Like most Youfit members, Ashley has a backstory that inspired her to join our family of gyms.
Three words that describe Ashley, as she explains it, are “empathetic, determined, learner.” We couldn’t agree more after sitting down with her and following her journey as she battles Aggressive Fibromatosis – a rare desmoid tumor located in her left leg.
As you can imagine, being a gym goer, a disease that affects an appendage that’s critical to your routine can seem like a mountain-sized challenge to overcome. After enduring 24 weekly chemo treatments and receiving extensive physical therapy to treat her illness, Ashley was finally able to walk again. Unfortunately, with this condition, Ashley’s tumor does not disappear and has the potential to “reactivate” and regrow at any time. With this devastating prognosis, Ashley knew it was time to adopt healthier lifestyle choices – this included a clean diet, and you guessed it: a Youfit gym membership.
“After completing my first chemo treatment, I felt so weak! Walking down the stairs to get a glass of water became a major feat. So, I decided to take control of my health and energy levels by enrolling in a membership at Youfit. Since being in the gym, and being intentional about maintaining a healthy diet, my energy levels considerably increased, my body fat percentages decreased from “risky” to “athletic,” my levels of anxiety drastically improved; and I gained more mobility and range of motion in my affected leg!”
Ashley’s motivation comes from the state of her health. “I am determined that I will not let my cancer diagnosis define me or defeat me. I want to do everything within my power to make my body strong and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
As we all know, this is easier said than done – even without a diagnosis such as hers. But it doesn’t always take a health scare to jump start being kind to your body.
In addition to the gym, Ashley’s health regimen includes a holistic approach. “When I was diagnosed with cancer, I began to deeply understand that we are only given one body, and after experiencing how quickly our bodies can deteriorate, I believe being kind to our body is extremely important.”
And for our readers wondering where to start in their own journey? Ashley says, “I believe being kind to your body starts with being kind to your mind. Investing in yourself, and in your personal, physical and mental health, begins with believing that you are worth the investment.”
Youfit is what Ashley associates as her “safe place.” But it wasn’t always that way.
“Before I visited the gym, I expected that I needed to know how to do EVERYTHING, or else the regular-gym-goers would watch me and mock me. The reality? Nobody is watching me, nobody is mocking me, and it’s a great place to go and retreat with your headphones and have time to yourself.”
“I go to Youfit four to five times a week. I do 30-45 minutes of cardio and follow-up with about 45 minutes of weight training (typically six to seven exercises). The cardio helps with my anxiety and the weight training keeps my leg mobile and has improved my range of motion. I invest my time in working with a trainer, and that has made all the difference in my progress! I also meal prep healthy meals for the week, and due to my diagnosis, I avoid processed food, sugar, soy and as many hormonal foods as I can.”
Ashley’s go-getting advice for someone just starting his/her fitness journey includes, “DON’T. GIVE. UP. It will be tough at the beginning! Your body will probably say, ‘What are you doing to me? Stop this!’, but give it three weeks, and your body will begin to LOVE it.” Even when it comes to staying active outside the gym, Ashley recommends, “Spending free time remaining active – walking to the beach, riding a bike and reengaging in recreational sports and activities” is integral. On the corporate scene? Ashley notes, “I also have a desk job, so I try to get out of my chair multiple times a day and take laps around the office.”
Her ultimate takeaway for Youfit readers looking to overcome those first few weeks and get into their own routine is, “Staying in the gym is a battle of the mind more than the body. You are an overcomer! You can do this! I am someone that people were SO surprised to see in the gym. I have started and stopped going to the gym a dozen times in my life, but the motivator of my health. This time it stuck, and now I LOVE IT!”
Ashley’s testament to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle – and surviving – is inspiring to all. If you’re looking to create your own story, start with a free guest pass by clicking here: https://www.youfit.com/free-pass
To follow Ashley on her journey and get more fitness tips, you can find her on Instagram: @chemo_diaries