Hi Everyone! Thanks for reading another, “Empowered Woman of the Week” column. This week, is a very special friend, fellow travel addict, amazing personal trainer and fitness, and health influencer Ashleigh Lawrence! Ash and I met in London, in October of 2017. We hit it off instantly, because we both had traveled extensively, and both loved it. We had also been to almost the exact same amount of countries. We decided very spontaneously, to travel to Romania together, after only knowing one another about two weeks. It was so much fun though, and so much adventure. I’ve always felt with Ash, like we have been close friends forever. It’s so comfortable, and she was around during my divorce, when I was struggling a bit, and she always left a caring crying shoulder or ear for me. We have been to over 25 countries together now, which seems crazy. I love traveling with Ash, and having her as a friend, because she is one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met. She is logical, and she is the most chilled, laid back person ever. There were so many times in our adventures, I would about lose my shit or totally lose my shit, and she would be the cool, calm, and collected one, getting us out of whatever mess we were in, or calming me of any panic I had. She is the rational one of us, and the one who gets shit done. I’m so lucky to have her for so many reasons. As I said, she kept me sane in so many difficult, annoying, upsetting, or scary times. She’s very intelligent also. She even won this insane reality show in South Africa, with her fitness and skills. I trust her in any situation. Ash is also an amazing personal trainer. She trains in Australia and has done so much great work with her clients. She really is skilled at not only teaching people the technical side, or the nutritional side, but she again, is such a pusher. She really wants you to be successful and wants you to kick ass. She is so encouraging. I’ve had her train me also, and she was great! She kicked my ass, but she was awesome, and I had one of the best workouts ever. I just don’t know a girl who takes on so much at once, and can still just stay so calm and encourage others to succeed, while also trying to succeed and be the best person and trainer she can be, not only for herself, but for her clients! I’ll let you read her interview to learn a bit more about this girl ,that has become one of my closest friends in only 2 years.

Tell me your full name, age, (if you want) and where you’re from.

Ashleigh Lawrence from the Gold Coast, Australia 

Tell me a little about your upbringing? What were you like as a young girl and teenager? 

I grew up on the Gold Coast, a beautiful beach city on the East Coast of Australia. I always loved being in front of the camera and enjoyed outdoor activities. 

What did you want to originally be when you grew up? Did you ever think you would be where you are today? What made you want to become what you are today? 

I really wanted to be a journalist, so Mum and Dad put me into acting school when I was about 9. I then fell in love with acting and performing, so I wanted to be an actress. I never would have imagined ending up being a personal trainer, as I was never really into fitness. 

When did you move to Los Angeles and how come? 

I moved to LA when I was 19 to pursue acting, unfortunately, my visa expired and so then I moved to London. 

How did you get started doing what you’re doing and how did you really start to become successful? What does success mean to you? 

After moving to London, I was still working as an actress and model. As you know, it’s a tough industry and I was working sometimes and then out of work other times. At the time, I was training in the gym almost every day and I used to train with guys who would tell me how strong I was. I never believed them, because they were lifting so much more weight than I was. They told me I should enter a powerlifting competition because my weights were really good for a female. I went home and googled it, and turns out I was lifting quite a lot for my weight category. So I started training for a powerlifting competition. Then I realised that I love being in the gym, and I wanted to start to help other women realise how strong they are too. So I studied to be a personal trainer. I kind of just fell into it and I have never looked back. Success for me is helping my clients change their lives for the better. When a client who has drunk a sugary soda drink for lunch every day for the last 20 years texts me and says “I didn’t have soda for lunch today”, that is success. When a client lifts their goal of a 100kg deadlift, that is a success. When a client tells me they are fitting into their old jeans, that makes me so happy. Or that they are back to their pre-baby body weight and feeling more confident than ever, that’s a successful feeling. I am currently working on a training program e-book so I can help more people around the world. 

Tell me about your business and the projects you’re currently working on? 

I have some really exciting things coming up, including my programming (as I mentioned previously), and also my own brand which I will keep under wraps until it is ready to launch. 

For people who want to build or grow their business or brand, what advice would you give? 

Have a clear sense of direction and what you want. Find a niche and then be the best in that field. For me, it is strength training for women that I am really passionate about, and I really work to research and learn as much as I can about this area so that I can be knowledgable and ahead of the game. 

What career and life advice would you give young girls who look up to you?

You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do straight away. It took me so long to figure it out, and I’m still figuring it out day by day. When I left school, I actually went to university and studied accounting – and now I’m a personal trainer. Life happens in strange ways. Just go with the flow and enjoy it as much as you can. 

What are you most looking forward to in the future? 

At the moment I am taking life as it comes and I am super excited to see what the future holds, as life seems to change so rapidly and you never know what will happen next. 

What is your ultimate life goal? 

I would love to eventually open up my own boutique gym. 

What are things that people assume about you, that aren’t true? 

I never really took the time to consider what other people think about me. I hope it is all good, but I don’t really care. 

What is something most people don’t know about you? 

I had a goal to travel to 30 countries by the time I turned 30. I have now bypassed that goal and I’m up to 69. I would really love to travel to every country one day. Another thing that people don’t know is that I can speak Spanish. 

Why do you think women empowerment is so important? 

It’s 2019. Beyonce said it right – “Who run the world? Girls.” Let’s start acting like it. 

What would you say your best qualities are? 

I am a good listener and problem solver. I take into account all of the possible scenarios when making decisions. 

How can women support each other more? 

Women should support each other more and not hate so much. I don’t understand why some people feel the need to be mean. We should feel happy for each other rather than jealous! If another girl is successful, that means that we are all moving forward together. 

When I was living in London, we started a brunch club. It was running every month, and you could invite any girls you wanted to. If you just met someone out last week, you could bring them along. It started with only a few girls and then grew and grew. What a great way to meet people, network and expand your circle with more supportive, strong women. 

How can women feel more confident? 

First of all, unfollow any instagram pages that are making you feel bad about yourself. A lot of pages heavily photoshop their photos, sometimes changing the physiques to a point which is unachievable in real life. I don’t have a problem with people photoshopping their pics, but I do have a problem with people who do that and then make out like they look that way because they go to the gym and eat healthily. Then young girls are seeing these posts on instagram of out of proportion small waists and curvy hips and then wondering why they can’t look like that too. Stop comparing yourself to anyone else and start focusing on yourself. Focus on the things that you love and the positive aspects about yourself. If you can’t think of any, ask your family or your friends, I’m sure they will be quick to point out a million amazing and unique characteristics about you and reasons they couldn’t live without you! 

How do you overcome insecurities? How can others overcome their insecurities?

Don’t overthink things too much. Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. 

What are the things in life you value the most? 

My health is number one. I think too many people take this for granted, myself included sometimes. You only have one body, so look after it! Without your health, you can’t do all the other amazing incredible things that you value in life. You wouldn’t be able to work and earn money to do things that you enjoy. Sometimes you need to listen to your body take a little time out. If you are sick, have a rest day. One or two days off work and/or training might mean that you recover quickly, if you push yourself too hard you may end up being more sick for weeks. If you have injured your back, it’s okay to take some time off lifting weights so that you don’t further injure it. You may only need to take one week off, instead of further injuring yourself and having to take six months off. 

What does it mean to you, to be an “empowered woman”? How did you become empowered? 

An empowered woman is all about being confident, badass and strong. I think not caring what anyone else thinks about you helps with feeling empowered, but also being sure in yourself and your decisions. Back yourself. 

Thanks so much for the interview my Lovely! Everyone follow Ash’s accounts below! Ash has her personal account and then a cool account just for her travel photography.