At Influential Sports Inc, we take the time to deep deep into the lifestyle of the people that make an impact on the fitness industry in Canada. IFBB Pro Dawn Alison took the time to interview with us to talk about her long career in the fitness/bodybuilding industry. It’s truly remarkable the life long journey she’s been on and how her career in the industry continues to flourish to this day as she’s teamed up with her partner Brandon Best to offer a unique training style with many different influences.
Q: Tell us what you have been up to during COVID-19 and how you are staying in shape?
A: Lifting is Life to me. So what I didn’t have that I needed, I managed to get fast. I wasn’t going to take any chances on a long haul with what I needed to stay in shape, physically, mentally and emotionally. Nothing is more important to me than that. All money spent on my health and fitness is an investment in my quality of life & wellness. There is nothing more important than that. Health is Wealth. Good health doesn’t cost; it pays. So my workouts at home have been as good or better than they were in the gym gratefully.
I am lucky that over the years I’ve acquired a decent amount of equipment in my condo. I have a Life Fitness Xtrainer that I bought when I worked at Surrey Fitness World many years ago, when they were switching out equipment. That’s in my dining room.
One of the most important things I had during lockdown was an Aerobic step. These are amazingly versatile. You can lie on it and do any of your chest work, presses, flyes… you can do legs by doing step ups, Bulgarian split squats, lie on it to do lying leg curls, that way you can hold onto the top of the step so you don’t slide backwards when you have a good amount of resistance. You can sit on it for shoulder work. Kneel on it for back work. I have both a full size long step and a small riser size step. Having enough risers is important too. So I definitely recommend getting extra risers, ideally 6 per side. I also ordered from the Treadmill Factory online two” INCLINE” risers to make the step into an incline bench. I can put the step under the squat rack and do bench press or incline press.
Luckily I had several pairs of dumbells at home. But I did watch Facebook Marketplace and acquired the ones I was missing to fill in the gaps. I have 5 lbs to 45 lb pairs. And also have few pairs of adjustable ones, including an Olympic pair.
One of my old clients I trained many years ago for Junior Bodybuilding way back when I worked at Langley Fitness World in mid 2000’s Joseph Rasmussen who is a great Personal Trainer in his own right. He coaches BMX on and off track and has his own studio in Langley @ironjoeathletics. Joe messaged me and lent me a safety squat bar and a pair of 45 lb plates. So grateful to him.
A welder here in Surrey @_alpha.iron made me a pair of free standing squat racks for $225 that I put on my patio under a gazebo
A few days into lockdown an old co-worker from way back at my Surrey Fitness World days was selling a bunch of standard plates as he was switching to Olympic. So I bought just over 300 lbs from him and a straight and EZ curl bar and set of adjustable dumbell handles.
I found a plate loaded leg extension, seated and standing leg curl all-in-one machine so I scooped that for a reasonable price. I put that on my patio under a gazebo. This piece is awesome, such a score.
I also a few years back bought a decline situp bench and hyperextension out of Denman Fitness when it closed down and they live in my living room… along with a full size dip stand that lives on my patio under one of the gazebos.
About 4 years ago I bought a Total Hip Machine and put it in my living room. It is amazing how many things you can do with it. You can do glute kickbacks, inner thigh, outer thigh, abs and hip flexors by doing kneeups, you can push the pad meant for your leg away from you, so you are working chest. Or pull it to you, working y9our back. You can even work shoulders on it.
Another thing I did was, the first day of lockdown, I sent my husband Brandon to Fitness Town and he got us pairs “Go Fit” Bands in strengths from 20 to 90 lbs. I like these because they have metal rings on either end, instead of handles… so you can add different attachments. I made rope loops and attached to my Total Hip machine at 3 different heights on both sides. Then added carabiner hooks to the loops that can attach to the bands, at the different heights. This way I can do a variety of different exercises from chest flyes, triceps, back rows, bicep curls, even lying and standing leg curls, glute kickbacks, leg extensions…. So many things you can do and the Total hip machine is so solid it won’t move.
Along with bands from Fitness Town I also got handles for bands and over the door attachment to do lat pulldowns, triceps etc.
I already had ankle cuffs to attach to the bands to do any leg work like lying or standing leg curls, glute kickbacks etc.
So with all the equipment I had my workouts didn’t suffer at all. Actually with the extra time and rest I had they were better than they had been in some time.
Q: With Fit Body BC, how have you adapted to this new world to be able to still continue to service your clients?
A: I have always done some online training, but those were mostly for people who lived too far to come see me. So I just modified my online training for the clients who regularly trained with me in person. Some of my in-person clients train with me on the gym floor. And some only do in-office consulting. So a few moved to Skype workouts. And others just did Whatsapp Video Call or Skype check-ins. A large portion of my in-person clients. I did home workout programs for them using whatever they have to use. Which was extremely challenging due to very limited equipment and everyone had different things to use. This took a lot of thought, but I managed to come up with some really good workouts.
