Sarah Donohue, who survived a horrendous crash,has been a stuntwoman, cover model, elite powerboat racer, fitness model and set up Miss Galaxy Universe

Her interest in fitness started at a very young age with swimming  with her parents dragging out of bed for sessions before school. She represented the school at most sports and she had a healthy appetite for the outdoors. However, She didn’t progress as much as she would have liked at swimming. I reached county level and this acted as my wake up call to move on. She did so by taking a degree in fashion & textiles and going to theatre school. But sport was still calling her and holding an equity card from performing in theatres such as ‘The Moulin Rouge’, she decided to work her way onto the Stunt Register and become a stuntwoman.

She also has been involved in powerboat racing! She was offered the chance to train as a racing driver in one of the World’s most prestigious powerboat teams headed by Texan billionaire Charles Burnett III – whose family own such business at Selfridges and numerous clubs and bars. She was spotted in one of his nightclubs and was originally asked if she would work as a PR girl and then through my inquisitive nature, She found out more about her powerboat team, so much so that he gave her an opportunity she will never forget. She was seen as a new tool to raise the team’s profile, she was after all the only female offshore racing driver in the world.


Her training started and within six months, her all-girl team took third in the European Championships in Italy in 1993. After that it wasn’t too long before she was picked up by the movies and fell into the stunt work she desired. They came to her as a racing driver for the Bond movie, ‘The World is Not Enough’ and she worked on Bond for five months, alongside Pierce Brosnan. She was even in Q’s laboratory with John Cleese whom she stayed in touch with. However, powerboat racing took over her life and it was just a few weeks after Bond in 1999, whilst racing on Venice Lagoon in Italy, an accident happened that would change her life forever.

Sarah Donohue, crashed at almost full speed and ended up being airlifted and put on a life-support machine after being dragged out of the wreckage and resuscitated. The paramedics lost her a couple of times on the way to hospital. She had drowned and had no heart beat for over four minutes! Her broken bones and titanium plates took a long time to heal and it was from there on her journey into fitness started. She begun at the bottom, broken unable to move and and worked up to two world titles

Never let anyone tell you, you can’t do something, everything is possible, you just need to focus on your goal!

She was in rehab for maybe a year or more and another long stint in training followed to put back on the third of her bodyweight that she had lost by having my jaws wired together to stabilise the plates in my face. During rehab, she actually returned to racing and won the 2001 European Championships in Italy, the 2004 American National Championships after getting picked up by an American team and a Lady of the Lake speed record here on Windermere and the British title. She was a busy lady and shot for every racing magazine across the world and some huge mainstream publications such as America’s National Enquirer. Even ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ featured me in their show, which boosted her profile across the USA.

It was around this time his trainer suggested go to the USA and compete. After two years of intense training, she went from a 38kg/6 stone weakling who couldn’t even do 1inch of an upright row due to a broken and dislocated shoulder and collarbone, to as she named, ‘The machine’. She simply did not tire on heavy repetitions.

She had never heard of fitness competitions, so had no idea what he was talking about, but he said that the UK couldn’t offer her a competition that suited and the only place for her was America, he told me to look up the Galaxy Competition, to fly over, do the three day camp, qualify and come back to prepare. He said no other girl in the UK had ever qualified or done it.

She was on a fight within three weeks and that’s exactly what she did. She came back after a weekend of training and fun qualified to take part. She worked hard, flew back out there, competed and had a great time. There were 150 girls and she took a fourth. It was all a bit crazy – assault courses, fitness tests, bikini rounds, hardcore routines, evening wear, fashion shows by the hotel pools, photoshoots, TV and magazines. She also worked for Venus Swimwear in the USA and got involved in the incredible Poker Runs in Florida in some of the fastest and most expensive boats in the world and shared a few driving positions with the incredible Don Johnson from Miami Vice who also raced. She had all her flights taken care over the years by Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, as Richard Branson, also loved powerboats and everyone scratches each other’s back in our world…. To me that was all part of my normal working day!

Sarah joins the Marines…

However, despite all of her action girl lifestyle she had had a dream – to be a Royal Marine, but as a female this was obviously never going to happen. But over 15 or more years she became a fixture within many areas of the military. They inspired her beyond belief and because of her powerboat background, she was welcomed at every Naval and Marine base where ever she went. She was also a pin-up girl for Soldier Magazine, worked with BFBS radio and have helped raise millions over the years.

She began to train the way they did and She was taken on several exercises, some very extreme, both here and abroad. She was put through ‘Escape and Evasion’ exercises by the Special Forces, where they didn’t eat or sleep for days, were bound, our heads bagged and they were roughly thrown into the back of vehicles set for interrogation techniques. These went on for hours, even days, they were so hungry and tired, the difference between minutes and hours, night and day was the job in the end and she longed for anonymity. She even went under a different name whilst competing in Texas at one point so no one could google her.

