“I wanted to show women and moms that there’s no such thing as perfect. At all.”–Ashley Horner
Ashley Horner discusses her evolution from childhood on a ranch in Oklahoma to becoming a fitness model for Bodybuilding.com, cross-over athlete, ultra-runner, and an entrepreneur. Find out how she’s been able to use her business sense and determination for various charitable organizations, including starting her own “Unbroken Movement Foundation,” in the service of battered and abused women. What will you be able to learn from her success and the very clear sense of purpose or “why” that drives her? How did she come to be one of the most well-known and respected female voices the fitness industry?
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Discussing Business, Fitness, and Giving Back With Ashley Horner
Hey folks, Commander Mark Divine coming at you with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much again for coming and tuning in this week. We’ve got a great show for you with a really cool lady named Ashley Horner. Did I say that right? Horner?
Ashley Horner: Yes sir.
Mark: Yes. But before we get started and I introduce you to Ashley, let me remind you to go rate the podcast if you would at iTunes. That’s the only way other people who really don’t know about us are going to find us. So when they search for other similar podcasts then we’ll pop up. So if you click on 5 stars preferably, that’d be really cool.
And just a quick update, we have our Unbeatable Mind retreat coming up in December so if that was something you were interested in, we’re going to be sold out this year, so I recommend you kinda go take a look at that on unbeatablemind.com.
And we haven’t really put a lot of word out on this, but we’re going to do this huge charity event. We’re hoping to raise three million dollars for several charities: The Spec Ops Warrior Foundation, Inner Vision, and Hopeland. We’re going to do this really cool ruck march with 30 hardy warriors who are willing to ruck 300 miles with myself and some of my SEALFIT coaches from Sparta to Thermopylae. The same path that the Spartans took. Isn’t that cool, Ashley? Maybe you’d like to do that.
Ashley: I think I actually might like to do that.
Mark: It’s going to be really cool. We’re going to break into kind of Spartan phalanx teams, or boat crews. We’re going to do a lot of challenges. We’re going to be rucking literally like 30 plus miles a day.
Ashley: Yeah. That sound awesome. That’s right up my alley. When is that?
Mark: It’s in May of next year of next year.
Ashley: Perfect time of the year.
Mark: And we’re trying to raise a ton of money for those charities. I know, it’s a great time of year. And I’ve never been to Greece. I’m really looking forward to that. And what a cool kinda metaphor. Just to retrace the steps of those 300 Spartans who marched to save Western civilization.
Anyway, so hey everyone, enough chit-chat. Let’s get going. So Ashley… what an incredible woman. A wife and mother, fitness expert, runs several business and a fitness model. She owns a company called the American Sled Dogs training facility, which I can’t wait to learn about, in Virginia beach. Also in Coronado. She’s editor-in-chief of “Train for Her” magazine. Founder of “The Unbroken Movement Foundation.” Owner of “The Valkyrie,” did I say that right? “Valkyrie” clothing line. Author of 13 ebooks.
Wow. I don’t know how you do it all. People say they don’t know how I do what I do, but now I’m actually going to flip that on you. I have no idea how you do all this. So we’re going to find out. And talk about being a role model for women, and what women can do to really make a difference in the world.
So, hey, first just thanks for being who you are. I mean, what an amazing example you set. I’m really inspired. That’s cool.
Ashley: Thank you. Thanks for having me and giving me the opportunity.
Mark: It’s our pleasure. So I’ve mentioned earlier about the Unbeatable Mind podcast… we’re really casual and the peeps who listen, really just kind of like listening in on a conversation. So just like me I’m sure everyone is wondering, “Okay, who is this?” Where did you come from? Where did you get this motivation? What’s up with that incredible tattoo on your shoulder of the American flag and the statue of liberty? So why don’t we start… just like where are you from, and what were some of your early formative like mentors and belief systems that kind of propelled you into life?
