Ashley is a former Division 1 USC Track & Field athlete and NPC Figure/Bikini Competitor, she received her B.S. in kinesiology and exercise science and is now preparing for medical school. This nonetheless has given her a strong foundation to step into helping others get in better physical shape. With such an advanced technical background this has enabled her to train a diverse group of people, from post-surgery rehabilitation to elite athlete strength and conditioning. Ashley brings a personal yet creative approach to her classes where you will be enlightened by new music and unique exercises planned and executed for your fitness goals. Ashley is truly an Inspired Athlete based on the sheer fact that she has gone above and beyond with every challenge thrown her way.
What name do you like to go by?
Ashley Pyka, but I will turn around various names, like “Sexy Beast” or “Pikachu”.
How did you get into fitness?
I grew up in sports, and I was fortunate enough to go to college for track and field. While at USC, I became fascinated with kinesiology and exercise science, so transitioning into the fitness field felt like a natural step at the time. I’ve worked in various fields of fitness from one-on-one personal training, strength and conditioning coaching, sports-related coaching, and bodybuilding. It’s been the only lifestyle I’ve ever known and I enjoy every bit of it! I am a meathead for life!
What do you like to do on the weekends?
Well most of my weekends are spent advancing my career by working or studying/preparing for medical school, so you can say I get pretty wild. I am a serial gym-goer as well, so I like to spend my days in the library, then I hit the gym at 2am when no one is around to judge me for singing out loud while I pump out some reps. My favorite three places are the gym, the library, and my bed (shout out to Drake!).
What inspires you?
People inspire me and they motivate me to be a better trainer, healthcare provider, and person. Fitness means something different to everyone and I think it is beautiful how that type of diversity brings people from all walks of life together. Since I am heavily involved in medicine, I view fitness as preventive medicine. It is important to me that the people I train know that their health is worth maintaining, which is something we tend to take for granted until it is too late. We can only control so much in our lives, so it is refreshing and empowering to know that each of us have complete control over our health.
What’s your pre-workout routine or ritual?
Well most athletes are naturally superstitious, so rituals are in my blood. Before track meets, I would have to pump myself up by watching Invincible and then listen to Lil Jon Snap Yo Fingers, and yes, I recognize that is an odd combination! Now, as a power-builder, I legitimately blast some music and dance for 3 songs to get in the right mood to lift some heavy weight. After years of this ritual, I think I’ve finally developed some pretty smooth dance moves.
What has motivated you to become a trainer?
My kinesiology background lead me down the fitness route, but I chose personal training because I wanted a way to connect with others. I honestly enjoy helping others, which is why I eventually went down the medicine route. Training has given me a way to guide others towards a healthy lifestyle change, and I’ve meet so many amazing people along the way. Training isn’t only about exercise, it is also about creating strong interpersonal relationships with others and becoming each other’s cheerleader. I’ve learned just as much from the people I train, and I’ve become a better person because of all those interactions.
How do you motivate others?
Now we are getting deep and revealing some secrets, huh?! The only way I know how to motivate others is to lead by example. I don’t believe in forcing someone into doing something they don’t want to do or they aren’t ready for. Fitness and health goals are very personal, so once someone is ready to be open about their goals, I will happily be there to support them 100% of the way. There’s no room for judgement in my training philosophy, and I think it’s inappropriate for me to force someone to see something my way. Instead, I like to walk the walk, live a healthy lifestyle, and follow through on my promises. If that inspires someone to follow my advice, then that’s great, but either way, I will support and help anyone who needs me regardless. Being there for someone else and being as good of a role model as I can be, are the ways I motivate others.
What are your 5 favorite songs from your workout playlist?
Well I am a rock’n’roll girl til the day I die, but I do love all types of music. These songs will always get me going though:
You Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC
Any song from Panic! At the Disco
Snap Yo Fingers, Lil Jon [CLASSIC!!]
I Hate Myself for Loving You, Joan Jett
Danza Kuduro, Don Omar [I bet you didn’t guess that one, but any reggaeton gets me pumped!]
What “healthy” food do you hate?
Haha! I am notoriously picky when it comes to food, which is why I enjoy cooking my own food instead. The foods I tend to stay away from are fruit. Usually my diet doesn’t allow much fruit, but I especially can’t stand the texture of apples. I am the person that buys a caramel apple, lick off all the caramel, and then throw away the apple. It’s pretty savage, I know.
What are you most proud of?
I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of family. My parents are the hardest working people I know and I appreciate every opportunity they have given me. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their love, support, and patience. My siblings are amazing and they have accomplished so much, I love that I get to be that older sister who can brag how cool their siblings are. My sister is killing it over at my Alma Mater as a USC strength and conditioning coach. And my little brother just graduated college, ending his collegiate football career as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. My family is amazing and I am lucky to have them, I am so proud of all of them.
Where can everyone find you? (favorite place, and all active social media handles)
Well, you heard how wild my weekends are, so you can always catch me in my favorite three places, the gym or the library, but please don’t sneak into my bed. That would be weird.
On social media, follow me or ask me questions on Instagram at @AshleyPyka
What are some of your goals?
I live a very busy and fast life, full of very ambitious goals. Life is too short to be/do just one thing!
Become an emergency medicine physician & work in underserved areas domestically and Internationally.
Practice and spread lifestyle medicine that promotes fitness as preventive medicine. Fitness and medicine are basically the same thing in my mind and I want to spread that type of philosophy.
Continue meeting, helping, and learning from new people worldwide!
Oh and of course, I want to continue lifting heavy weight and rocking out until the day I die!
Anything else that you would like us to know?
I love animals, so if you are into crazy cats or oversized puppies, I will be posting many pics on my IG of my 5 cats and great dang puppy. And yes, I didn’t mistype…FIVE cats…I just attract stray animals of all types, so once they find me, they have a home for life. Over the years, I’ve found a stray domestic rabbit, several liters of cats, a pitbull dog in LA, and an aquatic turtle. I still have my stray aquatic turtle, his name is Apple, which is ironic given that I don’t like eating apples. He showed up on my driveway 10 years ago and we’ve hung out ever since.