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5 Tips for Making a Fitness Comeback

Olympic sprinter and personal trainer Ashley Kelly shares advice for achieving fitness goals after an injury or break.


Photo: Shutterstock

While training for a special event, such as a marathon or a challenging bike ride, it can be devastating when your body refuses to cooperate. Injuries that put you on the sidelines can make you want to call it quits for good. Or perhaps, life has simply gotten in the way of your training goals. Overcoming setbacks, both physical and emotional, is how we build resilience. 

Ashley Kelly, founder of Aktiv, a health and wellness company specializing in helping individuals unleash their inner athletes knows something about training hard and conquering challenges.

“As an Olympic athlete, I’ve experienced a few injuries over my career, it is really a part of the job,” says Kelly, a personal trainer, sports performance coach, and Olympic sprinter. “The mental recovery is twice as hard as the physical recovery. When you experience an injury, you tend to feel like your body betrayed you or let you down.” In 2019, Kelly tore her calf muscle and found herself feeling depressed when she could barely walk. It was during rehab that she learned the importance of having patience, practicing gratitude, and staying present in the moment.

“During my journey to becoming an Olympian, I learned how subtle decisions and changes toward my physical health and wellness were gifted with an opportunity that changed my life,” says Kelly, a personal trainer, sports performance coach, and former Olympic sprinter.

Today, she helps others achieve their fitness goals by applying the athletic and mental training techniques she used to achieve her goals as a competitive athlete competing in the 2016 Olympics and more.

While the physical effort may seem overwhelming, it’s often the mental challenges that prove the most daunting. Here, Kelly shares five tips for getting your head back in the game for a comeback.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. After an injury, the lingering fear of re-injuring yourself may be present. It’s okay, recognize those feelings and focus on the present. Seek help from a professional if needed to help redirect those fearful thoughts into positive optimistic thoughts.
  2. Recreate your goals. Now, that you are returning to fitness, work, or recovering from an injury, it’s time to make new goals and focus on progress instead of perfection. 
  3. Stay positive. After taking a break in fitness, it may feel like you’re starting from scratch. Even though it may be painful, and your body will be sore, stay optimistic and understand that the best athletes in the world all have to start over after taking a break. This too shall pass, and you will feel your body getting stronger again.
  4. Practice positive self-talk. Research shows that athletes who continually practice motivational self-talk are more likely to enhance their physical performance. Avoid being your harshest critic and instead focus on being your biggest supporter. 
  5. Make a vision board. Just like reanalyzing your goal, making a vision board is a visual reminder of where you wish to go, what your goals are, and a visual cue to remember your “why.”  

About The Author

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.