First of all I want to start by thanking you for stopping by my site! I know it may be a little confusing at first – “what do pugs have to do with fitness?” is probably my most asked question! My love for both animals and fitness have brought me to a cross roads. I work as an oncology technician in a very fast paced animal hospital, but I also hit they gym 6 out of 7 days a week, teach Les Mills Body Pump, and have a dream of stepping on stage as a physique competitor.
Yesterday I had the chance to meet one of the most influential group of people who I have ever encountered. I decided that for my birthday, I was going to meet Ms. Olympia (2013) – Dana Linn Bailey, Rob Bailey, and their staff. I was going to drive 3 hours away to Reading, PA and spend the day in the presence of greatness. My goal was to learn as much as I could from the best in the industry, and go home and train even harder – have a plan – and get my ass on stage sooner rather than later. I knew that meeting her would light a fire within me, but I had no idea what I was really getting myself into.
The day started early, I woke up at 4:30 am after going to bed at 1am. I was tired, but excited – so I packed up my meals, gave my husband a kiss and headed out the door. I was upset because originally we had planned to go together but my husband wound up stuck at work and over exhausted so he asked me late the night before if I’d mind if he stayed home. I’m not a big fan of changing plans at the last minute – especially because of how excited I was, but I told him that he could stay home and I would go regardless.
The drive was nice, no traffic, quiet. I saw horses and lots of funny signs like the horse and carriage for the next 4 miles sign – that made me giggle. I watched the sun rise from my car, and enjoyed the fresh air all while wondering what in the world was the day going to be like.
I drove up to the warhouse gym at around 8:30am. When I got there I was welcomed by two employees directing me where to park. I parked on the side of this big blue warehouse next to a car from Michigan – “woah, and I thought I traveled far,” I thought. After taking it all in, I walked up and around to the entrance of camp. I didn’t know what to expect, I stood there for a second – took a photo of the huge panting of my idol, laughed to myself about all the skid marks on the parking lot floor (I’ve seen videos of them doing crazy stuff in those cars and here’s the proof right in front of me!), took a deep breath and walked in.
Now, for anyone who knows me, I’m pretty shy at first. I’ll have a brave streak in me to get me there but once I’m there I’m awkward. I don’t know how to do small talk, I forget everything I want to say or do, and I’m kind of a dork. Here I am, awkward, standing in line to check in. Looking around, seeing all the people walking around, wondering where DLB is, wondering if I’ll be awkward when I meet her, or if I’ll be able to hold it together. “Ma’am?” I hear, “Oh! Sorry!” I step forward and I’m asked to sign a waiver – then I’m asked for the remainder of my money and my driver’s license. The young man scans my license and says, “okay, You’re all set, step down and these guys will help you get all your goodies!” I’m first greeted by a very pretty young lady with cool red streaks in her hair. She hands me a sheet of paper and explains the Instagram/blog contest, then I’m told to pick my shirt size and I’m handed a backpack by @1stphorm with a goodie bag from @MetabolicNutrition. Woah! Holy goodie bag! I’ll get into the specifics of the goodies later – but for now, just know that if you choose to go to one of these camps – it will be WELL worth the $150 it costs to go!
At this point the camp doesn’t start until 9 so I have a chance to walk around, check out the vendors, and shop in their store. As I made clear earlier – I don’t do small talk very well, so I attempted to go over near the vendors but I didn’t want to just grab the freebies and run – so I kind of just checked it out and then moved on over to the store.
Shopping? Heck yea!! So, if you’ve ever shopped at the Flagnorfail.com website you know that their stuff is limited quantity and hand printed. At their in-house shop they have some of the prints that went array and lots of things that they no longer have on the website! Since my husband didn’t come, I had all the money that I was going to use for shopping AS WELL as all the money that I was going to use to pay for him…. This may or may not have been a good thing! So, after rummaging through some stuff I decided to get my husband a shirt, myself two crop tanks, a pair of crop pants, and a sweatshirt. I’m pretty sure if I had bought this stuff online I would never have been able to afford it all in one shot but the prices are severely discounted and the selection is awesome!
I still had some time and wanted to get out of the store before I spent every penny I had with me, so I walked around a little. They had free coffee and water, as well as @muscleegg samples to try (Holy cow is that good!! If you haven’t checked them out YOU SHOULD!). After getting myself a cup of coffee (I was tired from the lack of sleep and long drive) I walked over to the area where they had seats set up. The Flag nor Fail airstream was set up with couches in front of it and then chairs for us all to sit and listen. I decided to find a place that I thought I would be able to see, and sit down.
While sitting there, taking it all in, I noticed a tall man in flannel walking by to my right. “Holy crap it’s Rob!” I thought, then I had to remember that obviously I’d be seeing Rob, he lives there. I also had to tell myself to calm the heck down because they are normal people, they just happen to be extremely successful at being themselves!! Not too long after this Rob came over and sat down on the couch in front of the airstream. The room was filled with more people than I could count – quietly, attentively sitting there listening.
