SWOLEMATES: COUPLES WHO TRAIN TOGETHER STAY TOGETHER

Charlotte Potter speaks with fit couple Jordan and Ray about their tremendous success

OMQ, Be Fit, Couples, Jordan and Ray

Fit couple Jordan and Ray met in the gym and have grown together

Ever heard the phrase couples who train together stay together? Well Jordan Saunders and Ray Bath are a shining example of that. Not only did they meet at the gym, run a personal training business together and compete in fitness competitions as a couple, they are also getting married next year. [2017]

The pair have found tremendous success in the fitness industry, thanks to their hard work, friendly personalities and personal approach.

But they also pride themselves on being, well, ‘normal’ as they put it. And understanding exactly the struggles their clients are going through as they endeavour to live a healthy lifestyle.

Both Ray and Jordan, from Basildon, Essex, were bullied at school because they were overweight and it was while chatting at the gym, where Jordan worked in 2013, that they confided in each other about their past and love blossomed.

OMQ, Be Fit, Fit couples, Jordan and Ray on stage

Working hard to stay in shape

Jordan is no stranger to hard work, grit and determination when it comes to staying in shape.

‘I’ve been swimming since I was practically a week old,’ she says. ‘I started competing for clubs when I was nine, did my first competition when I was 10, then went on to swim for Essex and nationally. I was getting up at 5am and training 30 hours a week.’

But then she hit her teenage years and, like many youngsters who find the pull between a social life and their hobby’s commitments too much, she decided to quit swimming. Sadly, that meant the weight started to pile on.

Jordan would wolf down sugary cereals and heaped bowls of cheese-covered pasta and soon found herself tipping the scales at 11.5st.

‘My sisters used to call me Dustbin,’ she confesses. ‘And I stopped going to dance classes after someone said I looked like an elephant.’

An upcoming school trip to Egypt was the breaking point for Jordan and, desperate to feel happy wearing a bikini in front of the boys from her class, she dropped down to 8st 2lbs in three months.

‘But I did it by not eating,’ she confesses. ‘I didn’t have any energy, I was fainting, get migraines and my periods stopped for a year and a half.’

Worried, her mother took her to the doctors and it was a stark warning handed out by the nurse that brought Jordan to her senses.

‘She said I could become infertile and it was like a light bulb moment,’ says Jordan. ‘I needed to sort myself out.’

In September 2011 Jordan, now 23, decided to go to Essex University and study sports and exercise science, to learn more about how to care for herself properly, and started working part time at her local David Lloyd.

Meanwhile, Ray was embarking on an exciting journey of his own: While working full time as an accountant in Grays, Essex, his interest in bodybuilding and fitness was growing.

‘I’d always played football,’ he says. ‘I started when I was four, played for Canvey Island until I was 16 and was offered a roll at Heybridge Swifts, but then I started to play golf.’

As a youngster he’d been teased for his puppy fat, but now he wanted to find out more about how he could start to live a healthier lifestyle.

‘My homepage on my work computer was bodybuilding.com,’ he confesses. ‘And every morning I would go on there and trawl the site for advice.’

Through solo research he learnt about macros and how to calculate them, started keeping a food plan, prepped his meals and began creating his own workouts.

He fit his training at David Lloyd around his job and it wasn’t long before Jordan noticed him across the gym floor.

Finding your swolemate 

Jordan’s dad was actually the first to speak to Ray.

‘Ray has a Spurs tattoo on his leg,’ explains Jordan. ‘My dad’s a Spurs fan and he’ll speak to anyone else who is one too!’

But it gave Jordan the chance she need to speak to him too.

‘Jordan asked me if she could train legs with me,’ recalls Ray, 27. ‘I remember thinking: ‘Wow, one of the personal trainers wants to train with me, I must be doing something right!”

So, in January 2013, the pair started meeting on Sunday mornings to train.

‘I used to spend hours doing cardio,’ says Jordan. ‘But, it was only when I started training with Ray, and started eating five meals a day, that I began to see my body change.’

