GGS Highlight: Ashley-Drake Estes – Women Gone Robust


Identify: Ashley-Drake Estes
Age: 31
Location: Portland, OR

What does being a Woman Gone Robust imply to you?
It means exuding energy in my total being: thoughts, physique, soul, and spirit. It means having the braveness and style to rise above any tough state of affairs, and mirror, study, and develop from the expertise.

It means nurturing the notion of sisterhood. It means not censoring myself or apologizing out of worry of how others would possibly understand me. It’s the freedom to talk up and defend, combat for what’s proper, and empower others within the course of.

How lengthy have you ever been energy coaching, and the way did you get began?
I first started within the fall of 2012. I used to be so intimidated the primary time I walked as much as a squat rack on the gymnasium at my graduate college in New York (the place I’m initially from). I didn’t see any girls utilizing the weights — the weights had been dominated by males. I keep in mind wanting round and seeing girls occupying the elliptical machines.

Luckily, there was one man there, who labored on the gymnasium, who took me underneath his wing and taught me some fundamentals, following a Rippetoe protocol. Regardless of receiving unsolicited recommendation from among the guys, and a few unlucky bullying, I saved coming again. I used to be amazed that my physique was far stronger than I ever realized. From there, I used to be hooked. I principally dabbled in deadlifts, squats, and bench presses.

In the summertime of 2013, I flew out to Portland for the summer time to coach at a gymnasium owned by a coach I labored with. I spent all the summer time coaching critically. Whereas I actually didn’t lean out (which was certainly one of my targets on the time), I gained 13 kilos of muscle and felt like a complete beast in the easiest way doable! After I returned residence to New York and began my semester, I observed that I felt exhausted on a regular basis, and was quickly gaining weight regardless of following a Paleo/Primal template.

After a really irritating 12 months of feeling sick and run into the bottom, my useful drugs physician, Dr. Christa Whiteman, recognized me with Part three Adrenal Fatigue (HPA-Axis Dysregulation) from overtraining and being in a relentless state of Ketosis, and PCOS. Lastly I had a solution as to why I used to be gaining weight, and feeling continuously drained, depressed, and unmotivated. This was additionally very onerous mentally and emotionally for me to just accept.

To prime it off, a pair months after being recognized, I broke my backbone in three locations from a horseback driving accident at my job. There was a lot stress on my physique, and trauma, that I hit a low. Due to my diagnoses and spinal fractures, I used to be underneath strict orders to cease understanding and heal, as a result of it will have been fully counterproductive to my well being and health targets. I actually needed to cease and rehabilitate. Once more, this was very onerous and it took lots of interpersonal work to just accept this course of and permit my physique to do its factor.

Quick ahead to January 2017. I lastly healed my adrenals sufficient and felt prepared to start out lifting once more. However, I had spent a pair years out of the sport, and I used to be scared to start out again. I used to be nervous that I would injure myself, or scared that I would really feel too intimidated to start out over. I used to be fearful about how others at a gymnasium would possibly choose my now larger dimension. Dr. Whiteman heard a couple of great energy and conditioning gymnasium close to me in Portland. After doing a little analysis, she informed me that this gymnasium appeared like the proper spot for me to get again into lifting. That’s once I joined POINT Gymnasium & Kitchen.

I used to be instantly greeted with open arms and welcomed into their neighborhood. I actually related with the members and the great homeowners and coaches, Kimberly and Melissa. They’re complete sturdy badass girls who inspire, encourage, and settle for me as I’m. In addition they modify components of the category in order that I really feel profitable in my exercises as I transition again into this life-style. As a reasonably new transplant to Portland, being a member at POINT has additionally helped me combine into my neighborhood right here and meet like-minded people who’re keen about well being and wellness.

On account of a demanding work schedule, I’ve needed to take a break from POINT, however hope to return quickly. For the final a number of months, I’ve been accountable for my very own programming, mixing in components of Rippetoe’s Beginning Energy, and Jen Sinkler’s Raise Weights Quicker. It’s good to really feel assured once more within the gymnasium that I can piece collectively my very own program primarily based on how I’m feeling that day or relying on what my targets are. After I can slot in a exercise, I additionally deal with what feels good and enjoyable within the second. I’m having fun with discovering methods to include motion into my day by day life, even within the office.

