Welcome to a late spring 2023 coffee chat

Grab a mug and take a seat, because we’re chatting today …

I sat down and opened my computer and knew this was the post that I was going to create — no wellness tips, no fitness advice, nothing special — just chatting. I started this post while sitting in the cafe at Life Time before teaching a class, then I continued to work on it throughout the weekend, in between activities with Brady (because Dave was away in Scottsdale on a golf trip). That’s usually my routine for content creation, always working in real time.

So what are we going to talk about today?

It’s going to be all over the place, and I hope you enjoy …

Welcome to a late spring 2023 coffee chat

Welcome to a late spring 2023 coffee chat

Upcoming travel and plans for the summer

With summer coming up, travel is on the agenda, and that makes me very happy. Other than two one-night trips this year (one night in Raleigh and one night in Atlanta), I haven’t been away for a while.

We/I have a few trips scheduled for the summer, and they are as follows: A trip to Columbus, Ohio to see our best friends, Grant and Bre, and their kids, at the beginning of June. While we’re there for three nights, we’ll attend the Memorial Golf tournament, which we’ve been to once before. We usually visit Ohio once a year, and our last trip was for Labor Day 2022. These visits are action-packed, and I’m sure I’ll fit in a workout by taking Bre’s class at Life Time. Her Life Time is the first one I ever went into, and that’s what got me interested in working there one day. We always have a blast with these friends, and Brady loves hanging with “the big kids” as he calls their three children, who are all a few years older than him.

And a couple weeks after that, at the end of June, I’m heading to Chicago for a media trip with NOW Foods. I used to do so many more blog-related media events in California, and I’ve hardly done any since moving to North Carolina. I miss that side of blogging, and I’m excited to put on my media hat and have some great wellness experiences while I’m there for just two days. (And don’t worry, I’ll report all about it with you.)

NOW booth at IDEA World 2022 by A Lady Goes West

Finally, Dave and I are going to the Dominican Republic with Grant and Bre in early August. This will be an adults-only couples trip, and we did this with them two years ago in Jamaica, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had on a trip (second only to our trip with them to Las Vegas several years before). They are the best traveling partners, and we love them. None of us has been to the Dominican Republic before, and we plan to soak it up. I haven’t started my vacation shopping yet, but I’ll keep you posted if I find anything awesome.

Squad bracelets in Montego Bay in Jamaica by A Lady Goes West July 2021

(I bought us these “squad bracelets” for our Jamaica trip, and they were a hit.)

While I’m lucky to have these three things to look forward to, I’m also looking to do more. I’m really ready to take Brady to Orlando to experience Disney World, and I want to make that happen this year. Dave’s not super into the idea, but having worked at Disney and being a Disney lover myself, I know we’ll be glad we did this trip. I’d love to go when the weather is more mild, so maybe late fall or early winter. Cross your fingers for me, because I’ve wanted to go back to Disney pretty much ever since I last worked there. And something is telling me this is the year.

Lido Beach 2 by A Lady Goes West

In addition, we’ve never gone to the Carolina beaches before, and because this is our third summer here, it’s about time we fit that in. I told myself late last year to book a week for summer 2023, and of course … I didn’t. So we may find ourselves struggling to get a good place to stay, because things book up so early. But, somehow, someway, I’m hoping we get in a beach trip before Brady starts kindergarten in August, but we’ll see. 

That about covers it for travel for me. Do you have any trips on the horizon?

Hitting two years at Life Time Charlotte

Last Friday marked my two-year anniversary of being hired at Life Time Charlotte. While I didn’t teach my first in-person class at Life Time until later in May, that hire date was a big deal, and it happened so shortly after we moved here. It was my goal to get a job at Life Time, and it was a long-shot during COVID, but the stars truly aligned for me, and I’m so thankful for that.

Ashley teaching at Life Time

(Wearing my standard uniform, these leggings, this top and these training sneakers.)

As I just mentioned, I was introduced to Life Time a few years prior, when Dave and I went to Columbus to visit Grant and Bre. I was absolutely amazed at the facility, and then I dug deeper and remembered I had actually known about Life Time through their “Experience Life” magazine before that (which was a benchmark for success we looked to, back when I was an editor for the 24 Hour Fitness digital magazine).

I worked so, so, so hard my first year at Life Time training in four new programs, and creating all my own freestyle workouts for the first time (as I had primarily been teaching pre-choreographed programs for the last few years). While I will say I’ve definitely sped up my class preparation time over the second year, it’s still a lot and takes up a ton of my working time. But I love it.

