149: {Healthy in the Valley Series} The Story of Align Optimal Wellness



I’m so excited to introduce you to Ashley Labore owner of  Align Optimal Wellness

In this episode we get into the story of Align Optimal Wellness. How it came to be, the journey of finding his purpose and passion along with creating a community of clients that are her favorite people.  Ashley also shares a few nuggets of wisdom as a mom and business owner along with her own visibility strategy that has been super powerful. 

Align Optimal Wellness is part of the 4th edition of Healthy in the Valley. 

Healthy in the Valley is a FREE digital resource for the entire St. Croix Valley.  

In each publication, you’ll find the areas best &  leading business owners who are passionate about health and wellness. Helping and serving  you live your best life in mind, body and soul. 

So if you’re local to the St. Croix Valley in Hudson WI - I invite you to grab your FREE copy by going to www.healthyinthevalley.com

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Referred to Podcasts: 

The Value of Being Coachable with Dr. Kaitlin Haider

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Ashley has a Doctorate Degree in Physical THerapy since 2009 as well as advanced training and certification in Orthopedic Manual Therapy.  She teaches Doctorate of Physical Therapy students at the UM and has a bustling private practice in Stillwater, MN.  Helping people to recover full function and achieve their goals is a priority of Ashley.  
Clients find her to be a supportive and caring advocate for the whole person while she uses evidence-based treatment for recovery as well as preventative training for longevity, healthy, and hyper-wellness through the lifespan.  
A bit about Melissa Rose: 

In 2009, Melissa Rose started her business in the basement of her home. She taught the art of dance to students of all ages while her babies were right along with her in the pack and play.  With her passion, resilience, and tenacity - she created a business that has become "The Highlight of Your Week" for her tribe, her team and her community.  

Along with running a successful brick and mortar business, Melissa is also a visibility coach for brick and mortar businesses, Melissa guides other boss ladies to a flourishing brick and mortar business that provides for their own tribe - creating a legacy for themselves, their family and their community.  

Melissa is a super mama of five kiddos, enjoys super long hikes (without her kids) or playing in her garden.  At the end of the day you can find her snuggling with a self development book most likely with an ice cold beer

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Melissa: In today's episode, we are featuring business owner Ashley LaBore of Align Optimal Wellness. Ashley and her business are featured in Healthy In The Valley, a free digital resource for the entire Saint Croix Valley to find the area's best and leading business owners who specialize in health and wellness in mind, body, and soul. You're going to hear Ashley's story and learn all about the journey of Align Optimal Wellness, as well as hear about special offerings and her team, and what she specializes in. If you haven't grabbed your free copy of Healthy In The Valley, it is filled with exclusive offers just for you. So go to 'healthyinthevalley.com' to grab yours. And now let's hear all about Align Optimal Wellness with Ashley LaBore.

Melissa: Hey There, studio owner! You've put your blood, sweat, and tears into creating a Brick and Mortar business that serves your clients and impacts the community you love. You are my hero! And I'm pretty sure we could sit down and talk like besties do because I get it. I've had my studio business for over twelve years, a handful of kids, and a few passion projects that I love, like this one. Hey there, I'm Melissa Rose, your visibility coach for the studio owner who wants more stellar clients coming through their doors, more bank in their bank account, and more time to hang out and be completely present with those they love most. In this podcast, we're going to share the nitty-gritty of running a successful studio business, sharing stories, talking strategy, and learning practical tips that leave you inspired, empowered, and equipped to create your epic life every single day. So, if you're a dance studio, yoga studio, pilates studio, or a fitness boutique studio, you are in the right place. Add some kiddos into the mix and maybe a life partner and I call you a rebel woman, ready to dive in? Let's get real!

Melissa: Ashley LaBore, welcome to the Brick and Mortar Visibility Podcast. How are you?

Ashley: I'm good. Thank you so much for having me today.

Melissa: Yes, I'm excited for people to get to know you and hear you and hear your story and just get to know more about Align Optimal Wellness and hear how it all began. Before we dive into this epic episode, tell everybody what you wanted to be when you grew up.

