Detail image for February 2023 WSYS Editorial Pick story.

From Struggle to Success: An interest in fitness and nutrition helped this single mom overcome a devastating loss and revamp her life.

Written by Taylor Riley | Photo by 2Much Visuals

There’s a saying that “adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” For Ashley Tuggle, this couldn’t be truer. A string of unhealthy relationships, dead-end jobs and an ongoing battle to raise three kids by herself, led the DMV- (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) area native to relocate to Louisville 12 years ago. The decision to restart her life in Derby City appeared to be the right one until the unimaginable happened.

In 2012, her mother Cynthia, who encouraged and joined her to start anew in the Lou, was shot and killed after attending church services with friends. “Coming here was a new life, a new journey,” Ashley recalls. “That was something my mother wanted. I literally lost her a year after… [moving to] Louisville.” 

Feeling lost and alone, Ashley did her best to manage her grief. But sadness and stress was taking a toll. A visit to the doctor for chronic pain that she believed was a hernia, resulted in a different diagnosis – an abdominal tumor. Fearing malignancy, Ashley had the tumor removed. Eager for a substantive change in her life and mood, Ashley turned her focus to improving her health and pursuing happiness. “I just thought to myself, I’m losing everybody around me. I have to be strong and healthy for my kids,” she says.

Ashley signed up for personal training sessions, lost 45 pounds, and gained a newfound lust for life. She also flipped the script and went from being a personal training client to becoming a personal trainer.  As her love and interest in health and wellness grew, she added a side-hustle to the mix – selling juices and protein shakes – which has become a big part of her entrepreneurial success.

“Coming here was a new life, a new journey.”

With a growing clientele, Ashley joined Cardinal Nutrition on South 4th Street on the University of Louisville’s campus in 2021. But the desire to be her own boss was growing strong. “I’m here to change the community… uplift other people,” she says.

Last year, when the owner of Cardinal Nutrition put the store up for sale, Ashley took over the location. It is where she now operates Xquisite Nutrition, her individually-owned and operated health and wellness business that was named after a clothing line her daughter created. “The ‘X’ means strength…it’s bold and different. It stood for everything I wanted in life,” she explains.

Under her Xquisite banner, Ashley trains clients and sells custom protein, holistic supplements, juices, and teas to help others achieve success in their fitness and nutrition journeys. Though things in her life are much better now than they were several years ago, Ashley believes her past struggles are the driving force for her current success.  She even keeps a chalkboard inside the doors of her business for mantras like “good vibes” and “never give up, the strength is in you” to remind herself and her clients that trouble doesn’t last always, and optimism is contagious.  “Every challenge that I have had in life (has brought me here),” she says. “I think [the challenges] prepared me for this journey.”

While she wishes her mother could be with her to witness her personal and professional growth, she’s hung a picture of her on the wall that she often looks to for strength and encouragement. “She said, ‘you’re going to be okay’ and ‘I’m going to be by your side.’”


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