Ashley teaching at Life Time

I’ve learned a ton, I’ve grown, I’ve met some awesome people, I’ve started playing tennis, Brady has started playing tennis and he’s also learned to swim — all through Life Time and its programs.

Back in May 2021, I started out teaching one class a week, and now I’m up to five regular time slots weekly, and I usually sub a few times a month too. I’d love to add another class and get up to six regular classes, so we’ll see if that opportunity comes up for me.

Honestly, Life Time is a huge part about what works so well for our life in Charlotte, in addition to our house, neighborhood and community of friends. I love that my mom, Dave and Brady are all Life Time members too, so we can all enjoy its benefits. And I can’t say enough good things about having this type of place in our lives. It’s absolutely not just a gym.

Ashley teaching at Life Time

I’ve always felt like joining a health club like this with good childcare is an expense that every mom (or parent) should invest in — even if it’s a stretch for you — it’s worth it. There’s nothing better than being able to get in a solo workout (or use the sauna and steam room and other facilities), while your little one(s) is safely being cared for (for up to three hours at Life Time — yes!). I highly recommend it to all my mom friends. And if you’re in the Charlotte area, I have a place to suggest to you. 

If you don’t currently have a membership, have you ever thought about joining a heath club near you?

The end of an era

We can’t talk about group fitness today without talking about Les Mills group fitness.

I grew this blog into something that people other than my family read, because of one brand — Les Mills. I started out taking Les Mills group fitness classes right after college, eventually became an instructor, and I taught Les Mills classes for 10 years. I loved all things Les Mills. (And these are the pre-choreographed programs I mentioned earlier.)

When we moved to Charlotte and I was hired at Life Time, I still held onto one of my three Les Mills certifications (BODYPUMP) just because. And I did this knowing that I’d never teach Les Mills classes at Life Time, because they don’t have those programs and have Life Time signature/freestyle instead (and there weren’t a lot of good gyms nearby with Les Mills programs either). But, I still wanted to keep that connection to Les Mills, because it was such a big part of my life for so long, and I wasn’t ready to let it go.

Les Mills Smartband by A Lady Goes West

However, just a couple months ago, I finally decided to end my BODYPUMP instructor autorelease shipment, which means I’m no longer an active Les Mills BODYPUMP instructor. I’m certain I’ll never teach Les Mills classes again, and I’m 100 percent okay with that, because now that I create my own stuff, I prefer it. However, I will always have the most love and respect for the Les Mills brand, and I will continue to do workouts from Les Mills+ streaming service when I can. And I’ll definitely still use my Les Mills Smart Tech equipment, which I love. I’m also an affiliate for Les Mills and have so appreciated partnering with the brand for years, because I’m a big believer that Les Mills workouts are 100 perfect smart, safe, effective and top notch, and I’ve always felt strongly about recommending them to you. They work, and they are different.

Les Mills Smart Tech discount by A Lady Goes West

Instead of being sad that my decade of being a Les Mills group fitness instructor is over, I’m just so happy it happened. Through Les Mills, I learned how to be a group fitness instructor, with no previous fitness or teaching experience at all. I went to so many amazing Les Mills training workshops over the years, which have shaped the way I approach everything I do in the group fitness room — even if I’m no longer using Les Mills music/moves/programs. I’ve also met some incredible people, and I even spent time working at the Les Mills West Coast office, when that location was operating in San Francisco several years ago, and that was one cool (and crazy) experience.

Les Mills Coach program app by A Lady Goes West

Thank you, Les Mills, for everything (and I mean, everything!)! I keep my Les Mills Smartbar out in our playroom, so I walk by it many times each day, and Dave uses it a lot too, so the name will remain in our lives. You’ll still hear about the brand from time to time, because it’s not an officially goodbye. It’s just … an end of an era. 

Have you ever tried a live Les Mills class or tried Les Mills+? If not, you should! My favorite from Les Mills+ right now is Strength Development, which is newer and all about getting strong.

The last month of preschool and life transitions

May is the last month that Brady will attend his preschool, and I have so many emotions about it.

I’ve loved his school, and he’s loved his school. And because of our cross-country move and COVID, Brady had never completed a full year of school until last year at this school. He’s made the greatest friendships with his classmates that he’s been with for two years, and I’ve loved becoming friends with his friends’ moms too. However, sadly, all of his friends are heading off to separate elementary schools. 

