Join Kimber as she talks with Certified Personal Trainer Ashley Sorenson about:
1. What is Pelvic Floor Training
2.Early motherhood, Anxiety, and Isolation
3. Finding Community after COVID
4. Being your bad FIT self
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Kimber: Today, I'll be talking with certified personal trainer, Ashley Sorenson about finding community and finding ways to be healthy while still being true to your bad self. Hey, Ashley. Thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today.
Ashley: Yes. Thank you so much for having me
Kimber: Go ahead and tell us who you are, what you do, and we'll just jump in.
Ashley: Awesome. My name is Ashley Sorenson. I am a wife and then I am also a kind of self-employed version of a personal trainer as well. So I train clients who are struggling postpartum. Most of my clients have recently had babies or are struggling with some sort of pelvic floor dysfunction or diastasis recti core problems. I have two kids. My kids are six years old and four years old. They are so great. So crazy. My six year old is my little girl and my four year old is my little boy. So they take up a lot of my time and my energy and my focus. And I love that I'm able to have a career where I'm able to be there for them.
And then. Other than that. I just love fitness exercise being around other women, supporting women. I love what you're doing, Kimber and just building a community of people because we all need so much help to get through daily life the past year or so has been crazy. And I personally have always struggled with anxiety, but I feel like in this day, we just can't do it alone. And we need to have a community of people to lean on and support and listen to, to fill our cups with that good quality information, quality, love, and support. So I love your podcast for that reason.
Kimber: And I love where you work. I love rev fitness for that reason, too. I haven't been for a while. But the cool thing about rev is you guys have done such a good job at building that community. And sometimes I end up going, not because I'm not like the kind of person that just loves to work out, you know, but that community you guys have built is such a nice reprieve from all the stresses of daily life. And , I leave there, like my endorphins are up. I've got to connect with all these cool people. You always have a cool playlist that you guys play and just a very welcoming community for, for especially women. I feel like which is
Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. What, what are our entire brand is, is based on it. Rev fitness, as we are. We have childcare for that reason, we will help you nix every excuse you have to get out of the house so that you can, you can get here and you can feel that love and support. And I joke all the time that you're welcome to come and drop your kids off and just sit in the back of class and listen to music.
But I'm really not joking. You are absolutely welcome all the time. And I'm really glad that it's been helpful for you.
Kimber: Yeah, I love it. So let's talk a little bit about like your clientele. So you mostly work with postpartum moms, right?
Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. So I have worked in the fitness industry for a long time. I started teaching group fitness when I was in college and I just love exercise. I never felt like I was very good at sports, but I really. In like a crazy person to enjoy the conditioning for the sports. I enjoyed the conditioning, I enjoyed the weightlifting.
And so I started teaching group fitness. After my first baby, I was able to jump right back in doing fitness, teaching fitness. And then when I got pregnant with my second, my body was just not doing things. The way that it was supposed to per se. And it was really frustrating because as someone who has been in the fitness industry, I was looking to others in the same industry, others who did what I did and saying, what can I do?
What can I do? So a little bit of a story I was laying on the ground. Doing some AB work at about 17 weeks pregnant with my son. And I felt a gaping hole in my abdomen and it scared me. And I was like, what is this? What is happening? It's not something that I experienced with my first pregnancy. I was planning that, you know, oh, I've done this before.
It's going to be fantastic. But, and that's when I learned what diastasis recti is. Which is the separating of your abdominal muscles. And a lot of times it is caused prematurely. So before you actually get that really big baby bump by the hormones, your body's preparing for that. But for some, it separates very, very slowly.
And for some, it happens very, very quickly and is more difficult to repair. So after I felt that, and I was kind of looking around and asking for help, Nobody had anything great to say, I didn't get any direct answers. Everything was conflicting. And so as that, mom, it felt very frustrating. But as someone who loved exercise, I knew that there was a way around it.
I knew that exercising through my pregnancy was going to give me the healthiest options. So I kind of took that upon myself to figure out how and why.
Kimber: How do you know that's what I'm wondering because I've had two babies and I know that you're supposed to like, feel in between your muscles there, but I guess how do you know? And like, what's the point of repairing it? What, what functions does it help you do? Or, you know, like, what's the point?
Is it hurting you to have that diastasis?
Ashley: I totally understand your question. So the best way to test is if you just lay on your back, let your rib cage kind of open, let your back arch up, and then you take a big inhale.
