We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.


An Irishman has been named the Male Fitness Model World Champion

Let’s find out what the heck that even means…


VINNY GOUGH IS a well-known, successful personal trainer in Dublin so it’s no surprise that he’s very serious about his own body.

In recent months, he’s taken that to an extreme and has been named the Male Fitness Model World Champion.

Here at we had no idea what that even meant, so we got in touch to find out a bit more. 

Coming from a team sports background, the Castleknock man played rugby until an injury ruined his professional prospects. But that wasn’t the end of training for him.

Having already set up his own personal training studio, The Changing Rooms, on Leeson Street, Gough needed another challenge.

Over a year ago, his friend suggested he enter the WBFF (World Beauty Fitness and Fashion) competitions.

The 30 year old had always followed the sport (it’s been around for about 10 years) and it was just the nudge he needed.

In November 2014, he competed in his first show in Northern Ireland – and won.

“I think that’s what really got me into it,” he told “I got my pro card then in April and that’s how I ended up here.

I train a lot anyway. But this has gotten me into the best shape of my life. It’s different to bodybuilding which is about how big you are. Fitness modelling is about how athletic and lean you are. I used to look at them and think, ‘Wow, I want to look like that’.

The WBFF is a fitness organisation which runs competitions to judge people’s physiques using different criteria.

For the men’s competition, it’s all about fitness and muscle. There is a swimsuit round, an evening wear round. They are marked on masculine style (40%), marketability (40%) and stage presence (20%).


“You have to be lean, have good muscle tone, look athletic and have good symmetry – you can’t have huge arms but tiny legs,” Gough explains, clarifying that yes, he does have to have a high level of cardio fitness. But it’s also not all about the body.

There has to be a sort of charisma there too on stage – confidence and a marketable look. Products and brands have to look at you and want you to sell for them.

Gough is an Optimum Nutrition athlete which means he is a face of their brand in exchange for them looking after his supplements, trips abroad and any other issues.

There is also an element of how you look – in face – to the competition. Something that doesn’t seem to sit quite as easy with the Dublin man.

Shyly, he says: “Yeah, obviously, they do like that as well. It’s about everything, about marketability. It’s not just about the physique but about the face too. You have to be a poster-boy type person.”

Asked if he is as shy as he sounds about it, he adds:

Irish people aren’t really like that. But the more I do these shows, hopefully I’ll be more confident about being confidence.

Last month, he became the first Irishman to land the world title, beating out 20 other guys with more experience at the Las Vegas glamour event.

To win the event, Gough had to stand on stage and create different poses with his body. He thinks it was his smile that gave him the edge over others.

“It gave me such motivation to train harder and eat right. To be on that stage is incredible. I had been following these guys for years so I smiled on stage. I wasn’t in pain. It was definitely tough but I smiled more than others.”


Although he insists he is not body obsessed, Gough said the six weeks before the competition were intense.

“I was 96 kilos seven weeks ago and got down to 84 kilos. It stood to me. I didn’t want to be too big and you need to be under a certain weight to make the fitness class. Everything needs to be shredded.”

Shredded and dry are two words that come up a bit during the conversation.

“Being dry is about having no water in your body,” he explains. “It means the skin will be tight to the muscle as there is no body fat. We drink water all the time but on stage it doesn’t look great so for about 12 hours before, we take in no water.”

In terms of his food intake, Gough “hates not being lean” so the focus is on clean food.

“I like the feeling of eating clean,” he says. “Otherwise you are using sugar as your main source of energy. The body gets cranky, puffy and you feel sluggish. You don’t get energy slumps, artificial highs or mood swings. I’m just generally healthier.”

However, that’s not saying he doesn’t enjoy a pizza or other treats “when he really wants them”.

“It’s not about me looking in the mirror at my body – I like the feeling of training. I like that I’m getting stronger and making gains. I wouldn’t obsess over a kilo here or there.”

He says he’s been at his most content since taking up the new job.

“I’m at my most happy when I’m succeeding,” he muses. “Be that in work, in sport or in the gym. I wanted to succeed in something and be different. It has also meant that I’m surrounded by people who are encouraging and motivated.”

We asked Vinny what a typical day of food would look like for him. Could you do this?

Meal 1: 5am

200g steak with spinach and three poached eggs, strong coffee and sparkling water

Meal 2: 9am

100g oats, one scoop Optimum nutrition hydro whey and a handful of berries

Meal 3: noon

150g chicken breast with 125g of cooked basmati rice and 100g of broccoli

Meal 4: 2pm

Intra workout Pro Bcaa by Optimum Nutrition

Meal 5: 3pm

100g of oats, one scoop Optimum Nutrition hydro whey

Meal 6: 5.30pm

150g cod with 125g of basmati rice cooked with 100g of green beans

Meal 7: 8pm 

150g of turkey with 170g of sweet potato and 100g asparagus

More: We’ve teamed up with a leading personal trainer to bring you a new fitness video series

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.