Ashley: Well, I wanted to be two things when I was young, I wanted to be a teacher and I also wanted to be a basketball player in the WNBA.

Melissa: So you played basketball?

Ashley: I did. I always played sports growing up and I was really into them and just I ended up getting a lot out of being on a team and playing sports. But yeah, basketball was my love as a child, and I saw that the WNBA was kind of new at that point in time, but that was my goal. I really wanted to play basketball and then things kind of switched and swapped for me and I obviously didn't go down that route, but I worked really hard at it, and I would get up at 05:00 A.M, in 6th grade, I would set my alarm clock, get up before my parents, and go out there and shoot baskets, and just always was practicing, and I just really wanted to be good at it.

Melissa: WOW!

Ashley: Yeah, So I played for a long time. I played through high school, and then I played volleyball in college as well. So I played basketball, volleyball, and softball growing up. And yes, they were really important for me to establish some characteristics, some ethics, if you will, through being on a team. So I'm really thankful for that.

Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. As somebody who didn't play any sports growing up...

Ashley: Yeah?

Melissa: The whole aspect of team and needing that team and relying on that team and trusting that team, all those good things. All those good things. That's very interesting. How tall are you? Because I know you're a little taller.

Ashley: Well, it's funny you should say that, because usually what I say when I say my dream was of becoming a famous basketball player. Well, I stopped growing at five foot six inches.

Melissa: No way. You carry yourself so much taller. I think of you so much taller than I am.

Ashley: Thank you for that. But yeah, I stopped growing.

Melissa: But you played college volleyball. That's impressive!

Ashley: I did play college volleyball, and thank goodness I had some defensive skills. I ended up playing a Libero, which you don't have to be tall for, and you don't have to be tall anyway, but if you want to play front row, it does help, and you got to be able to jump. So I switched from Outside Hitter to Libero in college and then just focused on that. That's the defensive specialist that dives for the balls and wears that other colored jersey and all that. So, it worked out.

Melissa: Okay, very cool! You're speaking a totally different language from me. I'm like, "Well, I don't know any of that". Awesome. Okay, well, let's dive into a little business here. So how did you get started? How did this idea come to life? Tell us all the things, tell us the journey.

Ashley: Okay, yes. Well, when I graduated from PT school, I always had this dream of having my own private practice, and it actually took me over ten years to get there, but I'm thankful for the journey along the way because I learned a ton. So I was a PT for, yeah, it was a good ten years before I decided, "Okay, I think that I really need to do this private practice" because I wanted to treat in the way that I was my own boss.

Ashley: And some of that was, I didn't want to be limited in time. I wanted to do sort of a different model of PT where I didn't have to go by regulations of, let's say, the model that I was working in, time-wise, appointment time length, as well as just insurance limitations you have to get this many codes, you have to treat them in this way, can sometimes dictate things. And so I was ready to do it a little differently and I decided that I was going to go for it.

Ashley: So I had just gotten married and I sat down with my husband, Beau and I gave him a couple of beers. And I remember we were sitting in the living room, it was snowing, and I was like so nervous to say what I had to say. And then finally I said, "Okay, I know I have this salaried position with benefits, but I want to start my own business" And he was like, "What?"

Ashley: But thankfully he was really supportive and we talked through things. I had been journaling about it for a long time. I had been putting together a business plan, logistics, and writing things down, and so I had a pretty good idea of what I thought I wanted to do with it. And I was really lucky because when I was ready to finally make that jump and I just did, I took the leap and I started off working up next to 'Pure Yoga', so it was 'Pure Strength'. And I was a physical therapist kind of on staff there. It was a yoga studio in Liberty Village, Stillwater.

Ashley: And that was really great because I got to know a bunch of people through teaching the yoga classes and doing different workshops and that was a great way to get started and I'm very thankful for that collaboration and opportunity. And then ended up that I branched out and had a different office location and then I was just doing physical therapy there, but started to get into some collaborations through workshops and different offerings and then started to bring a couple of other people on the team.

