BY BILL PHILLIPS
Spectators and athletes at the Iron Ore Classic Saturday at Vanier Hall are in for a treat.
In addition to watching all the great bodybuilders, the crowd will get to see a couples routine from guest posers Dawn Alison and Brandon Best.
For Alison, it will be like coming full circle. She won the heavyweight and the overall championship at the 1995 Iron Ore Classic. And since then she’s been busy. Alison is the national champion in mixed pairs and the U.S. national champion in powerlifting. It took her more than 32 years to get her International Federation of BodyBuilders pro card and 22 attempts at nationals and North Americans.
“Last year, at 53, I finally won it so I entered the pro ranks,” she said. “Right away I did a show in Tampa and then the Pittsburgh Pro Masters and this year I went back to Pittsburgh at the end of August and I won it. So to come here and do a guest posing is really like a dream. To get to come back here and do it with (her husband) Brandon, is super special.”
And it will be emotional. Alison and Best will be dedicating their performance to Cat Wheatley and Matt Forsch, clients of Alison who died last year.
In addition to the couples routine, Best will be giving a martial arts demonstration.
“I’ve been training in martial arts since I was 10 years old,” he said. “What I will be performing is considered a pretty high level weapons practice.”
He started bodybuilding when he was 17 years old. He didn’t have much direction, so he trained on his own. The martial arts training, plus having grown up in a military family, gave him the discipline he needed to excel.
“I like the discipline aspect of it,” he said. “I don’t really know anything else but that. That will help me move toward the person I want to be. Once you achieve a certain goal, should strive for more. Through bodybuilding and combining that with martial arts, just helps me get to where I want to be in life. I like to tell people I am Shaolin and bodybuilding infused. I make it a point to live that and show it day by day.”
Best also teaches three different styles of Chinese kung fu.
And there will be no letting up after the Iron Ore Saturday. He is four weeks out from the Canadian National Pro Qualifier in Toronto.
Alison, who is also a coach and a transformation specialist, says bodybuilding is a lifestyle.
“Bodybuilding is a lifelong process, it’s a process of constantly evolving and creating and becoming the best you you can be,” she said. “A champion is someone who can take their licks and keep moving forward. One of my favourite quotes is from Rocky: ‘It’s not how hard you can hit, it’s how hard you can get and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.’”
She says bodybuilding is the only thing in life give you back as much as you put into it and it pulled her through some tough times.
“No matter what was happening in my life, I crawled back to bodybuilding,” she said. “Bodybuilding helped me survive at times in life that I probably not be here without bodybuilding. It was the only thing I could control. It’s not just bodybuilding for sport. It’s bodybuilding for health and well-being.”
John Brink, founder and CEO of the Brink Group of Companies can attest to that. This year’s Iron Ore Classic is the fourth year the Brink Group has been the title sponsor for the event. However, Brink, at 78 years old, is also a competitive bodybuilder. He won’t be competing at the Iron Ore Classic but is headed to the national championships and is hoping to qualify for the North American championships next year.
“Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, it’s a commitment,” he said. “You get out of it, what you put into it. It’s not about looking good, it’s about a lifestyle, it’s about being healthy and being fit, and that includes looking good and having good self-esteem. It becomes a way of life and it allows you to stay young and fit for much longer.”
The Iron Ore Classic goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 22, at Vanier Hall. Don’t miss it.