What does your typical exercise seem like?
A mix of heavy compound lifts, accent work, and metabolic conditioning thrown in. I really like difficult my thoughts and physique and seeing how I can overcome my very own obstacles.

I can’t let you know what number of occasions I’ve mentioned “I didn’t suppose I might do this!” on the finish of a exercise.

However right here I’m, constantly stunned by my energy, drive, and newfound skills.

Favourite raise:
My favourite raise is certainly the deadlift. There’s simply one thing actually empowering about selecting one thing actually, actually, actually heavy up off the bottom!

Most memorable PR:
This occurred on the 2017 Ladies’s Energy & Empowerment Weekend y’all hosted in Seattle. I used to be having my picture taken by the photographer and posed with the bar doing 65-pound deadlifts. However then, I made a decision to strive a clear and press with that weight. Sometimes at my gymnasium, I’d carried out this raise with 45 kilos, however I figured, why not give it a go? Earlier than I knew it, I had the bar locked in place above my head. It was easy and I couldn’t consider it. I used to be smiling ear-to-ear and felt so happy with myself!

There have been some girls current cheering me on and this actually made me really feel supported in that second. I used to be blissful I used to be capable of share this with others. After I returned to my gymnasium a few days later, I informed my coaches about my victory however conveyed that I assumed it may need been a fluke. To my shock, the exercise for that day included clear and presses. By the top of the exercise, I not solely was capable of replicate my 65-pound PR from Seattle, however I efficiently carried out the raise 25 occasions! I suppose it’s now not my one rep max!

Prime 6 songs in your coaching playlist:

  • Borne on the FM Waves of the Coronary heart by In opposition to Me!
  • Chandelier by Sia
  • Winter Sound by Of Monsters and Males
  • Funeral by Band of Horses
  • Emergency by Paramore, and one bonus monitor:
  • Music Field by Thrice

Prime three issues you should have on the gymnasium or in your gymnasium bag:
Headphones, an RxBar, and water.

Do you favor to coach alone or with others? Why?
I undoubtedly favor to coach with others as a result of I really like the social, communal facet of it. People are designed to be social creatures and whereas we are able to clearly do absolutely anything on our personal, being a part of a neighborhood working collectively, and sharing in actions advantages our total well being in invaluable methods! I like being a part of a tribe.

Most embarrassing gymnasium second:
About ten years in the past, again in New York, I used to work out at a type of 24-hour gyms at odd hours of the evening (as a result of I used to be in all probability taking Hydroxycut and couldn’t ever get my coronary heart price low sufficient to sleep…Oh, Ashley!) John Basedow, the man behind “Health Made Easy” and the eight-pack abs commercials would at all times exercise similtaneously me. One time, whereas on the elliptical, I faked a sneeze hoping that he would reply and we might strike up a dialog, as a result of I figured, if we’re the one two folks understanding at 2 a.m., we’d as nicely be buddies! Properly, after possibly ten pretend sneezes, not solely did he not discuss to me, however he moved away from me onto a distinct cardio machine, as nicely. I suppose it simply wasn’t within the playing cards for us to be buddies!

What do you do?
I’m a board-certified and licensed Neurologic Music Therapist. I work at a personal observe in Portland referred to as Earthtones Northwest, the place I present music remedy for adults with numerous developmental and neurological disabilities. I additionally am the CEO and Cofounder of Sing Out! Worldwide, a music remedy nonprofit group dedicated to serving communities around the globe which have been affected by trauma. Final 12 months, I spent a few months dwelling and dealing in northern Uganda at a secondary college and vocational middle for former little one troopers, abductees, and orphans of the Lord’s Resistance Military, referred to as Hope North.

I carried out a six-week music remedy program that addressed the next targets: to extend self-expression, to supply optimistic coping abilities, to lower stress response, and to foster connectedness to the neighborhood and surrounding villages. These targets had been obtained by completely different music remedy teams I co-facilitated, reminiscent of Group Drumming, Group Singing, Improvisation, Songwriting, and Music & Rest. This work may be very expensive to my coronary heart.

Not solely was it Sing Out! Worldwide’s first challenge, however my life has without end been modified since assembly my college students. Their tales are awe-inspiring and they’re my household. I communicate to my college students each day, due to social media, and so they hold me up to date about how the music remedy program goes now that I’m again within the states.  I actually love listening to from them and I miss them very a lot. Throughout the subject of music remedy, I additionally current my scientific work at conferences on the nationwide and international scale, and am engaged on my first publication, as nicely. I really like what I do.

