Celebrity fitness trainer Ashley Borden and Zibby reunite 15 years after they worked on Your Perfect Fit together to discuss what types of workouts are the most beneficial, ways that moms can fit impactful exercises into their daily lives, and how to reimagine working out entirely so that no one is a victim to their body.


Zibby Owens: I had the best time interviewing Ashley Borden. Ashley and I wrote a book together. I was her ghostwriter along with Paige Adams-Geller back in 2006, 2007. Our book was called Your Perfect Fit, something like How to Look and Feel Great in Every Body. Now here we are fifteen years later. I got to interview Ashley on my podcast. Here’s her bio. Ashley is one of the most sought-after fitness experts in her field. Having accrued over forty thousand hours of personal training experience, Ashley is a consistent and a refreshingly honest resource within the fitness industry. She has transformed her own personal struggles into positive philosophies and dynamic trainings programs. Her tailored training systems suit many high-profile clients from Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling to World Series Champions Nick Swisher and Brian Wilson. Most recently, Borden has transformed bodies and lives on The Kelly Clarkson Show. Borden was also a featured trainer on multiple seasons of E!’s Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian and has been tapped as an expert for The Today Show, The Doctors, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey, Discovery Health, Hallmark’s Home & Family, MTV, VH1, and more. Her tips have been featured in InStyle, Vogue, Elle, Allure, Shape, and many other magazines including international ones. The Huff Post declared her one of the Top 20 Fitness Experts Worth Following on Twitter. Women’s Health named Ashley a Top Body Transformer. She’s also the cocreator of the AB Fit App transformation programs as well as the producer and creator of her own award-winning streaming programs called 6 Weeks to Sculpted and The Body Foundation. Ashley coauthored Your Perfect Fit with me published by McGraw-Hill which was given kudos by The Wall Street Journal. Borden is a proud ambassador for Best Friends Animal Society and credits as the central point of her thirty-year recovery with food and exercise.

Welcome, Ashley. Thanks so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight.”

Ashley Borden: Thank you for having me. It’s like a reunion that’s been in the works for I don’t know how many years it’s been.

Zibby: It’s so crazy. For people listening, Ashley and I worked on a book together. When was that? 2006, 2007, right?

Ashley: Yes.

Zibby: My kids were born in 2007. That’s the only way I know. I was helping you and Paige Adams-Geller write Your Perfect Fit. That was so fun.

Ashley: Was it really fun for you?

Zibby: It was really neat to get to see the whole publishing journey.

Ashley: Let me tell you, I learned — to be honest, at the time, I knew nothing about writing. I’m a trainer at the time. Still am. At the time, we were writing this book with Paige, who is a designer. I was doing the fitness side of it. I had such a hard time explaining to anybody at that time how I worked. You were so patient with me. I remember this. The way it would be is, I would talk, you would type. You write it all out. Then you send it back to me to look at again. Then you would edit it. It was probably the most tedious process ever of all time, but you really made it so painless. You were such a great writer. I remember, I was like, no, Zibby’s name needs to be on the cover of the book. We wouldn’t have been able to do the book if it wasn’t for you.

Zibby: That was really nice of you guys. Thank you for doing that.

Ashley: Of course. Are you kidding me? What I ended up taking from that book is the food plan, my SOS Food Plan. That is its own standalone food plan now. The book, as far as the information, for me and how I train now, it’s a little antiquated for me of where I am with fitness and what I propose, which we’ll get into, for moms and women and understanding how science is so much behind why we do what we do, especially when you don’t have time. The food plan, I still stand behind. It’s all about anti-inflammation. It’s about eating hand and fist size. It has fifty recipes. We actually made it much bigger now. That’s on my website. People can find it there or on my Instagram link. It’s all about helping people to feel efficient but also not feel like they’re a victim to their body. That’s basically my whole mission in life, is to help people have a better connection, not feel like we’re victims to our body, and then understand what’s going on with your body.

Zibby: Meanwhile, you were talking about things exploding, your career has taken off so much. You were already a celebrity trainer to the stars with your own book. This is fifteen years ago. Your body, you posted these pictures — now I feel voyeuristic or something. You do post your pictures of your body online, so I feel like I’m allowed to look at it.

Ashley: Yeah, of course.

Zibby: You look amazing. You are so strong. I want to know how you do it and how you help other people do it.

Ashley: Thank you. First of all, I just turned fifty.

Zibby: Happy birthday.

Ashley: Thank you. Pisces. When’s your birthday?

Zibby: August 22nd. Leo.