Ashley: Sure. So growing up I grew up on a big horse ranch. The middle of Oklahoma. We baled hay in the middle of the summer. My dad was like the real deal cowboy. So I grew up there, spent my summers baling hay…
Mark: By the way, I used to bale hay in upstate New York, so I know exactly what that’s like. It is such a cool, functional fitness, hard work…
Ashley: (laughing) That’s not what I was doing, but my parents made me work. I kind of come from a background of, you know… I didn’t realize that my parents were doing it then, but my parents–both my mom and dad– truly taught me what hard work ethic is and that nothing is given to you. You have to earn it, and it takes a lot of hard work. But nothing was given to me. I had to work and earn everything that I have today and everything that I built myself up to. And I was a senior in high school, and my father had a quick onset of esophagus cancer. And he ended up passing away six months after he was diagnosed. So I actually watched my father take his last breath. In our living room, with my mom. And that was like pretty… I didn’t realize… my father was such like a great man. Very unspoken about a lot of the things that he did. And his work, being a ranchman, it wasn’t until after his passing that I really started realizing and hearing the stories of the people that he helped, and the things that he did. It wasn’t about, like, having money in your pocket. But it was about the things that you did for people that really last. It was a true, lasting impact in their lives. And so that’s kind of like, I don’t know if you’d call it a metaphor if you would? But just, you know watching my father suffer, and watching my mom stand by him. And like, the pain. I just saw that my mom could get through anything. My father passed away in such short notice. My mom took his company, my brother dropped out of college, he had a full ride to Harding University playing soccer.
My brother dropped out of college, my mom took over his company and she ran that shit. I remember I was still like just out of high school, but I was like, “Holy shit, like, my mom’s doing this.” There was one time I remember walking into my mom, and she was sitting on the bed and she was crying. This was probably a month after my father had passed away. And I said, “Mom, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” She said, “I am honey. You know what, I give myself one hour every day to be sad. And to feel sorry for myself.” And she said, “You know what? After that I have to take care of business and life moves on.”
So since then, she’s remarried to an awesome guy, and… so it’s been great. So I think the early stages of my life and kind of learning and transforming me into the woman that I am today. I saw my mom go through that, and kind of her drive and the never let go, never give up type of mindset. And then really just learning a lot from my father, even though I didn’t realize the lessons that he was teaching me back then, but they’re really instilled in me today.
Mark: Isn’t that amazing, Ashley. I mean, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Some of our most powerful mentors, we don’t appreciate what they’re teaching us when they’re teaching it. Because a lot of times they’re just doing it through their actions and through example, and whatnot. All of a sudden, later on, they’re still with you. Your father is very much alive in your mind, your memories, and all those lessons. That’s very cool. What a great example.
Okay, so you… that was Oklahoma, and obviously after high school, you moved on, it sounds like. So what happened then?
Ashley: I was an Olympic… I was in the high level playing soccer competitively, so I was in ODP which is Olympic Development Program. I traveled a lot with them. Through high school and stuff, and then onto… I played a little bit of college ball. And so that’s where my athletic background comes from. I moved around a little bit. I was living in San Diego for a while and I did a lot of work up in LA. Being like a fitness model. But I learned very quickly that being a fitness model doesn’t really pay the bills. And I kind of…
Mark: (laughing) Contrary to what most people think, probably right?
Ashley: Yeah. So I knew that there had to be… I had to be successful. And I had to make it, and so it wasn’t just being a fitness model, but I had to figure out a way to make money and to be a fitness model, which is what I truly loved at the time. So I started getting into the entrepreneurial side of things.
Mark: When you were a bodybuilder… Did you start bodybuilding before you became a fitness model? Is that how you got into that? What got you interested in bodybuilding? That’s kind of a different path.
Ashley: So, it was after I had my son, I was just really overweight, I had stretch marks.
Mark: That’s hard to believe.
Ashley: Yeah. I gained so much weight. I can say now because I didn’t understand health and fitness and nutrition, like back then that I do now. But I was irresponsible with my first pregnancy and I gained a lot of weight. You know, my doctors like warned me. Right before I probably… it was probably 2 weeks before my due date. I went into the doctor, and he was like, “You know, you need to slow down, because you’ve gained too much weight.” I was like, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine. I’ve always been an athlete.” But I ended up getting stretch marks and I ended up having to have a C-section, which I’ve had 3 C-sections now.
But I just was so depressed, and I hated my body after I had my son. And I think that many women deal with that, you know? Like acceptance, so this was before I even got into the fitness model side of things. And that’s why I signed up for my first fitness competition. And I was scared to death to step on stage because I didn’t know any fitness people at all. I wasn’t a fitness model yet, but I was like, “There’s no way…” In my mind, “There’s no way I could ever be like a fitness model, or step on stage, because I have like stretch marks, and I’m not perfect. What everybody thinks is perfect. So I ended up getting on stage and I absolutely loved it. I loved every part of it. I learned so much about myself. Like my confidence soared, and so after that moment, I ended up getting into… I signed up for the “Bodyspace” on bodybuilding.com. And I didn’t win… you do this competition and then if you get top 5 they fly you out to LA.
