Welcome to our Gym Shorts series, featuring quick tips from Twin Cities fitness pros. We spotlight the people powering our neighborhood studios and motivating us to keep coming back. Know an inspiring instructor? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Kropp has always had an urge to keep things moving. A distance runner with a few triathlons under her belt, her introduction to fitness was found on gravel roads and in the weight room. After years of working in corporate jobs, she and her husband decided that “life is too short to spend your days doing anything but what drives your soul.” In partnership with her husband, Kropp now owns, operates, and leads classes at two F45 Training locations: Inver Grove Heights and Eagan. Ahead, she talks about how community + connection are an intrinsic part of the gym experience, and shares assuring words on how to make peace with gym anxiety.
Tell me how you got into the gym business.
My passion for fitness has always been a huge part of who I am, and my husband Michael shares that passion. After years of working long hours at stressful corporate jobs, we got to work, combining our skillsets and focusing on F45 Training, which we believe brings the absolute best qualities in a fitness business—world-class workouts that are scalable to any fitness level, top-notch technology, a variety in training formats led by highly qualified trainers, and (what we feel is most important) a focus on being not just a gym, but a community.
We opened our first studio in Eagan in 2020, five months into the pandemic. Our first six months in business we went through social distancing, shutdowns, and mask requirements. But in the process, we witnessed an incredible community forming inside those four walls, bound by a common passion for wellness. We came out the other side of the pandemic still kicking, and went on to open our second studio in Inver Grove Heights in July of 2022.
What are the best things to eat before and after a workout?
Prior to a workout, complex carbs and protein are your friends. If you’re eating within an hour of your workout, easily digestible carb/protein combos such as greek yogurt and fruit will help maximize your glycogen stores during your training session.
What’s the best workout to do in the morning to have energy for the rest of the day?
The best workout is one you enjoy doing! Find something that excites you and that jazzes you to get out of bed in the morning. And get yourself a community of like-minded people who motivate you to continue.
How do you spend your recovery days?
Active recovery. Going for a hike in the woods with my husband and son, or a chill at-home yoga session to stretch out tight muscles. Basically, moving my body at a low intensity in a way that feels good, and fueling it well.
What song or artist never fails to pump you up during a workout?
Anything by Kesha or Ludacris
Any tips on getting over being self-conscious at the gym?
Remember that everyone is focused on their own workout. People go to the gym to work toward their own fitness goals—they’re not focusing their attention on anyone else.
Find a welcoming community where you don’t feel like a number. The gym shouldn’t be a scary place! It should be a space where you can be guided without judgment, with other members who motivate and support each other.
And trust the professionals. If you’re feeling self-conscious, start by finding a fitness solution that is guided by professional trainers who help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Remember that everyone has to start somewhere, and that progress takes time. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and try to focus on your own fitness journey rather than comparing yourself to others.
Describe what you love about your gym/studio in 5 words.
Community, inclusiveness, fun, strength, energy.