Ashley: Leo, yes. I love Leos, seriously. Let me back up real quick. I had probably every eating disorder in the book, disordering eating, not exercising, overexercising, bulimia, anorexia, compulsive everything back when I was a teenager. I hit bottom really young. I went into treatment at eighteen and started in OA, which is Overeating Anonymous twelve-step program. I used to train like a maniac. I was a dancer, so I used to just work out to what I call my mirror body, just everything I could see in the mirror like my abs, my biceps, my abs and my biceps. That was basically it. I didn’t understand function. I did not train for any other reason other than I was like, oh, my god, I want a six pack. I just had no other goal. Then as I got older and started understanding that how I’m training actually is injuring me — and then I got injured. It was my first injury I got that actually changed my whole life. I always say all trainers should have an injury so they can also understand and empathize with their clients who come in if they ever have an injury. What it did was it helped me to slow everything down. I had to relearn what the hell I was doing. I was just freeballing it. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t learn training the same way that a lot of my peers did where they maybe went to college for it or they were in sports and they had a strength and conditioning coach. I wasn’t familiar with a barbell or heavier weights or anything like that until I got older.

This was the discovery to share with all your listeners and especially with women, with us, and with females. It wasn’t until I turned forty that I decided, you know what, I am going to actually start approaching my body from function and performance. I was not going to be aesthetics anymore. I’m not going to go into the gym and be like, oh, my god, I want my shoulders rounder. I was like, no, I’m going to do this to become a strong bitch. This is what my goal is going to be. I hired a trainer, my coach Brian Redfern, eleven or twelve years ago. It changed my life. All of a sudden, I was like, wait, what is going on with my abs? I had had abs before, but this was all not me trying. This was also me having freedom of eating, just showing up and strength training and being pushed with my strength with heavier weight and better form and understanding, why do we need that? This is the thing. For women — when I was in my twenties, when we’re in our twenties, you could do basically whatever. You’re like, oh, I need to lose some weight, I’m going to walk on the beach three times a week. All of a sudden, you’re like, look, I have arms. It’s insane, your metabolism, for most people. You can change it by doing just small things. Then as you get into your thirties or you have children or you get into your mid-thirties and your forties, you’re like, wait a minute. I used to do Pilates four times a week, and none of this is working anymore. Now I’m doing Pilates or whatever non-strength training class six days a week. I’m eating five hundred calories. I’m stressed out. My adrenals are through the roof. I have no patience. I’m going to kill all my children. This is not good. Basically, what it is, is hormones. It’s our hormones.

I’m going to give a really basic example. Let’s say I was like, Zibby, I want you to do ten squats, air squats where you’re just squatting up and down without holding weight, and you do ten of them and you’re not breathless. Then I’m like, okay, so she’s a little stronger. She needs to hold some weight. Then I’m like, here’s a twenty-pound dumbbell. Hold that right here. I want you to do ten air squats. You do it. After ten, you’re like, hold on a minute. You need a second to catch your breath. I’m being very general. That is a general example of, you’re working big muscle groups and now your body is releasing HGH and testosterone because you’ve worked hard enough with a strength move that is making you breathless. You’ll never be breathless by doing ten tricep kickbacks, ten leg lifts. That’s why you need to do big muscle groups when you’re doing it. When you have this hormone release, your body’s like, oh, let me attack your core belly fat. Let me also increase your muscle mass. Let me decrease your overall body fat too. And sleeping. All these things add to this hormone release that we so desperately freaking need as we get older and things start changing. By the way, I could carry on with this soliloquy for five thousand hours because this is my preach.

Zibby: Let’s do five minutes. Let’s do five more minutes.

Ashley: That’s what I’m just saying. When you strength train like that, that is the freedom that you get. All the programs that I have are from beginner people to people who don’t know what they’re doing. People who don’t have time, it’s not, how much time do you have? it’s what are you doing in that time? If right now you’re like, I have five minutes, what am I going to do? and I was like, in those five minutes I want you to do ten air squats, five kneeling pushups, and ten snow angels, and I want you to repeat for five minutes, you’d be like, wow, that just kicked my ass.

Zibby: I just always feel like five minutes doesn’t make a difference. If I do five minutes of air squats, seriously, that’s actually going to make a — don’t I have to do that every day?

Ashley: Have you ever done five minutes of air squats?

Zibby: That’s a lot of time for air squats.

Ashley: Go ahead. Turn on your timer. Do five minutes of air squats. Give me a call afterwards and tell me how your legs feel.

Zibby: I meant five minutes of the whole routine. It just seems like that wouldn’t be enough, so why even do it? That’s my mentality, which is, I’m sure, wrong.

