*All content expressed in this post is based on personal experience, opinion and research*
Ashy Bines is a majorly controversial topic at the moment. She has created a massive media buzz around the internet but her many critics claim it is for mostly all of the wrong reasons. With thousands of girls considering purchasing her Clean Eating Diet Plan or joining an Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge location, I thought I would share my own experiences to help you make up your mind.
There are multiple elements to the Ashy Bines ’empire’. The cornerstone products are the Ashy Bines Clean Eating Diet Plan and the Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge. The diet plan is more suitably described as a pdf guideline of the diet which Ashy follows before her Bikini Competitions. The Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge is a 12 Week Bootcamp involving challenges and up to six weekly sessions. They are ‘supported’ by products such as Ashy Bines supplement range, the new Green Smoothy Revolution book, motivational emails and youtube video’s.
The ‘Diet Plan’
Although it is named a diet plan, the pdf ‘e-book’ is actually a set of guidelines and some general principles of Clean Eating. Clean Eating was not invented by Ashy herself, it is a concept followed by many body-builders,fitness fanatics and health guru’s globally for years and years. The basis of Clean Eating is to eliminate processed food and the toxins within them from your diet and eat food at its most natural state possible. There is a wealth of information, recipes, ideas and concepts of clean eating available freely on the internet. Ashy obviously had the smart idea to capitalise on the clean eating principles she used to shape up for her modelling competitions by targeting a market of young girls who were desperate to loose weight. She has combined Clean Eating principles with some ‘recipes’ and meal ideas. Along with purchasing the ABCEDP you receive access to the online forum, the Facebook forum and 24 hour support.
My Experience with the ABCEDP
I bought the plan in August 2012. I was tipping the scales at an unhealthy and unhappy 96kg. I had been living my life for the past two years as ‘low carb’ as possible but every day was a struggle with my weight and the inner demons that being so overweight had created. I saw some friends had ‘liked’ the Ashy Bines page on Facebook which showed reams and reams of amazing transformations. I wanted to be one of those girls badly but I had recently tried another diet which used similar marketing and had found little results. I watched the page for months and decided to take the plunge and pay the somewhat small $79 for the program. After going through the sign up page I received an automated email including a link for a closed Facebook group. Another email came through shortly afterwards promising a further email which would include a user name and password for a website from which I could download the book. The email never arrived and I could see on the Facebook group that a lot of other girls were having the same problem. One of the veteran members of the page suggested checking junk mail and sending an email to the ‘support team’. I followed their instructions but whilst waiting the 7 days to receive my email link, I jumped head first into the Facebook group. I asked questions, read through some of the hundreds of files and looked at other peoples advice and transformation stories and pictures. There were only a few thousand members when I joined the group and everyone was helpful. It was obvious that the admin were running some kind of military regimen though, cutting people down who asked ‘inappropriate questions’, deleting people for questioning Ashy or the plan or expressing their concerns, and advising many girls to ‘google it babe’ if they had a question which required any level of educated response. When my guidelines finally arrived I was so excited, I was totally convinced that this was the one for me. I read the guidelines, thought they were simple, made sense and not too demanding or depriving. I had never heard of clean eating and this was all new to me, I felt enthusiastic. After just a few days of following the plan, doing Ashy’s recommended ‘Fat Burning Walks’ and working out in the gym everyone was commenting on my weight loss. My skin was clear and glowing, my mood was lifted and most importantly I was finally loosing weight. From August to November 2012 I dropped 16kg following the guidelines to a ‘T’. During this time the actual guideline and the online site progressed to include more information and become slightly more sophisticated but the situation on the Facebook Forum was spiralling out of control. A large part of the success I was experiencing was due to the support of the other girls on the forum which had now reached around 20,000. However admin’s started to have little presence other than to delete posts without warning and block people from the page without explanation. Girls were getting into cat fights about what to eat and when to eat it, and everyone seemed to jump on every bandwagon of diet craze of workout DVD’s, laxative tea’s, cellulite creams and supplements. It was honestly like blind leading the blind amongst a battle of dramatic young girls with no admin or professional to lead them or advise them. I stopped looking at the Facebook group because it was too much of a daily bitch-fest. The emails which were supposed to be sent weekly were always unreliable. I would often see it posted on other websites that the content was plagiarised from experts and many of those accusations were backed up with evidence. However, due to the results I was achieving most of this had little effect on my dedication to the plan. After some birthday and christmas overindulgences my weight slowly plateaued and that was when I decided to look into the bootcamp.
Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge
The ABBBC is a 12 week challenge. Each girl can select their location and package (based on availability). The Bootcamps are ran by area managers and trainers at outdoor locations across Australia. Their are 3 levels of package which allow you to attend varying amounts of sessions based on your needs. The equipment and content of each session are largely down to the trainers and managers of each individual location to organise. The times of the sessions, the frequency of the weigh-ins and the weekly challenges are set by the program.