Not only did I have to change my clients workout programs to adapt training from gyms to home workouts…. But also I had to greatly modify their nutritional programs to hugely decreased energy outputs, as most were staying home instead of being out and about, both for work and life.
I also have lent out to my clients 4 aerobic steps, some risers, some dumbells, bands. I even bought a step so one of my clients could have something to use. I searched out deals on Facebook marketplace, arranged some deals for a few of my clients. I met one of my clients who lives in Kelowna, in Abbotsford and gave him a step and 6 risers a side to use. I drove some stuff to Langley for another one. We drove a step and 10 risers, some bands and I stuffed rocks into 2 empty kitty litter containers that came to 26 lbs each to use like kettlebells and took all this to another client in Vancouver who had no equipment to workout with. And 2 of my clients on the island, I bought some dumbells on Facebook marketplace over there (Campbell River and Nanaimo) and got those clients to go pick them up and they’re using them until this thing blows over.
I messaged many clients to check in on them often during lockdown, offering any kind of support I could.
Q: Your determination as an athlete is amazing, you have always been considered a “pro” in our eyes years before receiving an IFBB Pro card. How has the journey to getting that card and now having played out for you? Winning that card, was it all you thought and dreamed it would be?
A: Obtaining my IFBB PRO CARD was darn near my lifes work. Taking over 30 yrs to achieve, through the trials and tribulations of life. It’s still somewhat surreal I’ve even got it. I recently watched a Netflix movie called “Williams”. A true story about Formula One British Racing Legend Frank Williams. When he was asked how he felt when one of his cars finally won a Formula One race, after over a decade of trying. His answer was “RELIEVED!” This is exactly how I felt when I finally won my Pro Card in Edmonton in 2017 after 22 attempts. You cannot really appreciate something that you haven’t given a lot to. The harder the challenge, the sweeter the victory. So to ask if it was all I dreamed it would be?… the answer would be more than words can express. The only unfortunate thing to me is… that at this stage in my life, at 55 yrs old… that I don’t have more years to get use out of it. It’s not that I don’t have a desire to keep competing, because that drive, will and fire is still there. It’s just I have some other things I want to accomplish in my life and if I keep competing, that requires me to funnel all my time, money and energy into that, with little to nothing left for anything else. Because when I do something I do it all the way. And if you want to be good at something you have to be all in.
To have a dream, to be relentless with that pursuit, to never ever give up not matter what happens to you, divorces, drug addiction, over 10 surgeries, child birth, so many things in life. But to hold that focus, hold onto that dream despite it all, to finally achieve it… I can go to my grave knowing I did everything I could and I did it. This is a life well lived.
Q: As an IFBB Pro athlete, will we see you back on stage anytime soon?
A: Never say never, I have learned that in life. But if I don’t make it back to the stage I have the satisfaction that I competed in 3 Pro shows, including the prestigious Tampa Pro 2017, Pittsburgh Pro Masters 2017 and 2018. I can leave on a high, after winning the Pittsburgh Pro Masters 2018. And ending 2018 sharing a Guest Posing at the Iron Ore Classic show in Prince George with my husband Brandon Best. We were the 2016 Canadian Mixed Pairs Bodybuilding Champions. There’s nothing like doing the thing you love, with the person you love. That guest posing routine was a dream, we had a fog machine going that Brandon came out walking through. I included 3 other of my male clients that were competing in that show in our routine. We had custom made cool outfits, including Brandon’s Matrix Morpheus Coat, my Matrix/ Lara /Croft coat. We had the coolest music mix ever including snippets from the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles”, also the movie “White Chicks” and songs: “Where is my man” sung by Eartha Kitt from 1983 the Disco Era, and one of my all time favorites: “Evergreen” from 1971 movie “Star is Born” with Barbara Streisand and we had some other sound effects in there as well. Seriously, was coolest mix ever.
The Iron Ore show was my firstt Overall Championship back in 1995. So doing the guest posing there was very special and even in the same theatre. A big thank you to promoter Karley Green for having us. Words cannot express how much it meant to me.
Q: We know you also have a background in powerlifting, how has that helped you in your training and do you use aspects of it to train your athletes for the fitness/bodybuilding stage?
