BodySpace Member Of The Month: Ashley Swoboda

Even personal trainers can lose the figure they try to create in others. Ashley opened her eyes and accepted the challenge. She grew stronger, wiser, and caught the great fit wave.

Name: Ashley Swoboda
BodySpace handle: Swobodatraining
Age: 27
Weight: 142 lbs, 135 lbs contest
Height: 5'5"
Education: B.S. Health Management from Southeast Missouri State University; Exercise Science; ACSM, AFAA.
Occupation: Manager of Anytime Fitness in Jefferson City, Missouri; Personal trainer
Sponsor: Supplement Supersource
Contest History:
2011 NPC Battle of the Champions Iowa 6th
2012 NPC Midwest St. Louis 1st
2012 NPC Northern Kentucky 11th
2012 NPC Duel of Champions 7th
2012 NPC Natural Michigan 1st and overall
2013 NPC Midwest St Louis 6th
Athletic Background: I played softball from T-ball to college. I was a pitcher and absolutely loved it! A shoulder injury ended my career and that was the beginning of my interest in weight training. Basketball: middle school through high school. I played to stay in shape and keep busy during the winter months while I wasn't playing softball.
Super Powers: I am Iron Woman! No, really I wish I was invisible … I love to pull pranks and this would allow me to watch them unfold. That would be pretty awesome!
Ultimate Goal: Ultimately my life goal is to inspire people to live a happier and healthier life. I want to reach as many people as possible! I also want to be a good role model to anyone interested in competing, especially those new to the sport. It is so easy to get pushed in the wrong direction and I see so many young women going down that path. I want to prove that you don't have to compromise your morals to be successful. You can be strong, beautiful and inspire people without taking all of your clothes off!

Training is an inexact science. Every body looks different. Every body is different. But, one thing we all share, fit and fat alike. We can all improve the bodies we have.

Good trainers recognize that they too need to improve. Ashley Swoboda got the cold truth from her husband, and set out to change her perception of herself. With the help of BodySpace, and the internal combustion engine inside her, she became the walking evidence of exercise. She is strong and beautiful, and she refuses to give either up! Ashley joined this community and is now a leader in it.

Follow her lead and attain the confidence a fit body gives you every day. To change lives, you must start with your own.

What led you to the decision that you needed to get in shape?

It was a combination of factors. First off, I felt I wasn't practicing what I preached. I didn't want to be an out-of-shape trainer. I wanted to be a good role model for my clients. I was on vacation with my husband and I remember being embarrassed to be seen in public in shorts—and I was a trainer! I knew I had to make a change, but I just wasn't ready. I was willing to train hard but not ready to give up my favorite foods.

Another big influence was when my husband said he was worried about my health and weight. It was hard to hear, but I knew he was right. I had the biggest sweet tooth on the planet. I would have dessert every day—sometimes more than once! We were also guilty of eating pizza and Mexican food several times throughout the week. This was the first time someone actually brought my weight to my attention. It was exactly what needed to be said to me to get me motivated to make a change.

I made a few small changes after that, but the final straw and biggest influence for my change was when I found out my husband was deploying. I knew one of two things would happen; I would turn to food for comfort and my weight would be out of control or I could put a stop to this and get my life back. I chose to devote the next year to myself. I would eat right, train consistently, and step on stage in a bikini!

Remember when I mentioned being embarrassed wearing shorts in public? I wasn't exaggerating. I was the girl who would go to the bathroom stall to change in the locker room or wear a cover up at the pool so no one would see me in a bikini! This was huge for me, but I knew it had to be done.

Check out more of Ashley's videos on her Youtube page!

What kind of changes have you made since you made that decision?

I've made taking care of my health a priority. It is a lifestyle now. I train hard, I eat right and I feel I am finally a good representation of what I believe in and expect from my clients. I am also happier and more positive about everything in life.

How did you discover BodySpace?

I actually saw a link on a friend's Facebook page. I checked it out and decided to create my own account after seeing the huge support system BodySpace members were providing.

What have you learned from competing in the NPC? Do you want to compete at higher levels?

It is a very subjective sport. That was the biggest adjustment for me. I am competitive and do not like to lose. It was a hard pill to swallow when I felt I brought my best package to the stage and walked away empty-handed. I had to learn to be happy with just being there, no matter what the outcome.

You definitely haven't seen the last of me! I have goals that I haven't accomplished and I am determined to keep fighting until I do. And then I will set bigger ones!

My biggest advice for competitors: It's easy to go overboard after your show. Make sure you slowly increase your food intake as well as decrease your cardio. Make small adjustments each week. The last thing you want to do is eat everything you've deprived yourself of in one day! The weight will come on quick and you will feel like crap and end up wearing baggy sweat pants and only leaving the house at night (yes, it happened to me after my first show!).

Take advantage of the wonderful people you compete against. Talk to them, get to know them. You are all there for the same reason. You have a similar passion, lifestyle, and mindset. I've made some great friendships by doing so!

How do you think BodySpace has helped you reach your goals?

The support from everyone is amazing. There have been times I have lacked motivation or haven't felt I looked my best and someone will post a positive comment on a progress pic or send me an email on how I've motivated or inspired them. One kind word is all it takes to turn a crappy day into a perfect one. That is priceless. Getting that extra push from a stranger when you need it most is pretty incredible.

How do you strike a balance between being beautiful and strong?

