More Than Fitness: Kirk Bondad on Staying Happy, Healthy, and Consistent

More Than Fitness: Kirk Bondad on Staying Happy, Healthy, and Consistent


Filipino-German model, Century Tuna Superbod, and Mister World Philippines 2022 Kirk Bondad shows that he’s more than what meets the eye as he talks about his early life and ambitions

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It may surprise others to learn that before Kirk Bondad became known for his athleticism and model physique, he was once a pro gamer in Germany. His short-lived E-Sports career began when he was 13 to 14 years old because he was recognized for his skill in playing Battlefield 3, a tactical first-person shooter game. Kirk shares that he played so well that he was invited to a private server and that competitors accused him of cheating. However, he stopped playing competitively because the career was too demanding for someone still in school. 

Red puffer vest and velvet tracksuit by CAROLINA HERRERA.

That being said, Kirk has no trouble staying committed to his active lifestyle. But, like many others, he began working out due to insecurity over his body. As a young teenager, he mentioned that he disliked two main things about his chest: the jutting bone in the middle as well as premature gynecomastia. He shares that had he not developed his pec muscles by lifting weights, the bone, in particular, would be visible.

While these insecurities prompted him to amp up his already active lifestyle, what really locked him into fitness was his time here in the Philippines. “I was here for one year abroad and I was completely excluded [from] my friends, from Germany. I had no social life. I was really using that time to recollect myself—find myself—and the gym was honestly the only relationship that I had where I can compensate all my mental health into it. It gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of objectivity on a day when I didn’t have to do anything,” he explains.

And if you are wondering how he stays motivated to exercise and be fit, his answer is that he doesn’t. He says that discipline is not necessary for him when this lifestyle is embedded into his sense of self. Kirk explains, “This is my identity. My approach right now is very much my approach from five years ago because it’s so into who I am, so I don’t question it anymore.”

On that note, Kirk also says that he doesn’t truly have “fitspiration.” However, he does look up to David Goggins who published ‘Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.’ Kirk shares that this author has a very inspirational story beyond just his running career because he’s also a NAVY Seal and more. “He is just the embodiment of sheer willpower. Bend your mind to wherever you want to,” he adds.

Compression tights by BENCH ACTIVE.

For his own career, Kirk says he became a personal trainer because he enjoyed working out and working with people. He continues to say that this was an easy decision to make because of carryovers in his development. Adding, “Much like the willingness to do something you’re already passionate about. It was never like, ‘Oh, man, I need to train.’ I love to train!”

Notably, aside from being able to help others as a personal trainer, Kirk was also able to help himself by practicing what he preaches. He says, “When your job initially is to help other people, then you need some sense of control over your own life. I believe big in authenticity and sincerity, and I don’t like to feel fake[.] I cannot just say, ‘Yeah, do the hard work, do all this,’ and then I’m, like, in my home and slurping milkshakes and chilling on my sofa.”

On the topic of why working out makes people like him happy, he starts off by saying that biochemistry plays a role. He goes on to say that there are studies that show that exercising can even be therapeutic for those with depression. That said, the biggest thing he thinks that people subconsciously benefit from when working out is the physical carryover to their mentality. “When you work out, when you put yourself in a controlled environment where you experience [adversity], it has so many carryovers in your mindset into your daily life,” Kirk claims.

He explains that when putting in the work at the gym, there has to be input in your brain saying “I want to do this, I want to persevere, and if it’s painful, I will still continue.” According to him, this mindset hardens your spirit and builds character. From being active in the gym or in your sport, he asserts that there will always be a mental carryover in your daily life. He also adds that there are not many places in the world where you can go to just say, “I want to improve myself” and achieve that sense of competence.

In line with that, upon asking what Kirk was most proud of, he mentions that he was able to deadlift 350 pounds by the age of 17. Aside from that, he highlights personal feats he achieved in the past year as a student at GBSB Global Business School in Spain while continuing his work in the Philippines.

