Hampton native's fitness journey to sobriety inspires business

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Posted at 7:37 AM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 07:55:00-04

Addiction left its mark on Mitch Ashburn's life early on.

As a toddler, drug addiction took the lives of each of his parents just a month apart from each other, he says. Ashburn and his twin brother, Mike, were then raised by his grandparents in Hampton.

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"I was a good kid. Good grades, I was focused, I was easy going, I was happy," he recalled to News 3.

But it wouldn't last. Addiction returned to Ashburn's life in his 20s when he began abusing alcohol. The years that followed included multiple DUIs, arrests and even some jail time.

"I had gotten to the point where, you know, I had lost everything," he said.

It was a second stint in rehab in 2017 that would cause Ashburn to change course, when he says a doctor told him to exercise 30 minutes a day to help regulate his mood.

"That was all I needed to hear," he said. "When you're able to get healthy, it will make you happy."

On April 3, Ashburn, now 32 and living in Roanoke, celebrated four years sober and he puts a lot of his success on the self-worth that he gained from working out. Now, he's taking his journey and wants to use it to inspire others.

Ashburn, with the help of his brother and their friend, Ashley Smith, started Sober Muscle six months ago.

"Sober Muscle is a fitness brand dedicated to breaking the chains of addiction," he said.

The online brand features fitness tips and merchandise, along with self-care products, all designed to get people feeling better about themselves.

"We want to show people that it is possible to recover from anything in life. Not just addiction. If you're down, if you're going through financial troubles," said Mike Ashburn.

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Mitch, who has also been offering free personal training sessions, says although Sober Muscle is just getting started, he and his business partners are already seeing success.

They're hoping to build their online presence into something physical.

"My ultimate plan is a non-profit outreach center for drug addicts and alcoholics," he said.

Although, the business partners no longer live in Hampton Roads, Smith, who lives in Atlanta, tells News 3 the area is still a big part of who they are and they expect it to play a large role as their brand grows.

Mitch Ashburn's story always at the center.

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"Mitch's background is what Sober Muscle is. To be able to triumph through your trials. To be able to push through things that you went through," she said.

For Ashburn, the journey to push through continues with his own children serving as inspiration in his desire to live.

Click HERE to visit the Sober Muscle website and HERE to visit the Sober Muscle Instagram page.