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Professional bodybuilder Dana Linn Bailey is your fitness fairy godmother.
If you told me that a goat pregnancy video would introduce me to a woman who would encourage me to sign up for a 30-day yoga challenge or wear lipstick to work without thinking about it, I would have said you were too many mojitos deep. But meet Dana Linn Bailey.
Award-winning bodybuilder, business owner, wife, and goat mother Dana Linn Bailey has always been obsessed with competition. But after four years playing soccer and winning championships at West Chester University, Bailey found herself away from the competition that had fed her for 20-plus years. To fill the time, she started going to the gym to lift with her then-boyfriend (now-husband) Rob Bailey, and she hasn’t stopped since.
In 2006, she began competing in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness’s figure category, and while she loved the contest, it wasn’t a perfect fit. On stage, Bailey was frequently criticized for being too muscular and masculine looking. But in 2010, the IFBB opened its physique category for women with strong, muscular appearances. Bailey took home first place and went down in IFBB history as the first ever Ms. Physique Olympia. But perhaps her most important title is role model.
“I like to be in front of people and show them and show girls that you can be strong, you can be muscular, and you can be beautiful,” writes Bailey. “I hope to open up eyes and show people [it’s OK] to look a little different as long as you are happy and confident with yourself.”
Ironically, it was neither her fitness videos nor her inspirational tour series that brought me to her channel, but rather the pregnancy announcement she and her husband made for their goat Maisie. The hilarious video became one of last week’s most shared videos in the U.S. and in turn, exposed a slew of new viewers to the Baileys’ fitness empire.
The couple started using YouTube in 2010 as a way of sharing their fitness routines and inspiration. Their channel has since grown to showcase the their adventures around the country, drifting races, and recently, the opening of their own gym. The couple says they’re determined to change the expensive and exclusive nature of gym culture and through the recent opening of their WarHouse Gym, which as they joke will finally put Redding, Pennsylvania, on the map.
A photo posted by DayDay Knucks (@danalinnbailey) on
What I love about Dana is the message she spreads that true happiness is found in being authentic, passionate, and comfortable to your own skin. She doesn’t sugarcoat the journey—it’s hard to learn to be confident in your flaws and imperfections—but she does reiterate how important it is. Dana drives race cars, works out sometimes two times a day, and has back muscles on top of her back muscles. On paper, she and I have little in common, but her undying passion for fitness inspires me to continue pursuing the things I’m passionate about, even if they aren’t the same.
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.