Meet Ashley Rollins, the woman behind Swift – a digital health and wellness blog based in Austin, TX. She recently spoke on our wellness panel during our Rising Women of ATX launch event at The Riveter with other amazing health advocates.
When she is not writing about topics such as nutrition and fitness, she can be seen cuddling with her cat and traveling the world. Scroll down for more on Ashley Rollins as our latest Radical Renegade.
Why did you start your company and what motivates you every day?
I started Swift in 2016 when I found myself without a job when the restaurant I was bartending at was closing. It was the first time I didn’t have a Plan B when something went wrong and I was completely unprepared for it. I had been at the University of Texas at Austin for Nursing and I knew that it wasn’t a career that I wanted to continue in.
I had become passionate about coaching runners with Rogue Running and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in fitness. As I worked in the industry, I realized that many of my clients were men and women who not only needed someone to hold them accountable in health and fitness, but also in their personal wellness, as well!
I couldn’t believe how many people would comment after a workout session, “Thank you, I just really needed to talk about that.” I knew that health and fitness went so much deeper than losing weight or eating better and I wanted to make a place where women (and men) could talk about their mental health and personal struggles. I wake up every day excited to work on the blog because I know that I’m making a difference in people’s lives (as corny as that may sound). But I love receiving emails and comments about how much an article or post helped someone.
What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson I’ve ever learned (and I’m still learning) is: You can’t be everything to everyone. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do, simply because they just don’t like you. You can never be perfect and people will find fault in everything that you can do. But, continuing to move forward and not letting that derail your creative process is what it’s all about.
Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I won’t lie – 2019 was a hard year for me. In December 2018, I ran a Boston qualifying time at the California International Marathon but I violated the rules by having a friend jump in to finish the race with me. I was disqualified and I won’t be at the starting line of Boston in 2020. The disqualification was much more mentally and emotionally taxing than I had imagined it would be. I completely accepted responsibility for my actions and understood the consequences.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the internet backlash. I went on the Rogue Running podcast (Running Rogue) to discuss what happened and raise awareness to others about this rule. But even now, if you Google my name, one of the first things that comes up is “Boston Marathon cheat.” It’s hurtful because running has given me so much joy and pride in my life; I would never intentionally do anything to lessen the sport. But I’ve learned that the best we can do is own up to our shortcomings and push forward; always trying to be better than the person we were yesterday.
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?
I love this question because I just had this discussion with a lady recently. There’s a great quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. And I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
There’s never going to be a perfect time. You can always make it work if you want it to succeed; it just depends on how hard you’re willing to work. You might not be able to go all in at the beginning. But I promise you, hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. If you remain true to your vision, people will take note.
We all know how difficult work/life balance is. How do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?
I would be lying if I said I had it all figured out and I still struggle with this! I definitely have a bad habit of finding myself on my phone long after working hours are over. But I think it’s all about focusing on your mental health and asking yourself what serves you. I have to remind myself that creating boundaries is not selfish, it’s necessary. For me, that boundary is not returning an email until Monday morning or saying no to a project. When I’m overloaded, I don’t feel creative and my work suffers. And to me, I would rather not do something than create something I’m not proud of.
We love to support women-founded ventures. Is there a company/product that you’ve come across recently that you think more people should know about?
Absolutely. Austin is such a supportive place, but I really came into my own in the health/fitness space here so it will always hold a special place in my heart. But, my friends Vanessa, Teresa and Jessie are the driving force behind #SportsBraSquadATX. These women have not only started a movement with body positivity, but they’ve created a safe space and community within Austin for women to feel empowered about what their bodies can do and not what they look like. Watching their group grow, especially this past year, has been incredibly inspiring to me; I’m so proud of their hard work.