Many successful businesses thrive because they “fill a need.”
That’s the case for Army veteran and Army spouse Ashley Keller’s GlowBodyPT, which offers fitness plans and provides clients with access to a supportive fitness community.
The need for Keller: challenging but safe online prenatal workouts.
“The prenatal workouts I was finding were slow-paced and pretty elementary, but as an athlete, my typical hard workouts were too intense for pregnancy and the safety of the baby,” she said.
A challenge is something Keller has never shied away from.
It’s one of the reasons she attended the U.S. Military Academy after being recruited to run track and cross country for the Black Knights.
“I was attracted to the challenge of it,” Keller said. “I wanted something that would really push me, and I knew West Point would do that.”
She also felt called to serve.
“I knew I wanted to serve our country in some capacity,” she said, “and the Army seemed like a great way to do that.”
That call to service led Keller to continue on the more traditional Army path after commissioning – even though she was offered the opportunity to train for the Olympics in triathlon through the Army’s World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson, Colorado.
“My whole job would have been training for the next Olympics. That is your life,” she said. “It was one of those life crossroads. Ultimately, for me, it would have been a selfish pursuit versus going to be platoon leader in the Army and do what I had promised to do.”
Keller married her husband Luke (who she met at West Point) two days after commissioning and took a billet at Fort Bragg after completing Engineer Officer Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood.
While not a strict daily regimen of cycling, swimming, running and more, her job in the Army was challenging in its own right.
Keller deployed to Afghanistan working on a cultural support team.
“Our missions included going on night raids, flying in by helicopter and identifying high-value targets,” she said.
Keller started GlowBodyPT while still serving on active duty and expecting her second child.
“I started by just recording videos on YouTube while I was working on becoming certified as a personal trainer, never expecting it to turn into a business,” she said. “I would change out of my uniform on my lunch break, record a workout video, get back into my combat uniform and head back to work. So that’s how my first product was born.”
Keller created a free prenatal workout program.
“I found this community of motivated women all over the world looking for the same thing I was – safe, practical and challenging workouts for expectant moms.”
Through her own experience having children, Keller identified yet another need to fill: addressing diastasis recti, the separation of abdominal muscles which happens during pregnancy.
Keller said most women aren’t checked for diastasis recti at their postpartum visit to the doctor.
“So it goes undiagnosed, and when women are cleared to exercise after having a baby they jump right back into their pre-pregnancy workout routines,” she said. “That’s a problem because some exercises can actually make the ab gap worse.”
Keller jumped into research and designed a 12-week, post-pregnancy fitness plan to address diastasis recti. She tested it out on a group of 50 women, closely following their process and modifying the workouts as necessary.
GlowBodyPT currently offers five fitness plans that include workout videos, meal plans and grocery lists.
“In my workout videos, you’ll sometimes see kids and dogs coming in and out of the screen,” Keller said. “That’s my life, and I think that makes other women feel seen and understood about what their lives look like.”
She estimates 40,000 women have used her prenatal program while around 10,000 have completed her 12-week, post-pregnancy plan.
“For some women, it’s life-changing,” Keller said. “Being provided the structure, the click-and-go routines, it takes the guesswork out of it.”
Keller’s fourth child is just four months old, and she’s been making her way through the 12-week, post-pregnancy program she developed while simultaneously preparing for a PCS.
“At least Luke isn’t deployed right now,” she said.
(They’ve been through nine deployments during their marriage.)
But even if he were, Keller would be up for the challenge.
“Women can do hard things.”