So I didn’t win. I did this competition with bodybuilding.com, but I got 2nd runner up. And I continued to be a sponsored athlete with them.
Mark: Is that like an online competition? Where you just send in photos and stuff?
Ashley: Uh-huh. And they do it every year. So I did not win, I go 2nd runner up. But I was like… I just continued to do what I was passionate about, which at the time was… you know, even at that point, I wanted to show women and moms that there’s no such thing as perfect. At all. You shouldn’t let what society is telling you, whatever perfect is, to basically like, let yourself go. And that’s what a lot of women do, especially after they have a family and kids and, you know, I felt sexier and like I had more confidence after I had my baby, all my little guys, than I did before. Because it was a confidence thing. So now I’m the bodybuilding.com spokesmodel and I’ve been with them for probably like 3 or 4 years now, which is pretty cool.
Mark: Okay. And what do you need to do to be a spokemodel for Bodybuilding.com? Just go around and speak about fitness?
Ashley: Yeah, so I do a lot of training articles. I’m the author and the creator of a free training program that they have on their website called Charlie Mike. It’s a six week training program. And I’m getting ready to come out with my own supplement line. And that is through Bodybuilding.com.
And I’ve had 100%… I’ve created all of it, down from the flavoring and the ingredient, so I’m really excited about that. But I go to expos, I get to meet a lot of people. I do a lot of sign cards. I speak, so… you just kind of represent the company, and it’s a great company that believes in me, and I believe in them. It’s more like a family.
Mark: That’s cool. So tell us about… I have a note here that you actually went to Guam, so I’m kinda like jumping around chronologically, but you went to Guam for the national women’s soccer team of Guam? What the heck’s up with that?
I served on Guam and there’s not a whole lot there. It’s hard to believe they have a national soccer team.
Ashley: They do. They have a women’s national soccer team. So I was actually in Guam. I was a contracted trainer for both Anderson Air Force and then the naval station down south.
Mark: Yeah. That’s where I served.
Ashley: Yeah, so I worked both bases. And I was like… I did some of their fitness stuff for the active duty military. Getting them ready for like their PT tests and stuff. And then I would also work with the spouses as well, when the husbands deployed. Which kind of, at that point, it started making me… I started seeing like that emptiness in military spouses. Like whenever their husbands or even wives would leave. So it was a really big hole I felt like that I could fill to help these women or men too, like learn to train and not just sit on the couch and cry, and eat dum-dums all day. But to start training and start incorporating fitness into your life.
So yeah, I loved Guam. I dove every single day, and…
Mark: It’s beautiful out there. We’d call it the poor, Japanese kind of Hawaii.
Ashley: (laughing) Yeah. It’s untouched.
Mark: Unspoiled. So this issue, I’m completely sympathetic with it of military members, at least in the SEAL teams, we were gone for 11 months out of the year, and so… course we were all guys, and so the spouses were just sitting at home. And some of them, I can imagine, were just wrecks. Just depressed. The healthiest ones were very independent, entrepreneurial, and into fitness. But in the SEALs community the wives tended to be pretty strong.
But in the general military community, I saw a lot of unhealthy people, sitting back home, waiting and worrying about their spouses. So, I think that’s really neat, and I imagine that there’s a lot more that we can do to inspire the spouses to be healthy and to have a high quality lifestyle while their husbands or wives are deployed.
Ashley: Mm-hmm. And I have a training facility out here in Virginia Beach, and we actually offer… we offer our gym to military spouses when they have loved ones deployed, they can come train at our gym for free.
Mark: Oh, no kidding?
Ashley: Mm-hmm. So we have a lot… It’s just part of our foundation that we do. So yeah, so if you’re husband’s deployed, or wife, and you’re in Virginia beach… Or they’re serving at all and they’re away from home, and you’re in Virginia Beach, you can come train with us for free for the extent that your husband or wife is deployed.
Mark: That’s neat. I bet you that’s something that could be rolled out nation-wide through all Crossfit gyms. There’s gotta be a way to do that.
Mark: We’ll have to put our thinking caps on for that. So, okay, so Guam, how long did that last? How long were you out there?
Ashley: I was out there for, oh gosh, maybe 2 and a half years. And then that’s when I really started getting into my fitness modelling career.
Mark: You had lots of time to train.
Ashley: I did.
Mark: ‘Cause there’s not a whole lot going on in Guam from what I recall.
Ashley: No. Unless you’re wanting to hit up the bars every night and all that. You know, but that wasn’t my scene. I just… that’s when I truly feel like I found myself, was when I lived in Guam. I was excluded from the world, and I just had the… they call ’em the “Guam bombs,” I had this little Guam bomb car that I bought for like $2000 cash.
