Ashley Tinneny – Muscle Is Effort

“I constantly have to remind myself of the effort I put into my workouts and how I am more than capable of implementing the .same into my parenting.”

Ashley Tinneny

Activities: Strength Training, Hiking, Mom

Social Media: IG- @ashleytinneny, Pnterest- @ashleyletters

Career: Mom, owner of Raise Fitness

Song: “I Knew You Were Waiting” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael

I met Ashley several years ago, before she was married with kids. She worked in management at, then, Dave Barton gym when I started as an independent trainer. The thing I liked about her is she treated me the same way she did those who worked for the company. She was always kind, friendly, and willing to help. Ashley is one of those genuine people you don’t have to know very well to know she is trust worthy. I remember having a personal conversation with her and she gave me some really good advice. The fact that I felt comfortable enough with her to share something personal about myself, tells you who she is, because I am a very private person. I was very happy for her when I found out she was dating Ray Tinneny the man who later became her husband because their personalities made sense together.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to watch them become parents over and over again and with every pregnancy Ashley has been able to get her pre baby body back. I say that, not to shame those who haven’t, but to encourage them to try. Not for the aesthetic reasons, but for self. We are all at our best, when we feel good about ourselves. I asked Ashley to be a part of MCBMI because I do believe she is an inspiration. She is a full time mother of five who still finds time to care for her physical and mental well being. The thing that I love about her story is that she acknowledges the importance of having a husband who works 80+ hours a week and still makes time to be present when he comes home to his family.

Please read this latest MCBMI interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and you understand why “Muscle Is Effort.” Then join us Sunday Sept.12th at 4:30 pm. (EST) for a live chat on IG: @mcbmi where we will talk all thing parenting and fitness

Q:  Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. 

Q:  Do you come from a large family?

I do come from a large family!I have three brothers and with that came 15 nieces and nephews some of which are great nieces and nephews.

Q:  Do you come from an athletic family? If so, did you play sports as a child?

I came from a wrestling family. Both my brothers wrestled but my twin brother made a name for himself. He was ranked number one in the nation as a senior and first team high school All American. In college, he won NCAA as a sophomore. He was something to see. As for me, I tried everything. From swimming to track, I never found anything I enjoyed and therefore wasn’t an athlete. A couple years after I moved to NY, I want to say at 25, I developed a love for fitness working in the fitness industry. I hired a trainer, who was also a dear friend, and he really helped shape me into an athlete.

Q:  So you are a mom of five, have you always wanted a large family, was that the plan?

You know I never really thought about wanting kids. I was very successful at a young age so children weren’t on my radar. Then I met my future husband around age 28 (a trainer at the gym I worked at in Manhattan) and within a few months of dating, we decided to get married and start a family. Although things happened in the opposite order, (lol) from there they just grew. We wanted a second baby, of course. The third baby I wanted and we made a bet over a Miami Heat basketball trade and well, Ray lost. The fourth one was a one-time shot and The fifth, well we are still trying to figure that one out (haha.) We sure are blessed. That’s all I have to say! 

Q:  What are the ages of your children?

Georgianna is nine. Logan is eight. Tommie is four.  Magnolia is 3, and Conor is two and a half months

The Tinneny clan (l-r) Georgianna, Tommie, Conor, Magnolia, and Logan

Q: Having several children is not as common as it used to be, why do you think that is?

I think having a big family is rare today for many reasons. Financially, kids are expensive. Experts are saying that by the time our children are ready to go to college, tuition could be as high as $120,000 a year. Medically, the whole process of pregnancy is scary. For liability reasons doctors are required to tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly so there is a lot of fear instilled. We are forced to know more than we actually want to about all the things that can go wrong during the pre and postnatal process. We are also deconditioned, to acknowledging the challenges that can occur in trying to conceive. 

Women are more career driven with opportunities.  To find and rely on a full-time nanny can be stressful. women are now given the option to put their careers first whereas generations before us, women were required to be a stay-at-home mom. My nieces, who are in their 20’s are now encouraged to put their careers first and hold off on having children. Whereas, when I was growing up, if we weren’t married and pregnant before the age of 30, something was wrong. The clock was ticking. It’s just a different time. Ray and I have been very fortunate to run a successful business, which allows us to financially afford a large family. Falling pregnant with my third, I took a back seat in-house training at Raise Fitness and now I’m able to stay at home and enjoy physique consulting throughout the week. Consulting allows me to connect with my clients, calibrate plans and align expectations weekly to keep to a high level of engagement and care. It was remote training before the pandemic so I was fortunately ahead of the game. But again, I’m the minority. 

Q:  Do you think societal norms of today discourage large families or do you think location makes a difference- city life vs country?

I personally think large families are discouraged today. People’s reaction when they find out how many kids I have is priceless. They just  laugh and say your poor husband must be so overworked! There seems to be negative connotations geared towards having a large family. In today’s society. We live to work not work to live, so whether you reside in the city or the country, the cost of living these days is hard and expensive. I would also like to mention the mental health crisis that we are facing today. It is affecting all ages, nationalities, and  genders, so fear of having children is prevalent and on the forefront. Having a large family is extremely overwhelming and it requires a lot of thinking ahead and planning. There’s no “me time” and let’s face it, that’s what people are in search of these days. more time for themselves; hence large families being so rare. Country and/or city, they’re both a “dog eat dog” sense of mentality. So yes, I think inadvertently large families are discouraged. 

