Healthy Faces: Meet Ashley Aragona

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on June 26, 2021 from Healthy Faces via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Healthy Faces is presented by Healthy Bridgeport, a group which evolved from the 2020 Health Games sponsored by Healthy Harrison. After completing a six-month weight loss challenge - during which combined contestants lost more than 700 pounds - Healthy Bridgeport has again evolved and expanded to include all of Harrison County. Healthy Harrison Change Your State Health Games, the Encore is hitting the ground running and will host its first countywide Biggest Loser and 10% Takedown challenges. Weigh-ins will be held in July. Stay tuned for details.Read about the Bridge to Health 5K Festival and winners of the first phase of the weight loss challenges HERE.
 
This week's Healthy Face is Healthy Bridgeport steering committee member Ashley Aragona, who along with her husband Clinten, developed the Healthy Bridgeport app, available for download at your app store. A fitness professional, Ashley has also contributed much content to the app and overall Healthy Bridgeport mission. Meet her here!
 
Thanks, Ashley, for being this week's Healthy Face! Tell us a little about yourself ...
My name is Ashley Aragona, and I am a small business owner and fitness professional. I grew up in Shinnston and graduated from Lincoln High School, then Fairmont State University with a degree is Business Administration. I live in Bridgeport with my husband Clinten, and our four dogs and two cats.  When I’m not working or teaching at our gym (WV Fitness 24) I can usually be found hanging out at home with my fur babies and working in my garden in the summer months. My friends would also say that I spend a lot of time birdwatching and I’m a bit Disney obsessed, so if I’m not in West Virginia, chances are high I’m in Florida.
 
What is your favorite motivational/self-help book?  
My favorite motivational author has to be Brene Brown. I think I own every book she’s published. I also try to read my Bible and/or a devotional every morning to set my mind right for the day and every evening to reset from said day.
 
Favorite healthy meal? 
I would have to say Buddha Bowls are a staple in our house. I like the variety it offers from one meal to the next and it’s so easy to whip one up with leftovers you have on hand. Lots of fresh veggies, healthy grains and multiple sauce options make for never-ending flavor combos. I also love to add marinated Tofu but that can be omitted in place of a different protein source.
 
Favorite workout?  
Any group fitness class is generally my fave. I’ve been teaching group fitness for over 13 years now, so I am partial to the energy and camaraderie of a group class. If I’m working out solo, I prefer a HICT (high intensity circuit training) workout.
 
How do you fit health and wellness into your busy lifestyle?  
I’m lucky in that my job is health and fitness, so it is sort of built into my day. Not only are many of my workouts prescheduled for me because of my classes, but I’m at the gym on many days they aren’t, so even if I’m in a rush or just dropping off supplies, I can easily sneak in a 15-20 minute strength or cardio session. When I am feeling unmotivated, (we all have those days) I find I enjoy just being outdoors in the sunshine. Either walking my dogs, or doing outdoor work in my garden or yard is a great way to get my body moving. Even if it’s just 10 minutes to do a quick stretching session, just moving and getting the blood flowing can completely reset my mood; so I try to keep that in mind for those times that I am needing an extra motivation.
 
What is your favorite motivational quote?
“You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.” Brene Brown. I find it’s a great reminder to not get sidetracked or distracted from outside influences that could cause me to think my path/story should have a different arc or that I should be a different version of who I am. Also, this isn’t motivational, but my mother always said “Pretty is as pretty does” and she truly lives that way, so I have always tried to live by her example.
 
How did your health journey start?
I was a competitive Irish dancer up until my last year of college so I was always in the studio training for competitions/shows. Once I met Clinten; my husband who owned Xtreme Fitness (now WV Fitness 24) my dance experience led to an easy and obvious transition into me teaching group fitness classes. My first certification was Zumba fitness and from there I’ve gone on to gain certifications and licenses in multiple other group fitness and general fitness modalities. Even though I’ve been in this industry for many years, I’m always eager to learn new skills and ways to bring fun and effective workouts to my group fitness students and training clients. When we purchased the YMCA building on Lodgeville in 2015, I really got to expand on our vision for what we wanted our club to offer. We were able to build onto the existing structure and add extra group fitness space. Classes really are my “baby” for the club. I feel so lucky and blessed to have amazing instructors, some of which have been with me for over 10 years, as well as management, trainers and staff. Some of my best friends have come from my health and fitness journey through the gym. I really believe I’ve gained a second family from the club and our members and I’m so grateful for every one of them.
 
What are some easy tiny habits that you recommend people start with on their journey? 
Definitely to remember and record the small wins. Keeping a journal is really helpful because you can look back and see the progress you’ve made. Set small goals to start with, and once you feel those goals have turned into a daily habit, set new goals. This is one reason I really think the Healthy Bridgeport app is so great! You can set your goals and mark them off; plus you might win something, so it’s a win- win!  Finally be patient with the process and take the time to find the things that excite you. There are SO many ways to move and be healthy, so really search out what ignites your fire and don’t be afraid to try new things. Also don’t get discouraged if it takes some time to find what really gets you excited about your journey. Every step, no matter how small, is a step towards your goal and you should be so proud of all progress made.



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