Mark: (laughing) Yeah, it’s kinda like “Survivor.” You’re just out there. “Okay, so I got 2 years now. What am I going to do?” So you work, you train, eat well, ’cause it’s a healthy island, actually, the way we ate out there was great.
Ashley: Yeah. So that’s whenever I really… I feel like I found myself on Guam. I really… there’s a part of me that will always call Guam home. Because it really… I just was able to see and find so much of myself that I hadn’t been able to see before. And I truly fell in love with the world, and nature and training outside. And that’s when I really started kicking off with my modeling career, and being with Bodybuilding.com at that time. And it’s difficult, as you know, Guam’s very, very far away, so it’s hard to just catch a flight home. And I was out there with my 2 boys at the time.
Single mom and traveling[16:53]
Mark: So you were a single mom?
Ashley: Yup. I was a single mom living out there with them. And so it became hard traveling back and forth.
Mark: When is this? Give us like a timestamp for your years in Guam.
Ashley: How long was this? How long ago?
Mark: How long ago?
Ashley: This was probably 2011 to 2013? Or 2010 to 2012.
Mark: ‘Cause my mind was putting it back… I was there in 1992. I know. I’m just dating myself aren’t I? So, yeah, that was a while ago. I’m sure it’s changed quite a bit since then.
Ashley: Yeah, since then I’ve really wanted to go back. I did a lot of… I was a trainer at the local community gym there as well. And I travel all around now doing Camp Valors and I’ve really wanted to go back to Guam and do a big camp there. So hopefully in the next year…
Mark: Yeah, you should go back and take some young women with you and do something like that. It is such an inspiring thing to go live overseas for a period of time. Like I did my first tour so to speak was in college–so I know a lot of college kids now have the opportunity–but it was kind of rare for me back in ’83, ’84, to actually spend 7 months over in Europe. It was just awesome. It was life changing.
And then of course in the SEALs I think I visited like 40 some odd different countries. But it changes things doesn’t it? You get a whole new perspective on your life in America, or whatever country you’re from. You get to appreciate another culture. If it’s a different language you can even learn a new language. Get to really do some introspective stuff.
So for a lot of people–for me and it sounds like for you too–it’s really the first experience of deep self-awareness. To get out. And so what you’ve done is you’ve broken all the patterns of your upbringing and completely separated yourself from the systems and structures that were causing you to think and believe a certain way. And now you have the freedom to suddenly see the world through new eyes. Through the eyes of the culture as well as through the disrupted patterns which are going to allow new patterns to arise. New ideas, new thoughts. You can almost see how that springboarded you to your current success.
Mark: So I think the message for everyone listening is, “Get out of your rut.” Like physically. Move. And see the world from a new perspective. Better to do that in a new country for a year at least. You know, so… anyways.
That’s very cool. So you… that was a few years ago. When you came out of Guam you came back and you landed in Virginia Beach. So let’s kinda catch up to modern day. So what happened when you got outta Guam? You said you started to look toward business? You were working with bodybuilder.com and then you decided to start your business.
Ashley: So I… when I got back from Guam, I actually… that was when my modeling career really started kicking off. I actually moved to San Diego. And I was in San Diego for a couple of years, and then I happened to meet a guy running down Silver Strand.
Ashley: Yes. So and from San Diego, I’m now in Virginia Beach.
Mark: (laughing) There’s a theme there, but talk about that offline.
Ashley: (laughing) Yeah. So I was in San Diego. I was traveling a lot from… I loved San Diego. It was just perfect. The weather was perfect, that’s like a reason why I picked to move to San Diego. I didn’t want to live in LA, ’cause I was more of like a country girl. And I loved just like being in Guam, like laid back living. So I moved down south, and I would travel a lot from LA and back. I had a lot of photographers up in LA.
So I was there for about a year and a half. And then I ended up moving all the way across to Virginia Beach. And that’s what planted me here about 2 years ago.
Sled Dog Training[20:47]
Mark: So the business that you have called Sled Dog Training, I notice you have one in Coronado. Did you start it in Coronado, or in Virginia Beach?
Ashley: We started in Virginia Beach.
Mark: Okay. And is that a… it’s a fitness facility like a Crossfit gym or how would you describe that?
