It isn’t everyday that a girl born in Montgomery, Alabama grows up to not only land on the speed-dial lists of celebrities and pro-athletes, but become a best-selling author, multi-millionaire inventor and one of the most buzzed-about women on the internet. If Facebook were an empire, Ashley Black would be cloaked in robes of comment mentions, anatomy assessments and before-and-after images – her throne surrounded by her court of FasciaBlasting loyals.

Add a debilitating childhood illness and a brush with death in early adulthood to the already-unlikelihood of her list of achievements, and it is easy to declare the 45 year-old’s life an interesting phenomenon.

Diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis as a young girl, doctors swore she would be confined to a wheelchair before having the opportunity to graduate from college. But, Black was no ordinary child.

Determined to reclaim her presence in the world, she viewed her body with a blend of curiosity and awe – as though her own science experiment. Relying heavily on her intuition, she developed exercises and stretching therapies to not only manage her pain, but allow her to aggressively compete as a dancer and cheerleader throughout high school and college, and later teach fitness classes in her 20s.

But, her days of glory were soon to reach a terrifying halt.

Shortly after giving birth to her second child, a 27-year-old Black found herself in a nightmarish pit of near-death. Having contracted a fatal staph infection that gnawed into her hip and leg, and found its way into her spinal fluid, her postpartum body was riddled with excruciating pain. Every time Black exhaled a breath and shut her eyes, she was prepared for it to be the last.

“Less than 10 percent of people live through what I had, and that is a scary statistic. But the truth is that I actually started to welcome the thought of death because it was the only way out of the insane level of pain,” says Black.

After being discharged from the hospital, covered in bed sores from head to toe and a morphine pump in her leg, Black retreated home to be mother for a small child and a newborn. She was armed only with a formidable life sentence: irreversible disability.

Her traumatized senses were overwhelmed – from the sound of birds chirping in the distance to the warmth of the sun on her skin. “Even being in nature was more than I could handle,” says Black.” It was like I had survived a war, and I was trying to figure out how to live normally again.”

Every moment blurred by the desperate management of her pain, Black began to view her misfortune through a supernatural lens – one which invited her to not only discover how to live more fully, but enlighten the rest of the world to the information needed to do so as well.

Lying in her bed, Black claims to have become a sponge for anatomical literature of every kind. She devoured ancient and modern medicine principles, alternative and integrative therapies, while making the difficult venture from her home only to receive the care of chiropractors and physicians. As her own well of knowledge expanded, it became abundantly clear that she was staring into a giant black hole in medicine – one she was possessed to fill with real solutions.

When asked if doubt ever threatened to consume her during this grim period, Black says with a laugh, “I don’t really know that word. My whole life, anytime someone told me something was 90 percent impossible, I was only ever interested in the other 10 percent.”

The idea of endless suffering was granted no interference with her fighting spirit. Instead, she dared, in her typical brazen and unstoppable fashion, to no longer rely on doctors for the answers they were never going to give her, and to continue exploring all of the shadowed hallways, hidden trap doors and obscure realms of medicine in order to find the vault of answers needed to heal her mangled body.

After witnessing a human dissection, she was struck with an epiphany – one that crowned her with absolute hope: “I saw with my own eyes that the body has a thin interconnective webbing called fascia, and it penetrates and protects absolutely everything internally. If it isn’t healthy, nothing in the body is healthy. I knew it was the missing key I was searching for,” she says.

Black held tightly to such key – unlocking every door of medical discovery she could find. Through experimentation on her own flesh, she developed the science of what she now calls Fasciology™.

As her body began to heal, she shared her discoveries and self-experiments with a chiropractor. He was so impressed by her findings, he asked that she work on his patients. As a result, and through a fateful series of twists and turns, she was introduced to male professional athletes, Oscar award-winning actors and actresses, supermodels and countless affluent public figures who were lining up to have their body parts manipulated by Black’s virtually unknown hands.

“I did not seek breaking into the business of working with pro-athletes and celebrities; it sought me. All I did was listen, learn and obey the call,” says Black.

Then a mother of three children, Black opened multiple clinics in Houston, Texas – employing and training hundreds of practitioners. As the clinics grew busier, the demand for her technique continued to explode among the rich and famous – her information being passed around in locker rooms, on movie sets and at after-parties. Because of her increasing popularity, Black says it became clear that there was a need for a tool that would grant her the ability to reach more people with the transformative power of manipulating fascia.

Having a client who was in the business of manufacturing, Black experimented and tested tirelessly before her hand-held, body-scrubbing invention, the FasciaBlaster®, was distributed to her high-profile clients. But never in her wildest dreams did she imagine what would happen next.

On an ordinary day, a life-altering revelation was had – one that would eventually lead to the launching of a viral movement. “Your stick got rid of my cellulite,” read a text from a pro-athlete’s girlfriend.

