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Trainer Talks: Ashley Paulson Redefines Endurance With a Dash of Fun

Trainer Talks: Ashley Paulson Redefines Endurance With a Dash of Fun

From marathons to motherhood, Ashley Paulson’s unique approach to fitness inspires a community of athletes to achieve their goals

With a healthy dose of enthusiasm and discipline, Ashley Paulson serves as an example of how joy and consistency forge the path to fitness achievements. Paulson has turned her passion for running into a vibrant testament, and at the heart of her career lies the intersection of fun and serious training. 

Paulson’s venture, Ashkickn Training, helps people embrace a lifestyle where every workout is a celebration of progress. With each stride, race and training session, Paulson sets records and inspires countless individuals to push beyond their limits, proving that with passion and perseverance, every goal is within reach. 

Athletech News spoke with Paulson about her colorful approach to training, outrunning the competition, and making every mini milestone an unforgettable journey of discovery and challenge. 

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Athletech News: Can you share the most pivotal moments that helped you make the transition from being a professional triathlete to health coach and trainer?

Ashley Paulson: My journey into professional athletics began more as a gradual shift rather than a singular moment. Teaching fitness classes built a solid foundation for me. I officially transitioned to a professional triathlete in 2016, after I had my fourth child. Despite not having a traditional athletic background or college education, I managed to earn my pro card. This experience has been incredibly fulfilling, serving as a role model for my children as well as other women, showing them that it’s possible to achieve significant goals even as a mother.

Initially, I wasn’t as interested in hybrid coaching or personal training. I thrived on the energy of group fitness, interaction and collective motivation. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I began focusing more on personal training, primarily online. This has taught me the importance of sharing my passion for fitness and the possibility of making a significant impact, regardless of one’s starting point. 

ATN: What inspired you to create the Ashkickn Training model, and how do you see it evolving to meet the needs of fitness enthusiasts at all levels?

AP: The inspiration for Ashkickn came from hearing how others began their fitness journeys as a result of something I said. This kind of feedback and the changes I saw in people’s lives fueled my desire to expand and help more individuals. It’s incredibly motivating to hear about the positive shifts in someone’s body or lifestyle because of fitness. 

I see Ashkickn evolving alongside our understanding of fitness and aging. When I ran my first marathon at 19, the idea of being in the “Masters” category at 40 seemed like a different league, suggesting a slowdown. However, I’ve found myself getting faster in my 40s. Advances in knowledge about the body, combined with technology, allow us to push ourselves further and remain in our prime for longer. The perception of age in fitness is changing, with individuals over 40 achieving what was once thought impossible for their age group. 

credit: Ashley Paulson

ATN: How are you involved in integrating more human elements into online training programs using artificial intelligence (AI), and why is this important to you?

AP: Being involved with iFIT’s AI Coach (beta) has been an incredible experience, especially because the team wanted input during the testing phase to ensure the feedback didn’t come across as robotic. As personal trainers, we aim to preserve a sense of personal connection with the athletes, adding a human touch to the automated messages. It was important to convey care and emotion, adjusting based on the athlete’s performance and needs, rather than issuing generic, impersonal directives. 

This personalized approach can significantly enhance an athlete’s training by making smart adjustments that cater to their current state, helping them stay injury-free and active across all ages. I advocate for treating everyone as an athlete because it positively influences their mindset, encouraging them to stay engaged and avoid sidelining themselves after missing a workout. The goal is to guide users gently, advising them it’s okay to slow down or adjust their routine as needed, providing comfort and the feeling of having a coach right there with them.

ATN: You humorously note that you “eat dessert first.” Can you share your overall philosophy on nutrition and how you incorporate this into training plans for your clients?

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AP: People often find it amusing that my sugar intake is notably higher than many athletes are accustomed to. However, as an endurance athlete, sugar is a primary fuel, providing necessary quick energy. It’s not just about consuming sugar; I advocate for a balanced approach, emphasizing that it’s okay to enjoy treats in moderation while maintaining a nutritious diet. 

Nutrition is vital, but it’s also deeply personal. What works for me may not work for everyone. Some may thrive on low-carb diets, while others might find them restrictive. It’s about finding what works for your body and lifestyle. My father’s mantra of “life’s short, eat dessert first” has always resonated with me, reminding me that enjoying life—and your food—is just as important as following a strict nutrition plan.

ATN: You offer plans that are not just about physical workouts but also about creating an enjoyable experience. How do you stay innovative and keep your programs engaging and effective?

AP: Staying connected with my community is crucial. I engage actively in social media and personal interactions, especially at races, to understand individuals’ stories and motivations. This personal touch allows me to tailor training plans that are not only effective but also resonate with people’s lives and schedules. By listening and adapting to each person’s unique situation, I ensure my training plans are personalized, keeping motivation high and making every goal achievable, no matter the lifestyle or constraints involved. 

ATN: How do you plan to expand the reach and impact of Ashkickn to inspire and support more individuals in their fitness journeys?

AP: My major goals revolve around continued presence and lifelong learning. I plan to expand the reach and impact of Ashkickn by consistently showing up, both in the digital world and at in-person events, while staying educated on the latest in fitness and wellness. This approach isn’t rooted in a desire for financial gain but from a genuine passion for what I do. I believe that by continuing to share my journey, enthusiasm and knowledge, I’ll naturally attract and inspire more individuals to embark on or maintain their fitness journeys. 

The foundation is my love for this work, which I would pursue regardless of compensation. This passion drives me to remain engaged and enthusiastic, debunking the myth of inevitable burnout despite my extensive participation in races and fitness activities. Hearing people’s stories and seeing the impact of my work fuels my motivation and reiterates the importance of what I do.

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