YMCA Sparks Love of Running, Serving for Popple

For Ashley Popple, the journey to better health started with taking that first step on a treadmill at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA more than a decade ago.

“After my pregnancy with my daughter, I had gained a lot of weight and hadn’t taken a lot of time for self-care,” Ashley said. “I looked in the mirror one day and realized at 23 years old I was overweight, unhealthy, and depressed. That day I went to the Y, got on a treadmill, and started running. I didn’t know what I was doing. I hadn’t ever been that athletic or involved in sports, but that day something sparked in me, and I never looked back.”

Today, Ashley is still an active member of the YMCA and volunteers her time as a YMCA board member and has given back to the YMCA in other ways. Her involvement at the Y sparked an interest in running and introduced her to new friends.

“I have gained a lot of friendships at the Y, attending spinning classes and boot camp,” Ashley said. “Those friends I gained helped me train for a lot of races, including two half marathons, five market-to-market relays, annual Silver Runs, and numerous other races.”

Ashley has a goal of completing a full marathon in 2022 or 2023, and she is looking to her Y family to help her check that off her bucket list.

“I will say that COVID shutdowns changed my routine of going to the Y to doing them outside or at my house, but I am changing my habit of staying home or running on my own and getting back to the Y,” she said. “Though I still like to workout in ‘the zone,’ I feel it’s still so important to have the surroundings of a family in the YMCA community.”

Ashley and her husband, Casey, have been married for 14 years and own Popple Construction, where they both work. They are the parents of three children: Grayson, 13; Layla, 11; and Oakley, 5.

Being a working mom, she has found the best time to work out is before her kids wake up (5 a.m.!). She has kept up that routine of 5 a.m. workouts 5-6 days a week. She alternates between running and spinning and mixes in strength training. She runs around 12-17 miles a week and rides her bike 2-3 times a week.

Her children are also active at the YMCA and participate in programs like teen nights, Nerf wars, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, summer camps, and the after-school program.

Volunteering at the Y

Ashley and her daughter volunteered together for the Snowflake ball last year, and Ashley is in her second year of serving as a volunteer YMCA board member.

“I love being able to bring my love and energy to support the Y’s mission and activities,” she said.

One day recently, Ashley was at the YMCA and heard there was a need for gravel for the outdoor play area.

“I offered for Casey to get some gravel and deliver it with his dump truck,” Ashley said. “Casey and I talked about it and decided to donate the gravel to help show our love and support for the Y. The day we delivered it, we helped spread the gravel and we brought our youngest, Oakley, with us to help. He plays on that area a lot, and it made him happy knowing he could play on gravel that he helped spread around!”

Ashley said that one thing she has learned through her fitness and running journey at the YMCA is that “you don’t have to be an expert to start showing up for yourself and showing yourself some love and self-care.

“I have found that my regular fitness and running routine keeps me grounded,” she said. “My workouts are a time for me to clear my head for my mental health, and running has been spiritual for me. It’s a time with God, a time to celebrate being able to move my body, a time to grieve losses in my life, a stress relief, and an immune system boost!  I am grateful the Y was there for me to start my journey and is still there as I continue.”