I do know because of this I used to be placed on Earth: to make use of my presents of music to assist others heal.

Most memorable praise you’ve obtained currently:
Chad Draizin, proprietor of Fifty Licks, the very best ice cream in Portland, is a buddy of mine and an enormous supporter of Sing Out! Worldwide and my work in Uganda. I noticed him final week on the grand opening of his second store and earlier than I might congratulate him, he mentioned, “You’re doing such wonderful issues and I need to help you. I need to donate more cash to your group.” This was actually significant to me as a result of not solely do I’ve the help of Chad, however I additionally really feel as if I’m gaining help in my new neighborhood in Portland.

Typically I get discouraged or really feel overwhelmed as a result of fundraising and operating a nonprofit is actually onerous work. And whereas I’m so in love with the work I’m doing, it may be appear daunting at occasions. However each time I really feel that manner, these sturdy reminders pop into my life within the type of supportive compliments from colleagues, buddies, or neighbors, and that ignites the fireplace inside me and propels me ahead with a renewed power in direction of my work.

Most up-to-date praise you gave another person:
I used to be going to Goal, you realize, to purchase one factor, which clearly didn’t find yourself taking place and I got here residence with two luggage of issues. Anyway, as I used to be strolling by the door, I noticed a pair of their early 20s in entrance of me. The lady was curvy and plus-sized, and I tapped her on the shoulder to say, “I simply must let you know, your form is actually stunning and robust. I hope you at all times really feel happy with your physique.” Her have an effect on shifted, and her smile was so shiny. Her eyes fully lit up — so did her boyfriend’s. She thanked me however I merely informed her that I used to be being trustworthy along with her, and shared the hope that extra girls would use their phrases to raise one another up, than tear each other down.

Favourite meal:
A grass-fed New York Strip steak, broccoli smothered in Kerrygold butter, and candy potatoes seasoned with sea salt and cumin. Completely my favourite meal, palms down!

Favourite solution to deal with your self:
The best way to reply this query with out referencing Parks and Rec? Properly, I’m an enormous proponent of self-care and I take pleasure in it each day as a part of my observe. Throughout the final 12 months, I began going to an out of doors soaking pool that’s open to the general public in Portland. The house is actually beautiful and I discover it to be a nurturing, all-inclusive place (like most of Portland!) Clothes within the soaking pool is elective, and at my first go to, on my 30th birthday, I made a decision I might go bare. I might totally embrace my physique and simply be myself. I made a decision that I didn’t care if others checked out me, or judged my physique, as a result of I knew I used to be there for myself, and no person else.

I can’t start to let you know what a releasing expertise this was for me. I by no means thought I might have the ability to present up and take house on this capability. I felt validated and accepted (although I do know I didn’t want anybody’s validation or acceptance). What’s much more fascinating is as I walked from the place I hung my towel as much as the steps of the pool, I felt assured, stunning, sturdy, and proud to brazenly show my physique with out censoring any a part of me, or attempting to concede to anybody’s requirements of what my physique ought to seem like. I’ve gone fairly a couple of occasions now, and each time I’m going, I’m not solely honoring my physique’s bodily must soak and really feel good, however I’m receiving tons of optimistic power again by embracing my true self.

Favourite quote:
I used to be attempting to slim this all the way down to only one, however there was a three-way tie, so right here they’re:

All the things was stunning and nothing damage. — Kurt Vonnegut

Life is a collection of calluses, that is simply one other layer. So construct ‘em up, powerful it out, yeah, that’s your pores and skin, don’t let anybody underneath there. — The Goodlife

You’re already residence the place you’re feeling love. — The Head and the Coronary heart

The final two are lyrics to songs. I can’t assist it; I’m a music therapist! I believe in music, principally.

Favourite e book:
I’ve to decide on only one? I might say my all time favourite is the Odyssey, however I haven’t learn it in 16 years. I ought to revisit this e book! I not too long ago learn Mark Manson’s The Refined Artwork of Not Giving a F*ck, which was wonderful. I actually take pleasure in his writing. He’s educating me to be unapologetic in terms of my values and moxie. Proper now, I’m studying Wired to Eat, by my expensive buddy Robb Wolf. His work is super and so crucial. However most of all, I really like his coronary heart and fervour for serving to folks stay their greatest lives by well being and vitality.

