He might look like an effortlessly muscle-bound model with hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, but Zac Aynsley has worked hard to beat the bullies.
The 21-year-old boasts an eye-watering bank balance and a beautiful model girlfriend Abbey, who adores him, but he hasn’t forgotten the years of cruel taunts from his classmates at school.
The bullying Zac faced even left him suffering panic attacks and anxiety.
“My whole life, I have always been put down and told I was a loser,” Zac says.
“I was badly bullied and cried countless times because people would laugh at me for the way I looked.”
Today Zac, nicknamed ‘Mr Biceps’, is one of the most recognisable faces in the fitness industry with more than 500k followers on his social media platforms.
But the Newcastle-born lad says his early life was marred by torment which has lead to anxiety attacks.
Zac Aynsley has changed a lot from his days as a troubled teenager targeted by bullies
“When I was a kid, I was painfully shy and had zero confidence. I think that’s why I picked on so much because I was this skinny weakling, who wouldn’t say anything back.
“I would walk into a classroom and everyone would just start sniggering and laughing at me, but never let me in on the joke. It would make me feel so self-conscious, to the point where it was hell everyday.
“Because of this I used to suffer terrible panic attacks during the night and anxiety all day. I wouldn’t speak to anyone, my head was down all the time and I was deeply depressed.
“Even today, I’m still affected by it all and still suffer with attacks even though my life and look has changed dramatically.”
And Zac is not alone, as a staggering one in four people in the UK will suffer from an anxiety-related illness at some point in their lifetime.
But three years ago, when Zac was 18, he made the decision to dramatically change his look as a way to overcome his confidence issues and the ridicule he’d felt in his teens.
He attended the gym for the first time, worked hard on his physique and was eventually discovered as a model by chance which led to a meeting with his idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Zac revealed: ‘I’m one of these skinny people that can never put on weight. I have to train twice as hard as everyone else just to look half decent.
“But after months of consistent training, I started seeing results. I loved it and my body began to develop into a great shape.
“In August 2013, a guy from Singapore contacted me on Facebook, he’d seen my photos and said I had insane potential.
“He worked as a graphic designer in the fitness industry and invited me over to Las Vegas for a shoot.
“I went with the intention of having one photo shoot, but when I was there, they asked me to do six more with some of the most famous photographers in America.
Zac and his girlfriend Abbey have found love, although he admits he still suffers from the effects of the bullying
“They also introduced me to the best guys in the fitness industry – Jay Culter, Phil Heath and even Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Arnie was a great guy, he told me I looked amazing, and had great arms. Just to hear that from someone I admired so much, was incredible.
“For years I had people telling me I was worthless, but here was The Terminator telling me I looked great. It meant the world to me.”
Zac, who works out for an hour every day and eats a protein-based meal every two to three hours religiously, continued to hone his body but it wasn’t just his muscles that began to grow, so did his online following and his bank balance.
“When I started my social media accounts, my followers began to grow daily which was really flattering but eventually it grew so big that I had offers of sponsorship,” Zac reveals.
“I had huge protein companies, clothing brands and gyms lining up offering me thousands of pounds to help promote their products.
“It’s hard to believe a few years ago I was on £40 a week being a DJ and now I get paid four figure sums for photo shoots, posts on my Instagram and Twitter, and for showing up at gyms just to train and speak to clients.”
But Zac says his most surreal moment was when he was invited on to a super yacht owned by American billionaire and business magnate David Geffen, owner of Dreamworks and Asylum records.
“Last year I was shooting in Florida and the photographer asked me to go to Virgin Islands for another shoot. Of course I said yes, but I had no idea what was going to happen next.
“We got to the beach and two security guys took me by boat, up to the biggest super yacht I have ever seen in my life. My jaw just dropped.
“It turns out it belonged to David Geffen, who was friends with the photographer and he invited us to stay for a week.
“Just to experience stuff like that is insane to me. I literally had to pinch myself and think how did I end up here?”
Zac’s worked hard to create a body and a career that any of his former bullies would be envious of
These days blond-haired, blue-eyed Zac has women falling at his feet despite being loved up with his fitness model girlfriend Abbey, but he confesses when he was a teenager it was girls who used to ridicule him the most.
Zac confesses: “At school, sometimes the girls were worse than the boys, big gangs of girls would pick on me and humiliate me in front of the rest of the class.
“I had a crush on one girl. I eventually plucked up the courage to buy her flowers and a card but she laughed in my face and threw them back at me, in front of everyone.
“It really shook my confidence and just cemented me in the loser category.
“These days, the same girls message me on Facebook trying to be nice to me, but I always politely tell them to go away.
“They made my life a misery when I was growing up, why should I give them the time of day now?
“I simply explain how deeply depressed they made me and wish them a nice life.
“There’s no point being angry at them, at the end of the day it’s their loss. ’
And it’s not just the his old school pals that now want a slice of the popular North-East hunk, some of his fans and followers have stunned Zac with their outrageous advances.
“Once a male Hollywood movie star offered me £750,000 to sleep with him.
“I honestly thought he was joking, but then he went into detail and told me he wanted to film it. I was in shock.
“Anyone would be tempted by that amount of money, but it would have been on my mind for life. I know I’ll be making that amount of money in the future without having to sell myself in that way.
“I get crazy offers all the time – only last week a man offered me £5,000 to sleep with his wife and let him watch. I politely declined that too.
“But some aren’t all bad, a guy flew all the way from Belgium to hand a deliver a figurine he made of me out of crystal. It’s one of the most beautiful things I own.
“I was really touched that someone would go to that kind of effort for me.”
Now Zac, who has just written three fitness apps and guides – detailing his secrets to an awesome body- says his ultimate goal is to help other sufferers of depression and anxiety.
“I really want to help other people out there who might be suffering with bullying, anxiety or depression.
“I’ve been asked to speak to groups about some of the things I’ve faced, overcome and still struggle with on a daily basis. That’s something I really want to focus on next year.
“I would mean so much to be able to help teenagers who are in the same position as I was.
“Even to this day, I still get abuse from people in my hometown who think I’m arrogant. But I know it’s just pure and simple jealousy.
“I take it with a pinch of salt. I have an amazing life with everything they could ever want.”