“I have ADHD, plus I have dyslexia. So reading and writing are extreme challenges to me. And me doing like a study abroad and becoming one of the best in my class in my whole course while doing all the stuff I was doing here and in Thailand [made me] really realize that I am capable of so much. And this fear of putting myself into, not [a] physical challenge but [an] intellectual challenge, was all in my head. I could approach it like how I approach the gym, I just sit down and work—put in the work. There’s no magic to it, I just realized that there’s literally no limit anymore to my ambitions when it comes to my intellectual wishes,” he says.

As for physical challenges, he mentions the conflict between his coexisting roles as a model and as an athlete. Specifically, he cites the need to find a balance between performance and looking commercial as he dedicates his time to two other goals: to run the Ultramarathon and become a pro Spartan athlete.

“My body will change in that perspective, so I can never truly train the way that I want to train because I still have the obligation of being a person of public, of shoots [and] being a model, being an ambassador for brands—that I always have to consider my profession. I might do more exercises that would benefit my appearance but not necessarily my performance,” he adds.

“Luckily, I am a good personal coach and trainer so I know how to balance it,” he says laughingly but underscores the importance of finding a perfect blend between everything. When asked how he overcomes such challenges, he brings up two points: self-awareness and the KISS principle.

“This is always what I try to find out about myself. It’s a continuous journey—understanding what gives and what drains,” he says. He explains that if you look beyond the surface of a problem, you could find that it stems from unrealistic standards, ego, and the like. From there, he says that you can reverse engineer the problem in a way that makes the solution more actionable. Kirk goes, “I find something, I have the problem, and reverse engineer it to practical parts that I can actually do on a sustainable basis because I don’t pressure myself. This is also something very important that, in our daily lives, everybody wants to achieve everything right now. Where’s the delayed satisfaction?”

He adds, “Keep It Simple and Stupid. If it’s too complicated, I won’t do it.” Though the KISS principle has many versions, such as “Keep It Short and Simple,” he shares that he heard this version from his father, who had also picked it up from a trainer in a seminar years prior.

On the other hand, consistency in fitness does not come as easily to others. To that, Kirk emphasizes the need to learn to enjoy the process. “Because the process, or the journey in itself, requires you to actually make it sustainable, and sustainable equals consistency. And after that, it’s just a routine.”

He further restates that he does not put a lot of motivation or discipline behind his routine. “There’s no debate! I just do it because I identify as an athlete, therefore I train. End of the story,” Kirk explains.

Meanwhile, for those who have only just begun their fitness journey, he says that some effort is better than no effort at all. “From a scale from 0 to 100, 0 as nothing [and] 100 as maximum effort, 1 is still 100% better than 0. And if you can push yourself to do that 1% today, then just maintain it and find enjoyment in it, essentially you will find your heaven [or] whatever you want to achieve,” he explains. “Don’t think about intensity but consistency.”

As for the benefits that one could attain from an active lifestyle, Kirk says there are a bazillion reasons to go into fitness even when you are not currently facing problems from an inactive lifestyle. However, speaking for himself, he shares that he is very proactive in aging gracefully. “I want to be a person in my later years who is not dependent on society. I want to be a cool grandfather who can play with his children’s children. Simply, life quality will raise if I will do the work right now. Just basic muscle preservation or the decalcification of my bones. If you’re not investing right now in your health and your fitness, things will get very, very expensive later on,” he says. “Age well like wine,” he ends his sentiment with a laugh, then comments that he does not drink more than a few times a year.

Finally, Kirk ends the interview with a message of kindness. “You don’t know the stories about other people. It’s easy to judge, it’s easy to put people into a shoebox, [and] it’s easy to spread rumors because people like the drama. Just be kind, smile a bit more, don’t judge, treat people with respect and decency—that’s it.”

Sittings Editor DONG RONQUILLO
Creative Direction NICOLE ALMERO
Fashion Direction RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Styling ROKO ARCEO, assisted by REGINE CHIONG
Beauty Direction MIA CASTRO
Videography RADPROD
Video Producer AUDREY SISON
Shoot Coordination KZ FRANCISCO and MJ ALMERO
Special thanks to ARNOLD VEGAFRIA

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