Our surroundings determine what we do with our lives. We live in cities and go to metropolitan gyms; we live in the countryside and buck haybales; we live near mountains and run trails.
Ashley Horner lives on the tropical island of Guam, 17 hours off the mainland United States in the Pacific Ocean. So her surroundings play a huge part in her fitness drive. She runs the white-sand beaches, swims in the reefs off the coast and hikes in mountains complete with lush ferns and waterfalls.
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Sounds nice, no? Well, Ashley's training is no day at the beach! She is a hardcore figure competitor, trying to make her mark in the NPC and scale the pro ranks. To get there, she trains her body with military intensity. We're talking about ferocious supersets and circuits, mixing high reps and low, compounded by bursts (30 minutes) of cardiovascular training that change daily.
"Whenever I am at the gym, I immediately put on my headphones, get on the treadmill, and just walk for 5 minutes," Horner said. "I focus and remind myself why I am there. It gives me a chance to disconnect from the 'mom' life and from the wife and everything else, from work, my clients and everything else going on ... I get myself in the right mindset to train."
Her 'everything else' is nothing to scoff at. She's a mother of two and works with multiple charities and advisory groups helping spouses of war. Ashley smiles and laughs with the best of them, but she leads a serious life.
Her training split is detailed below. Just try to keep up! She trains her legs daily, with high-rep moves (jump squats, walking lunges, etc.). She's currently trying to improve her shoulders (so important in the pros).
Ashley clearly enjoys training outdoors (who wouldn't on Guam?), but sometimes cardio must be done inside. Here are some tips she suggests to do it right.
1. If I have to do cardio inside, I hit cardio before I do weights. I love the weight room, so much (and not so much the cardio), so I know I'll come up with an excuse not do to my cardio at the end.
2. If I am training on the treadmill, I love to do HIIT sessions. It's hard for me to do the same thing, just running on the treadmill at the same pace the entire time. I love to do incline running (8%). I love to do sprints! Side shuffles on the treadmill!
R & R
In the hubbub she gets caught up in, Ashley still takes her rests (actively). Every Sunday she spends entirely with her children, swimming in the ocean, taking the dogs to the beach, going on hikes. She called it "leisure fun."
"I think a lot of people find that balance in their lives, especially when they have a family, a husband and kids," Horner said. "That's one of the biggest issues, because you don't know if you're doing too much, or if you're not doing enough, then you miss a workout and you feel guilty, but then you're at the gym for so long and then you're like, 'I need to get home to my kids.' And dinner needs to be made, and to be honest I don't think there's really a set balance for any person. I think it really depends on what's going on in their lives at the time.
"To have that hour and half to do nothing but focus on myself ... it calms me in a way. My workouts are always intense, but I walk away feeling accomplished."
Ashley's Training Philosophy
"I always train in a circuit manor. My rest periods are non-existent unless I'm chugging water. Like everything, my workouts are always changing. I like to include all aspects and components of fitness. It's always fun to me. Some of my best workouts take place outside the gym. I love all different types of workouts and I'll incorporate all of them. It's important that you constantly change your workout program, in the gym, on the track, in the pool. So your body doesn't become accustomed to the change."