From an early age Olna Ford was strong minded and focused on excellence. She skipped a grade and began high school when she was only 12 years old.
Her high school, Westlake Girls in Auckland, New Zealand, is well-known for sports and she wanted to be the best athlete in school history. She became addicted to training and her daily regimen would typically begin at dawn when she would start running before swimming in the ocean. At lunch time she continued her training by doing laps of the field and vigorous exercise. After school she would fill a backpack full of sand and strap weights to her ankles and wrists. By exerting herself she became strong and lean, or so she thought.
Later that year she was rushed to the hospital and was in critical condition with what was diagnosed as heart failure. She and her family were told that her heart was very weak and that she probably wouldn’t make it through the night. The situation was bleak, so bleak in fact that a priest was sent in to administer the last rights to her. In that moment she was in shock as she watched her life passing before her eyes. She recalls visualizing herself being strong and well as she was running and laughing.
The next morning was bright and sunny when Olna woke up from her health scare. The physical exertion had caused weight loss and stress on her heart. Her recovery required complete bed rest in the hospital while doctors monitored her heart. It would be a valuable lesson for the future.
She graduated at age 15 and began her fitness career with Les Mills, the largest fitness chain in New Zealand. After earning her certification she became the youngest fitness instructor to work for the company. By the age of 20 she had become the manager of a private gym.
Some time after a representative from WEIDER equipment asked her to do a one day promotion for a local store opening. The promotional event was beyond anything they could have dreamed of. Not only was all of the WEIDER Equipment in stock completely sell out, but the company issued rain checks for tens of thousands of dollars of equipment.
WEIDER Equipment’s Directors were so delighted with the results that they asked her to become the face, body and voice of WEIDER in Australasia. The generous offer placed her center stage on all forms of advertising, fronted all TV ads, and voiced all their radio commercials.
At fitness conventions she was in such good condition that she made her presentations while running on a treadmill for eight hours straight. Nike was the first major brand that wanted to sponsor her as a performance athlete running ultra marathons. Soon she was signed to represent Puma, Adidas, Asics and Saucony as well.
Olna had never considered entering a beauty pageant, but her clothing sponsor nominated her for the Miss Miller Model Competition. Initially not wanting to participate she became Miss Miller Model New Zealand. That day became a key turning point in her career as she began her international modelling career and traveled to various countries for glamorous photo shoots.
She would go onto win 12 titles with the most prestigious crown being the American Dream Calendar Girl World Final held in the Bahamas. That pageant had over 16,000 contestants from around the world and featured 80 World Finalists. The victory was her entree into the world of the rich and famous big names and celebrities in the corporate world.
Her combined fitness and modelling career made her a jet setting executive with a unique skill set. She regularly traveled to New York, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Australia. Soon she formed Olna Inc and managed her own contracts.
On one visit back home to New Zealand she met with a new fitness chain, Contours, an exclusive women’s health & fitness studio. What started as a simple modeling contract for an opening advertisement quickly evolved into a four and a half year contract to become the image of all their advertising. Within 48 hours of the photo shoot images went nationwide.
Her involvement with Contours continued to evolve further as she was asked to represent the company at a trade show over two weekends in Australia. During that trade show she sold 13 gyms and the company earned over 6 million in profit. Not surprisingly, Olna was offered a lucrative executive deal to oversee the construction, start up, and management of the 13 studios. Her job was to fly around Australia and oversee the construction of the studios. She also was responsible for hiring the management staff at each studio, conducting in-house training, and promotional sales. Her goal for each studio was to sell out the memberships prior to the grand opening.
In April 2016 her company, IGANZ (International Golf Associates of New Zealand), hosted a Celebrity Golf Day featuring Maurice Allen and Frederik Frost and she fell in love with the sport. IGANZ has quickly become a major promoter of the sport of long drive in Australasia and Asia. For her tireless efforts to promote the sport Olna Ford has earned the nickname the “Mother of Long Drive”. Truly a woman of many talents, she is so much more than just a pretty face. The sport of long drive is fortunate to have her promoting the sport.