Once I got home from honeymooning in Hawaii in April of 2017, I took a six-month hiatus from the gym. That’s not to say I hadn’t touched a pair of dumbbells since then (though it would have been totally fine if I hadn’t), but I opted to enjoy life as a newlywed and prioritize my husband over sustaining my workout routine post-vacay. Fast-forward to October, and I was ready to get back into a routine when I came across master trainer Ashley Borden’s workout program "6 Weeks 2 Sculpted." It was as if the internet knew I was on the hunt for my next fitness challenge, and sure enough, this would be it.
Before committing to the program, I decided to do a little research on the personal trainer behind it (spoiler: it wasn’t too hard to track her down). To say that Borden’s resume is impressive would be the ultimate understatement. The Los Angeles-based trainer’s A-list clientele includes starlets like Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore, actors Ryan Gosling and Reese Witherspoon, and athletes all over the NFL, UFC, and MLS. Her expertise has been featured in magazines, digital outlets, on TV, and her most recent venture has her starring in Khloe Kardashian’s Revenge Body. Needless to say, this was an opportunity I’d have been foolish to pass up.
"6 Weeks 2 Sculpted" is a six-week long program that features six days of workouts you can easily do in the comfort of your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells, a yoga mat, foam roller, and the motivation to push through the series. This program is unlike any other I’ve tried, and, trust me, I’ve tried quite a few. This one integrates all kind of moves, including HIIT cardio, strength training, and core work that left me feeling challenged, exhausted, and awesome by the end of each session.
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Borden describes her thought process behind the development of "6 Weeks 2 Sculpted," a program that she says was "actually functionally useful and created results."
"After 35,000 hours of training people, the main issue I saw most people had is 'what program should they follow?'" she explains. "Most people don't follow programs and just choose what they feel safe with, what’s easy or familiar — not necessarily what their body needs. '6W2S' workouts are ascending in difficulty and endurance. It builds total body conditioning, strength and flexibility."
The program itself requires minimal equipment (a yoga mat, a pair of dumbbells, and a foam roller), and depicts both advanced and modified exercises so you can move at your own pace. Borden definitely made this workout routine challenging, but it's absolutely doable for anyone who's down to put their mind — and of course, body — to the task.
Working closely with Borden throughout my trial run, I learned a lot from the trainer and her carefully curated routine about myself, my stamina, and what it truly means to progress and feel mentally and physically strong. Here are a few key things I've come away with after the experience.
1. It's OK If You Need To Modify A Workout Sometimes
During a phone conversation I had with Borden, I made a comment about how this is definitely not a program for beginners, and she agreed. "6 Weeks to Sculpted" is super challenging, and it's designed for beginners looking to test their strength and intermediate-level skills. As someone who has been regularly training for about six years, I can honestly say the routine royally kicked my ass.
But just because you struggle through a workout, or even if you need to modify a few moves, this doesn't mean you've failed. According to Borden, if you need to modify a move, it's totally fine because it a) means that you're at least trying, and b) you're offering your body the chance to build and progress.
"As you build strength each week with '6W2S,' I strongly suggest you attempt the full movement each week to check in and see how much you have improved," she tells Elite Daily. "Even if you can do one full movement, and the rest of the repetitions modified, that’s how you safely progress — one good rep at a time."
Practice makes perfect, so if you need to do plank push-ups with your knees on the ground, or you have to set the weights aside for a few sets, that's fine. Just make sure you're at least giving the traditional move a fair shot. After all, you could just be psyching yourself out.
2. Your Body Is Always Right
About halfway through the program, I came down with a heinous cold. I knew it was happening before the symptoms had the chance to really kick in because during one of my workouts, I noticed I was sweating hard, and not just because I was doing HIIT cardio.
Oh no, this was definitely a cold sweat, I thought to myself — a chills-and-hot-flashes sweat. My body desperately needed to rest, so I wrapped up the workout and took a rest the following day. It's easy to preach "no days off" when you're feeling healthy, but when your body needs a break, it'll let you know, and it's so, so important to listen.
3. Foam Rolling Is Actually Amazing
OK, I admit it: For the first few weeks of "6 Weeks to Sculpted," I skipped rolling out. This is mostly because I didn't actually own a foam roller to begin with, and I wasn't positive I'd get much use out of one. But, after my second check-in with Borden, she persuaded me to at least give it a try.
"Foam rolling is great for recovery," she assured me. I believed her, but I'd also heard all the horror stories about how painful it could be. I decided not to knock it before I tried it, and two days later, my Perform Better Elite foam roller was delivered to my door, and I rolled out.
Once you get past the pain (because, no joke, it really does hurt the first few times), it really works to unravel the knots in your muscles, and it seriously does feel like a deep-tissue massage. It's a glorious, delicious experience I've repeated every day since.
4. The More You're Moving, The Hungrier You Are
Allow me to say that food is not the enemy of fitness. Food fuels your fitness, and the more you're moving, the hungrier you'll be.
Borden tells me that it's super important to honor your body's hunger, and nourish it with wholesome, good-for-you foods. And, of course, don't forget to treat yourself once in a while, because balance is key, and ice cream is bae.
"As you start to embrace strength and HIIT training, your appetite will turn on like never before, and that's a great thing," she tells Elite Daily. "What’s important is that you feed your body no later than 45 minutes post-workout if you're focused on being fit, and no later than 15 minutes post-workout if the focus is on building muscle. The body burns what it has available to use during the workout, so if you're training and under-eating, or not eating protein and carbs post-workout, you're undermining all of your hard work."
5. Routine Isn't For Everyone
Listen, I loved "6 Weeks to Sculpted." I think Borden has done a fabulous job of curating routines that consistently make you drip with sweat and push you to your limits.
Personally, however, this experience made me realize I'm the type of person who needs a ton of variety in her routine, and these types of programs are very structured, with a handful of workouts you repeat throughout a certain time frame.
Would I do it again? Absolutely, but I would do it a bit differently. I plan on doing a second round of "6 Weeks to Sculpted" eventually, but rather than following the program to a T, I'll be incorporating various workouts in between each video to switch things up every once in a while.
Some people love routine and find comfort in the fact that they know what to expect from their workouts. Either way is challenging; I just personally need a little more of that shock factor from time to time.
6. Not Every Workout Will Be A Good Workout, And That's OK
Throughout these past several weeks, Borden once told me, "It's OK if not every day is a gold medal day." In other words, no one is perfect, and not every workout will be either. Some days, you're going to arrive at the gym exhausted from the week, or hit the mat feeling anything but zen, and that's OK. In fact, it's normal.
In case you haven't noticed, we're all human, and we're all just trying to do the best we can. If you finish a workout feeling kind of "eh" about it, if you struggled to keep up, or your energy levels are low, don't take it as a failure. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, and try again tomorrow.
7. The Scale Doesn't Measure Your Strength
As someone who has struggled with body image dysmorphia and battled an eating disorder, I can assure you the scale does not measure your mental or physical strength. In fact, I haven't even noticed if I lost or gained weight in the last six weeks.
I can, however, express how amazing I feel mentally, and that when I look in the mirror, I see progress. I see a visual difference in my stomach definition and in the muscles of my biceps. I feel physically and mentally stronger, and I've learned just how capable my body is of pushing itself to the limit. That's a lesson the scale could never, ever teach me.