Ashley: We do functional training. We’re not necessarily a Crossfit gym. I think that you could see some similarities. We have turf inside our facility, we really train our members and gear our members towards being hybrid athletes. So we do everything from just like focusing on strength training to agility and speedwork, and even working on our Olympic lifting moves and stuff. But yeah, it’s an awesome facility. And it’s grown so much and we’ve been open for maybe a year and a half, since I opened the doors. We’ve already had to move buildings once, and now we just expanded into another 2000 square feet recently. So we…
Mark: So how many members do you have?
Ashley: We have close to a hundred.
Mark: And the Coronado… you have a facility in Coronado as well? And who runs that for you?
Ashley: Yes. So that is just like a sister facility that actually the owners of that gym are good friends of mine. Brian Tucker, he also owns SkyDive San Diego and they do a lot of training like SEAL preparatory training to go into their… They have like a charity out there, I forget what it’s called. But American Sled Dogs does all the branding and we do all the programming for the gym.
Mark: It’s almost like an affiliate, right?
Ashley: It is an affiliate. That’s a good way to… So it’s like an affiliate, but they have their own charity and stuff that they do for the community which is pretty cool, because on Coronado island they do the, as you know, the SEAL training and everything, right there. So they take a lot of like the young kids, and they start doing training that will prep them for going into BUD/S.
Mark: Terrific. Sounds like SEALFIT.
Ashley: Yeah. Exactly!
Mark: I should hook up with Brian, that’s awesome.
Ashley: Yeah, you should.
Mark: Very cool. So… that’s awesome. Let’s talk about some of your… like really what fires you up. ‘Cause what I’ve noticed about you is like the businesses seem to be more of a platform for you to do philanthropic work and to raise awareness, and to inspire women. So let’s get kinda like to the soft underbelly of Ashley. Like what you consider to be your purpose in life?
The Purpose and Ashley’s “Why”[24:18]
Ashley: That’s a good question, actually. My purpose is honestly just to empower women. And not only just women, I have a special place for women, but for anybody who feels like that they’re not capable of achieving anything that they set out to be. I think why my focus is on women so much, is because we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we can accomplish and we put a cap and I think it’s partly due to society has capped women because we’re a female. Like we’re not capable of doing this.
And yes you are. You’re fucking just as capable of the next person. We may not be as strong, but there’s things that we have, and gifts and talents that we have that maybe men don’t have. And I think that women… they’re so quick to cut themselves down and tell themselves that they’re not good enough, or not pretty enough, or that they can’t do something. And I’m like, “Yes, yes you are. If you believe in yourself first–first and foremost–you will achieve it. And so… and I have the Unbroken Foundation which is for battered women. And so we raise money that the purpose of the foundation is to raise…
Mark: Is that a foundation that you started?
Ashley: Mm-hmm. So we’re still waiting on 501(c)(3) to pass. So it’s gonna be… I cannot wait. The day that it’s like completely, 100% legal and everything will be amazing. But it’s a foundation that helps… I went into the shelter in North Carolina not too long ago. We have close connections to the shelter in Wilmington, North Carolina, and I was able to talk to these women. And you know, it’s a completely different… Unless you’ve been into one of those shelters and you know the women who are in there and the women who are coming out, there’s no words to describe it. It’s so humbling. And those women have… some of them don’t even know how to speak for themselves, because they’ve been in relationships and they’ve been so locked down that they don’t even know… They’re so broken. They don’t even know what it’s like to love themselves and to know that they can even buy a house one day, or have their own job one day.
And that is the underlying purpose. I also have a coffee/whiskey shop here in Virginia Beach. So the underlying purpose for my coffee/whiskey shop is to start working with the Samaritan Houses in Virginia Beach so these women who are coming out of the shelters, we can give them a place of employment. And teach them leadership. And whenever I decided that I wanted to open American Brew, I had this idea in my mind, “Well, if I could open up 6 across the nation. 6 of these American Brews across the nation.” We get a call from a shelter of a woman who needs to be relocated, then we say, “You know what? We have a shelter for you. We also have a place where you can start and have a place of employment.” And then these women can just–it’s almost like an underground railroad type thing–can just kind of move from place to place to place, where there is an American Brew, or even if there are more gyms opening up, what have you. So they can have some of their first places of employment ever, to learn a trade.
Mark: Wow. That is fantastic. I mean my mind is just going off, thinking about the power of that Unbroken Foundation. And I know what you’re talking about with the start-up of a foundation, ’cause we’re actually in the process of finalizing all the docs for the “Courage Foundation.”
Ashley: Yeah, it’s hard.