A: My first career I was an Arabian Horse Trainer. I was working in Brownwood, Texas when I met my first husband Powerlifting Legend Doug Young who was 3x World Champion Powerlifter, 3x World Champion in Bench Press. He was the one who got me into the Iron Sports. I had a lot of muscle from working with horses all my life. From when I walked into Doug’s Gym “The Brownwood Athletic Club” in 1984 and was introduced to the sport of Bodybuilding, my goal was always to compete in Bodybuilding. Doug told me I could put on the most muscle in the shortest amount of time Powerlifting for a few years. So I did. My first meet in 1990 qualifying for USA Nationals totalling over 1000 lbs. My 2nd meet I won USA Nationals in Powerlifting. My 3rd meet pulled 501 lb deadlift at 167 lbs and 5’2” in height, which was an unofficial world record.
All my training for myself and my clients is still based on what Doug taught me. He was the most influential person in my life. Every day I use what he taught me. Fitness fads come and go but some things will never change. To this day you still see his images and pictures circulating on social media. Many people tag me and send to me when they see them. Recently February 11, 2020 to be exact, on the IG page @iranian_powerlifting_giants there’s huge wall poster board behind the lifters at a meet in Iran and in the center of that massive poster is a picture of Doug pulling a deadlift. A few years back a Powerlifting meet Alberta used Doug’s image on their meet shirts. And @xconditioning in Prince George used Doug’s image on their meet poster and shirts a few years back. Another page @jailhousestrong you will see a lot of posts on Doug. And you can find a lot of stuff on YouTube. Doug’s older brother NFL 3x ALL PRO Offensive Lineman Bob Young was in the first ever in the Worlds Strongest Man contest. You can see the video on YouTube, search: “1977 World’s Strongest Man” This contest is what spawned the whole STRONGMAN COMPETITION SPORT as we know it today. Doug trained Bob for this event. You can watch Bob winning 2nd place, beating out Lou Ferrigno who got 3rd. Other notables were Mr. Olympia Franco Columbo, and other top Powerlifters, stuntmen, Olympic lifters etc. Doug also was pivotal in the success of Bob’s football career. And Doug & Bob were in the Guinness Book of World Records for pulling the infamous two-man Deadlift.
The point i’m trying to make here is… for someone who was in his prime in 1975, 1976 and 1977. And their image is still being used 45 year later… all the bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen, all the other athletes from all sorts of sports, but still his image is inspired to and even worshipped… try to tell me his methods are passe’? That would be a big “Hell No !” So, I will always continue to use these old school methods as the results are undeniable. Hard work cannot be avoided. And the results will always be the same, outstanding.
Q: What is your most treasured memory of competing? Was it the IFBB Pro card win or anyone moment along the way?
A: Definitely July 1, 2017 winning my IFBB PRO CARD in Edmonton, Alberta. It was my 3rd time competing at Nationals in Edmonton. My 1st Pro Card attempt was there in 1999. I had 5 of my clients who were there competing as well, my best friend since I was 8 yrs old Karyn and her daughter were there. My husband Brandon, my beloved friend Nicole Kerr flew out just to do my hair and brought and paid for her makeup artist friend Chantelle to do my makeup.
Another one I must mention was winning the Mixed Pairs Canadian Bodybuilding Championship with my husband Brandon Best. Ever since I got into Bodybuilding in the 1980’s I loved mixed pairs. I was so blessed when they brought it back that I had the opportunity to do it, amazing memories. We competed at 2016 BC Championships and 2016 Canadian Nationals. I will never forget when I showed up at the BC Championships tanned, makeup, hair and people were coming up to me asking “Are you competing? What are you doing here?” Hahahhaha because I had been an Overall Champion since 1995 you couldn’t move backwards in the tiers then. So it was a shock for people to see me go down a level after being at National Level for years. It was priceless actually. It’s very challenging competing with a partner because you have to be in sync with someone for mandatories and your routine to music.
Another which is one of my greatest memories, is when I won the Overall in 1995 at the Iron Ore Classic in Prince George. Flex Wheeler was the Guest Poser. We ended up at the after party which had a pool and hot tub. I ended up in the hot tub drinking wine coolers, my legs bumping up against Flex Wheeler’s and we were talking about old Cadillac’s. Back then I had 1965 Cadillac Calais that I’d brought back from Texas with me. That was truly one of my greatest memories of my Bodybuilding career.
Winning USA National Champion Powerlifter in 1991 beating the reigning World Champion by 92 lbs my 2nd meet was freaking awesome. And making my first husband Powerlifting Legend Doug Young proud was indescribable as well.
Q: Many people might not know the story about how you met Brandon, tell everyone how that started and how you continue to keep your relationship strong till this day?