Q: How do you jungle being a wife, mom, and business owner and still have time to work out consistently?  

I am especially grateful that I have a partner who puts as much emphasis on self-care as I do. One of my favorite sayings is, “I have to take care of myself in order to take care of everyone else. “ A lot of things go into my ability to juggle as much as I do. Fitness being a huge priority along with getting a good night sleep, having a well-balanced diet, and of course wine.  Being surrounded by children all day, I still like to feel like an adult. Having a glass of wine a night allows me to feel some normalcy outside the chaos. I consider it a reward to myself after working all day. If you’re able to have self control, then a glass of wine is a nice treat at the end of the day. 

Time management is a huge part. I try to start my mornings as early as possible to get as much as I can done before the day even starts (hence my early bedtime). I think it is important for moms to find a time of day where they are most productive. Planning ahead is also key, I always try to be one step ahead, otherwise I feel like I am drowning. My husband leaves for work at 4:30 in the morning and doesn’t get home until 8 o’clock at night. He works 80+ hours a week so that I’m able to be a steadfast presence for the kids. So with that being said, it is very important that I am on. I guess that’s the message that I want to relate to parents who make fitness a priority. Try to implement the same consistency, commitment, focus, patience, drive, progression, and passion that you put into your workouts, into your parenting. If we are able to implement all the above into our workouts, then why can’t we implement the same into parenting? After all, it’s the most important job we have. 

Dad, Ray Tinneny with Conor (l-r0 Tommie, Magnolia, Logan, and Georgianna

Being up with all five kids and putting all five kids to bed, I constantly have to remind myself of the effort I put into my workouts and how I am more than capable of implementing the same into my parenting. During Covid, when all of the gyms closed and I did not have access to babysitting, my husband and I created a budget that allowed us to hire a babysitter which was strictly so that I could have a break.  Not to clean or catch up on bills but to workout. That mental and physical break was much more needed than the day-to-day chores. When my husband  is home, he completely takes over. He is very much hands-on and affectionate towards the kids. We are a team and without him, my consistency, in general, would cease to exist. May I just add, by loving myself, I am able to give and love more. I do find that confidence through taking care of my physical and mental well-being and genuinely believe my kids are benefiting from that. My only hope through all of this it’s to remain healthy, and to raise healthy children through example. Then there is the other side of it, where things don’t always go according to plan. There are hiccups in my day-to-day routine and I am constantly falling short of my goals. That’s when I have to remind myself that life is a constant wave of motion and the best thing I can do is adapt, slow down, and refocus. Are there days when I don’t want to workout or I’m hard on myself for not giving 100% effort in the gym or at home? Hell yes. It’s OK to not always be at a 100% performance rate. I like to have contingency plans. If I’m not feeling the gym, I will get out and hike or go for a walk. When I’m having a bad day at home and things aren’t going according to plan,  I try to get out of the house and just stay active. Sometimes the best medicine for chaos is distraction.

Q: Did you exercise during your pregnancies? If so, what were some of the benefits for both you and the babies in having worked out?

Being diagnosed with Lupus at a very young age,  I was considered high risk with each of my pregnancies. I had special tests done and was monitored more thoroughly. With my first pregnancy, I barely did anything out of pure fear and exercise was not encouraged by my obstetrician. The second pregnancy was mostly functional weight training. The third, fourth, and fifth, I progressed so much so that I was able to average five body weight pull-ups, nine months pregnant. The stigma behind geriatric pregnancies, I feel, it’s so misleading. Unless there is a medical reason, I highly encourage all women, of all ages to train up until their due date, if possible. I am stronger now, turning 39 and having five children then I was at 28 with one. I’ve been blessed to have great deliveries but my fifth one took the prize. I pushed him out in 45 seconds and the nurses were even shocked!  I can 100% contribute that to my consistency at the gym. I worked out before and during pregnancy because I knew how important it was going to be postpartum and decreasing the chances of depression. The one thing I had control over was normalcy postpartum and I knew the only way to do that was through my consistency at the gym. Plus being pregnant and dealing with hormones, eating and staying active allowed bowel movements to be more consistent, clearer skin, better sleep, and more energy throughout the day.  I have also been blessed to have five healthy children with, thank God, no medical issues. My belief is the healthier I am, the healthier my deliveries and babies will be. When you exercise pregnant, both you and the fetus are preparing for life postpartum. I highly encourage women who are thinking about getting pregnant or are pregnant to research all of the benefits of exercise pre and postpartum. Prepare yourself physically and mentally so you can be your best self going into the unknown of pregnancy. 

Ashley training at home at 7 mons pregnant

Q:  Did you experience Postpartum Depression with any of your pregnancies? If so, what helped you through that time? 

