Through the Athlete Method platform, Olympian Ashleigh Nelson and athlete Kerry Dixon aim to educate, inspire, influence and motivate people, showing them a different method of training through what they have tried and tested over the years. We recently caught up with the duo to discuss the challenges they’ve faced in their careers and how they’ve stayed resilient in the face of adversity.
Hi guys! Can you tell our readers about yourselves and your backgrounds?
Ashleigh: We are The Athlete Method. I am a 100m and 200m sprinter and I also compete in the 400m relay. Kerry is a 400m hurdler, which is probably one of the hardest events!
The Athlete Method is an online platform where we take what we know from athletics and bring it to the modern-day gym goer. We’re a little biased and think athletics is one of the best forms of training as it’s a holistic full body approach.
Kerry: Ashleigh forgot to say she’s actually a two-time Olympian, just need to drop that in there. We’ve both been doing sport for around 15 years. I got to a national level, but now I use athletics to keep fit and to pass on our experiences.
How did you meet and become friends?
Kerry: We’ve known of each other for quite a few years in the athletics circle. A lot of people would get us confused as sisters! We were introduced by a mutual friend three years ago and hit it off. We’re both qualified PTs and had ideas based around The Athlete Method but never did anything with it, so thought why don’t we collaborate and create something together?
How did you get into Athletics?
Kerry: I decided to get into athletics in high school because I’d win the high jump at every sports day and I found a love for track. My whole family is really sporty.
Ashleigh: I got into athletics because my older brother Alex loved it and as that annoying little sister, I wanted to do everything he did. At 18 he was number one in Europe for the 200m and we both went to the Olympics together in 2008. I basically owe it all to him. I grew up in Stoke and it was the only thing to do. My Dad, who used to play for Stoke City football club in the 80s, would always say “I’m not working two jobs so you can hang around on the streets,” so we got sent to the track. From the age of 12 it’s pretty much where my brother and I lived.
Can you tell us more about the challenges you've faced with The Athlete Method?
Kerry: There’s a challenge within the fitness industry over how over-sexualised you want to be and how you want to portray yourself. We receive DMs like ‘if you guys came across more sexy you’d have more followers’. We have been trying to work out what people want to see whilst making sure we’re comfortable with it. The people you want to help will gravitate towards you if you stay true to yourself, and that’s one thing we really learnt this year.
Ashleigh: The truth is, if you’re a strong woman, it’s deemed as being intimidating. Even then, it’s hard to be a female influencer in fitness and be taken seriously. We’re constantly torn between what we stand for and what is going to get us the following to spread our message. Ultimately, we’d rather have 5,000 ride or die followers.
Where do you see yourselves in a few years?
Ashleigh: We’re thinking of starting a club so we can teach people track properly. Honestly, we’ve got so many ideas, it’s just about turning them into reality. COVID-19 has slowed us down, but it’s also given us the time to do this properly.
Kerry: World domination! Normally when athletes finish competing, they don’t do anything to share their training. You’re ready to see what else there is out there in the world. We’ve decided to use what we’ve learnt over the years to create a program that people can build into a lifestyle rather than a quick fix or fad.
2020 has been challenging and we’ve all had to be resilient. Can you tell us about a time when you’ve had to show resilience?
Ashleigh: A few years ago, I had a number of injuries. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to sprint again, which was devastating. I went from being an active person to not being able to walk. Fortunately, I had really good people around me and knowing I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to in athletics kept me going.
Kerry: I’d always wanted to try hurdling but there were never that many coaches where I lived. Then when I moved to London for University, I met my physio and started training with him. Those first two years were some of the hardest years of my life. You’re training for one of the most brutal events on your own in the dead of winter. The next year I made it to the final of the commonwealth games in Canada.
What tips can you share with our readers on staying strong during tough times?
Ashleigh: Saying to yourself ‘considering the whole world is shut down, I’m doing alright’. Accept your journey is your journey. Remember where you started and focus on where you want to be.
Kerry: Reaching out to friends and family. COVID-19 has taken away the social element of life that humans really need. Surround yourself with people, even if it’s virtually. Self-care is important too - shutting off in a time when we’re so overloaded with information.
When it comes to showing determination, who are your role models and why?
Ashleigh: My brother Alex. He kept getting injured so decided enough was enough. The reason I admire him so much is because it becomes your identity. It took so much for him to step away and start a new journey. There’s life after your career, you just need to have the balls to do it.
Kerry: My dad. He’s shown me and my whole family that age isn’t a barrier when it comes to physical wellbeing in sport. He’s almost 60 and has run two full marathons in the past two years. My Dad’s outrunning me! What’s beautiful is he’s just competing against himself and he enjoys it. It’s such an inspiration. You can pick up any sport at any time and challenge yourself.
How do you inspire your clients and followers to get the most out of their training?
Ashleigh: We get involved. We’re not just barking orders. I’m telling you to do a minute of burpees non-stop, but I’m also going to be dying with you. It creates cohesion and trust between us and our team.
Kerry: We practice what we preach, and we stay consistent. When we say we’re going to do something or be somewhere, we are.
What are your current goals fitness or otherwise?
Ashleigh: Make it out of lockdown 2.0! We want to get our programme out there and make sure it’s something we’re proud of. As a personal goal, I’m in winter training right now for the Tokyo Olympics so I’m working hard for that.
Kerry: I’m used to competing but now I’m trying to put on a little bit of muscle. I want to play around with what my body can do, and challenge myself.
What are your current goals fitness or otherwise?
Kerry: My Dad says to me is that success is in the journey. I used to put so much pressure on myself with achievements. I’d never stop to appreciate what I had done. When you smash a goal, you just set another one. The actual goal itself is very short lived. You have to enjoy the ups and down of the process.
Ashleigh: My coach always says ‘find a way.’ Just get it done.
Proudest moment with The Athlete Method?
Ashleigh: We went for dinner with our first business credit card and sat down and raised a glass to what we’d achieved.
Kerry: We thought about how we’d brought this idea to life. We’re now getting paid to work with partners we once had on our vision board and last year nobody had heard of The Athlete Method.
What are your proudest moments in life?
Kerry: My university degree. They told me I’d come out with a 2:2 but I came out with a First. I was so proud, because you can be easily defined by what people pigeonhole you as.
Ashleigh: In 2014 I got selected to go to the Commonwealth Games for the 100m and the relay. I turned down the 100m and did only the relay, as the European Championships were three weeks later, although I hadn’t been selected for them at the time. I then was selected to run the 100m at the European Championships and ran a personal best time and won a bronze medal - the first British woman to win a 100m medal for 40 years.