I love to train hard and work out like one of the guys, but I like that I can do that and still look like a woman. Strong is beautiful, but you do not have to compromise your beauty to be strong! I may have traded my high heel addiction into a gym shoe addiction but I like that I can still dress up and look good in a dress and high heels!

What is your favorite feature on BodySpace?

I am inspired by seeing others who have worked hard to get where they are. So, the pictures—especially the transformation ones—are always a favorite of mine.

What is your favorite muscle group to train and can you give us a sample workout?
You've been on BodySpace for a few years. How do you stay motivated for the long term?

I set goals. If I don't have a goal then it's too easy to skip workouts or make poor food choices whenever life happens. Having a short-term and long-term goal keeps me on track when I don't always feel like working out or when I want to eat a little more than I should. It gives me that extra drive to push my body past its limits and stay disciplined.

How has your work as a trainer helped your own lifting goals?

It helps push me during my training because I want to be a good role model and example to anyone around me, so I train my ass off! I have the best support system anyone could ask for. My husband, family, and friends are supportive of my lifestyle as well as all of my clients and members of the gym. I am always blown away when family, friends and members/clients travel to one of my shows. Words cannot express how much it means to me to have them there cheering me on.

Are you bothered by some of the stereotypes of figure athletes?

Not anymore. When I first started competing I was surprised how many people went out of their way to be negative and voice their opinions to me. Instead of letting that hold me back, I used it as fuel to achieve everything I set my mind to.

Now I don't care. I have enough people who believe in what I do and support me no matter what. That is all I need. There will always be someone out there who will not agree with what you are doing. The sooner you realize that is OK and it doesn't matter, the better.

What are your favorite supplements?

Scivation Xtend and creatine monohydrate.

What has the biggest impact on muscle growth and recovery?

Training and nutrition are key and most important. Early on, before I got serious with my health and fitness, I tried to just nail down the diet. I was a skinnier, soft version of myself. Then I trained hard core but let my nutrition slip. I was more muscular but I had excess fat—a lot of it!

Once I finally got serious and trained hard with a proper diet, the results were immediate. I have to have sleep or you don't want to be around me! It's key to staying strong mentally, especially during prep, as well as letting my body rest, recover and rebuild. I think supplements are important, but they should never replace your training and nutrition. They should supplement it.

What type of music do you listen to in the gym?

Anything except country! I like to listen to music that has a good beat. I always want to dance though, so I try to remind myself I'm in public.

Here are a few songs that will pop up on my playlist:

  1. "Bounce" - Timbaland
  2. "Wind it up" - Gwen Stefani
  3. "Elevator" - Flo Rida
  4. "Scream and Shout" - w/ Britney Spears
  5. "Take Your Shirt Off" - T-Pain

Motivation is often hard to find. How do you supply it to your clients and yourself?

I'm motivated most by people who work hard and are passionate about health and fitness. I try to do the same for my clients. I love what I do and I believe it shows through my work. I love motivational quotes. I have a chalk wall at work with some of my favorite quotes. I constantly post them on Facebook too. My brother blocked me because he was tired of seeing them!

What is your favorite way to spend a rest day?

Watching movies or reading a good book.

Someone will read this feature and consider joining BodySpace. Why should that person become a part of the largest fitness social network?

BodySpace is a wonderful way to network with like-minded individuals seeking similar goals. If you want to inspire people and be inspired by others then don't wait any longer. Sign up now!



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Is there anything you would like to say to your fellow BodySpace members? Have any of them made a special impact on your life?

Everyone who has messaged me has made an impact on my life. I can't express how humbling it is to have strangers tell you that you're the reason they have made positive changes in their life or that you've inspired and motivated them to compete. It is an incredible feeling.

What impact, if any, do you think social media has had on the spread of fitness?

Social media is the reason I took interest in competing. I can remember the first time I saw an article on Nicole Wilkins. I pointed to her picture and said I want to look like that! She is buff and beautiful! Now look where I am! Two years later I am connecting with people all over the world spreading my passion for health and fitness! It's pretty awesome!

Have you started using FitBoard on BodySpace? What do think about it so far?

I just recently started. So far I love it! I am constantly posting quotes, motivational pictures, and healthy recipes. It has it all!

How do you think you've changed much since you started competing?

I was an insecure person before I started competing. I lacked self-confidence and I was unhappy with my body. Now, although I am still a work in progress, I am happy with where I am and the progress I've made.

Figure athletes have school, day jobs and families, and still dedicate hours in the gym each week. How do you strike a balance? What happens when you get tired?

The biggest misconception people have is that since I work at a gym I am able to work out whenever I want. Unfortunately that is not the case. I have to work out before work, during my lunch break or after work like everyone else. I also personal train on the side and that too has to be done outside of my work hours. It keeps me busy, but I absolutely love what I do, so it's all worth it.

I began competing when my husband deployed and I must admit, it was hard doing everything on my own. I just had to suck it up and get it done. I had a goal and I was determined to achieve it no matter what. My husband was actually home for my last competition prep and it made a huge difference having him there. He was great about helping around the house and prepping food whenever I was training late or didn't have the energy to do it.

As far as finding balance, it's something I will always have to work on. I dive into things head first and give 100 percent. It can consume me if I let it and at times I have allowed that to happen. I have to take a step back from time to time and remember what my priorities are: God and family first. When I have those in order everything else seems to work a little smoother.

How can your fans find you on other social media?

Facebook, and BodySpace of course!