Ashley: No, no, I like this. Let me tell you. If you said, I’m going to do five minutes of tricep kickbacks, leg lifts to the side, and inner thigh squeezes with the ball, I’d say, no, probably not going to get much done. If you did five minutes of big muscle group movements like push, pull, if you were going to do assisted pullups, kneeling pushups, air squats holding your child, and a plank hold for thirty seconds, you’d be sweating because you’re working big muscle groups. The whole idea is that when you’re working your legs, your chest, your back, when you’re not doing a small muscle group first, so when you’re doing a pushup, kneeling pushup, or dumbbells, heavier dumbbells in a press, you’re getting your triceps too, but that’s the hormone release. That’s what I mean about time. What are you doing in the time? Yes, if you did five minutes of that or even, seriously, five minutes of air squats, you would be sore.

Zibby: If I do five minutes of air squats every day for a week, what will happen? Would I look or feel any different?

Ashley: Your legs would probably be very sore. The whole point is, what I try to explain is also, we want to work opposite feeling of our body. Especially now, we’re sitting here podcasting, so our hip flexors are tight, your belly, your psoas. You stand up, you clutch your back because you’re like, oh, my lower back, which is really your psoas in the front that’s attached your lower back. All of these things that we’re doing, what I want people to do is to offset all of the sitting that we’re all doing. Aesthetically, what happens is you start feeling like a slouched, forward head carriage — you’re like, why do I have a —

Zibby: — Are you saying that because you’re looking at me sitting ?

Ashley: No, but that is everybody. What we sit on all day long, it makes a big difference. That’s the way you want to think about it. We want to offset all the sitting. I want to work big muscle group stuff. I want you to be pulling. Whether it’s snow angels on the ground and you’re squeezing your back or you’re doing with bands where it’s hard enough that you’re pulling and holding or slowing down tempo and squeezing, all these kind of things are different ways that you can activate muscle growth and still challenge yourself. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I think a lot of people think you have to just do so much.

Zibby: I think it’s, working out seems a little bit overwhelming. A, how much time do you have to set for it? B, what are you supposed to do with that time? Let’s say I say, okay, I’m going to do everything Ashley says. I’m going to work my big muscle groups. I’m going to do that for, let’s say, twenty minutes a day. Then what about cycling and spinning and running? What about long walks? I walked an hour and a half today. That doesn’t even really count.

Ashley: Yes, it does. It counts towards your cardio health. Here’s the way you want to look at it. First of all, I don’t expect you, Zibby, to know how to program workouts for yourself. That is actually a skill. I do the show Revenge Body. We have sixteen weeks. My clients lost fifty pounds in sixteen weeks, forty pounds in sixteen weeks, major, major changes in their body. Again, it’s because of what you’re doing. That’s my skill. It’s like writing a book. I don’t know how to write a book. There is a method behind writing a book or writing a manuscript or doing these things. You know how to do that. You could guide me. I know what I’m doing. I’ll guide you. My programs that I have that are available on my website are programs like this. Like you’re saying, I don’t have time to do all this stuff. This is what I tell everyone. Your strength training are your three main courses. Minimal, three times a week. Why do you need to strength train? So you can stay upright. So you can function, functional strength training. So you can pick your children up. So you can carry heavy groceries. So you can build a house. So you can, whatever you’re doing, put your luggage up in the overhead bin. These are functional things in life. Then the walking — I want to take spin class with my friend. We’re going to do Zumba. That stuff’s what I call the snacks and the dessert around your main course during the week. Three times a week, you’re strength training because you need to keep your hormones going. How is it going to affect your body? Tighter skin when you’re strength training the right way. If a dentist office was open to the public, if I went in there, I would just use the water pick because that’s all I know how to use. I wouldn’t know how to use anything else. It’s just like a gym for you. You walk in the gym, you’re going to do what you’re familiar with. You’re going to probably hop on a treadmill, get on a leg press, but you don’t know how to program it. It’s not because you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s because it’s not your area of expertise. Programs make a difference, following a program. You aren’t going to get a physique change if you’re just one-off winging it. You can’t.

Zibby: I just feel like after a lifetime — I’ve been working out forever.

Ashley: What’s your favorite things to do? What do you like to do?

Zibby: Lately, I haven’t been doing that much of really anything. I’ve been doing catch-as-catch-can type of stuff.

Ashley: What are things you like?

Zibby: Actually, I shouldn’t say that. I love playing tennis. I play a lot of tennis, but I don’t even consider that a workout. That’s just for fun. I have a Peloton bike. I’ve been trying to do that every so often, but I’m not saying I love that. I’m just saying I actually do that. I do like to run occasionally. I do that maybe once or twice a month. I used to really love classes. I actually still love classes, but I have stopped doing that altogether. I used to do DanceBody for a little bit. I’ve followed everything. The things I can’t really get into or stick to are yoga and Pilates and things that are slower. For me, it has to be faster. With my daughter who’s thirteen, we did a lot of Chloe Ting videos.

