Christina Bray first came to our attention when Gymshark’s Brand Director, Noel Mack, saw her picture in the newspaper.
She was dressed head to toe in Gymshark… but that wasn’t what caught our attention.
It was her story.
So, through a little Instagram stalking, some sliding in to the DM’s, I invited Christina to Gymshark HQ for an interview.
When I first met Christina on the 18th of December, 2017, I was struck by three things; her infectious smile, her obvious zest for life, and the positivity she exudes.
It literally radiates through her.
So, with a tea in hand (herbal in Christina’s case), and plenty of questions, Christina told me her story…
“So, if I begin by going back a year, to last November (2016). I had had the cancer, I was in the recovery period, and I felt as though I needed to lose a lot of the weight. Chemo tends to make you gain weight - I felt tired, I felt sluggish, and I thought… “something has got to change”.
I decided to do the Body Coach with Joe Wicks. I began in late November and finished in March. I actually ended up being on his Hall Of Fame! I went from doing no exercise to exercising four times a week. I was hooked. So, when I finished the Body Coach, I thought “I need to do something else”.
I’d seen a friend who had done a bikini competition. She was 59, and she came third! I researched it a little and decided to enter the transformation category. My goal was to lose three stone, and I really put my heart and soul in to it.
At the beginning of my journey, my first coach sacked me. I wasn’t doing the exercises, I wasn’t eating the food… there was one weekend where I ate 24 Jaffa Cakes. I never eat Jaffa Cakes! I’d stopped for petrol and they were on offer at 24 for a pound… (Girl, we feel you).
But, you have to find someone right for you. My PT now, when I say he believed in me, he truly believed in me.
My training was rigorous. Twelve weeks, gym six days a week, towards the end it was twice a day, including fasted cardio. My diet was also quite specific - very protein heavy. It was intense!
At the beginning of boot-camp, I could barely do two push-ups. By the week of the competition, I was doing sixty, and that was just a warm up! When I think about what the human body is capable of, it amazes me. With the breast cancer, I had had some lymph nodes removed, and they said I wouldn’t be able to lift more than ten pounds, that’s basically a handbag. Now, I’m lifting that… more than that!
The competition was on the 28th of October. I went up to Margate with my friend, and it was amazing. It blew my head! I’d trained hard for twelve weeks, and finally my hard work paid off. You walk on stage, the lights are on, and you just feel a million dollars.
You have three minutes on stage, and I was in Sacha Fierce mode. I was like “this is my time to shine; tits and teeth”!
In my heart I was thinking, “if I can just place sixth”, so when they announced my number 26 as the winner, I felt pure elation. That moment, my God. I have never felt so amazing. When I held that trophy I just thought “all the chemo, being bald, being on the operating table, all my hard work has finally paid off”.
When I was going through breast cancer, I was going to a lot of appointments, seeing plastic surgeons etc. When I met with the plastic surgeon he said “you won't look great in a bikini” - that mentally scarred me. When I was on stage in my bikini, I was like, “look at me now”!
When you get the diagnosis, you just feel all doom and gloom. The way the doctors were, a bit like “you will have to change your life and change what you wear”. I was like “no. Way”.
I really want women going through breast cancer to see there is no boundaries. If you want to wear a bikini and enter a competition - you do it”.
Christina Bray won 1st place in the Pure Elite Female Transformation Winner category, on October the 28th, 2017.
She is also a finalist for the Bodypower model search 2018 and is currently training… hard.
Continue to follow Christina’s journey via her Instagram!
From everyone at Gymshark, we wish you a Happy International Women’s Day – we truly hope the stories you read inspire you, encourage you and empower you.
Remember to be kind, always.
To read more articles from our International Women's Day series, head on over to our article, right here! Each story is linked within.