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Reality TV

EXCLUSIVE: The real reason Anna Heinrich went back on her vow after swearing she'd never do SAS Australia

Plus, what she thinks of The Bachelor nine years on.

By Maddison Leach
Despite making it almost all the way to the end of the SAS Australia course, Anna Heinrich once swore she'd never set foot on the tough military-style show.
"I didn't say this in public, but I said to my family never in my life would I ever do [SAS] after watching it," the 33-year-old tells Now To Love exclusively.
"I ended up doing it because I think it was for the right reasons; for personal growth, and what I can teach my daughter about an experience like that."
Just 10 months after giving birth to her and husband Tim Robards' daughter Elle, Anna was offered to star on the show and it's safe to say that at the time, the prospect of an intense military course was daunting.
Anna Heinrich with husband Tim Robards and their darling daughter Elle. (Image: Instagram)
"The exercise that I was doing before I got the call up was pretty much just walking around our back streets with the pram," Anna reveals. "I had to transform like my body, my mind, all within four weeks."
Fortunately, she had Tim to help her with an intensive training regimen that got Anna in peak condition in a matter of weeks, but when it came time to don her fatigues and strap on her Bergen, the star was flying solo.
"I think that's what's been great about our relationship; that we go off, we could do our own thing and we can come together and do things as a team," Anna says of her marriage.
It was much harder to leave baby daughter Elle, who wasn't even a year old when Anna departed.
"I knew from the moment someone spoke about her [on the show], that I wouldn't really be able to speak about her again, because I would just break down," the devoted mum admits.
"I had to tell people to stop talking about Elle because it was just too difficult."
In fact, Anna, who hadn't been apart from Elle for more than one night before SAS, made a conscious effort to separate her family life from her time on the course because she knew it would "break" her if she didn't.
WATCH: Anna Heinrich shares an adorable video of baby Elle. Story continues after video.
When Anna became one of five women who made SAS history outnumbering the male recruits at the halfway point on the course this year, it was a major win.
"It was great to be surrounded by super strong, confident and very intelligent women," Anna says of Melissa Wu, Millie Boyd and the other women who made it to day 11.
"When I left, there was five women and two guys [and] that was crazy. I don't think any of us expected it because it is so physically challenging."
But with so many fierce women in the game, Anna's really not surprised that the female recruits outdid the blokes at the pointy end of the course.
"They've got all that determination that the men have … I was glad we could showcase it, because I think it was well overdue."
Anna and the other women on the course seriousy impressed the DS. (Image: Channel Seven)
Anna confirms that women on the course get treated exactly the same way as men, which can even put them at a disadvantage when they're competing against huge male athletes.
"We all carry the same amount in our Bergens. We all eat the same. We do the same challenges. There are no favourites. And if you are a woman, you don't get treated differently. There's nothing like that," she reveals.
In fact, the show is a lot more "real" than some viewers give it credit for; for example, the conditions at basecamp are even worse than they seem on TV.
"It was constantly dirty. We would have to sweep morning and night because there was so much dust in there," Anna tells us.
Recruits also weren't allowed to leave the dorm barefoot, so Anna and her comrades would wrap hessian bags around their feet "like slippers" to trek to the toilet in the night rather than struggling with their boots in the dark.
Anna put her all into her time on the show. (Image: Channel Seven)
But one of the biggest mistakes all the recruits made was trying to guess what was waiting for them each time they piled into the cars before a challenge.
"We would always anticipate what would be coming, and then we're like, 'oh, wait, it's actually not as bad as what we thought up in the car for hours'. That was probably the worst part of it," Anna laughs.
The experience was nothing like her first reality TV stint on The Bachelor back in 2013, when she first met husband Tim, and Anna admits she's a totally different person to the girl receiving roses at the mansion.
"We've both grown in different ways and that was nine years ago, so it's been a long time, but I think everybody changes in life," she explains.
WATCH: Inside Tim and Anna's baby gender reveal party. Story continues after video.
"I'm definitely different to who I was … I've definitely changed, but the core values that I've always had - and I think it's just the same for Tim - they're always going to be there."
Whilst there have been more break ups than fairytale success stories since Anna and Tim's season, the season one winner says she and her now husband were always true to themselves.
"We were real from the outset, we didn't try to fake anything, or fake our relationship to make something work."
The 33-year-old says she and Tim never tried to force their connection for the cameras, adding that their success has come from both of them knowing who the other person really is.
"I can't compare myself to other people or their relationships … but for us, it's about communicating," Anna says of the other Bachelor couples over the years.
It's hard to believe it's been nine years since the couple fell in love on The Bachelor! (Image: Ten)
"We're around each other daily and have been almost for 10 years … we have our fights like normal couples, but it's how you get over those and move forward. It just works and, and if it's not working, then we'll make it work."
It's been almost a decade since her Bachelor days and with SAS Australia now under her belt, can we expect Anna to tackle another reality TV show soon?
While the proud mum will "never say never", she plans to shift gears for the time being and focus solely on her family and her new business, INTU Wellness.
"[My focus] will always be Elle. I am the busiest I've ever been, so I'm just going to be focusing on work and trying to have some downtime with my family as well," she says, but teases, "Who knows what the future will hold."

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