Ashley: And I've always wanted to have other people on the team of what I do because I think that just giving people the opportunity to have a bunch of different resources and tools under one roof, one umbrella, is so valuable. And I'm a big proponent of referrals when people need them or want them. And so I was kind of doing that anyways, but I thought, "Wow, how cool would it be if I had a massage therapist, a personal trainer, a pilates offering, yoga, nutrition, like all those things that I speak to under one roof"

Ashley: So, long story short, about a year or two later, Carol Ricci was selling her business. She was ready to retire. She had a Pilates business in downtown Stillwater for over 20 years and she's fabulous. And she came to me and said, "Hey, I know that you're interested in Pilates and I've heard that you're a physical therapist. What a great opportunity this would be." And I said "Yes, it would" And so we ended up taking over Carol's business, Pilates aspect, and brought in six reformers and two of her instructors came with and we moved into the Isaac Staples' Sawmill Building here in downtown Still Water, where we're still currently located.

Ashley: And from there, it has just blossomed and grown. Now we have two massage therapists. We have two personal trainers. We have Pilates offering six days a week. We have yoga offerings throughout the week as well. We have a nutritionist who is also a wellness coach. We have an Ayurvedic practitioner and a couple of people that might join the team here pretty soon as well. So it's just been great to see how things have rolled into where it is, and it's been all through authentic connections with people and all kind of just based on finding those right people and them finding me. And so I'm very thankful to be where we're at, and I'm just so grateful for this opportunity and all the wonderful people that I've been able to have on the team now.

Melissa: And how long have you been open now? So when we moved into Isaac Staples, we changed our name to Align Optimal Wellness. And so we've been in this location since July of last year, so over a year, about a year and a half now with all of those different things. But I've had my own private practice for about five years.

Ashley: Yeah. All right. Okay, so I want to ask you two questions. The first one, so what got you into physical therapy? Like, what was the linchpin to making you go into physical therapy?

Ashley: Well, as I said, I've always played sports growing up, so I really loved that aspect of things, the movement piece, and the wellness piece. And then in college, I decided to volunteer in the athletic training room. And as I was doing that, I really appreciated the sort of medical piece to that and knowing diagnoses. And I was able to meet a few physical therapists that worked within that scope and just decided, "Wow, I think I could see myself doing this" So I started shadowing PTs in the community, and my mom's best friend actually was, still is a physical therapist, and she sat down with me and encouraged me to go that route as well and just gave me confidence, saying, like, "Wow, I could really see you doing this"

Ashley: And I always knew I wanted to work with people and form relationships and help people live a life of health and wellness and happiness. And so it just kind of combined all those things for me and was a really great fit.

Melissa: Yeah. All right, so throughout your journey, because you've had your practice for about five years, and then you're in your current location for just over a year, there's a lot of ups and downs with business.

Ashley: Yeah!

Melissa: Okay. But whether you're a business owner or not a business owner listening in, what was a moment within that journey when you felt that you could do anything? Because a lot of what we do is the mindset and just that mindset of overcoming. So what was a tangible thing that you accomplished that gave you the mindset to go forward?

Ashley: There are many examples here, but I'm going to have to go with what happened during CoVid. So, as you can imagine, being a physical therapist is historically in person, and a lot of times you want to be able to touch the person and evaluate different things in that way. So then COVID hit and it was a little bit scary for a while because I was like, "Oh, no, most places were shutting down for at least a period of time and not offering that face-to-face"

Ashley: And so what I ended up doing after that two-week initial shutdown, I didn't really work during that first two weeks. And then it was like, "Okay, I can't just close my doors altogether, These people need me and I need them too" So I ended up going and doing an online platform, and I offered a monthly workshop, basically, it was a monthly membership where each week we would meet once or twice a week via Zoom. And we would do whatever that group wanted. We would do exercises together. I would talk them through things to do with self-soothing and pain management. We would go through different lifestyle choices, how to live a healthy lifestyle, including getting sleep, and nutrition. We would go through all those tenants that I believe in, that can help you live that healthy lifestyle.

