Finding peace and a new purpose in Muskoka
Ashley Niblett went from teaching high school in the city to realizing her dream of opening her own gym in cottage country in just the past year. Niblett, a native-Torontonian who spent every summer in Muskoka since she was a baby, is the owner of Tri Lakes Training, a thriving fitness facility in Minett, Ont., just off Lake Rosseau. She also carries the title of Ironman after finishing the Lake Placid race last summer. “I’ve always been super interested in athletics, but I wouldn’t say that I’ve always been an athlete,” Niblett told Stories. “In high school we had a great athletic gym, and that’s where I started to get really involved in working out.”
Here, she tells Stories about completing in her first Ironman, what she loves most about her new home and why she made such a big move in the first place.
Q: What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment in your life?
My biggest accomplishment so far would definitely have to be completing my first full Ironman last summer in Lake Placid. An Ironman race has always been a life goal of mine, so to finish a 3.9 km swim, a 180 km bike, and a full marathon run in less than 13 hours would 100 per cent be my biggest accomplishment.
Q: Is there one race or competition that you haven't completed yet that is next on your list?
The Ironman took a lot of time and effort to train and complete, so I think I will wait a bit. I would love to maybe go back to the ½ Ironman distance and start to travel world-wide competing in them. There are SO many cool Triathlons all over the world…I think it would be a great way to race and travel.
Q: For someone looking to set a new fitness goal, what are three pieces of advice you would give them?
I would for sure suggest that they make a game plan in order to achieve their goal. Set a plan, give yourself enough time and stick to it. I would also suggest setting a goal with a friend or family member — it will keep you honest and motivated if you are both in it together. Trying a new fitness class is always more fun with a buddy.
Q: What do you love the most about living in Muskoka?
My fiancé and I sold our Toronto condo and made the move to Muskoka permanently this spring, and it has been absolutely incredible. Yes, I do miss the city, but I do not miss the traffic or the hectic rush of the Toronto lifestyle. Muskoka is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places on earth. How fortunate are we to be surrounded by such clean, amazing water and beautiful forests? It is so relaxing up here and we cannot wait to continue building our life together in Muskoka.
Q: What is your ideal weekend like?
My ideal weekend would start with an early morning run (it is the most peaceful thing in the world to be out there while it’s still quiet), and then I would see a few clients or teach a class or two at the gym. After the gym, I try to schedule in some R&R at the dock, which normally includes some water activities behind the boat.
Q: What four words would you use to describe the area?
Majestic, unforgettable, active and growing.
Q: What do you love to share with friends and family when they are visiting you in Muskoka?
I love for people to come visit me at the gym. I’m always so excited for people to attend their first ever Tri Lakes class. It’s one thing to try to explain to people from Toronto what the gym is like, but once they try their first class, I feel like they have gained a little part of me and understand why I love working out in Muskoka so much.
Q: If you're traveling, how do you describe Muskoka to people you meet?
I describe it as this beautiful spot where we are so fortunate to live. Not everyone understands what our cottage country is like, but once we share a photo of the lake with them and they see how beautiful it is, we really realize how lucky we are to live here. It is just simply stunning.
Q: What are some of your best memories of living in Muskoka?
For sure the best memories of living in Muskoka have been from my childhood and teen years — growing up around boats, driving to work as a sailing instructor, meeting my lifelong friends and enjoying days on the dock with my family.
Q: Tell us about your business, Tri Lakes Training.
Tri Lakes Training is a gym that has slowly progressed out of a personal training business I started in Muskoka eight years ago. While attending Queen’s University for Physical & Health Education, I started training family and friends in Muskoka as my summer job. From there I slowly started gaining a few more clients and eventually started teaching on a tennis court at Cleveland’s House. While teaching in-cottage and outside was amazing, I learned that I cannot control the weather, and I couldn’t keep lugging weights around, so why not open a gym? I quit my job teaching high school in Toronto and went for my dream — starting up my own gym in Muskoka. Tri Lakes Training is now into its third summer and it is thriving. We have such amazing clients and I am so thankful for all of the love and support we feel every day at Tri Lakes.
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