Ashley: By the way, all that stuff is really good. Tennis is a workout, PS.

Zibby: It’s not like I’m going to go work out, so I guess I’ll play tennis. Work out is in another category in my brain somehow.

Ashley: What is that category?

Zibby: That is just fun. That’s just time with my husband and fun.

Ashley: Work out, to you, is a punishment, do you think?

Zibby: Yeah, it’s something I feel like I should do.

Ashley: Let’s lay down on the couch for a moment. Let’s discuss this. Just kidding. Let me take out my therapist couch. This is for real. When somebody has that association — it’s funny. The things you like to do are the things I’m like, oh, god. I don’t like to run. I’m not a big runner.

Zibby: Really?

Ashley: Yeah.

Zibby: I like to swim too. I like to swim.

Ashley: You like stuff that’s more body freedom, that’s not so centered and focused on the body of what you’re doing. You like the freedom of the movement more than sitting and focusing on, you’re going to bench press, you’re going to do this, my guess is because you don’t necessarily feel like you’re doing it correctly or there’s movements that you’re like, I don’t get this. This doesn’t feel right. You’re like, I’m going to do what feels right, which is tennis and running. Am I right?

Zibby: Yeah. I will say, I don’t mind it. I used to work with a trainer from time to time throughout my life, not now. It is fun to work with someone. When I don’t have someone there showing me what to do, I’m like, I don’t even know.

Ashley: Right. Part of the challenge — I teach class, actually live, which I’m going to invite you to.

Zibby: Please, yes. I should do this.

Ashley: I’d love for you to come try class. It’s called The Body Foundation, but it’s all core and glutes. I’m talking about the foundation of our body that needs to be strong around everything else that we’re doing all day long. It’s a lot of core work, a lot of glute work, a lot of stuff on the ground. It’s not super crazy dynamic movements. I teach them. I break down, how do you do a pushup? Let me tell you something. Almost every client I have had, male or female, had bastardized a pushup. They’re doing them all wrong. It feels wrong. That’s why you don’t want to do it, or a squat. Squats, it’s amazing how people really, honestly, are not quite understanding that movement. I love to teach that because that was my issue that I had. I was like, why am I so unathletic? when I was younger. I was a dancer, but I didn’t feel athletic because I wasn’t moving right. I guarantee you, Zibby, that you’re an athlete. If you can play tennis, do all this stuff, and you love it, you are very athletic. You just need to be coached the right way. Do you know what I mean?

Zibby: Yes.

Ashley: That’s the thing. When you find a coach that gets it — I’m like, Zibby, you’re having an issue with your overhead pressing, so let’s do this instead. Let me have you foam roll your lats more. That’s why you can’t get your arm over or whatever it is. Then you feel heard. Not everybody can afford a trainer. I completely understand that. What I suggest to some people is you don’t have to have an ongoing trainer. If you find someone like a me or somebody that can work with you maybe a couple sessions and be like, ah, this is the movement pattern issue that you’re — I do that a lot with people. Then you feel like you want to do more things because it doesn’t feel so wrong in the movement, if that makes sense.

Zibby: It’s true. I think you’re absolutely right. In some areas, I just like to be told what to do.

Ashley: Me too.

Zibby: Most areas, not. This area, yes.

Ashley: You are a Leo. Leos want to be told what to do when the Leo tells you, go ahead, tell me what to do. It’s like, don’t tell me unless I’m asking you to tell me what to do. I like that too. I think we all like to have somebody telling us what we’re doing. I don’t like people wasting their money. That’s one of my big things. I see people so desperate to change. They’re like, I just bought this five-million-dollar piece of equipment. Then they’re not really that into it. I’m paying for this membership, but I’m not motivated. They think if they put the money up that’s going to motivate them, putting a gun to your head is going to motivate you. A lot of times, it’s not that. Again, you have to ask yourself, what is stopping you from training? You’re like, is it the time? Is it that you don’t feel athletic? You don’t know what you’re moving? Are you injured? Is it your childhood? I swear to god, it can go all the back. I swear. I am not kidding. I didn’t know how to run. I was a terrible runner. I had a lot of shame around that, especially as a trainer, years ago. I hired a coach to teach me how to run. I was a dancer. I was running with my feet out like a duck. I didn’t understand what was going on. That’s why I love training and helping people. I want to help people understand you’re not a victim to your body. It just needs some finetuning with movement.