So you really want to fill your lungs with as much space as possible. And then as you exhale, you blow all of that air out and you try to squeeze your abs. So you try to do the exact opposite. You closed the rib cage, you lift from the pelvic floor, and then you do just a little setup. And then with your fingers, if you run your fingers down, the Linea Alba, or the center of your abdomen, you should either feel tension through those muscles , fighting back because you're in a crunch position or you will actually feel a separation.
And with that separation, you can almost insert your fingers through that line of your abdomen. So. Our bodies do this for great purpose, right? As we get pregnant and as our bellies grow, it expands. And it's amazing. And that's exactly what it's supposed to do. So those abdominal muscles are supposed to stretch.
And a small separation is absolutely great and absolutely normal postpartum. After about six weeks, if those muscles are not coming back together, it does really decrease the function of your. Your six pack muscles. So a lot of times it can cause back pain because it's pulling on the obliques or those lateral muscles on the side of your abdomen.
It can cause pelvic floor dysfunction, which is where the leaking, the painful sex on all of those things come in as well. And also it makes it very difficult to get back to a. Leaner flatter abdomen, postpartum, everything has kind of lost all of its elastic city and just becomes loose where you lose all control.
But the very, very most common issue that I find is that just debilitating back pain, because you lose your abdominal muscles, which are there to support the rest of your body.
Kimber: And so the work that you do and the, your specialization is getting that back in place.
Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. So repairing those abdominal muscles from the inside out, so that it's repaired correctly. Right? The analogy that I like to give is if you had a big stack of paper, a big thick stack of printer paper, and you were to cut it in half. Making a big gap in the middle. And then you were to just put a thin sheet of paper back over the top, any extreme pressure within cave that.
Correct. And so we really want to build that up from the innermost abdominal muscles all the way into the surface so that you have that good strong foundation for daily life and daily movements, especially with young moms, you're packing a car seat. You're most young moms are also packing a toddler.
If it's not your first pregnancy, you're bending over and picking up toys. You're carrying in all of the groceries. You're lifting the bikes off the bike racks in the garage. Okay. All of those things can cause irreparable damage to your back muscles, your hips. If you don't have that strong foundation of your abdomen.
Kimber: Let's talk a little bit. I'm just thinking now about this young mom demographic and, you know, we have all these new things we're adjusting to in life, right? Our bodies, all those things with our bodies that you just talked about having a new schedule, like coming home from work. And I know that a lot of moms really, really struggle including myself, right.
With anxiety. Depression, just like the coping with everyday tasks and then how heavy those things can feel. Tell me a little bit about your your experience with that.
Ashley: Yeah. Great question. So I experienced anxiety. Growing up significantly with some family traumas And things like that. At that age, I didn't have a name for it, nor did I have very many coping mechanisms. But when I entered that phase that you're talking about Kimber, it was just that early motherhood phase.
It was impossible to ignore. Everything from putting my baby down, stress me out, not putting her down, stressed me out. If, what if I do this? What if I do that? My what's my body doing? Am I ever going to look the same again? And anyone with anxiety can kind of recognize that tornado of thoughts and it can start very simple of making sure that.
Your child eats the best food or it can get very, very deep and worrisome to really feeling like you're something that's going to happen to you or something that's going to happen to your family. And it makes it very debilitating. And then with a lot of the moms that I work with, I feel like being able to empathize with that and recognize that, and then recognize that in addition to the physical issues that they're having.
And like I mentioned, in my introduction earlier, you really just need a community. We need an area of support so that we can feel all of that so that we can feel loved and supported so that we know that. If I get help from her, she can help me with my body. If I get help from say my therapist, they can help me understand my anxiety and creating that network of people to help you feel like you again..
Kimber: Yeah. And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that COVID. Just made everything even worse. And I think, especially for this demographic of young stay at home moms because motherhood is already so isolating just on its own, but throw on a global pandemic on top of that and the anxiety of keeping your kids safe and healthy and the pressure to self isolate and all of these events that have gotten shut down over the past couple of years. So debilitatingly overwhelming and anxiety is already an issue for a lot of us that I think that just got heightened and the way to lessen that anxiety kind of got stolen from us right during COVID we're just now coming out of this.
Kimber: Now that we're kind of coming out of COVID. What are some good ways for people to get back involved and find that sense of community, especially as young moms, how do we do that?
Ashley: Absolutely. Yeah, that's such a great question. And I think that although we are coming out of this pandemic and there are tools available to us now that can help alleviate that fear a little bit. I feel like that fear is still there. If you are someone who's struggling with that fear of whether it be the sickness alone, whether it be judgment, right?