Rob opened with a welcome message. He thanked us all for coming, he told us that Dana had woken up Jose Raymond a little later than she should have, so they would be there in a little bit. Then he threatened us. In most cases this would be out of the ordinary, but I would expect nothing less from the Bailey’s as I’ve come to know them on Youtube and Instagram to be very candid people – especially Rob. So, he threatened the group – he said “If you feed my dogs, I will kick you out.” Hell yea! I thought! As a vet tech I am acutely aware of the animals, I saw them walking around – my protective instinct in me knew that I’d be watching them all day.
Then, Dana and Jose Raymond came. Excitement filling my entire being, but again – I told myself to calm down. I was humbled – I don’t know what I thought she’d look like in person – hard and muscular like the photos she posts on Instagram? I guess it didn’t dawn on me that unless she was just working out she probably won’t be all hard and veiny. She came in, almost shy, but happy. Soon I realized she was quiet because she was sick. I wondered if she was nervous – but how could she be? She’s Dana Linn Bailey!
They went through their bios, Jose Raymond had the entire room laughing hysterically as he didn’t exactly start with his bio – but you would have had to be there to really understand. He then told us that he had been competing for 22 years. He talked about how it used to be, before social media and how it wasn’t as easy to get a pro card as it is today. The best part of his autobiography to me was when he discussed the first time that he met Kai Greene – before this he thought HE was an animal, a freak of nature – and then he met THE freak of nature. He touched on natural body building with this story by talking about how in the beginning Kai was enormous, he was (and still is) a freak of nature and back then Kai was living on the streets only lucky enough to get his next meal – he made his point without even having to say it – but whatever you believe now – Kai was huge he was 20 years old and swole as hell, and he could barely afford to be where he was let alone take supplements or inject his body with things.
Anyway, moving on. Dana and Rob were up next to tell us their story. During this Rob said “when we met Dana had a boyfriend and I had a boyfriend….” PAUSE. Dana almost fell off the couch, the room rumbled with laughter, Rob laughed and said “see that’s the kind of thing that winds up on the internet.” She talked about how she was always an athlete, how she went to West Chester University for four years in Kinesiology, and how she was always competitive. Rob talked about how he went to school for football, he eventually realized that wasn’t what he wanted so he went to school for art which he did for a few years but ultimately he didn’t find what he was looking for there. He talked about how while all of this was going on he was working at a restaurant, working long hours, only really getting a small break in the middle of the day where he would go to the gym. They told us that this is really how Dana got into lifting. Rob told her that if she wanted to see him, she’d have to come with him to the gym. And the rest is history – but really, if I tell you all of it you won’t go to the camp, so go, and get the whole story straight from them!!
After bios they talked about Nutrition. Jose and Dana both agreed that it’s important for you to figure it out on your own. Hiring someone can be expensive, and often times you spend a lot of money and time while the person you hired tries to figure out your body. They both agreed that you should figure out your body first, and then if you need help with improvements, you hire someone. Dana talked about how her prep and off season diet is very similar. She discussed eating the same exact things, just not being as strict about timing and amounts. She said since she’s on off season right now – if she wants to have a cookie, she will! But 85% of her diet is the same year round. She made it clear that she believes that she has a roll to fill. She is a professional athlete, and that is what people expect from her, so she believes she should look like a professional athlete 12 months out of the year. Plus, they both agreed, it’s not healthy to gain 30lbs on the offseason – for what purpose? To bulk? I got the feeling that they feel this is just another excuse so people feel like they can eat junk.
One of my favorite quotes (which I will paraphrase) that Jose used was the idea of driving a Ferrari. If you want to drive a Ferrari you must put high-octane fuel in it. If you want to drive a “shit box” you put shit fuel in it. There really isn’t much else to say on that topic.
The moral of most of their stories was consistency. Be consistent with your training, be consistent with your diet, and consistent with your business.
At 11:30 we took a break to do the raffle prizes. There was everything from @metabolicnutrition goodies to @versagrips to @muscleliciousfoods pudding to a big @6packbags and @promerasports products (among other things!!). There were 14 prizes, but each prize was awarded to 2 or more people. I didn’t win, but that’s okay. I had fun watching those who did win!
Next up Rob went into the business. He talked about how learned that sometimes you need to go to work early or stay late, off the clock, to better yourself and be the best you can be at your job. He related this story to back when he worked in the restaurant. Then he talked about how he has been successful. His “formula” includes honest decisions, honest marketing, and not making decisions based on financial decisions. They talked about this as a whole – encompassing not just the business but Dana and her values. Dana has not faltered on staying strong with what she believes in. The judges told her she needed breast implants. She refused. Coaches told Rob to give Dana estrogen blockers and tell her they were niacin, he didn’t. Making honest decisions in both life and business is what I feel has propelled them into the place they are in today.
Then we took a break for lunch. The recent camps have had some fun themes, and the theme to this camp was Thanksgiving. So, they had deep fried turkeys, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, and gravy all catered by @rocbodyfitnesscafe which was cool because they are from my neck of the woods! During lunch I also went back to the store – I couldn’t help myself – and I purchased a t-shirt for myself, another sweatshirt, and a sweatshirt for my husband. He only got two things since he left me to go by myself!
