Ashley Cain is the type of person you just cannot help but love.
She's quick with a megawatt smile. Genuinely kind. Instantly relatable – right down to her well-documented love for Publix BOGO's on Halo Top or Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.
"I love food and I don’t see that ever changing," she laughs.
Ashley says she hasn't always had this kind of balanced relationship with food, her body, and her health.
"In the past, I would deprive myself of “bad” food then totally binge and be upset with myself for doing so but that never worked for me. I have truly learned that it is all about having a healthy balance."
A 28-year-old Tampa native, Ashley Cain (née Micciche) attended Florida State University in Tallahassee for her undergraduate degree. That's where she met now-husband (and now-CrossFit9 Coach) Michael Cain. She says she loved step classes, and would study while bored on the elliptical. She moved back to Tampa to begin her Physician's Assistant schooling, and her fitness moved to at-home Beachbody and Insanity workouts.
Ashley says she's always had a pretty powerful lower body, but her upper body was lacking strength. It really got to her when she attempted an obstacle race, and she couldn't do most of the obstacles. Rope climbs and climbing over walls were a feat still out of reach.
Shortly after, Mike made his first visit to CrossFit9 "just to do a little powerlifting". Soon enough, he was jumping in on metcons. And then became a coach. He wouldn't stop telling Ashley how much he thought she'd enjoy the camraderie and workouts, too.
"At first I was a little hesitant and had reservations about doing CrossFit (probably the same ones most people have) but I had always loved trying new types of workouts and challenging myself, so I gave it a try.
When Ashley graduated PA school, CrossFit9 was her first stop. Turned out Mike was right, she loved it from the get-go.
Ashley and Mike fell into a rhythm, with fitness playing a key means to their quality of life, but notably, not the end.
You could set a watch to Ashley's arrival to the 6:00 PM class. She and Mike are very deliberate about their 5x per week workout schedule. Tuesdays and Fridays are almost religiously upheld as rest days, time to get out of the gym, and time to enjoy each others' company. (You'll often catch them having a happy hour cocktail and appetizers on Beach Drive for their Friday date night.) They meal prep on Sundays to stock up on healthy eats for the week.
You might take one look at Ashley's strong arms and lean physique and wonder: Dining Out? Ben & Jerry's? Muscles? How is this even possible?
But the Cains are walking, talking proof consistency is really where it's at. 80–90% of their meals are nutrient-dense, portioned ones. They work out regularly. No crazy measures taken. And Ashley's results speak for themselves.
"I could never do a strict pullup or pushup prior to CrossFit and those were huge milestones for me. I have lost a good 10 lbs. since and have gained lots of muscle."
Ashley says she knows if she were to repeat that old Spartan race, she'd blow through the obstacles that gave her so much trouble.
Not to mention, her strength and confidence looked particularly great on her wedding day last November.
"I felt amazing physically and it is all because of CrossFit. I was beyond happy with how I looked in my dress because of how my arms, shoulders and back looked."
"People at the gym even have asked what I did to look the way I did for the wedding and it all goes back to being consistent.
"I never did extra 'wedding day arm workouts' like you see advertised in the magazines. I cleaned up my diet and continued to go to class (both CrossFit WODs and 9HIIT). It is amazing the changes you can see and feel over time when you’re consistent!"
Shortly after her wedding, Ashley tackled her first fitness competition, partnering up with Megan Holmes and Ellie Clayman to work their way towards a fourth place finish in a super-crowded field at WOD Wars 2019.
When it comes to her next goals, Ashley says she's focused on the big picture: Continuing to get stronger everyday, a little at a time. Staying consistent. But she also wants to tackle some of the sexy stuff: "Bar and ring muscle ups are next on my checklist!"
Looking ahead, keeping her health in tip-top shape is taking on new significance.
"I'm trying to prepare my body as best I can for pregnancy with the hopes of starting a family over the next few years."
Physical changes aside, Ashley says her time at CrossFit9 has enriched her life in many other ways.
She's got an extended community of 9'ers rooting for her, and a close circle of friends who've grown out of their gym time. (In fact, two of her bridesmaids were women she knows through CrossFit9!)
Ashley's changed internally, too.
"I am much more confident as a woman. I have noticed my confidence increase not only inside of the gym but in my job and life in general as well.
"I am mentally tougher. I truly learned the power in how you speak to yourself, whether that’s during a workout when I want to take a break or stop or in life when you feel like you may be incapable of doing something. But you try it, and you can prove yourself wrong.
"My entire mindset on the way I view my body has changed. CrossFit has helped me to feel the most confident I have ever felt in my body. Growing up I always hated that my legs and butt were bigger than most of my friends'. Now I look at my body and appreciate not only how it looks, but what it can do. Let me tell you at this point in my life I appreciate my thicker thighs and booty for a few reasons, but a big reason is because they help me lift some heavy ass weight!"
Raise a pint (of ice cream)! Those are some wise words we can live by!
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