A month later they were going on their first date and it wasn’t long before Jordan was suggesting Ray looked into qualifying as a personal trainer too. For six months he worked full time, trained clients and himself.

‘I was exhausted and it was becoming too much to handle,’ he remembers.

Then, in March 2014, the pair set up their personal training company BodyByJR – Jordan working full time and Ray part time. That September, six months later, Ray quit his job and joined her full time.

But if starting up their own business wasn’t enough, the pair had also decided to compete in their first fitness competition – Miami Pro Universe Championships – in October 2014.

‘We did it for fun,’ says Ray. ’Just to prove we could do it.’

They did all their own prep, from food plans to exercise schedules.

Ray entered the muscle model and fitness model over 75kg categories and placed 5th in fitness model over 75kg. Jordan entered the bikini tall category, however she didn’t place.

That Christmas, while holidaying in Mexico, Ray proposed. The pair loved being on stage and, less than a year later, they were back for the Miami Pro World Championships in April 2015.

This time Jordan placed 6th in bikini model and 7th in fitness model out of 22 girls. Ray, however, didn’t place. And, a year later, in April [2016] they were back for a third time at the Miami Pro World Championships.

Jordan competed in bikini tall, junior and fitness. She got first call outs in all of them and won 4th place in bikini tall. Ray walked away with 3rd place in the fitness model over 75kg category and his Pro card!

‘It’s amazing to find someone who shares your passion, who you get along with and who you think so highly of to be next to you throughout this journey,’ says Ray.

The couple are also sponsored athletes for sportswear line 3D Muscle and EG Nutrition, producers of sports nutrition supplements.

BodyByJR serves clients from Essex to Australia

But the hard work and focus it takes to prep for these competitions and schedule in their own weights and cardio sessions never encroaches on their work as personal trainers and competition prep coaches.

BodyByJR has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2014, providing weekly bootcamps and personal 1-2-1 training at Ripped Gyms in Basildon plus online plans, they even have their own clothing line.

The pair have over 70 online clients based as far afield as America and Australia and, this year alone, have prepped over 20 men and women who are competing in fitness competitions all over the UK.

They have transformed people’s lives and their Instagram feeds (@jodsaund, @ray.bath and @bodybyjr) are chock full of grateful clients.

But Jordan admits that staying in shape doesn’t come easy for her and that’s what makes her so relatable.

‘I used to think that having a competition to prepare for was the only way I could stay on track,’ she explains. ‘But I have had to learn that I needed to find a balance and now I want to show others how to do the same.

‘Neither of us are gifted with these bodies. To stay in shape I have to work hard for it, I put weight on just looking at cake! But, I enjoy working hard and want to inspire others. I want to keep it real.’

‘We aren’t just personal trainers,’ agrees Ray. ‘We are like therapists to some of our clients. A lot of people say they have never had this sort of support and that’s something we pride ourselves on.’

In fact, in October, instead of standing on the sidelines cheering them on, Jordan will be training for and running a half marathon with one of her clients.

‘We never thought we’d be role models to anyone,’ says Jordan. ‘But the messages of thanks we get from clients are overwhelming and that’s what keeps us going.’

So what does 2017 have in store for BodyByJR? Well, the couple will be getting married in Cyprus in May next year [2017] and they plan to expand on their clothing line too.

‘There are other exciting plans afoot too,’ says Ray with a twinkle in his eye. ‘But we are keeping them close to our chest for now.’

What’s for sure, though, is that this couple, who work together and train together, are not only there for each other, but their clients too.

‘They can see the journey we’ve been on, so they know we understand what they are going through and can help,’ smiles Jordan.

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Author: Charlotte Potter

Charlotte Potter is a 30-something features editor who lost three stone in one year. She worked off her obesity to become a body fitness competitor. She's worked for Woman's Own, Chat, Pick Me Up, Full House and Take A Break's Fate & Fortune magazine.

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