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Ella-Mae Rayner Finding Strength In Adversity

Ella Mae Cover crop
Cover Photo © Robert Luca

Personal trainer and fitness influencer Ella-Mae Rayner has literally been going from strength to strength over the past few years becoming a huge social media sensation on her Instagram and TikTok channels. 

What many will not realise though is that she hasn’t become an overnight success story, Rayner over the years has had to overcome the adversity of injuries and to overcome them not just physically but mentally also to get where she is now.

We had a chat with the inspirational Personal Trainer to find out how she overcame her injuries and how she remained mentally strong to come back from a dark place.

We also wanted to find out if the fitness influencer kept on track over Christmas or did she let her hair down.

First of all, Happy New Year to you.

How did you spend your Christmas?

I spent Christmas at my grandpas’ house with my family and it was our dog’s first Christmas! 

Did you let loose at Christmas with food and drink or were you good? 

I wouldn’t say ‘I let loose’ but I’m always more relaxed and off my usual diet on Christmas day and boxing day.

I always overeat and feel terribly sick and I can never get drunk because I eat far too much! 

I’m usually a little more relaxed around the festive period and allow myself a few more treats here and there plus I’m a chocoholic and can’t resist it at this time of year. 

I still hit the gym and get my workouts done and I use the extra calories to fuel my sessions. 

Did you get any exciting fitness/sports presents?

I actually didn’t! I don’t think I could have any more gym wear if I tried haha. 

I note that you’ve had a passion for sport and fitness from a very young age, did you have an inclination towards a particular sport growing up?

“Yes, I was a gymnast from the age of 5. My parents allowed my brother and I to try all different sports but gymnastics was one I totally fell in love with.”

“I would cartwheel and handstand at any occasion. I competed in the sport for 8 years and made the county and regional teams.”

“I had to quit at 13 due to the physical demands on my body and I’m actually quite tall for a gymnast!“

“I followed my passion for competing and sport and ended up transitioning to diving where I won a national title and even worked alongside Tom Daley himself on the ITV show ‘Splash’.” 

“After diving, I competed in cheerleading at my university and went on to be the head coach of the squad in my final year and we won the university national championships!” 

You competed at a high level for a while but then turned your attention to coaching, what was your thought process for doing so?

“My body gave up on me before my mind did in gymnastics and through coaching, I could continue my passion for the sport and move on to helping others.”

You then went on to compete as a diver at a national level, what made you go from coaching to diving?

“I never not wanted to take part in sport, although I enjoyed coaching, I wanted to take on new challenges and diving wasn’t so particular for your body type in terms of the moves you could do.

“I remember watching Tom Daley on TV and knew that was going to be my next sport!”

Did you find it difficult living overseas away from home comforts?

“I did, I’m such a homebody and adore my family and friends but on the flip side I’m so independent and up for a challenge.” 

“I knew by going to America (although only for 2 months) it would benefit my sport so much and my family have always been so supportive of everything I have done/decide to do” 

From moving back home you got into Cheerleading and eventually became head coach what made you decide to get into Cheerleading?

“Cheerleading just looked so fun. I was so used to doing individual sports and I had never experienced being part of a team.” 

“On the sports open day at uni I went to the gymnastics stand straight away and as I was walking out, I saw the cheerleading stool.” 

“It stood out amongst the rest and was decorated with glitter and bows. It was something I had always wanted to try from watching American college films and it still required gymnastics skills so I couldn’t not try out for the team.” 

I understand that there was even a chance of you becoming a stunt woman, what happened there?

“When I returned from uni I had so many skills up my sleeve. A few of my old gym peers had gone into it and It looked so fun.” 

“I started working on my gymnastics skills again as you have to tick off certain moves to get on the register but whilst training I ended up shattering my ankle and having to have surgery and that’s when my life really flipped on its head (pardon the pun).”

ella mae rayner

Then in 2017 disaster struck and you shatter your ankle. How bad was the break?

“I shattered my heel bone and broke my talus in three pieces. It had to be fixed with screws. So yeah, pretty bad.”

How did that affect you mentally?

“Honestly, until I looked back on my journey I didn’t realise how much it impacted me!” 

“I was told I would never be able to do gymnastics again and possibly not even run. I was so lost as I felt everything I loved had been taken away from me in a heartbeat.” 

“I couldn’t walk, I had to sit at home unable to move and had to completely rethink my career path and life direction.”

Did this restrict you in your day-to-day functioning?

“Yes massively, I practically had to learn to re-walk again. I suffered post-traumatic arthrosis and walked with a limp for years after.” 

“Even now when I get a flare-up it’s painful and I have to rest.”

Have you been affected by body confidence and if so how did you overcome it?

“Yes, after my injury I couldn’t do much in the way of exercise. I went from training multiple times a week to nothing, which was a huge struggle.” 

“As I got back on my feet the only thing I could do was go to the gym and that really was where my whole journey started.” 

“My mum would drive me there and pick me up. It was really the only thing that kept me sane.” 

“As I slowly built back up my confidence and strength in the gym my body image kept on improving and there was no stopping me once that kicked in. “

Would you say that coming back from those injuries has been your biggest challenge?

“Yes, one of them. I lost my dad when I was 14 but in terms of a mental battle that was up there with one of the hardest.”

After rehabilitation you went on to have a career in Aviation, that must have been a big change for you?

“It was a totally different experience to anything I have ever done before. I never even knew the job existed even though my mum worked in aviation.” 

“But in my head, if I couldn’t take part in the sports I loved I just didn’t want to be around it.” 