Zibby: I love that. I like all those analogies. That was really awesome.

Ashley: Oh, good.

Zibby: If people listening are like, yes, I want to work with Ashley and/or do your live classes, how can I get a piece of you? What are your offerings here?

Ashley: By the way, again, I always feel like I’m like — I’m not trying to be a salesperson with it.

Zibby: No, I know. I’m asking you to sell right now. This is from me.

Ashley: I’m honestly telling people different ways that they can learn with me. First, I have two streaming programs that are programs. One is twenty-one days, no equipment. It is called The Body Foundation. In that, it has exactly what we’re talking about. I break down in five different points of movement, a pushup, a reverse lunge, a squat, and a plank. If you don’t know how to do those things, The Body Foundation streaming program breaks all that down and has all these modifications for it. That’s how you get better and stronger at doing all that stuff. I have another that’s dumbbells. It’s just three levels of dumbbells. It’s called 6 Weeks to Sculpted. It has some yoga, foam rolling, strength training. It’s six days a week. It’s six weeks.

Zibby: Are these programs, anytime I want to do it, I do it, or you have to go and meet you at a certain time?

Ashley: What you do is you download either one of the programs. They’re streaming. You’ll see it on my website or on my Instagram link. Then we do it together. You’re following it with me for twenty-one days or the program. Some people do them as one-off programs. Really, the way that I want you to do it with me is to follow the twenty-one days or follow the six weeks because that’s how you’re going to get the strength and the physique change with what you’re doing. 6 Weeks to Sculpted was voted number one by Fitness magazine out of hundreds of programs.

Zibby: Wow. Congratulations. Amazing.

Ashley: Thank you. That was a couple years ago. I was proud of that. If you’re in the gym, if you have in-gym stuff and you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re like, I have a membership, get me out of the house —

Zibby: — I don’t even have a gym membership.

Ashley: You know how some people are like, I’m going in my mask? I’m back at the gym. Then they’re like, what am I doing here? I don’t even know what I’m doing. I got to go back home. I have about eleven programs starting from on-ramp for people who don’t know what they’re doing on my website. It’s via an app called TrueCoach. When you go on my website, it’ll talk you through the whole thing. That is three days a week. It’s, again, progressive. You get a new workout every single day. It’s a twelve-week program three times a week for on-ramp if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Like you, if you’re training at home, this is the one I have so many moms doing, my Hot at Home program. Hot at Home would be, I would say for you, Zibby, I’d be like, that would be a good program for you. It’s three days a week. It’s dumbbells only. You just need a bench or an ottoman and your dumbbells, three different levels of dumbbells. Then when you do those programs or a program for you, it’s about an hour of different types of strength stuff. Then you could do whatever you want outside of that. It also will give you more food freedom. My SOS Food Plan comes free with all of my programs. Some people want to do a one-off with me. They’re like, can you please just take me through an assessment? Go through a biomechanic assessment, Ashley, and tell me what’s wrong with my body. I do those as well. You can contact me through my website or you can contact me through my Instagram. There’s lots of different ways, and my class. My live class is Tuesdays and Thursdays. We also send out the class if you miss it. That is an hour. That’s called The Body Foundation Live. Seriously, I think you would really like it, Zibby, because you’re an athlete. You’re athletic. I would think that if you do stuff that feels dumb, you’re going to be like, what am I doing?

Zibby: Yeah.

Ashley: See, I knew it. You’d rather do something that makes sense intellectually.

Zibby: I’m really impatient about stuff too. I know it’s not good. Yes, you’re right. All of these things sound amazing. I’m sorry, I have to take my kid to the dentist.

Ashley: It was so good talking to you.

Zibby: It was so great talking to you.

Ashley: I would love to see you in class.

Zibby: You have motivated me more than anything has in a really long time. I really feel like this is something I can do and that would benefit me. You’ve convinced me that this is silly that I’ve been ignoring strength training for now a year, basically. Thank you.

Ashley: I understand. Again, I understand why. No one needs to beat themself up at this point anymore.

Zibby: What’s done is done.

Ashley: Yeah. Here are the solutions, guys. Let’s move on. Next thing. You’re amazing.

Zibby: You too.

Ashley: By the way, props to everything that you’re doing. Oh, my gosh, seriously. Props.

Zibby: Thank you.

Ashley: So wonderful talking to you.

Zibby: You too, Ashley. Thank you so much. This was awesome.

Ashley: All right, Zibby. I’ll see you soon.

Zibby: Okay. Bye, Ashley.

Ashley: Bye.

Zibby: Bye.


Your Perfect Fit by Ashley Borden

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