Mark: It’s a lot of work. But I can see opportunities for us to work together and support each other. ‘Cause the mission for The Courage Foundation is to cultivate resiliency or courage in underprivileged or challenged populations. And one of our first projects is to get Unbeatable Mind training into the prisons. So we’re going into… I’m donating 1500 books for 5 different prisons next year, and we’re going to look at trying to train some trainers to go in and teach things like mental toughness, resiliency, meditation, breath control, yoga. This type of stuff. And I could see partnering with Unbroken to both raise awareness, funds, and doing a project together for women. Whether it’s in the female prison population or the shelters. That’s really cool. So let’s follow up on that.
Ashley: Yeah, absolutely.
Mark: Maybe something we can look at for next year. Very cool. So “Unbroken Foundation” or “Unbroken Movement Foundation.” And I noticed that you like to personally do challenging things. We talked earlier about our 300 mile ruck, but you did a 280 mile run last year from Virginia Beach to North Carolina. And that was to raise money for this foundation, to kick it off?
Running for “Unbroken”[29:03]
Ashley: Yeah, it was this year actually. It was this past May I did that.
Mark: Okay, so 280 miles. How did that look? Like how many miles did you run a day? ‘Cause that seems like a pretty long run.
Ashley: So the first day was my easiest day. It was 30 miles, and I ran from the gym, American Sled Dogs to the North Carolina border. And maybe it was a little over 30 miles, but it was amazing, and that forever changed me. And I don’t think that… there was one maybe 2 days where I was running by myself, solo. The other days I would have safety runners or Erin, who is like my best friend. She does… we do business together. She’s my manager now. She ran some of it with me.
And then my captain from the Unbroken Foundation, Renee Adams, ran some of it with me as well. But that was probably the toughest thing that I have ever done. Every morning, it got to the point probably day 3, day 4–I ran for 5 days–and like I couldn’t even sleep at night because my body was just in such pain.
Mark: Wait, you only ran 5 days? If I divide 280 by 5, I mean that’s more than 50 miles a day.
Ashley: Mm-hmm. So there was… maybe it was 6 days. ‘Cause I got in on Saturday.
So, yeah, some of my days that I ran were 50 miles straight. One of them was maybe like 55 miles. But the 30 mile run was my shortest run. But it was really hard. My feet swelled to 2 and half shoe sizes bigger, so that was something that I wasn’t planning on that… Thankfully I have Reebok as one of my big sponsors now. And so they were able to get me some more shoes, stat. But I… like my feet swelled, I had a doctor who had to come out and look at me one night because I thought I had like a stress fracture in one of my feet. Which was fine. I remember, I looked at it, and I was like, “Well, is it going to get any worse if I run on it?” And she was like, “I don’t think so. It’s not going to get any worse.” And I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna run. Unless it’s… if it’s not a break I’m fine to run.”
Anyways, so I put myself, my body through hell. But every moment of it was worth it. We had a goal to raise 15,000 dollars because the shelter down in North Carolina needed a new roof. And we raised… I shouldn’t say “we,” it was you guys–everybody helping me–we raised 18,000 dollars. It was so amazing. And I think I cried everyday, just ’cause.
Mark: I bet. That’s so cool. Did you train for this? Or were you confident enough from your functional fitness to just jump into it?
Ashley: You know, I don’t personally do training really. Some would probably argue with me on that. But I think it gets to a point where it’s not really about training anymore physically. It’s about training your mind. And knowing that no matter what, you know… and I kept thinking that it doesn’t matter the pain that I’m about to go through. These women and who I’m raising the money for, they have scars that I can’t even compare. I don’t have anything to show for that pain that they have. And so it kept pushing me through to the end.
Mark: That’s an amazing motivation. Just to always have that perspective that it could always be worse, right? And to know your why. We say that with our Kokoro Camp, you know. You’ve gotta know your why, and that why has gotta be grounded in something super-powerful that’s bigger than you.
So your why was to fight for these women and to be inspirational and provide a roof for them.
Mark: And that kept you going every day. What kind of… let’s talk about that event and other events like this. What kind of strategies do you use to keep your mind focused and off the pain and off the suffering and off of those weak moments? Or through the weak moments that you might have?
Ashley: I think it’s important… all the mental things that I do. I have quiet time to myself. I think that’s very important. I do a lot of journalling, which is important. But for me, like, in things that I do that are in honor of people, or because of people, I just think about like the pain and what they went through. And a lot of times I think about my father and the pain that he went through for those 6 months. And the fight that he put up with. My dad was such a healthy individual, he never was sick a day in his life. And I think about the pain, the heartache that my mom went through. And I think that those things, talking about them earlier, are really instilled in me because I know that if those people can go through worse thing than I’m going through and they keep going, I can do that as well. And it just pushes me through.
