Ashley Horner and Chady Dunmore leading stretches
It’s around 8:55 on Saturday morning and the knots in my stomach are tumbling around like anxious butterflies. I’m waiting in my car to go and meet Ashley Horner and Chady Dunmore – you know, two of the most badass chicks in the fitness industry. It’s not that I’m anxious because they are well-known, I’m anxious because I’m excited to meet two incredible women whose messages and lifestyles are inspiring. They’re both in Chicago to host their Forever Fit Camp – a two-hour boot camp with lots of body weight lunges, squats, abs, and sweat.
If you don’t know – Ashley and Chady are WBFF Pros, trainers, fitness models and best friends. Oh, and they are pretty awesome moms. In fact – if you ask each of them, being a mom is probably their number one achievement.
As I enter the doors of the Midwest Training Center – I can hear quiet laughter down the hallway and I see a bubbly blonde poke her head out to peer at me.
“Hi! I’m Heather Stammen! I’m here to interview you,” are the only words that can fall out of my mouth.
Chady extends her hand and a sweet smile while Ashley gets up out of a nearby chair she is resting in (she is pregnant with her third child) and gives me the biggest hug. I instantly know that these are my type of people – warm, friendly, and inviting.
I came to know of Ashley after a friend tagged her as her WCW on Instagram late last year – I found Chady shortly after. It’s actually shocking I hadn’t stumbled across them sooner – between the two, they have over 350 thousand followers.
During the hour we spent together chatting about fitness, food, competing, and motherhood – I found two women who truly believe in other women and the strength of empowerment. Behind their online profiles and the dozens of glamorous photos are athletes who have both worked tirelessly to get where they are today, yet have enjoyed every second of the journey. I found two women who love motherhood and the sexiness that comes along with all body shapes and sizes postpartum and a blunt truth that fitness doesn’t start or stop when you step on the stage, rather it is a lifelong friendship.
Dumbbell Blonde: Are your fit camps catered toward women and moms?
Chady: Our camps are for everyone; you don’t have to be a mom. We have a lot of guys who come to our camps too. They’re all bodyweight, which is some of the hardest training and some of the safest and you can go at your own pace.
Ashley: The guys are always struggling. It’s tradition for us to do a plank competition at the end or a wall sit and no matter what it’s always a girl who wins. No matter how strong the guy looks, it’s always a girl.
DB: Tell me more about your camp….
Chady: What’s cool about our camp is people come here to train with us physically but the highlight is when we talk to everyone and each of us shares our stories of how we hit rock bottom to where we are at right now. I think people don’t hear that enough. They see perfect pictures, magazines and competitions but they don’t really know that we’ve been in their shoes.
DB: Did you guys have an athletic background prior to competing?
Chady: I grew up in martial arts. I have 13 years of taekwondo and a first-degree black belt.
Ashley: I played soccer. I played competitively and for the Olympic development team and for the Guam’s women’s national soccer team – I practiced with them.
DB: If you weren’t in the fitness industry what would you be doing?
Ashley: I would probably be doing something outdoors – like a professional hiker. But before I got into fitness I was going to school to be an elementary school teacher and in the midst of that is when I really started following fitness. Or, I would own a flower shop.
Chady: It’s funny because I was going to school to be a court reporter, but across from my school, there was a fitness school. Every time I would drive by I thought, “I’m on the wrong side of the building.” I was the only person in there that couldn’t wait to go to the gym.
DB: What do you like about fitness?
Chady: I like to be in control of my own life. A lot of people don’t realize that – in fitness you are in control and no one else.
Ashley: Your physique, nobody can take that away from you. You have control of everything that you eat, your activity level – you ultimately have the choice to make those decisions. It’s only by hard work and discipline. It was the one thing, no matter what I was going through in life; nobody could take that away from me.
DB: What advice do you have for someone who is busy but wants to incorporate fitness into their life?
Ashley: I tell them to do it in the morning; especially people who have extremely busy schedules. It’s so easy to want to come home and veg out and disconnect from the day. Just start with even 30 minutes. It can be a phone app or anything to get your body used to waking up. It’s all about pre-planning.