I fortunately did not experience postpartum depression for any of my pregnancies. Did I have some overwhelming and low times? Yes of course but it wasn’t anything that I could not get a grip on. When times were difficult, I found a way to be active. Working out does not mean working at 100% capacity. It could be as simple as heading out for a walk or a hike or simply sitting up and down in a chair for 30 minutes. If your family lineage has suffered  from postpartum depression, the best thing you can do is educate yourself and take proactive measures. Again, breng physically capable and mentally stable through an active and healthy lifestyle is a major preventable measure. 

Q:  On average, post partum, how long did you wait before you began to incorporate exercise back into your routine?

With each pregnancy, my postpartum rest grew shorter. I think I started off at six weeks with the first baby and by the fifth pregnancy, I waited about two or three weeks  until I started easing back into it by walking. 

Q:  Do you think it’s  important to get back to feeling and looking like yourself after birth? If so, why?

I think it’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Getting back to feeling and looking like “yourself” is best for your mental health. I think we as humans have the tendency to be stuck in the past with how we used to look and feel. It’s challenging to get older. We lose elasticity in our skin, our complexion changes, we lose muscle and strength. It’s all inevitable, however, we are able to slow the process with mindfulness to our health. There’s so much uncertainty in the day-to-day, so if I’m able to at least get back to “being me,” it’ll be the one constant amongst the chaos.

Q:  What does an average day look like for you?

I’m typically up early because I like to get coffee in before the kids get up. The alone time for a brief moment is EVERYTHING.  As mentioned earlier my husband is typically out the door by 430am so I am usually up around 530am and starting to rally around 6am. I’m always doing laundry but I try to get most of it folded and put away in the morning along with unloading the dishwasher the night before. Then I’ll get breakfast made and feed the baby. While they eat, l try to get lunches done and last minute homework completed. Then onto all the beds even though I have all my kids make their own  I’ll adjust accordingly. Everyone is dressed and ready and the two oldest are on the bus by 8:15 am. Then I get ready for the day. It’s a one-time attempt so I will go all out. Full makeup, hair done, perfume, jewelry etc, just to head to the gym and sweat. My husband always asks why I get all dressed to go sweat but when I feel like I look good, I’m more motivated to get out the door and train. It’s like a football player that wears a uniform, helmet, paints black under their eyes, and wears the same socks all season.  Once the “uniform” is on, they’re ready to get out there and give it their all. That’s the approach I take every morning despite a poor night sleep or a tough morning. Kids typically get home from school around 3:30 pm, so in between I’ll run errands, groceries etc. When the kids get home, we spend some time doing homework then we are out the door again for sports or play dates. I like to get home by 6:00 pm. The older kids help me bathe the younger kids while I make dinner. Then I clean up the kitchen and house, and I like to have everyone on the couch by 7:00 pm and everyone in their bed by 730 pm. I’m typically asleep by 8:30 pm. 

Q:  Think back to having your first child, what was the hardest part about being a mom then, and has that changed? If so, what is the hardest part of being a mom now?

I think when I first became a mom there was this expectation to be perfect, to nurse 24/7 and not bottle feed, dress the baby in the best of the best clothes (now my kids are always naked), bath every night, etc.   Everything was done in accordance to perfection. Fast forward to today, the most important thing to me is routine. Everything else falls to the wayside. Without  routine and staying consistent, the kids don’t sleep as well and are more irritable throughout the day. Again, for me, everything goes back to my mindset when I train. The focus, the drive, the consistency.  When remaining consistent with my training, I see change. By remaining consistent with my routine as a parent, the kids are more adaptable, well behaved and tolerable. 

Q:  What has the best thing about being a mom been for you?

I think the best thing about being a mom has been the gift of selflessness, and also loving my body throughout the process of having children. I’ve been able to learn how strong  I really am mentally and to push the limits physically.  A lot of good comes from the aging process as far as realizing what’s important and what isn’t. The training I do isn’t just for vanity reasons anymore, (though everyone likes to look good), there is now a deeper purpose behind it. 

Q:  What are three things you hope to instill in your kids?

My hope is to instill patience, empathy towards others, and the importance and value of hard work into my children.

Q:  Do you believe women can have it all- a successful career, a good marriage,  grounded children? What sacrifices must one make to have it all?

Yes, I do believe a woman can have it all. I think we have to sacrifice the tendency to be selfish though.  Selflessness plays a major role when being a great partner, a present mother, and a dependable employee or successful business owner. 

Q:  What song inspires you?

“I Knew You Were Waiting” by Aretha Franklin and Georgie Michael. “When the river was deep, I didn’t falter. When the mountain was high, I still believed. When the valley was low, it didn’t stop me.” Really pushes me through to the end of each intense workout

Ray and Ashley Tinneny

Q:  What is your favorite healthy recipe?

My favorite healthy recipe is Salmon patties! Canned salmon, two eggs, handful of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese cooked in olive oil. Salt and pepper. Over a bed of lettuce with drizzled oil and little lemon and chopped up fresh garlic.

Q:  Why did you agree to be a part of MCBMI?

I met Viveca years ago at David Barton Gym. She came in so fierce, so beautiful, so fit and muscular. The thing that really attracted me to Viveca was her modesty. She is such a great person and doing great things and I am honored to be a part of it.