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Posted By Onelife Fitness on Apr 18, 2019 10:00:48 AM

Last week our Social Media Director Christopher Grate sat down with police officer and fellow Onelife Fitness member Ashley Fernandez and let her share with the world how she came into physical fitness and her career as a law enforcement officer. Her story is equally inspiring and informative with many nuggets of wisdom one can use to enhance their own fitness experience. Below is the interview, we hope that you'll become as inspired as we were.

 

 
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Hi Ashley, thanks for meeting with us today. Tell me a little bit more about your background so our audience can get to understand you a little more.

 

I’m originally from the Bronx NY where my family and I grew up (and my uncle and aunt served in law enforcement). From there we moved to PA where I continued my education and became a correctional officer and now I’ve been a law enforcement officer in the DMV for a little over four years.

 

 

 

So you grew up in a family of police officers, what was that like?

A lot of interesting stories, back in the 60’s and 70’s NY was very different and the stories I tell now days aren’t as exciting as theirs (laughing).

 

What inspired you to become an officer?


In NY, I came from a low income family and growing up in the projects we were exposed to a lot of gang life, a lot of crime and violence with guns on the street at that time. Unfortunately when I was a child my father was killed by a gang member…I was very young when it happened so my family kept it hidden from me until I was old enough to understand, once I reached that age and my family told me what had happened it drove me towards that career path. Seeing what it did to my mother, losing her newly wed husband and having to raise me on her own, I knew that I wanted to go into law enforcement and help prevent others from going through what I had gone through.


I’m sorry you experienced that, and thank you for your service to our communities. With law enforcement comes the physical aspects of being in top shape in order to protect and serve, were you already naturally athletic when you entered into the field?


I played sports in school, but I wasn’t athletic at all. My family didn’t instill that mentality in us and I actually grew up being very very thin and weak in strength. Also, the long hours of working in corrections left very little time for me to do anything else other than sleep which eventually lead to being stressed which took an even bigger toll on my physical well being or lack there of.

 

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What was the catalyst to become the person you are now?

It was my experience as a correction officer that made me snap out of it and take my health seriously. I thought, “If I’m not in the best shape that I can be how can I possibly protect and serve others should a situation arise?”


Once you decided to take fitness seriously what were you first steps towards the process?

I was very shy during the beginning…You know, you walk into the gym and you see all these people in phenomenal shape and lifting incredible amounts of weight and you can feel a little insecure. Since I was so shy I didn’t want anyone to look at me so I started by hiring a personal trainer to help expand my knowledge of exercises and to increase my confidence. My trainer showed me not only the proper forms and exercises to increase my strength, but she also taught me about proper nutrition and how to build a healthy meal plan that would support the work I do in the gym.

 

During your time with your first trainer were you excited about working out, were you immediately passionate about your pursuit?

NOT AT ALL (laughing)!! It was like, “Here I am again, and nothing is happening.” And I think that was just a result of me feeling so self conscious…


So what kept you going? There’s so many people out there that have experienced that make or break moment in the gym what gave you the drive to push through?


I found something that drove me and a support system that wouldn’t let me quit. My support system was my family, they constantly pushed me and told me to never quit and my drive was the memory of my father; I knew what type of man he was and I wanted to honor him by being my best.


When you and I first met you were at the gym, dialed in, focused, clearly passionate, and all by yourself. How long did it take for that passion to pour inside of you?

 

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It was about a year ago once I joined the police academy. At the time I thought that I was in great shape, but in the academy I was the slowest runner and I couldn’t even do a single push up. That made me hit a second gear, I refused to be the weakest link...And then I got into boxing and that completely changed everything again.


I saw you working the heavy bag (boxing training) with your trainer Sam, coming from a martial arts background when ever I see someone doing striking drills I’m instinctively drawn to their form and the way they strike and I remember your punches and defensive moves being so on point. Do you think that an added fuel to your fire has also been you being a woman in such a male dominated industry?


Of course, you know as a female law enforcement officer you have to work twice as hard. Especially me, not only being a female officer, but also being one that was once short and skinny I knew that I not only wanted to be confident in myself, but I also wanted civilians to feel confident that I can protect them when I arrived at the scene of an incident.


Now that you’re in the best shape of your life, what is it that gives the desire to continue to reach new levels?

 

It always goes back to my family and my father, and the desire to show others that they too can reach their goals and change the course of their well being. That and knowing that my job is to protect others, again I want them to know without a doubt that when I arrive at the scene that they know for a fact that I’m able to protect them and keep them safe.

 

That’s really inspiring, I know someone is going to hear that and dig in a little deeper than they have been. Can you take us through your workout routine and tell us what your training with Sam is like?


I meet with Sam about 2-3 times a week and to keep myself from getting bored we mix it up with various boxing and high-intensity training. We’ll hit the bag for a few rounds and then we’ll lift weights focusing on one part of the body and then I’ll go back and use the battle ropes or something like that. I know I need to push myself and mix it up in order to keep myself from getting bored.


What’s the dynamic like between you and Sam, working with someone who was once a pro boxer and focuses on conditioning and functionality compared to a trainer who’s majority focus is on aesthetics?

 

It’s really encouraging because boxing brings out that inner warrior in you. Lifting weights is great, and it definitely feels rewarding, but when you finish boxing you realize not only are you getting a great work out but you’re also learning how to protect yourself-it’s like having your cake and eating it too!


Well in your position, I mean…you can’t dumbbell press someone into submission on the field so those fighting techniques are definitely paying off (laughing).


Exactly, I have to workout in a way that provides form and function, and course looking great is an added benefit that I love (laughing).

 

So what’s next for you, where do you want to take your physical fitness?


I want to continue to push myself and take things to the next level. I want to continue with the boxing and perhaps enter a match one day and see how I do against another trained fighter. I would also like to form groups and help other women by informing them on proper workouts and nutrition in order for them to reach their goals.

What advice would you give to someone who will see this interview and is at the very beginning of their fitness journey?


First I would tell them that they shouldn’t feel ashamed of themselves, we all start at the beginning. I would also tell them that it’s okay to fail, I failed a ton of times in the beginning but I got here because I never gave up. And finally, have a goal strong enough to keep you motivated during the days where you want to quit or you feel weak and sore.

 

That’s amazing Ashley. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world and again, thank you for service to our community.

 

 What an incredible story!  As you continue to make progress in your fitness journey remember the words that Ashley spoke about patience and drive, it's important that you give yourself room to fail and equally important to find a driving factor to give you the strength go get back up again and keep going.

 

If you'd like to take your fitness to the next level ask our front desk about our top trainers, programs, and group fitness classes today to get started!

Onelife For All

 

 

 

 

 

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