Ashley: So I rolled that out and surprisingly, people were really excited and open to it. And so I think I had the first month like 20 people sign up. So I was very thankful for that. And I still offer things via Zoom. And so I have a couple of clients. Most people, when they are ready, they came back in person. But there are still a few people that I see via Zoom. And so I think that that was just a great opportunity for me to see that you can do things differently. And having that mindset of, like, "I'm not going to lose connection with my clients. We're going to keep this going even through a pandemic" was really great and very helpful.

Melissa: And what I have learned in 'business' as we continue the business journey, "If it's not a pandemic, it's something else" There's always something thrown, and that's life. There's always going to be something, even raising babies.

Ashley: Yeah!

Melissa: Like, if it's not the baby stage, it's the toddler stage. And if it's not the toddler, we got teens. And then if not teens, you got drivers. And there's always a season. So you just gear up for whatever season you're in.

Ashley: Absolutely!

Melissa: You alluded to when you were talking about your journey, authentic connections. This is a Visibility podcast, and I would like to talk about what Visibility strategy has really worked well for you.

Ashley: Yeah, well, I think the number one thing that probably sets me apart, in particular, is that I do focus on not just the physical with people. So I do a lot of listening, and I think people really appreciate that. They want to be heard, they want to be listened to. And I think we can all have a story where we weren't heard, especially through health care, unfortunately. And so with any client, I listen, and I really appreciate hearing all about their life. What's going on with your family? What's going on in your day-to-day? Tell me what your week looks like. So it's a lot bigger vision than just that hour together once a week or whatever it ends up being.

Ashley: And like I said before, I think having those authentic connections with not only clients and not only people working for you but with you. And so it's more of a therapeutic relationship where I'm working with that person to help them achieve their goals and doing it in a way that works for them and their life. If I say, here's a worksheet of ten exercises and it just isn't going to fit into what they need or what they're able to do, then I need to figure out a way that I can best serve them. So that's A. Number One.

Ashley: And then I think from there, what ends up happening is they understand and they see that it's maybe a little bit different than what they've had in the past and that they appreciate that. And so you end up getting a lot of word-of-mouth referrals. So I have a ton of clients that I see the mom, I see the dad, I see the kid, I see the uncle, I see the grandma, and so on, because people talk about things that kind of are the most important to them and where they find the most value. And so that has been huge in growing my business and keeping business going is just the word of mouth referrals. I'm so thankful that people do that. Yeah...

Melissa: Yeah, I would agree. If you can't tell already, Ashley is very open, receptive, and just has this presence of being present. You're not thinking three steps later, you're just really in the moment and hearing us. And I can see where that's super valuable for clients. And speaking of clients, what is your ideal client? What kind of people are coming to see Ashley LaBore?

Ashley: Well, thank you for saying that, by the way. I really appreciate that you said that and that you feel like that, because that definitely is a driving force, and something that I really value, "Is being present, and I do my best to be that way" So, thank you.

Ashley: In terms of my clients, I see, man! if you had to line up a particular person and say, this is what they look like, this is what they come in for, this is their diagnosis, blah, blah, blah, it'd be all across the board. I literally see people for anything head to toe and everything in between. Men, women, kids, adults, any age group. But what I will say is that more and more of my clients have been, I guess, gravitating towards what I do are people who might have something that's 'bothering them'

Ashley: They might have an ache or pain, they might have an injury, they might have something physical going on. And then they also might have a vision for where they want to be in their life. So they're working towards something and they're not giving up, they're not complacent. And that's really fun for me because as we reach one goal with them, then we set another one and we go to the next level.

Ashley: So for example, let's say I have someone who sprained their ankle.

"OK, the first goal, let's get you out of pain, let's get the mobility back, let's get you walking again. All right, we've reached that! Now, what do you want?"

"Well, I have been wanting to get back into running again."

"Okay, what distance?"

"Maybe a 5K."

"All right, this is our next goal. Let's work towards that. Let's get that going."

