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Welcome back to our Hottest Trainer competition: our search for NYC's most talented fitness instructor! Over the next two weeks we'll be profiling 16 of the city's top workout pros before you get to vote for your favorites.
Looking at the photos above, you wouldn't ever think that 32-year-old Ashley Derosena would have ever been described as "skinny." But half a lifetime ago, the Brooklyn native who went on to co-found Concrete Fitness was just that. "People always compared me to a skeleton," the trainer now better known as "Ace" told Racked. "I was 120 pounds at most going into high school...I was tired of getting pushed around. So that summer, at the age of 16, I started working out." He turned to an uncle who showed him basic moves like push-ups and bicep curls and "got addicted to working out"—until Derosena was sidelined by a broken arm.
"I lost all my gains and everything that I worked hard at," he lamented. "I decided to get back into it again and start working out even harder. And since then, I've never looked back." He went from lifting with dumbbells and resistance bands in his bedroom along to workout videos ("back then, there was no YouTube!") to consulting with master trainers at a gym, eventually becoming an ISSA certified trainer, and, in a few months, a master trainer himself.
But his decade of training thus hasn't been just about not being a skeleton. "The first gym I started working at was Hope Fitness in Long Island, training mentally disabled men and women for about three years" before a stint at Bally Total Fitness and work as an in-home trainer for "people that weren't able to get to the gym on a daily basis." Of course, all this came before Concrete Fitness, which he opened with his best friends and twin brother—yup, there's two of them!—opened in Midwood last year. Read on to learn more about the (ahem, single) Derosena, from what's spilling out of his gym bag to the surprising personality trait most of the students used to his "drill sergeant" persona would never guess.
What are the classes that you teach? Which one is your favorite, and why?
The classes I teach are kickboxing, cardio, Plyometrics, total body, "Twinsanity," and weightlifting. My favorite is Twinsanity because I instruct this class with my twin brother. Our clients have two sets of eyes watching them at all times—they know they can't cheat!
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
I am more of a drill sergeant. I don't play around!
What's your go-to song right now for getting pumped up?
I love "Victory" by Biggie Smalls—that song gets my heart pumping before every workout.
Gym style (or athleisure) has totally exploded over the past couple of years. What's your favorite way to rock it?
All Nike everything—down to my socks!
If I spilled out your gym bag right now, what would I find?
My Beats by Dre headphones, protein shakers, amino, workout gloves and a workout belt.
Reveal something that even your most dedicated students don't know about you.
I'm a bit shy in a public setting when all eyes are on me; I'm not able to scream at anyone.
What would you say is the hardest thing about what you do?
Having my clients stick to their diets [to achieve desired results]. I'm not with them 24/7, so I don't know what type of meals they're eating when they're at home.
Can you share a moment with a student that was truly inspiring?
My most inspiring client came in a few years ago. He was overweight and was close to becoming a diabetic. The hardest thing was to change up his eating habits and getting him to stick to a program, but he became fully committed. He was sending me pictures of every meal before he ate and working out five days a week, never missing a session. Within a year, he dropped about 100 pounds and was addicted to living a healthy lifestyle. He moved to Florida and became a trainer, and is currently helping others live that healthy lifestyle as well.
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be...
A residential manager at a group home, helping individuals with special needs.
Besides your own studio, whose classes do you love?
I like Tone House. It's a very intense training studio, and I love it.
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
I would tell someone to pace themselves, and to try not to overdo it.
What's your favorite cheat meal?
Baked mac and cheese!!!
Where can we find you when you're not working out?
At a movie theater catching up on movies with the individuals I used to provide care for.