Chady: You definitely have to make it an appointment. I tell people, don’t even make it sound like it’s a gym appointment – you have to make sure it’s a real appointment. Whether you are hiring a trainer or meeting someone there you have to go.
DB: Do you think there is a best way to train?
Ashley: I think it’s important that people incorporate everything, all different types of training into their workouts. We get so isolated into thinking that it’s just the gym or the free weight section. You can easily change up your training by incorporating different types, even throwing in yoga. I think a lot of people quit because they get bored, lose interest and stop seeing results – well that’s because they’re continuing to do the same thing.
Chady: You have to choose a workout that fits you and interests you because at the end of the day you have to maintain consistency.
DB: Moving on to competitions and competitors, what advice can you give to those who are stepping on and off stage?
Ashley: Whenever you hire a coach or a trainer to do your competition – it doesn’t end the day of your competition. So many girls have their competition and they are told exactly what to do, eat 6 meals – ABC – and it’s over. I remember my first competition I won the entire thing, overcame so many fears about getting on stage and two days later I was so depressed. They talk about postpartum depression – I had never been that depressed ever and it was after the competition because I didn’t know what to do anymore, I didn’t know how to eat – I totally binge ate and it becomes really dangerous for women. They have to learn that it has to be a lifestyle change. You should learn to live the lifestyle where you are not doing two hours of cardio a day – not eating just tilapia and asparagus for every meal. It has to be a balance.
Chady: I remember the first time I learned to eat healthy – you modify things and learn not to go back to your old ways. Once you learn how to do something, try to stick to that as much as you can. For instance, I love In-N-Out Burger but there’s a give and take for that. Fries or bun? I will not preach that I am perfect, I still struggle with diet and exercise, but it takes a mindset and a goal to overcome.
DB: What about for people who don’t want to compete? How can they stay motivated to get healthy?
Chady: Make a goal. If you don’t have a goal that means it is not a priority for you. It’s just a want – it’s not something you are actually going to do. Everybody wants to look good – I want to walk around in a sports bra everyday, but you have to make it a priority and a goal.
Ashley: It’s about having goals and goals after the goals. Set small goals and then larger goals beyond until they snowball.
DB: Since you both are moms, how important is it for you to lead by example?
Ashley: It’s so important. They see everything. If you are always talking negatively about your body or get on the scale and say, “Oh, I’m so fat,” or “I look fat in these jeans,” they see that and it makes a huge impact in their life and how they feel about their bodies. Women need to learn how to love themselves internally and show that same inner love outwardly. Women don’t realize how powerful we are to be able to change the obesity and diabetes epidemic that we’re facing because a majority of us do the grocery shopping, cook dinner, pack lunches – even for our husbands and boyfriends. We have such a strong foothold to be able to change society. I watched my mom make changes in her life and that’s what made me curious with fitness. We are such powerful beings as women and we don’t give ourselves enough credit.
DB: What are you hoping to leave as your footprint on the fitness industry?
Ashley: I want to empower women, especially moms. Women can sometimes lose themselves after having kids, whether its them feeling like they don’t have support or having stretch marks or a c-section – they feel like they are completely ruined and I don’t know what has happened in society to make women feel that way. To be able to house and grow something so miraculous is something nobody should be ashamed of. Women also are quick to say, I can’t do this or that – but they are so wrong. If they can just let go of that self negativity and the way they view themselves then they can become anything that they want.
Chady: When people ask me who inspires me in the most it is hands down moms because it is the hardest job in the world. If you can stay fit and you have more than one kid – it’s amazing. It’s all balance. Personally, I want to leave any type of positive impact on someone. I never had an objective to become a bikini champion. To this day, it’s just us doing our own journey…
Ashley: And not trying to be like anybody else.
DB: Ok girls, after camp and before the plane – what are we eating?
Ashley: We have to find some pizza!
…. and this is just one reason they are an amazing slice of the fitness world.