A: DAWN & BRANDON OUR LOVE STORY:
Brandon and I got married 3 days after we met each other in person. Although we were friends online for about a year and half prior. For those who don’t know we were married 10 years ago this September in Las Vegas, on the Sunday of the Olympia Weekend… we planned & paid for the wedding before we ever met each other in person. We met not on a dating site, but on a Online Bodybuilding website www.rxmuscle.com owned by my then Coach Dave Palumbo. Dave started RX Muscle Feb 2009 and gave me my own thread on the Forums. Brandon had been a Moderator on the Official Muscular Development Magazine forum where Dave was working when I hired him then got fired. So Brandon along with a lot of Dave’s loyal followers left MD and came to RX. Brandon & I struck up a friendship as we would see each others posts, and we would respond both on the forum and private message… after awhile we both got “Blackberry” cellphones with BBM instant messaging, so we would message each other throughout the day every day. Early in 2010 I said “I’m going to the Olympia this year” (I had never been), Brandon said “I’m going to the Olympia this year too”… more time passes… I said “I booked my flight” Brandon says “I booked my hotel” I ask “Does it have a kitchen?” He said “yes a full kitchen” so I booked my room there also sharing it with my friend Vicky Lee. More time passes and that year I competed twice in 2 Canadian National Shows. That year they were divided into Open in Saskatchewan and Masters in Toronto. Brandon helped me a lot and I noticed how he had an effect on me like no one ever had in my life. I can be quite a live wire and he had an uncanny way of calming me down which i’d never before experienced… then one day he messages me and asks “would you like to go to this Olympia After Party with me?” I reply “Well you better be careful or I’ll get you drunk and marry you !” he says “You don’t have to get me drunk to marry me” I thought to myself hmmmmmmmnnnn…. more time passes… one day we are talking and I messaged him and said, “Hell, why don’t we just get married on Sunday after the Olympia?” he said “Ok !”… so we did… we met for the 1st time at the Las Vegas Baggage claim on the Thursday about 3pm ( you can see video of it all here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GnMACnQv6Q ) we went straight from the baggage claim, to get the marriage license, to get the Olympia VIP tickets, to the grocery store, to the Hotel.. then Friday & Saturday was all day and night Olympia events. And on Sunday we were married. My then Coach Dave Palumbo was there and videotaped the wedding. We had some other IFBB Pros and people we knew from RX Muscle there and my clients and friends Kari Werner & Vicky Lee. Brandon’s flight home was that same Sunday night we were married. When I took him to the airport for a late flight, I cried all the way back to the hotel. Not long after I arrived there he called said he was on his way back to the hotel. The airline had overbooked the flight. So Brandon ran off the plane and flew out Monday instead back to his home in Memphis. So we had our wedding night together after all… Monday he went back to Memphis, TN, USA and me back to Canada.
He moved up here to Canada a few months later, Nov 21st, 2010 and we have been together ever since… All those naysayers are silenced. We even work together at the gym. We are almost always together.
Brandon and I work together as a team not only at work, but in life. We both have very strong values that were instilled in us from our parents. Loyalty, commitment, respect and trust are huge. Brandon allows me to be myself. We share a lot of the same interests, training, nutrition, movies, road trips, travel. In some ways we are very alike. But some ways we are polar opposite. He says I”m the Yin to his Yang. And I think it’s because of these differences, and being polar opposites in some ways, that’s why it works. Interestingly, he is the opposite in many ways of what I’d say “my type” is. But it was because of me coming to an awareness after 2 divorces and seeming to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I took 18 months of celibacy to better understand myself to try to stop the cycle of insanity, repeating the same mistakes over and over again, expecting different results. One of the things I had to ask myself was… “What is the most important quality I want in a partner?” And what I came to realize was… I wanted someone who allowed me to be who I am unbridled, someone who loves and adores me. During this time of soul searching is when the universe decided to put Brandon in my life.
I think another key was that Brandon and I were friends first. And that friendship blossomed into something more. We started out not trying to catch the other. A by chance friendship over interactions on a shared interest Bodybuilding forum… turned into a friendship, which blossomed into something more.
I’m sincerely grateful that I have found someone to share my life, with who loves me for me.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give athletes looking to hire a personal trainer to get them ready for the stage?
A: Do your homework. Find someone who has lots of experience when it comes to contest prep. There’s a lot more to it than just giving someone a meal plan and workout program. There’s trainers, and then there’s coaches. Its like we say in the horse world… there’s riders and then there’s passengers. Finding someone with not only the knowledge, but that’s also going to give you support on this treacherous journey. Having the right coach who can not only guide you into the right condition, but also can help you with posing, suit, shoes, jewelry choices, tanning, how to travel if need be to your show, food prep as in cooking and recipes, have an arsenal of professionals to help you be your best for the show day, and give you all the necessary support needed to bring in your absolute best on show day. Right guidance, support along with knowledge is imperative to not only success, but to making it to the stage at all. Some people need a little support and some people need a lot or they just won’t make it. Someone who you can count on and feel comfortable talking to. Finding a Coach with the right personality that gels with yours is paramount.
Q: If people are interested in getting in touch with you how can they do so?
A: Dawn Alison IFBB PRO