We've all experienced the judgment for going to the store when you have a raspy voice, or like you're saying Kimber worried about, worried about showing up to a class because you have a little bit of a sniffle. And so those things can really deter you from wanting to go into somewhere that like my studio, that is a. Group fitness area, it group fitness type thing. And so I definitely don't want anybody to feel like that is, that is the only outlet, but I do believe that finding a community and finding an area where you and your children are welcome, whether that be a group of moms that can go for a walk a group of moms that can exchange a small play date at your house.
Finding somebody who has those similar values to you, or even just the same outlook on the pandemic, whether they're very worried or whether they're very lax whichever end you fall on, but kind of searching out somewhere where you can feel seen, heard
Kimber: Yeah, and safe. And I liked that you validated that fear because it's not like we're saying, okay, like you got to get out and find your community, right? Like there's still a lot of stuff and a lot of good reasons to. Like you said, kind of find your you've got to, you've got to be flexible with yourself and, and find ways to find community that works for you.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, so thankful for the internet, like Kimber and I will be your community through come find us on the internet. I know. know, know, know. . That we will be here community. And whether that be through. I mean social media has its bad things, but whether that be through social media, whether that be through a podcast, finding something that makes you feel like you, like you're coming back to who you are that really validates your fears, validates your beliefs and lets you.
know that you you're doing a good job.
That's all we really need to hear. Right. You're doing a good job.
Kimber: Yeah. I found so much community on the internet. Since COVID hit, especially Facebook does a really good job of figuring out what I like and what they can get me to spend money on. And I have spent money on. A lot of money. The last couple of years on the coolest online classes, like I've taken business classes and parenting classes and kind of like life, vision classes and.
Through these online classes, they do such a good job of developing this community on Facebook or on Instagram. And I have found some of the coolest, like I'm really close friends with people now that I've never met in person. I've got a friend in Seattle that I met in one of these classes. I've got friends in Vermont and Pennsylvania that I would love to meet in person one day.
But that I haven't cause I've met them online. But I think you're right. Like the internet is a great place to find community. It's a tricky thing because the internet can also isolate us. Right.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. Finding that balance and everything.
Kimber: Yeah, you've got to find that balance. I have discovered this last year, my poor family I've gotten so into my internet community that sometimes I struggle with getting away from that and back into the real life with my family.
So yeah, that balance is tricky.
Ashley: And hopefully, I mean, hopefully there is a day in our future where we don't have to worry about that where your friend from Seattle can fly out. And if she has kids can bring her. And you guys can all go, go do these things, but I I'm so grateful for the blessing of the internet through these times because it's, it's really, what's been helpful to connect us.
And the other thing that I love along with those courses is shopping small, those small like I have this necklace that I'm wearing, that if you bought it through this little little company and then. Meeting people through their, their feeds and their community there that are, I bought my necklace because I lost a baby or I bought my necklace because it reminds me what's important and different things like that.
And it's just, so it opens up such a gateway to find I have something in common with them and it's. In this day, it's so much easier to send somebody a quick message and say, I love what you're doing, or I saw your comment here and feel like we have a lot in common than it really is to just walk up to somebody at the grocery store or somebody at the park.
But I I do think that those online communities are important as well as finding, finding that in-person community. As soon as we are able.
Kimber: I agree. I agree. Let's talk about this idea of just be your bad self in relation to you can decide what direction you want to go here. I guess, whether you want to talk about your experience with. Motherhood and anxiety or, or if you want to talk about just be your bad self in, in relation to like showing up for fitness classes or exercise, anything like, are you getting pulled one way or the other with this question?
Ashley: I, find it very funny. I sometimes don't separate myself between the two. We have a very family friendly environment here. Right? We have, we have the childcare a lot of times our babies in their car seats in the back of class and things like that. But it's very, whether that be through fitness, whether that'd be through art or.
Playing a musical instrument. I think that it's very important for us to find a way to fuel creativity. For me, I'm able to get very creative when I'm, when I'm working with a group. When I'm trying to find new ways to explain something. When I'm teaching a group fitness class, that's a very great creative outlet for me which then in turn helps me to be the best version of a mom and gives me kind of an outlet for my anxiety, so that it's much more manageable.
But finding something that you. Enjoy finding something that really lights you up and gets you excited, again, something that you would be thrilled to jump on a podcast and talk to a friend about because you just love it so much. And I dunno, Kimber, you, you do a lot with, with art, right? And with the arts, like, what are some of those things that, that you feel just get you excited?
