing together, our bodies are growing together, our lives are growing together; and that makes us strong.”
Despite her many professional job titles, Rachael says she’s in her element when at home, coordinating the household, cooking the meals and caring for her family. “I’m a true Cancerian, in that I’m a homebody. I love just being in that comfort bubble of ‘home’. As important as it is to get out of that zone and challenge yourself, I just feel so good when I’m there.
“Motherhood is incredibly rewarding and a priority shift in life,” shares Rachael, who says her attitude to life changed with the birth of Violet. “I remember I had Violet, and was on set for Channel 7 for a live segment. Prior to having Violet I would have turned up with butterflies, nerves, shaking, forgetting my questions. I was about to go on air, and I still didn’t have that serious nervousness. My priorities had shifted so much that as long Violet was safe and happy and loved, then I had no reason to be nervous. Children change and shift everything, it’s the most incredible and magical experience.”
For Rachael, this is key to her appreciation and pursuit of success, making her seem wise beyond her years.
“I am a goal setter, and I refer to my goals in my iPhone each day. They are broken down into weeks, months and years,” she says, emphasising that health and happiness are key goals. “Success, I think, is when you can wake up, and be truly happy in the present and not be searching for anything before, or anything after.”
With her father and stepmother still living in Townsville (her mum has recently relocated south), Rachael and her young family relish the opportunity to return to her hometown for birthdays, Easter and Christmas. “The first thing we do is sit on the back deck at dad’s place, catch up with the family, let Violet play on the grass and just take in that 10-knotches-back feeling.”
While many have tried and failed (and some haven’t tried at all) to shake off the beauty pageant contestant label, Rachael has. And quite successfully. The girl building dirt castles on the spare lot is now building a health and wellness empire.
“I want to be remembered as someone who encourages and inspires people to live a healthier, happier life. I just want to make a positive impact.”
For more on Rachael’s BOD by Finch program, visit bodbyfinch.com.