Rachel Elizabeth Murray was born in Tulsa, the firstborn of four to her parents, who are still together and madly in love to this day. Her dad was in the Army, so they moved many times in the US and Germany, but settled in Spokane, WA before she started 8th grade. Her family is amazing, and moving made her resilient to change. She had an incredibly blessed childhood and spent my free time in sports, art, music and theater. Graduated from WSU with a BA in Communications and a minor in Fine Arts, but she chose Fitness as a career. She moved to Seattle after college and started personal training. About six months after moving, she signed with her first agency and began sports modeling. Finding success and inspiration through it, she decided that she wanted to be a role model and a voice of integrity and healthy inspiration to others by branding herself and pursuing a career as a fitness personality. Rachel moved to LA in the Summer of 2012, where she currently live, to chase those dreams.
When did you first find interest in the fitness industry? What and/or who inspired your decision to pursue careers as a certified personal trainer, certified sports nutritionist and coach, physique athlete, and fitness model?
I decided to pursue a career in the fitness industry in college, but I’ve always been athletic. My original inspirations are my dad, master swimmer and triathlete (to this day he does at least one a year), and his mother, my grandma (senior Olympics gold medalist swimmer). It wasn’t, despite their inspiration, my plan to have a career in fitness. I was going into advertising to be a creative director and photographer. Again, see my bio for the full story, but I was abused in college, and fitness and faith were what got me on the road to healing, restoring my strength and confidence. During my self-imposed ‘physical therapy’, I started reading fitness magazines. I subscribed to Oxygen and a few others. One cover model stood out to me for some reason so I read her story. We had so much in common that I felt it was almost as if it gave me permission to pursue modeling. I wanted to be a part of how she had inspired me, and inspire others, without ‘selling-out’ to what many fear the modeling industry has become which is unhealthy and dishonest. That model still inspires me and I’m proud to call her a friend. She maintains the same passion for integrity today. Her name is Amber Elizabeth.
As a child and even throughout your life, you have always been active and involved in sports, such as swimming, soccer, and cheerleading. What did you take away from your athletic past that you use for your fitness lifestyle now?
I have a ‘can’t lose’ attitude that compels me to push for improvement every time I train, but other than that being in sports as long as I can remember was simply the way things were. It created an ‘athlete mindset’ that now translates to everything I do. I don’t give up, I push myself a little too hard sometimes, and it’s just a way of life. It’s not an option. Fitness is part of my lifestyle. “Athlete” is part of who I am.
You were unfortunately faced with a hardship in your past. Can you tell us how you dealt with it and what and/or who motivated you to overcome it and keep going in life?
To be painfully honest, I was abused in college (see bio) and I didn’t deal with it in a healthy way at first. I felt an insatiable need to escape my mind and my own body and all I knew to do to deal with that was to run. Fast and hard. So I did. It became an escape and it became unhealthy. I vividly remember trying to run longer and harder every day, looking for bigger hills to sprint up, and I cried. I would cry as I ran. I did that until a trainer friend approached me about weight training and nutrition. I trained with him once and eagerly listened to him and applied everything he taught me. I was hooked. Weight training and eating right made me feel strong, powerful and in control again to an extent. Ironically, at the same time, I was praying as hard as I was running and was growing in my relationship with God. I know God brought my trainer friend into my life at the right time and that it was no coincidence. Faith and fitness helped me find my identity. I had gone from feeling powerless to powerful and I knew I needed to share what I had found with others.
With living a healthy and fit lifestyle, we’re curious, what does your daily diet look like? Do you give yourself “cheat days”? Do you have any favorite clean recipes you would like to share?
You know what? That’s been a healing process too. I got into competing in 2009 and food became just another way to be a control freak. It’s been years since then and I know how to ‘diet’ healthfully, but I don’t eat the same thing everyday unless it’s a varied meal plan to get me to a temporary goal like a show, a booking or a photo shoot.
I eat more than my BMR, and try to maintain the average calories per day needed for my activity level with a focus on nutrition, not just macros. I eat a ton of greens and healthy fats. My nutrition philosophy is a whole-foods based, allergen-avoiding, paleo-meets-sports-nutrition philosophy. This means I avoid gluten, dairy and soy, and carbs are amazing, but earned. If you sit on your butt all day, you don’t need them as much as an athlete training for hours every day needs them. Lean protein is a must, as well as a multivitamin and fish oil, lots of greens, and at least 3L of fresh water daily. I do have cheats but even my cheats aren’t anything that would make me feel sick. It’s not worth it! I want to enjoy my food and how I feel after eating it. I love ‘protein style’ burgers, steak and potatoes, BBQ ribs and sushi for cheats. And let’s not forget dark chocolate and red wine, but I justify those more often.
What does your training routine consist of? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
I train 5-6 times a week. Usually 5 and split up my rest days, Sunday and Wednesday. I lift heavy, and usually superset. Some days I throw in power exercises like snatch, push-press, and plyometrics to keep the intensity up. My split right now starts on Sunday: Rest, Legs/Abs,
Shoulders/Chest, Sprints or Rest, Back/Arms, Sprints/Plyos.
I shoot for between 16-24 sets per workout, and usually keep rest time between 60-90 seconds. Shorter for less intense/heavy, and longer for heavier or more intense.
Cardio is usually a couple sprint sessions a week (20-30 min), and 1-2x a week steady state pre or post lift. Once a week or so I’ll go for a 1-1.5 mile run because it feels good and training/exercise should always be done to make you feel better, not worse (even if it sucks while you’re doing it).