Kimber: I, I find it so fascinating that all these conversations in some way or another, keep coming down to this idea of do what you love and even. I feel like there's a lot of heaviness around this idea of exercise, right? Because it's this for a lot of people, it's this supposed to, right. There's so much guilt around it and this like, oh, I need to do that.
And I've noticed even with myself, I love going to rev. Like I mentioned earlier for the community, I feel so good when I leave. But at the same time, there's this feeling of heaviness around it because there's all these cultural expectations of you need to exercise, like this needs to be part of your routine.
And I love that you talk about it for you. It lights you up and it is your creative expression, right? Any thoughts about exercise and any way to either let go, like you don't need to exercise or, you know, find what you love or how do, how do people manage this heaviness around moving their body?
So there are a couple of these. First of all I called that shoulding on yourself. I should exercise. I should fix dinner. I should wash the dishes. I should do my hair. I should do my makeup. All of those things. That's shoulding on yourself so stop shoulding on yourself. That's just such a way to really increase that anxiety increase these expectations of what you, what you should be doing.
And that you're not enough. Really instilling that versus what feels good.
Ashley: Obviously we all know that exercise is good for us, right? The exercise is helpful, but exercise looks very, very different for everyone. I teach one format called high fitness and it is intense. We have burpees, we have tuck jumps and I can see the look in Kimber's eyes right now.
She is just like over that. She's like, I am not coming to high fitness. So that's something that's totally different. But then there's also something as simple as like going for a walk or having a dance party in your kitchen with your kids, all of that counts as movement and move. It's good for us, right?
That's the part that we really need to thrive. However, how you make that look for you is completely up to you. If you prefer to move outside or if you don't want to leave and you prefer to move inside, if you prefer to move your body with a community or watch a online class from your living room or.
Wake up in the morning and touch your toes five times, whatever really feels good and sounds good to you. If you dread it, if it's something that you feel like you have to drag yourself to, and that's not a lasting lifestyle change, that's going to lead to more of those. I should be feelings And less of the, Hey, I'm doing a good job.
And that's really what it's all about.
Kimber: And for me, it's taken me years and I'm still learning this right. There's so much. Money put into advertising for fitness programs, and this is the new best way to do this. And this is the new best way to do this. There are communities of people that are really into CrossFit or whatever, and it's really easy to look at that.
And like you say, like start shoulding on yourself, right? Oh, because I think. Subconscious idea that we have, that someone else has figured out the right way to do it. When the truth is we all get to figure out our own right way. We all have to figure out what works for us. And it's taken me a while to figure this out because I used to think like, okay, To have a good fitness program.
I'm supposed to do weights this many times and aerobics this many times throughout the week. And I'd set these super intense regimented schedules for myself that would last for like two weeks maybe. And I couldn't stick with it because I. It wasn't enjoyable for me. It was this very stressful. Like I have to check this off, off the, I have to check this box off my list.
And as I found ways to like incorporate movement in a way that feels joyful to me, I love doing yoga. So sometimes that just looks like one down dog in the morning. But the more I do it, the more I th I, I realized, oh my goodness, this feels so good. I love coming to your bar class. I love anything. That's like lyrical movement.
And because I'm such a creative person, right. I love dancey stuff and yoga and, and breathing. And I love going on walks with my mom. Cause we get to have all these deep conversations and that that's fine. Like that means I'm doing it the right way for me. If it makes me feel happy and I'm, and I'm moving my body right.
Ashley: Absolutely. And I think taking that pressure off because for one person that intense 5:30 AM, six days a week at CrossFit is what they need in their life right.
now. They're really needing that discipline for, for some it. Specific and pelvic floor movements to regain functionality so that they can do some of those other things so that they can jump on the trampoline with their kids so that they can.
Go for a long walk without experiencing back pain or knee pain or joint pain and things like that. And everybody is in such a different place. And that, like I mentioned earlier in the fitness industry, there was nothing, there was nothing telling me exactly what could heal the separation in my abdomen.
There was conflicting information everywhere. And the reason for that is that there's no one perfect way to do it. It all comes down to. Does this cause symptoms for you? Does this feel good for you? And that's the exact approach that I take when it comes to training with clients. If one person can do a plank very safely and productively, then they're going to do a plank.