Cute Brady on his first day of preK by A Lady Goes West

I’m going to miss pulling up to preschool drop-off, opening the sunroof in my car and letting Brady stand on the center console and stick his head out to chat and wave to his friends — all who are doing the same thing. I’m going to miss impromptu playdates on his preschool playground with his friends and their moms — just for fun. I’m going to miss popping into his classroom during walk-in week and knowing the names of every single kid in the room. I’m also going to miss seeing him walking toward my car at pick-up, holding the hand of a teacher and looking so small from afar. 

Mint green cotton headband by A Lady Goes West

I know that every kid moves on to elementary school, and this is part of life, but I’ve so enjoyed his preschool career and it’s a little sad to know it’s almost over. I’m hopeful that his next chapter — if you will — will be just as good, if not better, at his new school next year.

Brady school pictures 2022 by A Lady Goes West

This summer, I have Brady signed up for a few summer camps, but otherwise he’ll spend the days with me. And then in the fall, our worlds will change as he heads off to full-day kindergarten. We’re in for some major transitions, and we’ll do it together. Because as Brady is in school for longer each day, I’m planning to switch things up for myself too … and much of that switching is still in the air.

Do you have any changes or transitions happening in your life? If so, I’m sending you some love for whatever comes your way.

And with that, I’ll take the last sip of my oat-milk latte and sign off from this coffee chat.

Thank you so much for choosing to click over and read my words. I appreciate you so much. Have a fabulous week. And please reach out if you have any questions, comments or post requests.

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day

Do you have any upcoming travel planned?

What’s one thing you want to do before spring is over?

Is there any change on the horizon in your life?

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  1. I love these types of posts! I’m excited to see how your days will change once Brady is in Kindergarten – oftentimes change is good and exciting ♡

    1. Hi Shelby! I agree — a lot of times, change is good and exciting! And we’re in for a lot of that this year. I hope you have a great week, and as always, thank you for reading! 🙂 xoxo

  2. I have the same thoughts regarding our little one finishing pre-K and starting K in the fall! It’s so bittersweet and I’ll miss everything you mentioned above. He’s still our little one but now old enough to be a part of some camps his older brother has enjoyed. 😢 I am looking forward to that extra time though! Enjoy your trip to Chicago, if you need any tips on what to do, etc let me know.

    1. Hi Joanna! My trip to Chicago will be short and sweet and fully scheduled out by the NOW Foods team, so I won’t have any time to explore on my own — but I’ll keep you posted on where we go and what we do! And yes — let’s soak up the last few weeks of having preschoolers in all their cuteness. 🙂 Hope you have a great start to May! xoxox

  3. Eating in Chicago is one of my favourite things as I go every year when the Giants play the cubs. I used to work in Chicago as well.
    Since you miss Cali food, I have a bunch of places I recommend! Let us know when you are ready for recs!!

    Brady is growing up! I love how you have this wonderful community life there and that includes friends for him!

    Exciting times ahead, Ashley! Thank you for always being willing to share with us

    1. Hi Sabrina! I won’t have too much time to myself during my Chicago trip, so I’ll probably have to take those recs from you whenever I go again — but you know me, I’m always on the hunt for Bay Area-worthy food, so thanks for looking out heehehe. And yes, we’re so lucky that Brady has spent most of his preschool life here in Charlotte, because our set-up, neighborhood and community is so conducive to family fun. Thank YOU for reading and saying hi and letting me share with you! 🙂 xoxo

  4. I wasn’t expecting to feel so sad on a Tuesday morning!
    First the goodbye to Les Mills. You introduced me to Les Mills many years ago and I still use Les Mills+ from time to time.
    Then onto the preschool to kindergarten transition!! I also have a son in preschool and while he has another full year until kindergarten, your words about Brady still brought on all the feels!

    1. Hi Julie! I didn’t expect to feel sad about preschool ending — but it’s totally hitting me right now. We have Brady’s final concert coming up and he sang some of the songs for me yesterday, so I’ve already shed some tears hehehe. As far as Les Mills+ — had I not been forced into early Les Mills retirement with COVID lockdowns in California, I would have taken the ending of it a lot harder — but I still love the workouts and I love to hear that you still use Les Mills+ sometimes — me too. Thank YOU for reading and sharing with me, Julie. xoxo

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