My Experience with ABBBC
I had wanted to join ABBBC for quite some time. Every time I looked into it I always missed the sign up or the location near me was full. Conveniently just as my interest in the gym was starting to falter, I managed to secure a spot at my desired location starting in Jan/Feb 2013. I had to pay an initial $59 registration fee apparently to secure my place. I chose the Platinum Package which allows you to attend 6 sessions per week at a reduced rate of $29.95 as you commit to the program for 4 rounds of bootcamp. I signed up eagerly and was sent a link to the Closed Facebook group for my location. My area manager soon emailed with all of the other information necessary. Upon signing up for the direct debit it was squeezed into the small print that there would actually be a further surcharge for each direct debit. Considering that the debits are deducted on a weekly basis this created a substantial surcharge over the course of the 46 weeks of $92 which was going directly to ABBBC and not the direct debit company. My area manager and trainers were great, the girls were great but after the first couple of weeks I started to feel unsure about a few aspects of the bootcamp;
- One of the trainers was MUCH weaker than the rest. The content of her sessions wasn’t great and this meant that if you were stuck in her group then you may not get as much out of the session as the rest of the girls.
- We were promised sponsors who would donate prizes for mini-milestones and small competitions within the course of the bootcamp. Evening guests and excursions were arranged based around health and fitness. Our area manager had problems getting sponsors as they did not want to be associated with ABBBC this meant that no prizes actually eventuated. One excursion was organised, paid for and then cancelled as the provider did not want to be associated with Ashy Bines. On more than one occasion local supplement reps or health reps pulled out of coming to our bootcamp to deliver presentations.
- The sessions were generic regardless of fitness level or previous experience. There was no variations given for each exercise based on personal abilities. Everyone was treated as though they were new to working out.
- ABBBC do not provide the trainers with any resources for the bootcamps. Any equipment has to be either bought by the trainer or in most cases bought by the girls themselves.
- The fitness tests set by ABBBC were often unrealistic for many people in the group. The beginner exercise for a round one challenge required 50 push ups on feet, most girls couldn’t even get close meaning the majority of the group were sat at the side for up to 5-10 mins waiting for 1 girl to finish the level. Such a waste of time and money.
- The times of the sessions are inflexible. This is mostly a personal thing. I have a lot of commitments in terms of career and education leaving me with little time in between. After a 7 weeks of early mornings and late nights, I was drained and feeling ill. The time slots of 6am-7am(Mon, Wed, Fri) and 6.30pm-7.30pm(Tue, Thurs) were really impractical for my lifestyle. I need to flexibility of the gym which is open as and when needed.
Given all of the above downfalls of the bootcamp I attempted to cancel my subscription. I informed my area manager who gave me instructions on how to handle the cancellation. She informed me that other girls were experiencing a lot of problems in cancelling. I was aware that ABBBC impose a $150 cancellation fee and that was fine by me. I called the number given by my manager but reached a voicemail so I left a message. In the mean time, I logged a job through the 24 hour support which promises a response within 48 hours. When I hadn’t received a response within 48 hours I sent an email to the ‘Support Angels’. When that went unanswered I attempted to call someone else up to 5 times. I sent another email which still went unanswered. It is beyond me how any company can advertise 24 hour support when a simple request cannot be acknowledged and 7 days have lapsed. The only answer to my problem was to cancel the direct debit through the 3rd party company. This was definitely not a solution because until the debits are actually cancelled by ABBBC I am still liable for the direct debits. Without any response it is impossible to resolve the situation.
I have been a major advocate for the Diet Plan. I think that the content of the guidelines and the method of mass communication has made it really accessible for a lot of girls. I think it is basic and I really do have that plan to thank for changing my attitude towards food and eating. Since becoming more educated on weight loss, health and fitness, I have learned that most of the information available in the guidelines is available online for free along with a wealth of other information and recipes. Websites such as the gracious pantry offer far more reliable clean recipes which are accompanied by the nutritional content of the dishes. However, without ABCEDP I would never have started looking and learning so I suppose I do need to credit the plan to some degree. I would only recommend it to anyone who has no knowledge of weight loss or clean eating or those who do not have the time or resources to research it and implement a plan for themselves. The information is elsewhere for free so if you would begrudge paying $80 for something which is available for free then don’t even go there. Similarly, if the location trainer is experienced and committed and you don’t have high expectations (exercise wise), want to exercise in a group and social environment then the ABBBC could definitely work. The real pit fall of the company and the thing which has the reputation of Ashy Bines in tatters is her lack of professionalism on any level. The plan is full of spelling mistakes, the support system is non existent, she breaches OFT and ACL legislation constantly, buys Facebook likes and pretends that genuine photo transformations were made using her plan when they were actually people who had surgery etc. I have no doubt that if Ashy had some integrity in the way she ran her business and she demonstrated both personal and business ethics then she would not be half as hated as she is.
Let me know your opinion of the Ashy Bines empire if you have one?