Q&A with Sophie Gray, holistic nutritionist and personal trainer


Sophie Gray

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Workout and eating plans may be a dime a dozen these days, but one woman has found the right combination: high intensity interval training, clean eating and a message to love your body.

Meet Sophie Gray, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She is an RHN holistic nutritionist and personal trainer, and her website, Way of Gray, offers this simple premise: "Make healthy living sustainable for everyone."

Her photos of colorful, nutritious food; such messages as “eat better, not less;” and inspiring before-and-after photos from women who have used her program have prompted many to purchase her e-books, including "The Workout Plan" for $20 (12 weeks of 30-minute workouts), "The Nutritional Guide" for $20 (including 40 recipes), or a combination of the two for $37.

Find out why Gray started working in fitness and nutrition and what she hopes for her business in the future.


How did you get started on your own fitness and healthy eating way of life?

When I was in my final year of high school, I was very driven to become a model. I had tried everything to lose weight, from not eating to every single thing Dr. Oz recommended. Luckily, I formed a relationship with the personal trainer at my high school gym, and he introduced me to exercise and eating well. After that, it started to become less and less about how I looked, and more about how I felt.  


Tell me about your personal trainer certification and role as an RHN Holistic Nutritionist. Is this what you always wanted to do with your life? How do you think this knowledge helps you when designing your workouts and eating plans?

My first year after high school, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything, so I signed up for a personal training course knowing I wanted to do nutrition later on. It’s funny, people often see me as a fitness person, but I identify more with the nutrition side of things. All my life I have loved food, and it wasn’t until the last year of high school that I knew it’s what I wanted to do for a career. I absolutely adore my holistic nutrition schooling as it takes such a unique approach to nutrition. Without this knowledge, I would have never made my books. Even though I was living the lifestyle before doing my schooling, I believe it’s extremely important to be qualified before giving out information.


Why do you think High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) works so well? 

There are numerous studies showing that HIIT is the most effective form of exercise. Our body works in two energy systems: the anaerobic and aerobic. Aerobic is the system we use when doing long duration training, like running. This system uses oxygen while the anaerobic system uses the oxygen stored within our bodies. The anaerobic system fatigues around two minutes, explaining the short work period in HIIT. When working in this system, we deplete our energy stores and need to repay our body the oxygen we lost. When doing this, our metabolism raises for 24 hours after your workout. So what this means is, yes, you’re burning the same amount of calories as steady state, but you’re also burning calories when you’re finished exercising.


Would you recommend it for most body types and ages? 

HIIT is suitable for all levels as you can adjust the intensity to your body. If you have a difficulty with it, you can slow down — if it’s too hard, you can speed up. It’s not as much the format as the moves that may not be suitable for all ages. For example, if you have issues with your knees, you will want to avoid HIIT workouts that involve a lot of jumping. There’s ways to make HIIT work for everyone.


Tell us about the types of exercises you include in your HIIT workout plan.

My personal trainer had me focus a lot on legs, and naturally, that’s what I have gravitated toward as well. I like to incorporate full body moves (focused on the legs) with high cardio moves. I do this because the cardio moves give you a mental break, while the full body strength moves are both cardio and strength. I like to use different formats but mostly stick with 30 seconds of work, five different moves and only 30 seconds of rest when all of the moves are complete.


What kinds of foods can you eat on your nutritional plan?

Nutrition is not meant to be restrictive, and the recommendations I give are to not cut out any food group. I don’t recommend a high-protein, low-fat, high-carb or any type of fad diet you see in the magazines and all over social media. I’m not here to copyright a new way of eating, but rather bring everything back to basics. I’m not recommending my users go by any diet foods, supplements or anything that doesn’t come from the earth. Rather I encourage the consumption of fresh, natural and whole foods.


What are your hopes for your business — i.e., what do you hope to get out of it and what do you want others to learn?

My hope is for my business to evolve as I do. Originally, I wanted to be exactly where I am now, selling my exercise and nutrition e-books and reaching a wide audience. I have now changed my focus to doing motivational speaking and discussing health beyond the way you look. I believe eating well and exercising aren’t about ab selfies, and I look forward to the next step of my journey that reflects that. I want to show others how amazing life is when we stop concerning ourselves with the size of our jeans, and more with the size of our hearts.