“I nearly fainted and died laughing at the same time,” says Black. “I never considered that unhealthy fascia was the culprit for cellulite, but of course it rang true. I instantly knew that this was something women would gobble up, while getting out of pain in the process. I had to take it to the masses – no matter the risk or cost.”

Claiming to have already been a multi-millionaire from her busy clinics and sophisticated clientele, Black says she saturated her fortune into mass manufacturing of the FasciaBlaster®, while joining forces with a team of savvy social media experts to help her spread the word. A website, Facebook page and private group were among the key promotional efforts.

It was early in the spring of 2015, and hers was an exhaustive season of planting seeds while gaining an unforeseen perspective. “As I was building the private group, I began messaging back and forth with more and more women. I was shocked to learn how many have a poor self-image, and so I became determined to not only provide them with a tool to help them reclaim their quality of life, but also be a true ringleader for the importance of loving themselves,” she says.

Black opted to serve as no ordinary ruler of such evolving movement, however. Just as she was determined to unlock the knowledge of fascia and invite the world in, she also opted to unlock the gates to her most down-home and intimate moments, welcoming these women along for the ride.

She was on a mission – sacrificing time, sleep and the charmed lifestyle she and her family had grown accustomed to. She became consumed with getting a FasciaBlaster® in the hands of every person crying out from injuries, chronic pain and bodily concerns. “I was dumping everything I had into this venture because I believed in what it could be,” says Black. “There were times I would look at my three kids and say, ‘Y’all, I’m going to be real with you. We only have $100 to stretch until Friday.’”

It was a family effort with so much at stake. Even her son Luke, 14 years old at the time, was responsible for packaging and shipping. Nightly gatherings at the dinner table were often surrounded by mountains of boxes and equipment that stretched into their living room. Their home was serving as a warehouse and headquarters to a venture with an outcome no one but Black could predict – and, predict with absolute clarity she did.

“As difficult as it was, I could always see the whole movie of what was to come. I knew that, one day, it would transform lives globally and be worth the sacrifices we were making,” she says.

And, it wasn’t long before Black’s mental movie was projecting in real life.

At the time of this writing, a little more than two years after the FasciaBlaster® went to market, Black’s products have gone viral. Her number of private group members, though stalling initially, absolutely exploded in 2016. It is now the largest closed Facebook group geared toward women, boasting more than 250,000 members – a number that increases hourly.

She and her co-author, accomplished writer Joanna Hunt, released their book, “The Cellulite Myth: It’s Not Fat, It’s Fascia,” which hit shelves in February 2017. But it was already declared a national best-seller before the stores received their first shipment.

Within three hours of the book’s pre-release, in fact, it was number one in three categories and landed at the number three spot on Amazon.com. Hunt vividly recalls her Facetime meeting with Black that evening. “We were completely dumbfounded, but then again we had known all along. It was truly an ominous moment,” says Hunt.

Black has been featured on the “Today” show and in top magazines, while creating an online sisterhood that, she says, “has taken on a life of its own.”

Coined “blaster sisters,” women of all ages applaud one another when their dimples diminish, their spines straighten and their c-section scars return to smooth. There are women posting about their histories with chronic illnesses, now posing on the beach for the first time in decades. There are lifelong scoliosis sufferers shocking their doctors with their ultrasounds, women hiking with their grandchildren, pain medicines being tossed into the trashcan, dark glasses being left on the bedside tables of former migraine sufferers and more.

“When Ashley and I were writing the book, I was working from 5 a.m. to midnight day after day,” says Hunt. “It was like the newborn baby crying in the night; we just had to stay awake and get it done because the message had to be known. Hearing these stories at the book signings has made me realize why we felt there was such a divine order to get this information to the world.”

As shorts and skirts are being pulled from hibernation and surgeries are being cancelled, the conversations people are having with their medical providers are changing. Still, it is as though the movement transcends the health- and vanity-related aspirations that beckon individuals to it. It appears to be one of empowerment, yes, but also a most infectious one that bleeds to other aspects of living.

Many devotees are beginning to ask themselves: “If my doctor was wrong about my scoliosis being incurable, what else is possible that I once believed to be impossible?” This means, perhaps, that the magnitude of the movement not only transcends the shift in dialogue between doctors and patients, and between friends over coffee, but even welcomes a shift between the mind and body – between the facets of self.

“So many times I have been told that something could not be done,” says Black. “I was told I would never leave a wheelchair or be off of pain medicine. I was told my book and products were not marketable. But, over and over, I chose to focus on the vision I was divinely given. And, I wish I could tell the whole world what I know for sure: Whatever vision you focus on is guaranteed to become your future.”

Note: We at The Connect magazine pride ourselves on accurate and fair reporting. At the time this article was written, April 2017, there was absolutely no evidence of complaints about the tool, nor were there anti-FasciaBlasting groups on the internet (as there are now). If there had been, such issues would have been addressed and discussed in the interview.