Ashley Simmons - IFBB Figure Pro

October 2018 - Update

Experiences from recent contests and turning Pro

It was surreal to be on stage next to 6 Olympians, and place top 10! It was a dream come true and I could not picture a more perfect Pro Debut. My posing, created by world renown posing coach Kenny Wallach, was perfect, I hit every mark I had intended to exactly the way I had practiced and envisioned. I had practiced every day, sometimes twice a day, and I visualized it everyday. Then I made it happen that day. My body peeked as it should of, thanks to my coach IFBB Pro Mike Ely. I had my biggest fan and swolemate Johnny Howells, back stage pumping me up, getting me zoned in, and running me through poses. My mind was calm, I knew I had given this prep everything I had and I was ready to present it. Being backstage with the Olympians made me feel like a little kid at Disney, they looked like Greek goddesses, I was in AW, they are a whole new level. It was a humbling experience that has given me an appetite for more, I know my body has more to give and I am excited to get into my growing season to start pushing my body to grow, this is just the beginning for me and my team.

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#throwbackthursday to my #prodebut this past weekend @kentuckymuscle I use to HATE my front pose. I never felt comfortable or confident in it. I felt like it was my weakest pose. So I took that weakness and grinded until it became a strength! In my growing season @ifbbpromikeely pushed my quads to grow, my shoulders to round, and my lays to pop.... then he connected me with THE best posing coach @kennywallach who taught me how to display what I had worked so hard to build. Now I can step back and look at my front pose and be proud of what we built and how far Iíve come. Donít be afraid if your weak points. Go after them. And turn them into something magnificent. #teambigmike #ohiogains #gymgirl #deadcenter #figureposing #frontpose #ifbbpro #ifbbfigure #aesthetic #growth @suitsbyceleste #fitnessmotivation #fitnessjourney #beautyisabeast

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Prep (diet, training), differences from past preps

Each and every prep is different for me because I am bringing a new level of conditioning with more lean muscle mass. My coach's goal for me, was to grow me into each show, and that is exactly what we did. We kept the workouts intense and the nutrition on point.
This prep was different for me because Johnny and I decided to cut and do our first show together. I get asked a lot about my opinion on couple cutting together and doing shows together; It was nice to have a cardio partner, we held each other accountable for meals/cardio/workouts, we lift together 24/7/365 regardless, but it was nice physically being in the same state together. Our energy levels matched and we would push each other to grind on those lower energy days, and I could look at him working and think, "He is going through exactly what I am going through, so I need to step up." Peek weak presented itself with a little more meal prep work for us, a little more challenging altogether because we were both so drained, but we stepped up to help each other. My advice to couples peeking together; Be patient with each other. sometimes silence is your friend until you clear your head. Peek week can be intense and stressful, fight through it together, not each other.


Shows and traveling is expensive, show costs always present a challenge. But I always say, "where there is a will, there is a way." I picked up side jobs on top of working full time to ensure we could cover our costs.

Future plans

Definitely will be hitting the stage in 2019. It is all up to my coach on when. We have some work to do and big dreams to accomplish, you can't rush those kind of things. As of right now we are saying that I will hit the stage in the summer of 2019, if my growing season goes super well, possibly late spring. But that decision is out of my hands. It is all up to coach IFBB Pro Mike Ely.

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My individual routine!!! Prejudging is over and I could not be more extatic with how we came in and where we are sitting placing wise! Out of 37 figure pros, 6 of them 2018 Olympians... and damn did they look amazing! They are a whole new level! Much respect for them... I made second call outs...which means Iím sitting top 10 right now with some of the best in the world . Thatís so freaking humbling to think about!!! Finals tonight at 6:00!!í ?? Shout out and thank you to @kennywallach for my perfect posing!!! Thank you for taking the time to help me #deadcenter #kennywallach @kentuckymuscle #ifbbfigure #figurecompetitor #fitfam #ifbbpro #kentuckymuscle2018 #prodebut #beautyisabeast #fitnessjourney #gymmotivation #gymgirl #figureposing