Mark: Do you have a mantra that you use? Or do you just kind of review in your mind the things that are going to motivate you?
Ashley: I don’t. I just know through all things I’m capable of anything I set my mind to. And I don’t put a limit on myself. And I’m not afraid to hurt, I’m not afraid of pain, I’m not afraid of failing, at all. And I think because I’ve accepted that, and I’m not afraid of that. I have no limitations to myself, and what I can achieve.
A Different Idea of Balance[34:03]
Mark: So for the women who are listening to this, they’re thinking, “Well, you know, here’s Ashley. She’s super fit and beautiful and she’s got a couple businesses, and she’s a model and sponsored by bodybuilding.com, she’s got these charities.” And you’ve got 2 kids or 3 kids now?
Ashley: 3 little boys.
Mark: 3 boys. How do find balance in your life? When is there time for Ashley?
Ashley: Yeah, well, I do what I love every day so I think that if you can truly love and have passion for what you’re doing, the balance… I just bring my boys along with me. There’s no set balance. I mean, training is huge in my life, but my family comes first. And you know, if my family needs attention over my businesses, it’s always adjusting, there’s no set balance. You just kind of take it as it comes. And there’s no such thing as perfect. There’s nothing that makes me any different from any other person in this world. I just have the mindset that I can achieve anything. I’m not afraid. But anybody can do what I’m doing. There’s nothing special about who I am or what I’m doing, I just have the will.
Mark: Yeah, I’m completely in agreement with you, and I think the message for the listeners is that if you’re doing something that you’re super-passionate about and it’s aligned with your purpose, and you can wake up every day with your hair on fire, just super-excited to go to town raising money and building your businesses. Shuffling the kids through this and making them part of it. There is no imbalance because you’re completely right at the center of what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re fulfilling your Dharma, your life purpose. And so balance is almost an irrelevant thing. I mean, you can get… you’re always kind of nudging it back and forth and there’s a little bit of a pendulum pull back and forth, I’m sure, right? And sometimes you’re like, “I need to take a little rest.” or “I need to take a little time off, or spend some time journaling.” So there’s more of an intuitive sense of how to keep your center.
Ashley: And I think it’s important, you talk about like why I’m driven, and why I do what I do. And you know, I hope that my boys look back one day, and they may not understand everything that I’m doing now, but I wanna be the woman that they one day allow in their lives to marry or to become their partners for life. I wanna be that example. And I want to show them that their mom… like, I came from nothing. I had no money. I built everything on my own, from the ground up. And I want them… I want to instill that into them, and I feel like there’s something that’s missing. I’m definitely not a perfect mom, and I struggle many, many ways. But I want to teach them what hard work is, and especially as young men, to have respect for women, and to understand what hard work is, and that nothing is going to be handed to you. And to work hard for it, and they can achieve anything. And that’s the legacy that I want to leave behind for them. To be like, “Wow, my mommy did that. I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now.”
Survival in a Scary World[37:11]
Mark: Right. We’re going to wrap up pretty soon because I know you got about 18 things on the list that are probably barking at you, but the world seems to be getting really scary out there. Especially for women entering the workforce. And, female who are serving our country, there’s a lot of crazy things going on, and, you know… Europe’s probably the most unstable its been since before World War 2. I mean, there’s a lot of people who say that we’re heading towards some sort of conflict.
How does a young woman find themselves in today’s world? What can you, what can we tell them to gain some confidence and some awareness and some motivation to just get up every day and do something different. Take responsibility to do something to help the world be a little better. ‘Cause if everyone had that attitude, guess what, this place would be really different, wouldn’t it?
Ashley: Yeah, there’s a few things actually. I think it’s important for women especially to not compare themselves to anybody else. Social media is like a huge thing of smoke and mirrors and a bunch of bullshit. And I think that if you can cut all that out, and it’s important to look to those people for motivation because that’s why I’m here. I hope to inspire and encourage women all around the world, to show them that they can be unstoppable and achieve anything.
But I think that it’s really easy to get caught up in social media these days and to get caught up in the bullshit. And so be very selective about those people who you allow to influence you and motivate you.
And I don’t think just because there’s stuff going on in the world… There’s always stuff going on in the world. This is the time and age. Just be aware of your surroundings. Be smart and don’t let it put a cap on where you go, and what you explore. Just be aware, be smart. Keep up with the times. And, I don’t know, carry a gun with you.