Sarah’s Training

Even at her peak, she rarely trained more than five times a week. The training she did was so specific, she needed no more. The rest of her time was spent on good food, focus, reaction tests, simple stress positions and relaxing. Everything she does is based on giantsets, progressive and supersets at high intensity with heavy weight with loads of repetitions… She can easily do 100’s of reps in a giantset and that set could take her 30/40 minutes. Hence she has no need to spend her life in the gym. She does in one hour what most people do in one week. Her favourite routine is shoulders and her least favourite is back. She hate back with a passion unknown.

This gave her untold discipline and it showed her that being fit was not about being gym fit. The most important fitness was within the mind – it was whether the mind could be broken, because if it couldn’t then you are already victorious. She did have a lot of the mentality of what it takes to be a Marine. She was brought up in a disciplined environment with six boys and its working with the Marines and learning from them that has helped her success, as I just never give up or give in, nor do I bow down to pain or injury. Her connection with the Royal Marines is still strong and even her powerboat was looked after by a special branch of the Marines.

She has untold respect for our Forces. She won her second World Fitness title two years ago at the age of 40. An endurance athlete peaks later on, the girls half her age couldn’t even keep up with her. She ran through the assault course, not over it. Her new trainer made her unstoppable, he’s an ex Para Reg PTI. She always train with military personnel – it’s a sure way to victory. And if you are wondering how she fit everything in, She works every day of her life until 2am, she loves her work because it’s also her passion and her hobby, her holidays are encompassed in her work, and her boyfriend is a Royal Marine.

She has nurtured her existence into a personal fairytale surrounded by what she loves. She retired after her second title. Competing for a decade against some of the World’s toughest multi-talented athletes takes over her life. Two shows a year is almost too much for the body – it’s not just about standing on stage for us, it’s three or four days of challenging every part of the body and on top of that they have to look like Miss Universe. This was her job. She was sponsored to take medals and feature in the media, TV, magazines and newspapers, no different than the powerboats, which she was still racing. But she wanted some normality as she had travelled the world in private jets, racing boats, dined with sheiks and sea lords, celebrities and billionaires.

Sample Shoulder Routine

She takes a short rest in between each progressive set. Does not rest between exercises within the sets no matter how much you are struggling. It’s all in your mind! All exercises are to be done with your maximum weight you can lift for 20 reps over duration without poor form creeping in. So the clean and press is first, the next set is clean and press and seated dumbbell press, then clean and press and then seated dumbbell press and side raises and so on as below.

Once you have finished the set, reverse the exercise order and come all the way back down.

– Clean and press x 20reps (25kg)
– Clean and press x 20reps
– Seated dumbbell press x 20 reps (14kg)
– Clean and press x 20 reps
– Seated dumbbell press x 20 reps
– Side raises x 20 reps (10kg)
– Clean and press x 20 reps
– Seated dumbbell press x 20 reps
– Side raises x 20 reps
– Plate roll x 20 (15/20kg plate)
– Clean and press x 20 reps
– Seated dumbbell press x 20 reps
– Side raises x 20 reps
– Plate roll x 20 (15/20kg plate)
– Front raises x 20 (10kg)


She only watch her nutrition when she has a show. But fortunately she doesn’t has a sweet tooth and she doesn’t like junk food. She doesn’t plan my food, she finds it obsessive and can make people paranoid and it’s time consuming. She starts three or so months out of the show at 4000 calories a day, 200g/7oz protein and she watchs her fats and carbs. Every couple of weeks she lower her calories intake and her fats and carbs, until the week before the show she is at 900 to 1200 calories a day, no more than 40g/1.5oz of fats, 8090g/2.8oz-3.1oz carbs.

She goes from 64kg/140lbs, to weighing in at 52.6kg/116.2lbs (with help from a sauna at 5am) and she competes at 159kg/36.2lbs. She eat what she wants when she wants as long as she does not go over her daily calculations. Everything she eat is healthy, lean ham, chicken, veg and if she can’t calculate what’s in it, she simply don’t eat it. She always has a cheat day on a Saturday. Doesn’t let food take over her life and has a simple plan – It’s easier to stick to.

She often wondered over the years why the UK, has never involved itself in such amazing competitions like the ones she had done in the US. In fact when she started Miss Galaxy Universe, she had industry professionals telling her, ‘It’ll never work, British women aren’t interested in the sweating bit.’ Well one year down the line, with no backing and no show sponsorship, just love and trust, She now have more females on stage than any other show in Europe. On June 1st at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley, 100 girls will showcase themselves, not only as beautiful women but also as athletes performing fitness tests live on stage. Within six hours of opening entry, we were fully booked and we have over 30 waiting.

They also have some wonderful judges with them, such as Saracen from Gladiators, Charlotte Ord from ITV’s Biggest Loser and Lee Latchford Evans from Steps. And their head judge is fitness champion and gymnast Irina Cotton. The Galaxy Girls are a special breed of woman and she hope she give them what they give to her. She also honoured to be at judge at Bodypower (May 18th/19th NEC Birmingham) this year on Fit Factor, their new fitness model search show. Bodypower is set for some big changes and is already one of the biggest fitness expos in Europe. Her Galaxy Girls will be there of course.

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