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My first competition was a spontaneous decision that would change the rest of my life. I was training and riding racehorses so I started hitting the gym to improve my strength for riding. A trainer approached me about competing in bikini, I went home and thought about it. The next day I went back to him committed with a show date marked in the books. I had no idea what I was getting into, it was a rough learning curve, I thought I was in shape and did not realize how important diet was. I was not ready for my first competition at all! I was not lean enough, my posing was awkward and I looked like a new born calf moving in my heels. I learned a lot from my first show, fell in love with the process, the challenge, and the stage. So I took about two years off after that to just build my body and educate myself before I stepped on stage again. My dreams developed and I started chasing them.

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My calories increase in the off season to provide building blocks for muscle growth, but the food I eat remains the same. I eat a lot of chicken, egg whites, cod, lean beef, clean carbs, and veggies. I eat more cod toward the end of my contest prep and I cut carbs towards the end. I think the biggest mistake people make is cutting carbs out of their diet completely, I think it slows the metabolism down and increases fat storage. There is not one good diet for everyone, it's about finding what your body needs in terms of fats, carbs, and protein. Staying consistent is huge for progress, and proper water intake helps as well. I think people should have a knowledgeable trainer for diet, it is too hard to look at yourself in the mirror and make the necessary cuts, or know when to add items.

I had a trainer who cut all of my carbs for a show prep once My body fought that! My metabolism slowed down I held fat and water. My coach accused me of cheating on my diet. It was a disaster. Once I added the carbs back in slowly I dropped a lot of weight. So severe carb restriction did not work for me.

That is a daily battle, building self confidence. It's hard not to look in the mirror and pick your body apart because we are striving for perfection. But then reality sets in and perfect is unattainable, because it does not exist. Everyone is built different, you can't change your genetics and half of what you see in magazines is not real. My hard work in the gym builds my self confidence, because I know I am pushing my body to its best. I know my body does not look like anyone else, I do not compare it to others when I think about the stage, because I know I am bringing my best package to the stage. I get pride and satisfaction out of grinding in the gym, that builds my confidence.

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I weight train 6 days a week and hit cardio 5 days a week when in prep. Balance is a funny word to me in this sport, because if you want to go PRO there is no such thing. You eat, sleep, dream, train, and plan life around your goals. I stay on my diet 100% of the time, My day to day life consists of training, working, and meal prepping, every single day, even if I do not want to. No days off.

Check-ins: the nerves are high strung for me. I start wondering who is in my class, how many girls I have to mind begins to race. Then I have to stop myself and remind myself none of that matters. I outworked anyone stepping on that stage, and I am ready to go no matter how many or how good. I calm myself by reminiscing on all the hours I spent in the gym, the endless meal prepping, the hours of cardio completed , the knowledge of my coach, and support from my man. Then I am at peace in my mind, stage ready. I practice posing on and off prior to checkins through show time, my coach keeps me on point with my meals, and my boyfriend keeps me calm with encouraging words of how hard we have worked to get there. Although it is not exactly a team sport, it takes a team to compete. I could not do it without my coach IFBB Pro Mike Ely or my boyfriend/training partner/meal prepper Johnny Howells.

For prejudging; Sitting back stage with my coach standing above me, I try to keep my mind calm. I have my feet up, music in, eyes closed picturing how I am about to pose on stage, I picture each graceful step and movement. From time to time my coach nudges me, without a word I know what he wants, I stand up and gracefully take the steps through my posing routine, he gives me a look of satisfaction and I can sit back down until it is time to step on stage. I stay clothed in my robe for no one to see, I like to be the surprise package on stage.

Finals don't make me nervous, it is what it is at that point, decisions have been made and you know about where you stand, I tend to be a lot more confident for finals, the show stage jitters have worked themselves out.

My life revolves around competing, some might think that is weird or I am missing out on things, but I don't feel that way. I make a lot of sacrifices financially and socially to be able to compete and to strive for greatness. There are no days off, there is no balance during prep.

I am going to Junior USAs in Carolina in May to compete at Nationals, where I plan to obtain my pro card.


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