"Okay, what's next?"

"Well, now my neck is kind of sore from working at a computer."

"Okay, let's address that."

Ashley: So it's very fluid and I think a lot of my clients understand that life is a journey and there's lots of ups and downs. And it's not that you reach one goal then you're done. It's that maybe you have some ups and downs or you reach that goal and then we set new ones, so they get that there is always something that I can help you with basically.

Ashley: I'm just thinking of myself too. Like there's always something, right? There's always something that we can improve in our lives and I'm here to help with that. So I think a maintenance approach. Maybe I see people given an amount of time to reach one goal, then we spread things out and then I see them once a month maintenance, and then the next goal comes about and we hit it hard for that amount of time to reach it. And also I think now people more than ever are understanding the idea of prevention as key in their health care. And so I do a lot of preventative training, I do a lot of giving people resources that they can do now so that they feel good into the future throughout their lifespan.

Melissa: I so agree. I so agree that's a blessing of what we've all gone through, now people are so much more proactive and thinking ahead and realizing plus we have the aftermath of like, "Okay, this is how I felt. This is where I go to, when I'm stressed, whether I eat or whether I over-exercise or under-exercise and whatever. And learning that because it's been so recent with that stress level, but also being very proactive, which is awesome for people in the wellness area.

Melissa: And you have this beautiful business with so many facets, or spokes to it, so that people when they do come to you, they can not only just get physical therapy, but they can get the nutrition or wellness coaching or massage and all those other things too, which really helps you retain clients too.

Ashley: Yes!

Melissa: Makes them want to stay with you. So that's well.

Ashley: And thank you for bringing up the word stress because that is a huge focus and has been especially since COVID. A lot of people dealt with a lot of stress through that time and also they dealt with a lot of lack of community or connections and that's definitely a key aspect of health and wellness. So we definitely touch on that myself as well as everyone else that works at Align. We are always doing things to help people manage their stress levels and stay as de-stressed as possible, or if they are stressed, have tools and resources to help them with that and that's just so huge.

Ashley: And then we formed a nice community of people that come consistently. They come for the workshops, and the retreats, they come for the group classes and they get to know each other. So that's really a nice aspect, I think that we do really well and it's so important and I value that we have that going on at this point too.

Melissa: Absolutely. Absolutely. As a business owner, can you share with other business owners maybe a piece of wisdom or nugget of wisdom that you have learned or heard yourself that's been helpful in your journey?

Ashley: Well, the number one thing I would say is just, 'Be open to asking for help.' Get resources before you feel like you need them. So usually I would say when you feel like you need them, get the resources. But at that point when you're already feeling like it's a need, can we go a step further and catch it before it's like a need and have things set in a place where it's more of a maintenance rather than I now need something for this. But if you have to go back after the fact and then put things in place, that's okay too. But I would say definitely find the resources based on what you're going through that will help you and don't be shy to reach out sooner than later. We all have things that come up.

Ashley: I think in this day and age and even, especially in Stillwater, there are just so many amazing practitioners that can help people along the way. I don't remember who said it, but it might have been Renee Brown. It might have been you, but somebody said...

Melissa: I love that you compared me to Renee Brown. Okay. Thank you. I'm going to go with Renee Brown.

Ashley: Yes! Some awesome expert out there, female, said resilience is being resourceful. So we all want to have that resilience in our lives and be able to take things as they come and kind of get things back straightened out and back to where we want to be. If we are facing challenges and just ask for help, find those resources. And if you don't know what you need, then that's where someone like me can help you find that. And based on certain questions and certain ideas going forward.

Melissa: Definitely great advice. It's always hard to ask for help. Nobody wants to admit they need help. But it's true. We don't get there without help, without a team of amazing people behind us, helping us, supporting us. Absolutely. I have taken one of your workshops and I'm going to just speak first hand to that. If you are local to the Saint Croix Valley, Ashley has lots of workshops that are popup workshops and things that happen, retreats, and just a very welcoming community, a beautiful space and a beautiful setting in the building that you guys have that you share with awesome business owners over there in Stillwater.