How did you fit in your gym sessions whilst working such long hours?

“It was so tough. I was constantly exhausted and worked 12-hour shifts on my feet including nights.” 

“But when my mind is set on something I will do whatever it takes so I didn’t think twice going to the gym kept me sane so it was non-negotiable.”

What is your day-to-day routine and diet mostly like now?

“Most people say I’m mad but I love my routine now. I’ve always been someone who’s pretty regimented and structured and if I didn’t have a routine I think I’d go insane.” 

“So I like to treat the gym like a job Monday-Friday. I get up at 5 am Monday to Friday (Saturdays around 7 and Sundays is a lay In – although my body clock never lets me plus I hate wasting a day and like to be up and about early doors).” 

“I eat as soon as I’m up. If I don’t before a workout I can feel really sick. I have my coffee, get dressed, and am usually in the gym for about 6:30.” 

“I do my workout and get content then cardio. I get back at about 8:30/9 shower then I am ready for the working day.” 

“I check in on all my clients which I have set days for and then the days I don’t do that it’s admin emails, shooting content, and managing my social media.” 

“I eat at set times every day and it’s usually the same meals – as I said I’m a woman of routine.”

“I always make sure I go for a 30 min – 1-hour walk as well.”

Have you got a cheat meal?

“Kind of, I used to just allow myself one a week but now I’m much more flexible and just calorie bank for when I know I’m having more than one meal out.” 

“If I had to choose one it would either be an Italian or a roast dinner then chocolate after.” 

Do you use any supplements to aid your fitness recovery?

“Yes, but let me make it clear that unless you’re training and diet is on point supplements won’t do anything.” 

“They are there as an aid and not a solution. Everything I use is from BULK and they have the best tasting and most diverse range of products.” 

“I take multivitamins, probiotics, and omega 3’s In the morning (vitamin c In the winter) then I have protein powder and glutamine too.”

Is there advice you always get asked for?

“One of my most asked questions is how I stay motivated all the time because I have such good willpower and I never skip a workout.” 

“The truer answer is that I don’t and honestly I don’t think anyone does, like seriously we are all human and no one can say they are motivated 24/.7 it’s just not a thing.” 

“The real answer to this is discipline, it’s making yourself do the things you don’t want to do over and over again until you begin to form habits.” 

“It’s knowing that all the things you are doing are getting you closer to the things you want in life.”

What’s the most annoying thing someone at the gym could do whilst you’re there?

“NOT RACK THE WEIGHTS! It’s little the most annoying thing. I had a guy once use every single plate in the gym on the leg press and when he was done just walked off, I gave him the biggest evils to sort of say ‘ thanks Hun don’t worry I’ll put all your weights back for you.” 

When did you realise you wanted to help others with their fitness and nutrition goals?

“I think it was when others started to notice my journey and my body transformation. They began to ask how I trained, what I ate and how I got to where I was. I knew I could help others look and feel just like!”

Has the Covid situation helped or hindered you over the last couple of years?

“Covid has literally changed my life. If I didn’t get furloughed I would have never had bitten the bullet and done my PT course then when redundancies came up and I had already begun to post more about fitness and take a few zoom classes that if I didn’t go head first into this career now I never would.” 

“And I can truly say ever since making that decision I have never looked back. It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Would you say you’re a risk-taker?

“Within reason. I’m not a silly risk taker but If I believe in it then yes I’ll take the plunge.” 

Who would you say has been your biggest help and inspiration?

“My mum and my brother everything I do is either for them or because of them, we are so close and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, and of course, the big man up in the sky when I’m down or feel like I can’t the thought of making him proud pushes me through.”

“My coach Steff Nadine at team Nadine fitness. I had already begun my journey but she helped take me to the next level. I learned so much from her.”

Do you have any advice for those looking to begin their fitness journey or overcome body confidence issues?

“Just start, I feel like so many people put things off or say diet starts Monday, I’ll do it tomorrow or I just need to get this event or that dinner out the way.” 

“You will never get anywhere with that mindset, just start and figure it out along the way if you are scared or lost with what to do, hire a coach or reach out to professionals after all that’s what they do and they are there to help! But you can’t do anything sat on your sofa at home.”

Have you got a favourite go-to tune for when you work out and have you got a Spotify playlist dedicated to your workout that you’d like to share with our readers that may inspire them?

“Ha-ha I get asked this on tiktok all the time along with my number one asked question of how tall, I am (no idea why everyone wants to know) but I have a good gym playlist I listen to rock, rap and grime when I work out, I would say boss by Meek Mill is up there with my go-to songs.” 

“Also don’t judge me but sometimes I listen to musicals when I do cardio and perform them in my head to pass the time.”

If you could sit at the dinner table with anyone past or present who and why would you want to be there with you?

“The obvious answer to that would be my dad. But in terms of celebrities. Lil Wayne, I’ve loved his music since I was young and I just think he’d be funny.” 

“The Queen because she’s the Queen and probably Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson as they are absolute icons from the past and I’d love to be able to ask them questions about their lives.”

What’s next for Ella-Mae Rayner in 2022?

“Gosh I have so much I want to achieve in 2022. My goals were set pretty high for 2021 and I managed to tick almost every box.” 

“I want to help as many people with fitness as possible. I want to restart my YouTube channel too but let’s just say for now I think, there are some very exciting things on the cards so keep an eye out! 

We’re sure that we’ll be hearing a lot more from Ella in 2022 and if you want to find out more about the inspiring Personal Trainer, make sure to head over to her online coaching website Coach Ella and her social media channels @ellamaerayner on TikTok and Instagram

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