I actually love the whole lot written by Glennon Doyle (Carry On, Warrior, and Love Warrior). Studying her work makes me really feel validated in each expertise I’ve on this life. She is really wonderful. After all something written by Brené Brown, as nicely. I’m additionally studying Braving the Wilderness. Miranda July is one other favourite… It’s typical of me to be studying 94839 books without delay.

What conjures up and motivates you?
I really feel impressed and motivated by the testimonies of others who’ve overcome related challenges as me, whether or not they be health-related or not. As a result of I can relate so deeply, it’s as if they’re sharing their story instantly with me. For instance, on the Ladies’s Energy & Empowerment Weekend, I discovered myself continuously nodding alongside to each phrase Neghar Fonooni spoke throughout her presentation. Critically, the whole lot she mentioned rang a bell with me. Being surrounded by girls in all completely different walks of life, sporting completely different physique sizes, strengths, colours, types, is all eye opening and empowering.

I’m very impressed by people who maybe stay in marginalized communities or areas of the world, who’ve fought for social justice, and proceed to take action.

I acknowledge my very own privilege and I need to rise up and be a part of the combat for equality, the Earth and its preservation, clear ingesting water for all, refugees searching for a secure haven, and ending discrimination primarily based on race, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

What else do you do?
I prefer to discover the Pacific Northwest and discover thrilling and delightful locations to hike to. I take pleasure in studying in espresso retailers and searching for out which one has the very best selfmade nut milk (spoiler alert: it’s Coronary heart Roasters on Burnside, and it’s an walnut-cashew mix). I like actions reminiscent of indoor mountaineering, stand-up paddle boarding, and swimming. I additionally actually love driving my bike. In truth, virtually two years in the past, I went on my first bike tour and rode 107 miles to the Oregon Coast (one thing I did with none coaching, too!). I additionally play on an indoor soccer league however have needed to sit out the previous few video games resulting from some muscle weak point in my hip space. I’ll be again, although.

I really like getting misplaced in a bookstore and spending each final penny I’ve on a brand new e book. I really like writing music, taking part in guitar and piano, and sharing my music at open mic nights (which I have to do extra of, actually). Karaoke won’t ever fail to be a enjoyable solution to spend a Saturday evening. Maybe my favourite factor to do is sit round a bonfire with buddies and keep up late speaking about love, life, and the whole lot in between.

Describe a typical day in your life:
Espresso, work, take into consideration my subsequent profession transfer, home-cooked meal with buddies and my associate, discuss to my cat, sleep.

Your subsequent coaching objective:
I’ve so many! By the top of 2018, I want to:

  • Do a pushup with none modifications
  • Do 10 double-unders in a row (I’m at four now)
  • Deadlift 200 kilos as a 5 rep max (I’m at 165 kilos now)
  • Do a handstand
  • Do a cartwheel
  • Clear and press 100 kilos as a 1 rep max
  • And by the top of eternity, I would love to have the ability to do an unassisted pull-up

For what are you most grateful?
Oh, this one is straightforward. My mother and father. They’ve guided and supported me every day I’ve been on this Earth. They love me so onerous, so deeply, and so selflessly. They’ve by no means wasted a possibility to verify I do know that I’m cared for, that I’m succesful and clever, and that I’m stronger than something that will current itself as a way to derail my success. Oh! And I’m additionally critically grateful for a superbly functioning central nervous system. I can’t specific how a lot gratitude I maintain in my coronary heart that once I broke my backbone, I didn’t grow to be paralyzed, and didn’t have any everlasting injury or any lasting deficits whereas rehabilitating. I really feel as if it by no means occurred and I’m past fortunate for that.

Of what life accomplishment do you’re feeling most proud?
I’m fortunate that I can consider many accomplishments I’m happy with, however I don’t suppose any of them would have been doable if I had not taken management of my well being. I made the swap to a Paleo life-style again in 2011, due to my good buddy Dain, and Sarah Fragoso of On a regular basis Paleo. Previous to this although, I used to be chronically sick. I used to be recognized with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) a pair years earlier, and had different points like eczema  I simply at all times felt sick. To not point out, I overexerted myself on the gymnasium each day and spent hours on cardio machines praying for outcomes whereas I starved myself consuming processed meals that got here with factors connected to them. I used to be at all times ravenous and felt actually tousled concerning meals, too. After visiting Dain in Chico, California, he turned me onto Paleo and I made a decision to offer it a shot, and dive in headfirst.

