Written by Jahla Seppanen | Photo courtesy of Tapout
Professional wrestler and Tapout athlete Ashley Fliehr—better known by her ring name Charlotte Flair—talks body shaming, gender stereotypes, and surviving a relentless training schedule.
Charlotte Flair, one of the most dominant female forces in the WWE, is still riding high from an iconic WrestleMania last April. A pivotal player in what was dubbed The Divas Revolution (a time when female wrestlers began showing their athletic prowess as opposed to acting as ringside models), Charlotte has dominated the stage, being named “The Queen of Pay-Per-View” and “The Genetically Superior Athlete.”
On camera, Charlotte found her calling as a villainous heel, haughty with power after winning the Raw Women’s Championship belt four times over. But behind the scenes, she’s a dedicated athlete that continues to make gains and prove strong is sexy.
The Legacy Daughter
At what she calls “an extremely early age,” Charlotte’s parents enrolled her in gymnastics and dance classes. Come high school, her athleticism led to spots on the volleyball, basketball, and track teams. Meanwhile, her father, Ric Flair, was touring with a major national wrestling promotion, winning six World Heavyweight Championships and paving a legacy which his daughter would one day follow.
Her father also opened a chain of Gold’s Gyms in North Carolina, and during his weekly rounds took Charlotte with him. “I fell in love with health and fitness,” she says.
In college, Charlotte opted to swap weekend partying for sports and two-a-day training sessions. After school, she became a personal trainer, working with people in their late 30s through 60s.
Body awareness and self-esteem were instilled in Charlotte from an early age. But once she entered wrestling, learning the ropes in WWE’s developmental territory NXT, comments about her muscular physique shook her confidence. “I was hearing, ‘She’s got too much muscle, she looks like a man,’ and it really got to me. I was dieting, got really skinny, and once I got to the main roster I realized what set me apart was my athleticism. I realized strong really is sexy. I’m 163 lbs and proud of it.”
Charlotte and other female wrestlers started being recognized for their skill and professionalism, proving to be equally as physical as the men on the card, which she credits to hours spent in the gym. “Strength gave me confidence in a male-dominated world and business.”
“ I realized what set me apart was my athleticism.
I realized strong really is sexy.”
Being a WWE superstar, Charlotte is on the road 90 percent of the time. Every Friday, she flies to the next city on the Raw tour, searches the closest Gold’s or CrossFit gym and bangs out a two-hour workout (largely powerlifting). After a live show, she drives hundreds of miles to the next event, sleeps, finds a gym, and repeats. Tuesday, she flies home and rests all day. Wednesday, it’s straight to her trainer Rob MacIntyre (John Cena’s BFF), where he assesses what her body needs for next week’s regiment. Thursday is dedicated to training, then it’s TGIF all over. How she does it? “I get eight hours of sleep; I can’t stress that enough. Also, stay hydrated.”
Having such a strict training structure has lent to Charlotte’s success. “Being committed to working out is such a mental power, helping my body during all the travel. Even more, it shows everyone I’m investing in myself.” As if her belts and biceps weren’t proof enough.