After lunch we all reconvened in front of the airstream for one more talk on training philosophy. Dana discussed the way she trains – to failure, and Jose explained how he trains – til he gets to the biggest point of his pump and then he’s done. It was interesting to see the differences between training styles. The biggest take home from this part of the camp was when Dana told us to do what we love. If you love training everything with huge supersets – do that! If you love doing plyos – go for it, but training should be, at the end of the day, enjoyable. If you hate what you’re doing, if you hate what you’re eating, why the hell are you doing it?
After this, we all got to experience a shortened version of a Dana Linn Bailey workout. They trained shoulders this day, and Dana discussed why she does what she does, and went through – while torturing Jose (because again, he doesn’t train the same way she does) – a few sets of some of the typical things that she will do.
***NOTE*** CHECK US OUT ON INSTAGRAM FOR VIDEO CLIPS OF THE WORKOUT!
Once Dana finished torturing Jose, we all came back and sat down to ask questions before they opened the gym up for open train. During the open training session, Rob Bailey, Jeff Logan, Jose Raymond, and Dana Linn Bailey walked around giving pointers and helping people with equipment. I didn’t train. I actually became angry because my husband had left me. There were a lot of people, all training and doing things like they had a pre-planned workout that they were going to do as soon as they got there. I felt like I had no direction, no clue where to even start. So I took this chance to go over to the vendors one last time. I found myself talking with the @questnutrition girls who were incredibly nice and told me to take samples, as well as the @muscleliciousfoods people. I was informed that @rocbodyfitnesscafe would be carrying the @muscleliciousfoods protein pudding so I didn’t have to order online to get my fix. I was given samples and they seemed extremely grateful for my business after I bought three of the puddings because – man was that stuff tasty!
At around 5pm Dana went over to a table close to the entrance door and a line began to form. “Here’s my chance” I thought, so I got in line and waited. While I waited I got to play with Mo, one of the @flagnorfailpups, and I watched as Dana greeted each person, and gave them time – there was no “okay, you have to go now, next person” she took her time with each and every person, answering questions, asking where they were from… small talk… “Oh crap” I thought, “what do I say?” So I started going over in my head how I would tell her that I work at an animal hospital and how I love that she is so into her dogs, and how I lost a lot of weight, and how she is an inspiration to me and how I want to compete and how I love everything they stand for and they inspire me to be myself and not let other people’s judgments stop me…. And then it was my turn.
With my arms crossed, she greeted me with a huge smile and opened her arms to give me a huge hug. I lightened up a bit and let my arms down. She asked me my name – and as my voice cracked and my face turned the color of a cherry tomato I said “Suzanne, sorry, I’m nervous.” Of course she asked me why, she laughed, said it was just her and her lack of a voice. “She’s taller than me” I thought, but then I just stood there. Then I said “My husband was supposed to come” she said “oh? Why didn’t he?” “He was tired and wasn’t feeling well,” I replied. “Well, you tell him that that’s not an excuse! I slept two hours and have no voice and I’m here!!” then she laughed, I smiled like a crazy person. “Do you have any questions?” She asked. I shook my head and I think maybe I made some noise like I was saying “no.” “Do you want a picture?” Nervous and excitedly I said “Yes!” we took a photo, and then she signed a photo of herself. Before she let me go she said she was going to sign one for my husband too, but she had to write him a note.He’s going to love this, I thought, we smiled at each other one more time, and I walked away, holding my pictures wondering why I have to be so damn awkward, but still smiling ear to ear.
All in all I learned a lot from my day @thewarhousegym. I learned that I’m incredibly shy, and I really need to cut that crap out, but most off all I learned that I was starting to fall into this idea that I wanted to be part of some cool exclusive club – like back when I joined the sorority in college thinking it would help me be less of a freak when I try to talk to people, or maybe give me some sort of feeling like I belong. I learned that I can’t get caught up in the bullshit – because there’s a lot of it – that I just need to do what I love, and what I love to do is train.
In short, I learned that I shall not Flag nor Fail. I shall know my worth, and I shall make honest decisions both in and out of the gym. I will not want for anything, I will just do what I love and if opportunity knocks, I will not let financials be the reasons why I make decisions. I will stay true to myself. And gosh darn it Dana Linn Bailey, I will be back AND I WILL TALK TO YOU.
I hope you all enjoyed my recap of the day, if you ever have the opportunity to meet DLB or go to the warhouse gym camp – I suggest you do!!
I want to say THANK YOU to @Danalinnbailey @flagnorfail and @thewarhousegym and their entire staff for holding these camps. I learned a lot! I also want to thank all of the vendors and the sponsors who help make this camp possible!
Thanks also to 1stPhorm for the hand written note! The time it took you to write this is much appreciated and shows the kind of company you are!Here’s a list of the sponsors and vendors that gave some really awesome goodies in the bags that were given out in the morning and who help make these camps possible:
Follow me on Instagram @pugs_and_pushups and @suz_rice