After one 12 months, I visited my Rheumatologist and he informed me that I had reversed RA and that Lupus was in remission. Since then, I’ve but to expertise a flare up of any sort, and I don’t take medicine in any way! Apart from that, my eczema disappeared, my temper stabilized, and better of all? I’ve a wholesome, sustainable relationship with REAL meals. I’ve discovered what my physique likes and tolerates, and what doesn’t promote well being. I’ve observed that I look, really feel, and carry out higher following this template. I make changes right here and there relying on my targets, and I don’t deal with the best way I eat like several dogmatic routine on the market.

As a result of I gained management of my well being, this freed up time and power to perform different targets, reminiscent of graduating with a Grasp’s Diploma and a GPA, beginning a nonprofit, lifting heavy issues, happening a motorcycle tour, touring to Africa and immersing myself within the tradition; you realize, all of the issues I couldn’t do whereas I used to be sick and obsessive about altering my aesthetics primarily based on the societal constructs portrayed closely by the media.

Which three phrases greatest describe you?
Resilient. Impartial. Humorous.

What’s a danger you’ve taken not too long ago, and the way did it end up? 
Properly, virtually two years in the past, I offered most of my belongings, packed up my automotive, and drove cross-country from New York to Portland. I moved right here as a result of I cherished spending time in Portland, and I discovered it crucial (for me) to stay in a spot that aligned with my values and worldview. Portland was that place (plus, I actually like dwelling the place I can stroll right into a retailer and discover Paleo mayonnaise and grain-free tortillas with out having to get them organized on-line. I’m not even kidding!) Regardless of having spent a summer time right here, I actually didn’t make any connections or buddies. I used to be mainly ranging from scratch. I don’t suppose I thought of how onerous the transition can be, and the way lonely I might grow to be.

Slowly however certainly, Portland started to really feel like residence and I discovered myself assembly like-minded people and connecting with my neighborhood, and getting concerned in native tasks and such. The nostalgia for New York diminished as I embraced my new residence. I additionally discovered myself changing into extra comfy doing issues alone, and exploring hidden gems Oregon has to supply. I made a decision to fully personal this expertise. It isn’t at all times easy crusing, and I’ve hit a few big bumps within the street, however it’s all a part of my story. I plan to take it one-day-at-a-time and make the very best of what’s round.

What’s the good “aspect impact” you’ve skilled from energy coaching?
Aside from carrying all my luggage from the automotive in a single journey with out struggling? I might say a rise in power all through my day and I actually take pleasure in watching my muscular tissues get larger and stronger!

How has lifting weights modified your life?
Lifting weights has supplied me with extra confidence in and out. I really feel as if I can deal with powerful components in my life with the identical drive I exploit to raise weights. All of it carries over.

I really feel as if I’ve performed it secure in areas of my life, principally out of worry of failure or judgment. Not anymore.

I now not let these maintain me again. I’ve discovered that I’m stronger than I assumed I used to be, I’m extra succesful than I assumed I used to be, and I’m worthy past all else. Worthy of well being, success, neighborhood, love, security, rights, and a promising, fulfilled future.  In essence, lifting weights has taught me the way to give myself permission to stay and present up how I need to on this world.

What do you need to say to different girls who is perhaps nervous or hesitant about energy coaching?
Simply begin. You are able to do greater than you suppose. You aren’t going to get cumbersome, except in fact that’s certainly one of your targets (by which case, that’s greater than superb! Go for it!) I really feel as if many ladies are afraid to raise weights, or raise something above a five-pound dumbbell out of worry of “wanting manly” or “cumbersome” — this mind-set must cease.

Being sturdy shouldn’t be synonymous with one gender.

I hope that lifting turns into extra mainstream and normalized, since we’re genetically designed to raise heavy issues, play exterior, climb, bounce, squat, stroll without end. One other piece of recommendation: at all times take heed to your physique. When you have to relaxation, do it. Resting doesn’t imply you might be weak, or that you just gave up. It means you’re in tune along with your physique’s wants, and that could be a stunning relationship price savoring.

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