Ashley: Thank you!

Melissa: But if you are ever interested, just go. You will love it and you will love the atmosphere and the community that she has there.

Ashley: Thanks for that encouraging word. It was so great to have you at our event the other day. We're always loving all the clients that end up showing up. It's a lot of fun for us. So we always offer your first Pilates class free. So that is a great opportunity to see if Pilates is something that fits into what you're looking for. So just let your instructor know that you're a new client, First class free. We also just offered through Healthy In The Valley, we offered a four-pack of yoga or Pilates for 50% off a four-pack and that's a great saving, a great deal. And again, a great opportunity to come check us out and see if it's the right fit for what you're looking for.

Ashley: We have weekly classes, and we also have monthly workshops. Workshops are a great way to gain education, some connecting, and have some fun. Again, come check out our space, and see what we're about, and where we are, get to know us. And we are planning our next retreat. We don't have a date for that but we've added these one-day and two-day retreats in Stillwater and we just had one over the weekend. It went amazingly well. It was magical!

Melissa: Oh, god!

Ashley: Yes. Thank you. So look for that in the future, in the next few months as well.

Melissa: Yes, absolutely. Awesome. I want to invite everybody to grab a copy of Healthy In The Valley. Ashley LaBore is featured in there with her business as well as other business owners in the Saint Croix Valley and this is a great resource for the community. Anybody local to the Saint Croix Valley, go grab it at healthyinthevalley.com. There are exclusive offers just for you in there that are not listed anywhere else and go take advantage of that. Completely free to you in the Saint Croix Valley. So go to healthyinthevalley.com.

Melissa: All right, Ashley, before we sign off here, I want to know what is saving you right now. It's Halloween right now as we record this, are you going to trick or treat with your little one? You have a little one?

Ashley: Yes, we are.

Melissa: Yeah. What is she dressing up as?

Ashley: So, I mean we were so last minute this year. Usually, we are way ahead with our costumes, but yesterday I was at the Spirit of Halloween store. Believe it or not. So we're going to be lumberjacks and she's going to be the little blue ox babe, and we have something for our dog Millie to wear as well, of course. So we'll take her around. She's only eight months so she won't know what's going on. But we'll have good pictures.

Melissa: Yes, pictures. And it's just so cute when those little ones are dressed up. So cute!

Ashley: For sure.

Melissa: Yeah.

Ashley: So I think you asked what's saving me? I love that question.

Melissa: Yeah, what's saving you?

Ashley: Honestly? Getting outside. I've just been going for these epic walks and this weather is so nice. For those of you who aren't Minnesota, like, we're having the best weather we've had in like 20 years right now. And so just getting that vitamin D, getting in nature, getting that exercise, that's been huge for me. So I'm going to keep that going as long as I can.

Melissa: Amen. Same here. Lots of walks going on and just enjoying the sun because it's gorgeous, gorgeous weather. So we're like 70's. Seventies! It's crazy.

Ashley: I know! Unheard of, It could be snowing.

Melissa: Awesome. I'll take it. Amen! Yeah, it could be, it could be quite cold, but we're going to enjoy it. Awesome. Everybody go check out Ashley LaBore at Align Optimal Wellness. We will have all the links in the show notes and go visit her if you're local. If you are in the surrounding area, grab Healthy In The Valley and get your free resource there for exclusive offers from the area's best in health and wellness in mind, body, and soul. And everybody...

Ashley: Wonderful!

Melissa: Yes. Thank you so much for being here Ashley and everybody else will see you here same time, same place next week. Peace. Bye-Bye!

Melissa: Oh, my gosh, you're still here. You are such a rebel woman. I have to meet you. Come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook created for Brick and Mortar Business owners just like you. In this group, we empower, encourage, and support each other. And every week I come in and share with you a tip, tool, or strategy that I'm learning in my Brick and Mortar Business to help you and yours. And you guys, this is the real stuff, the nitty-gritty in real-time of what's going on. So come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook. I can't wait to meet you.


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