FROM PARALYSED TO GQ'S STAR TRAINER. //
There’s no doubt you all know Esmée Gummer, one of our master trainers at 1Rebel. With her positive vibes, relentless energy and Essex banter, she’s not hard to miss.
Some of you will already know the incredible journey Esmée has been through to get to where she is today, but for those of you who have just joined the #RebelArmy, it’s time to hear how Esmée went from a paralysed 18-year-old to GQ’s Star Trainer.
So you started off at a dancer, training for a place at the best dance college in London. You landed a place in 2009 and then 6 weeks before you were due to start can you tell us what happened?
I got a place at dance college which was everything I had ever dreamed of- my ultimate life goal. Six weeks before my first day I went to have a hernia repair. That's when everything changed. I had a reaction to the drugs which caused me to have a seizure for eight hours. As a consequence, I was left with no short term memory, a speech impediment, lack of motor skills and paralysis from waist down. After three days I started to recover, but I remained paralysed from waist down. The doctor told me I wasn’t going to walk again. This is absolutely devastating. My future crashed down before my eyes and I didn't know how to process what he was telling me.Being the fitness-obsessed person that I am, I couldn’t accept this. I demanded physio but they wouldn’t move me.
Being me, I wouldn't give up and eventually they and started the physio. It took three weeks of attempting to walking with the aid of parallel bars and assisted movements. It was only after weeks of slow progress that I could even stand and take my first few steps. After that I left the hospital in a wheelchair with continued physio for the next 6 months.
Tell us about your recovery process and how physically and mentally demanding the the rehab was?
The whole process took 6 months and involved trying to lift my legs, which was physically impossible. I relied on my upper body to move myself around to start learning how to coordinate my body. Eventually I could get myself into my wheelchair. From there the next obstacle was the parallel bars. I was determined to do it alone. But this was still impossible- the doctors had to assist me throughout the whole process. A lot of my recovery consisted of dragging myself around as my feet were completely numb. I can't tell you how mentally torturing this was. From the most active person you could have met to not being able to put one foot in front of the other. It was.
One of the most common questions I get asked is how did you lay in a bed paralysed and not completely lose your mind?
Don’t get me wrong I was scared out of my mind – I felt trapped. I would lay alone with my thoughts and privately panic to myself at the harsh realisation that Icould be like this forever. But all the time laying there and thinking made me stronger, wiser and completely in touch with myself. It was this time that I became happy with myself and being alone. Of course people came to visit and kept me company- but once they were gone, it was just me and my negative thoughts. Whenever I felt angry or depressed about what had happened to me, I said to myself, “Esmée, you’ve got me, we’re going to be alright!”.
So after Rehab, what happened next? How did you end up at 1Rebel?
By the time I was fully recovered it gave me a new found energy to get back into fitness and push my body to it's limits. I was inspired by the fact that I had trained myself and my body to move again and wanted to keep progressing. This was also teamed with the fact that I wanted to help others realise that anything is possible. After hearing that I would never walk again, and proving them wrong, I was determined to go even further. I trained up as a PT, was working in a gym and 1Rebel approached me to come and train the Rebel Army.
I have been at 1Rebel since day 1 and taught the very first Reshape session. The rest is history and I haven't looked back since. I'm a Rebel until the end.
How has your expereince help you motivate other people?
I train peoples' minds more than just their body. If you train your mind hard enough, your body will come after. I believe that no one should enter fitness solely to lose weight or change their body. My goal was to walk again, then it was to run again, then it was to jump, then to run. This was all a complete mind game and challenging myself to how far I could push myself mentally. So I always say to our customers, there's no point going to a gym or a class with your only goal being to lose weight or change the way your body looks. You will come out and look in the mirror and just be disappointed that nothing has changed in the space of an hour. Instead make your goal mental and achievable. The mental achievement, and physical changes will be so much more pleasing. I don’t like to share with everyone the whole process of my story, but when I see people training and wanting to give up, it makes me even more determined to push them harder because I know it’s possible. So when I shout at you in the Reshape room, don’t take it personally, it’s only because I know you’ve got it in you.
Now dubbed as GQ's star trainer and 1Rebel's Master trainer only at the age of 24, Esmée has got big plans for the future. She is continuing to train harder every day and wants to start focusing on how people mentally enter the fitness industry.