In addition to your diet and training, do you believe in supplements? If so, which kinds do you use and what results have these given you?
I believe that natural, nutritional supplements can be beneficial. However, I don’t believe many supplements out there today have natural or nutritional/health in mind. I am very picky about which brands I use for protein, and pre or during/post workout nutrition and have only found a handful of companies with integrity. Other than that, I highly recommend a good daily multivitamin/mineral, fish oil, extra protein (whey ideally), and individualized herbal supplements for your own needs. For example, I take ashwaganda for adrenal support and stress relief. But talk to an doctor, RD, integrative physician or naturopath before taking anything.
In 2011, you launched a brand and foundation called Cause Fitness. Can you tell us more about this brand, what prompted your decision to create it, and what services you provide?
Yes! ‘Cause Fitness’ is my business, vision, and joy! How it started is a long story! I’ve always had a heart for mission work and after the few trips I’ve been on to volunteer (a hospital in the Dominican Republic, an orphanage in Thailand…), I knew I wanted to do something bigger to ‘give back’. I saw an opportunity with my growing personal brand and it’s influence, to do just that. While I was praying about my desire to help and what I should call my brand I had a clear vision of a brand and business that does everything I need it to do for my personal training clients, in person and online, and has the capacity to mature into a worldwide philanthropic entity. The name “Cause Fitness” came to me during that prayer time, and it was without question or deliberation exactly what I was looking for. ‘Cause Fitness’ is not just a name, but a name that will serve the multiple purposes it implies. It’s a health, fitness, and nutrition lifestyle and services brand that focuses on education for application, so that we can cause a fitness effect; it’s a philanthropic entity or cause for positive global effect; and it’s an action because it inspires you to go actually cause fitness in your own life! As for the business side of Cause Fitness, LLC, I offer my online or “Virtual Training” programs (work with me one-on-one via email, Skype and custom video-based smart-phone training programs), Skype consultations, and downloadable ‘DIY’ ebook-format training and nutrition programs available in my online store. I also blog about once a month, and send my email list subscribers free weekly emails on Monday (Motivation Monday), Tuesday (Training Tuesday – with a free workout), and Friday (Inspiration). In person, I offer private personal training (West Hollywood and Beverly Hills), and I hold a weekly donation-based group fitness class called ‘The UnBootcamp’ in West Hollywood on Saturday morning.
With your fitness careers, you get to work with many clients. How has that been and have any of them influenced you in regards to your own health and fitness?
My personal training clients have always inspired me to keep going. I want to set a good example for them, so I practice what I preach. As far as the corporate clients I’ve worked with, I definitely stepped up my fitness ‘game’ after working with the UFC on the UFC FIT project. MAN, was that hard! I have a new found respect for MMA fighters. They are some of the world’s top athletes in my opinion. UFC FIT also inspired my UnBootcamp. I incorporate a lot of MMA type exercises into my workouts because of them.
As a personal trainer and nutritionist, what advice would you give someone who wants to transition their life towards a more healthy and fit lifestyle, but don’t know where to start?
Always start by educating yourself on the basics, first, but to get started you have to START. I mean, you have to actually take action. To take action, I’d advise getting a consultation with a certified personal trainer, and give yourself permission to start small. Choose one new habit at a time to focus on. Do it daily until it becomes second nature (usually about two weeks) before adopting the next habit. This is how you create a lifestyle rather than a quick fix, and it’s what Cause Fitness is all about.
We had the opportunity to work together in creating amazing photographs. How did you discover Natalie Minh Photography and came to the solution to work with us?
I had the honor of meeting and working with Natalie at the Fitness Model International conference a few years ago. The first time was the Fall conference in 2009. I wanted to shoot with her because of her experience and expertise in both fitness modeling and business, and her awesome personality doesn’t hurt. 😉
Can you please describe the development and production process of your photo shoot, with Natalie and the team? How was your overall experience?
To be honest, it was a while ago, so I don’t remember much of the development and production process, but I enjoy shooting with her and I’ve always loved her professionalism. She’s talented, organized, and easy to work with and her work ethic is infectious. She’s an inspiration! Love me some NM!
What is next for you in this new year? What are your future plans and goals?
It’s going to be another amazing year of blessings and lessons I’m sure! I start production on my show, “Celebrities Get Fit with Rachel Elizabeth” the 3rd week of October (2014), so that’s really exciting and surreal! Also, I’m expanding my brand and working on rebuilding my website to include a more diverse functionality. It’ll still look a lot like the current site, but it will be more incentivized, and have better philanthropic and educational material, and service options. I hope to launch CauseFitness.org as a non-profit sometime in the next few months. We’ll see! God willing.
Any shout outs?
I have to give a big thank you to Alkame Water. As spokesmodel for Alkame, I’ve gained experience, insight into sides of business I wouldn’t have had access to before, and I’m so honored to be associated with a company of integrity, backed in science, who gives back. Not only that, but it’s through of my connection to Alkame that I have been able to expand my professional network and share the heart behind Cause Fitness to hundreds of thousands of people via radio interviews, and events.
And I have to mention my long time friend, personal training client, business manager, and mentor, Courtney LeMarco. Courtney, thank you for always believing in me and thank you for chasing dreams with me! Knowing you is such an incredible gift!
As for people and organizations, I have too many to thank individually. I believe every one I meet or have met has a purpose and has either steered me toward where I am today, or away from choices/paths that would have taken me away from where I am today. Either way you look at it, everyone in my life is a blessing or a lesson, and I am eternally grateful.
Lastly, where can we find you on the Internet?