We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, what inspires you?
I am inspired by all the mothers around me who give so selflessly to their families and still find the energy to lift each other up. When I first became a mother almost two years ago, it was one of the loneliest times in my life as I unknowingly said goodbye my “pre-baby” life and career, and hello to a completely new normal. Because I was the first in my group of friends and family to have a baby, I found myself having to search for answers and comfort from strangers and old associates who could relate to not just my struggles as a new mother, but also the sudden darkness that took over me. It was with the help of these incredible women that I was able to find my groove as a mother, and eventually, my strength to start my own business, Ashley Lee Fitness.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Despite having been in the dance and fitness industry for years, I finally started Ashley Lee Fitness in 2020 because of two things: Motherhood and Covid-19. It was a complete surpise how much motherhood changed me. Prior to having my son, I was always extremely indecisive about who I was and wanted to be, and felt happy just being in the background of someone else’s success. The thought of having a business that was completely my own was never more than just a “thought” until I realized how much I was capable of as a mother. The community of moms that helped guide me into my new life, whether I knew them personally or not, gave me so much pride in the capabilities of a woman’s body and mind that I wanted to find a way to give back to them. After speaking to so many about the reality of life post-baby, one thing was clear: moms give every bit of energy to caring for their loved ones, and leave so little for themselves. And so, after giving myself over a year to physically and mentally heal from birth and breastfeeding, I became a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist and began creating and sharing workouts for the everyday mom in the form of Ashley Lee Fitness. My second reason for starting my business was Covid-19. Like many people in this country and around the world, I found myself unemployed early in the year. Because personal and group fitness training has, for as long as we’ve known, involved hands-on guidance, my industry was hit particularly hard right from the beginning. Stuck at home and yearning to connect with people through movement, I started teaching free virtual classes on my social media platforms as a way to help relieve some of the mental and physical stresses caused everyone’s sudden isolation. Using Zoom and minimal workout equipment, it turns out that virtual training is not so different from in-person training, and the responses I got eventually led the start of my business. Getting people to adopt the idea of virtual personal training initially took a bit of convincing. To many, the world of fitness is painted with rows of heavy weights, fully-loaded squat racks, and unspoken competition. However, once my clients moved over to private Zoom sessions, they realized how much of that was just a distraction from reaching their full potential. Instead of waiting to use equipment or worrying about being judged by others, they are now able to fully focus on their goals ahead, and theirs alone. Additionally, and to the surprise of many, using free weights is actually more challenging and effective than using machines, which is actually meant to help people progress to the first. My clients and I work with whatever equipment they already have or are willing to buy, and I build a program that is extremely specific to their body, fitness level, and goals. Similarly, my pre and postnatal programs are tailored to each mom and change according to the stage of pregnancy and postpartum.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Prior to the current lockdowns in Los Angeles, I would have given my friend the ultimate Angeleno experience, since I, myself, am a native and proud Angeleno. This city is both fast-paced and “chill” all at the same time, which is why I love it so much. People here live the hustle-life, yet also find time to stop at the beach or a juicery to refuel. It is truly the greatest city in the world. When this pandemic is over, I’d take my friend to the following: Best breakfast burritos: Lucky Boy Burgers (Pasadena, CA) Best Korean BBQ: Quarters Korean BBQ (Koreantown LA, CA) Best Peruvian food: Mario’s Peruvian & Seafood (Los Angeles, CA) Best street food: Tacos El Venado (Sun Valley, CA) Best asian food in general: San Gabriel Valley Restaurants Best boba milk tea: Tiger Sugar (Rowland Heights, CA) Best hike: Topanga State Park Best group boxing: Box Union (Santa Monica, CA) Best shopping: Glendale Galleria/Americana
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate a special shoutout to all the small business owners out there who fightly tirelssly to keep their dreams a reality.
Charlz Chalmers, @matteophotographs, Michael Lee, PUMA