Ashleigh Kast

I took a metabolic training class with Ashleigh a few weeks ago. It was a much slower strength training class than the others that I’ve taken. Unlike Complete Body’s XT and Barry’s Bootcamp, both filled with cardio and heavy weights, this class focused on lunges, dumbbells and band exercises, all at a much slower pace. Ashleigh is a trainer, track runner, blogger and figure competitor, and she specializes in women’s fat loss.

Just to get a sense of your background, how did you get into this industry?

It all started about nine years ago. I was a track athlete in high school and my coach was awesome, like phenomenal. We realized how much of a difference it makes to really pay attention to the finer points of training and how people move. And so, when I was in college, I decided “Oh, I’ll be a trainer on the side; it’d be a good way to make money”. I remember going back to him [Mark, track athlete coach] and being like, “can you help me out with this, I want to make sure I do it the right way”.

And then I started powerlifting and that in turn, led me to figure competitions.

Wait, what’s powerlifting?

So powerlifting is actually a sport along with weightlifting. Weightlifting usually means the olympic lifts. So when you’re watching someone take a bar and throwing it over their head, that’s weightlifting. Powerlifting is more the grindy side of things. It’s benchpress, a squat and a deadlift. So it’s almost a misnomer to say one is powerlifting and the other is weightlifting. It seems like it should be the opposite!

So I was training to get a double bodyweight deadlift. I wasn’t doing cardio, only lifting heavy set and I had lost a lot of weight. And so this knowledge actually brought me to training a lot of women for fat loss, specifically, weddings. That’s sort of become my niche, even here at Drive 495.


So how do the competitions change your training? Because you’re not training for yourself anymore, it’s purely for aesthetics, yes?

It depends on the background you’re coming from. For me, I’ve been lifting a lot of weights for a long time and so, I already have enough muscle to the point where I don’t need to focus so much on what body part looks like this and that. I already have that muscle. So it’s more that I have to get a little bit better at everything that I do. You have to sleep a little bit better, eat a little bit better, you need to be a little bit more in tune with your training. You even have to get a little better about managing your personal life.

Figure competitions are extremely subjective. There really is no other guidelines besides… well, so for figure, it’s like “be pretty lean, not the most lean, but pretty lean, be pretty round and be symmetrical”. Like, what does that mean? It’s very vague. And your idea of symmetrical and my idea of symmetrical are two totally different things. So you just have to think, “I’m going to show up as the best thing I can look like today and whatever happens happens”.

What is an exercise that you think everybody needs to be doing everyday?

I go back and forth. I think everybody needs to deadlift. Mostly because it plays a big role in the posterior line and things that are more hamstring dominated. This has so much to do with posture and lower back issues. But then the other half of me says everyone needs to be doing turkish get ups! You can even use it as an assessment because it’s so all encompassing. It covers rotation and bending. There’s a little bit of squatting in there; there’s lunging. They’re mean though!

What is your favorite thing to eat and do on a cheat day?

I’m very much tequila and a cheeseburger. And all the fries!

I know you’re trying to get your blog up and running. Can you tell me a bit more about it?

Yeah so we’ve been trying to figure it out. I say “we” because there are two of us. I have a silent partner now, which just means that she’s there to help edit and run the business side of things. It started as just a blog – I just wanted to write about some things.

I’d go out to dinner with my friends and it’s always the same conversation. It always comes back to “OK I was eating this and should I do that” and I’m like, “guys, we’re out to dinner; I don’t want to talk about this stuff”. But I do like talking about it! It’s my thing. But you realize that everybody has these questions and there’s so much misinformation and information that’s maybe good but maybe not for you. So I want to be able to reach more people with good stuff. So with Sophisticated Strength, I’m starting to write blog posts and build an audience and hopefully I’ll be able to turn around and sell some sort of program and turn it into online coaching.

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So what’s your timeline with this project?

Well, lately, things have progressed pretty quickly. I’m assuming you’ve seen my latest Instagram?

Yes! I have. (For those of you who haven’t, see here.)

Yeah, so ClassPass-ers were coming in and in the locker room they were whispering to me, “how do you get that??”, pointing at my butt, and I’m like, “guys, I put my bare ass cheeks on Instagram, we can talk about this on the turf”. So there was enough of an interest online that I thought okay let’s create a workshop. And then out of that I was like okay, but if I’m going to give them a program, I could easily just turn around and sell that program. We should just do that.

And then there are a lot of other things that are coming together at the same time. So like, I have a blog coming out on a really, major fitness blog about contest prep. And then I’ll be getting more of those photos, which, I mean, it did great things.

In our industry, in this elite level, I think there’s almost guilt and shame associated with wanting to train for aesthetics. Like it’s not righteous enough or it’s so basic and so not functional. And that’s been a major turn around.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the articles that were posted in Marie Claire that went crazy on the internet that were about reverse transformation but it was just people being like, “I used to have a six-pack and now I don’t and I’m better now!” To me, I get it but it’s also sort of mind boggling because I’m like, this is the industry we’re in. The cool thing that came out of it is that we became very body-positive; you need to own where you are right now and that’s always important. But it also brought out this weird culture where if you’re wanting to be extremely lean it’s like, “okay, bro”. And it’s not! It’s something people come in for, whether or not they say it. They always end up saying something like, “I want my shoulders to be bigger” and I’m like, “you don’t have to whisper that! that’s totally valid!”

It was super interesting to hear Ashleigh say this. Mainly because she made me rethink why I work out. I’ve always said that I stay active in order to feel good, which is 100% true. But sure, I do catch myself looking in the mirror and wondering how I can better tone my arms and tighten my core. This. is. okay.

Why do you all move? What are your motives? Whatever they may be, always keep them at the forefront of your workouts and ENJOY the process ❤

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