Mark: Awesome. I love it. Yeah.
So what’s next for you, Ashley? So that’s my first question, and how do we… how does someone who’s listening engage, learn more about you, participate in some of your fund-raising stuff.
Ashley: So what’s next? I have my first Olympic lifting competition coming up this weekend. So I’m really excited about that.
Mark: Good luck.
Ashley: Thank you. And then, I have about a 5 day break and then I’m rowing on the Concept 2 rower. I’m rowing 300 miles to raise money for the Virginia police department Spikes K9. They make ballistic vests for the dogs. So I’m gonna row 300 miles to raise a lot of money for the Virginia police.
Mark: Is that something people can donate or sponsor you? Or how do you raise the money?
Ashley: So we have a GoFundMe account set up. And I think I posted it one time. After this weekend we’ll start sharing a lot more about the event, who it’s for. We want to make a lot of these bullet proof vests for the canines and help out the canines that support the Virginia police. And the foundation that we’re raising money for, Spikes K9, they actually do work all around the United States. So it’s pretty cool to see their efforts, and what they’re doing.
So that starts, I’ll be rowing for a week straight.
Mark: Good Lord.
Ashley: Yeah. And it’s something like 843,000 miles… meters, meters I’m sorry, it’s like 843 something meters that I’m rowing.
Mark: (laughing) Good Lord.
Ashley: Yeah. It’s going to be really bad, so…
Mark: That’s going to be mind-numbing, by the way.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. I got some butt pads ordered. So and I’m finishing up with a huge Camp Valor. We’ll have food trucks there. It’ll be at our gym American Sled Dogs in Virginia Beach so a lot of people are flying in and traveling in for that. We’ll have a DJ. All my sponsors, Reebok, Bodybuilding.com, Rocktape, and then my other supporters. Powerdot is also for my recovery… will be helping me with my recovery.
Mark: Yeah, I know those guys well.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Awesome company. I like those guys. I like their Powerdot. I use it a lot, actually. ‘Cause I’m so crazy with everything that I do.
So that’ll be the next big event and after that there’s some stuff coming up, but you guys’ll just have to wait and see.
Mark: We’ll have to track you. We’ll have to follow you on Facebook or Twitter or something like that. So how do people find more about you?
Ashley: So you can find me on my website, ashleyhorner.co is kind of like where Ashley Horner lives, and you can find everything else. I also have a kids training site for people who have kids and wanting to start getting their kids into training called Sled Pups. It’s like from American Sled Dogs.
Mark: Is that sledpups.com?
Ashley: Yes. sledpups.com.
My clothing line is Valkyrie Surf.
And then American Brew if you’re ever in Virginia Beach and you wanna come by for a coffee/whiskey. We have organic coffee. I’m getting ready to come out with my supplement line, so whenever that happens, I have my protein. We’ll have some muscle joes here, like protein shakes. But it’s a great little area.
But yeah, you can probably just Google me and find me. I don’t hide very well.
Mark: No. I can tell. That is awesome. Well Ashley, thanks so much for your time. Thank you for your passion, and for all the work you’re doing for women and inspiring. Especially battered women, wow. I’d love to see down the road if there’s a way we could collaborate, you know, and do something together.
Mark: And so for everyone listening, if you wanna go check out Ashley’s work and support her with this 300 mile row. Wow. I mean, if I had a little more courage myself I’d roger up to row with you out here on the west coast, but I’ll have to think about that one a little bit.
Ashley: I encourage everybody, like, this weekend or the next week, whenever you go into your training, if you have a Concept 2 rower, to just go row 10,000 meters. It should take you about 45 minutes to a little over an hour. And that’s only 10,000 meters. What is that 6 miles? So I’m getting ready to row 300 miles. It really puts it in perspective. I’m gonna be on the pain train, for sure.
Mark: (laughing) Well, we’ll be thinking about you Ashley. That’s awesome.
Ashley: Thank you so much.
Mark Thanks again. Really appreciate your time. Don’t sign off just yet. Hey everyone so check out Ashley’s work and let’s support her doing some amazing stuff. We’ll have her back on the podcast sometime next year. And hopefully we’ll be able to do some stuff with her, and raise some awareness and whatnot for women.
And so everyone, until next time, stay focused, train hard, do the work every day. There is no free ride, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, right Ashley?
Mark: We gotta show up and put out. But do it with purpose, passion, in line with your principles, that’s your ethos, and come back and visit us. And don’t forget to rate us on iTunes and support our sponsors.
Coach Divine out.