If the other person experiences, what we call doming or pressure or pain, when doing that plank, we're going to find something else for. That person to do. And you have to figure that out in your creative outlets, in your friendships, in all of those things, and that's be your bad self, right? You're going to be your bad self and you got to own that.
The high fitness class that I love and I teach that makes me really happy. Kimber's not going to come to that class because it is not her, her vibe that doesn't light her up, that doesn't make her happy. And that's absolutely fine. Letting go of any expectation.
Kimber: I, and I have to say you guys totally practice what you preach over there, because I know when I've done, like the small group trainings, it's very much about Okay. What level are you at? What can you do? And if I tell you oh my back's coming up. When I'm doing this sit-up or, or whatever, I don't feel pressure to, like, this is the right way.
Kimber (2): You have to do it this way. It's okay. Let's adjust. Let's let's do what works for you. And I remember one day I went to Pilates and
anna Beck, who's been on this podcast, showed up to this class and said, yeah, I'm just here. I'm going to lay on my mat and eat gummy bears.
Kimber: She brought this huge bag of gummy bears to class, offered to share with anyone who wanted, and literally sat on a yoga mat while the rest of us were working out. If there was something that she felt like doing, she did it.
And otherwise she sat, and just enjoyed the community and ate her gummy bears. And like, it was totally accepted. No one was looking at her like, what the heck are you doing this totally accepted there. I've never been in a, a fitness environment that, that does that as well as you guys do.
Ashley: I really appreciate that. Like I said, that is really our entire mission to take the intimidation out of going to the gym. You will see I've taught a class where my six-year-old daughter is there participating. And the 82 year old woman is sitting on the chair in the back, doing the moves that she is capable of.
And we want to create that environment where you feel like you can be Anna and you can sit there and you can eat your gummy bears, or you can be the girl in the front of the class. That's doing the level three modification of everyone. And both are welcome and bull are treated equally and nobody is saying, oh, oh my heck, I can't believe she just did that.
Nobody is talking badly about each other. And we kind of joke about this, whether it be with like, if we ever do have people who have that yucky attitude about, or who are not accepting, they filter themselves out pretty quickly. They don't last, they don't stick around. It's it's the, anybody is welcome to sit with us, anybody considered our table, and be yourself at our table.
I don't want you to come be my friend, because you are exactly like me. I want you to come be my friend, because you're a really good artist and you're really good with music. And I have something to contribute to this friendship and you have something to contribute to this friendship, and we can both laugh about our kids and.
Just enjoy each other.
Kimber: Ah, I love it. So a lot of the listener base is here in Southern Utah and can totally take advantage of what you guys offer locally. But for those listeners who are maybe not. Close. But think this environment and community sounds really cool, are there ways that they can come be part of this family and community?
Ashley: You talked about with your, with your course, the courses that you've taken, right? Your courses on parenting and things like that. I have a course on the core and pelvic floor . And the online community that goes along with that. And we also have fitness programs, three separate programs. So there's foundations fitness, which is a lot of what I do.
That's the program that I created a lot of postural stuff, a lot of fixture form, starting in push-ups from your knees, push-ups from your walls, from the wall, just so that you can feel that. Feel the foundation of your core and your body moving again. Then we have strength and conditioning and powerlifting as well, because we have recently expanded into a full gym where we have eight amazing crew of powerlifters, which is just phenomenal.
But each of those come with a, the online community as well. So there's three different online programs. And then my e-course as well. Find me on social media, find me on social media, hop on zoom one day and take a bar class of me, or just reach out and chat in messages or whatever. It's all, let's find your community.
And if I get to be part of your community, then I'm super blessed.
Kimber: So tell everyone what's your Instagram handle so they can find you
Ashley: So it's body connection by Ash. So just B O D Y connection by Ash, Ash. And you'll see all sorts of pink things and probably some things about the corn pelvic floor that make you
turn your phone screen up away from others. All the good stuff.
Kimber: Okay, so to wrap things up, what is your takeaway for the listeners today? What's the overarching message. Do you want them to come away with.
Ashley: It's the same as the overarching message for your entire podcast. Kimber, just be your bad self, be yourself to what feels good exercise wise, do what relieves your stress for your anxiety. And don't, don't be ashamed of what that looks like for you versus what that looks like for somebody else. Enjoy it.
Core and Pelvic Floor CPT
Ashley is a wife, mother of two and personal trainer. She is a huge advocate of Women’s health and specializes in the core and pelvic floor. She believes everyone deserves to live pain free, laugh without leaking and love better sex!
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