It’s difficult not to envy celebrities and their seemingly effortless beach bods. But the truth is, those rock-hard abs and perfectly toned tushes only come with an insane amount of discipline, hard work, and—in many cases—the help of experienced fitness professionals. Recently, we were thrilled to receive the opportunity to chat with one of those experts: Ashley Borden. Ashley is an illustrious fitness trainer who’s worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Christina Aguilera, Reese Witherspoon, and Ryan Gosling. Ashley knows just what it takes to achieve that perfect celebrity bod—she helps create them on a day-to-day basis! Here, she shares some of her top tips for getting healthy, staying fit, and achieving your own A-list look!
Spry Living: Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?
Ashley: After struggling with an eating disorder and working through it with the help of OA (Overeaters Anonymous), I started really listening to the facts of fitness and science instead of just following celebrity fads when it came to my training. I wanted to share with everyone how I came to understand my body and help others develop a healthy relationship with their own. It’s never to late to begin improving your fitness!
SL: You’ve worked with so many high profile clients over the last several years—who was your very first celebrity client?
Ashley: The very first celeb I ever worked with was Rosie Perez. She’ll probably never remember, but I trained her ONCE at a private gym in West Hollywood. It was soooo long ago!
SL: How would you describe your fitness philosophy?
Ashley: If someone can explain to me why something works and how it makes sense bio-mechanically then I’m open to learning about it! The way I break down almost every session is the following:
- 10 min full body roll-out
- 15 min shoulder, hip, full-body dynamic warm-up
- 35 minutes of strength and conditioning workouts (usually 2 different mini workouts)
SL: What are some of your celebrity clients’ favorite workouts?
Ashley: Everyone I work with loves to rebound. I’d also say that learning how to train correctly with an Olympic bar has been very empowering for many of my clients.
SL: What workouts would you recommend that can be done at home or on-the-go?
Ashley: If you want to get in a good workout but can’t get to the gym, set a timer for 10 minutes and then do the exercises below. Spend one minute on each exercise (45 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest):
- Alternating reverse lunges (with hands behind head)
- Push-ups (progressions: top of push-up hold/ push-ups on knees/ push-ups with legs straight
- Dolphin hyper-extensions on the floor:
- Keep hands interlaced while back of hands stay attached to forehead.
- Pull belly away from the floor and lift upper torso and legs simultaneously; repeat.
4. Alternating lateral bounding:
- Stand with feet close together
- Bend knees and sit back in slightly into hips
- Push off of outside foot and jump as far as you can to the side
- Land toe-ball-heel
- Repeat on the opposite side
- Bicycle Abs
After you’ve finished one set, repeat.
SL: So many of your clients have incredibly busy schedules; how do you keep them motivated even when they don’t feel like working out?
Ashley: I’m a firm believer that you can workout anytime, anywhere—no gym required. Thanks to the Internet, there are a wealth of free, full-length workouts available at your fingertips. For example, I have about 40 complimentary workouts available on my website, as well as my new six week comprehensive download/DVD program, “6 Weeks to Sculpted.” I had a client that was filming in a remote area with no wi-fi, so she downloaded my 6-week program in advance and trained six days a week! She never felt at loss with what to do and how to keep up her fitness regime. The lesson? Having a program and tracking bi-weekly results keeps people motivated and connected to their goal.
SL: Are there any specific diet guidelines you stick to?
Ashley: I don’t eat anything with partially hydrogenated oil, I don’t drink soda, and I consume very little dairy. I do indulge every once in a while, but I still keep my standards high when I do so. For example, if I’m eating chocolate, it’s going to be good quality chocolate with no partially hydrogenated oil. I believe a little indulgence keeps you from feeling deprived or obsessing about food.
SL: What’s the best thing about your job?
Ashley: I am so grateful for my clients—I love to work with open, willing, and hard-working people; you generally attract what you are, so 99.9% of my clients are those types of people. I feel a genuine, warm connection with them all, and I’m sincerely invested in each client’s progress—celebrity or not.
Ashley’s Pro Tips for Achieving Your Own Celeb-Level Body:
1. Almonds are a great pre-workout snack! Throw a baggie in the cup holder of your car, your purse, or your gym bag so you have quick and easy fuel before you hit the gym.
2. Eliminate all soda from your diet.
3. Consider what you’re eating before and after your specific workouts. For the following workouts, I recommend:
- Circuit training/HIIT:
- Pre: almond butter on sprouted bread and cinnamon
- Post: smoothie: almond butter, protein powder, Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, ice
- Pre: sliced apple and a tablespoon of almond butter
- Post: a salad with lots of colorful veggies, a sprinkle of sliced almonds, diced chicken breast, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
- Pre: a serving of oatmeal, a tablespoon almond butter, and a handful of berries
- Post: carb, protein and fat combo (like above)
- Cardio (treadmill, elliptical, other endurance training):
- Pre: 1/3 cup of berries mixed with almonds
- Post: sprouted bread, cup of fruit, 1 egg or 2 egg whites, 1/4 sliced avocado
4. Here’s my must-have gym equipment:
- YOUR BODY! Body weight resistance training is excellent for big calorie burns and hits every body part. Squats, pushups, pull ups, and all plank variations are sure-fire workouts in any combination!
- Resistance tubing should be a staple in every gym bag or car kit. Use a light-medium resistance band for biceps, triceps, and shoulder moves and a heavy resistance band for big muscle groups like chest and back.
- Mini bands are amazing for immediately activating your glutes, shoulders, and hips. Choose lightweight, small looped bands that have four different resistance selections.
5. If you are not sweating after your workout, you are not training with enough intensity!
6. Start lifting heavier weight and HIIT it! Watch your body fat drop. At least three days a week, add intense (what feels like a 7-8 on a scale of 1-10) workouts. Exercise for one minute at about 80% of your max effort, then rests for two minutes.
7. Are you zoning out? Different environments can be motivating! Try training NOT in front of a mirror and notice how less distracting it can be for your mind. Focus on form and effort level during your training and watch your body change
8. Water hydration is a key in preventing nausea and cramping while training. Keep in mind, even if you are training when its cold out, you still need to stay hydrated.
9. ALWAYS include recovery in your programming! A tight, over-trained body will lead to injury. Rolling out, massages, yoga, and meditation are all great ways to let the body heal and repair.
10. Your feet are your foundation! Wearing the correct shoes for the specific terrain you are training on is critical to avoid rolling ankles, sprained knees, or worse. If possible, visit a specialty fitness shoe store and get fitted with a shoe that has the appropriate size and structure for your foot.