BY HIEDI IRVINE

Judging from Dawn Straf’s ripped body, you would think she trains all day, everyday.

Nope.

“I work out anywhere from four to five days a week,” says Straf. “I have done six days a week, but no more than 45 minutes to 90 minutes.

“Life is short and this is all part of my lifestyle. It fits in and I was able to do it at home and I was able to build that space that was comfortable to me.

“I do use the gym, as well, but I’ve been able to get most of it into my home and make it very functional and a lifestyle choice, so my son sees that as well,” Straf explained.

Straf was in Whitehorse doing one-on-one and workshop training. She’s a nationally qualified pro-athlete and was the overall International Natural Bodybuilding Association winner last year. Yet she somehow still considers her daily routine as being “a simple way of life.”

She doesn’t tan, but she does hunt and fish and camps when there’s snow on the ground. She cans her own food, cook all her meals, work 12-hour shifts as a nurse, own a massage business and raise her son, T.J.

However, she recognizes that she’s “not typical of a bodybuilder” and said she doesn’t get her head too stuck in competition: “I’m just going to experience it and I’ve been very lucky just experiencing life and letting things happen as they may.”

Competition hasn’t been financially beneficial for Straf (she says there’s no money in it), but she has won a lot of protein powder along the way, which she doesn’t consume.

Unlike many bodybuilders, Straf said she doesn’t go without meals when competing and keeps it fun by attending them with her friends or family.

“The thing about these competitions is they’re drug tested. Every five years, you take a lie-detector test and they take a urine sample test and some go as far as taking blood tests … and that’s how it should be.

“I want people knowing that I’m a natural and that’s who I am, and anybody can do whatever they want. And you see me now and you look at my pictures and it looks like two different people: it’s an illusion of dye and light,” said the five-foot-five athlete.

A little over 10 years ago, Straf, then weighing about 180 pounds, went to the doctor’s office where she was told she had heart issues and, if things didn’t change, it wasn’t certain she would be able to see her son graduate.

Straf will turn 38 by the end of the month and plans on relocating to Whitehorse from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, in a year to continue sharing her fitness tips and to promote healthier lifestyle changes.

The born-and-raised country girl said she understands that the word bodybuilder has some stigma around it. But she feels most like a lady when onstage, despite the eight layers of makeup.

“I entered the competition, didn’t know a thing, didn’t know how to wear high heels. I was from Saskatchewan and wore workboots on the farm … and that was how I grew up; it wasn’t a big deal. And I thought this is where I could be feminine; I could try this act out,” she said.

Having been a trainer since she began competing at age 30, because of her love of people and wanting to share what she’s learned, Straf relies heavily on her metabolic-enhancement training, which is a hybrid training.

“The metabolic idea is it hits your metabolism, so what I’m doing is incorporating an entire body workout and what that does is it keeps you so you don’t have to get on the treadmill or ride a bike for hours at a time.

“You should be getting oxygen; you should be sucking major air. It’s kind of the three S’s: it’s sitting down, sucking major air and sipping on some water. That energy flow should be moving throughout your entire program. And it’s also strength training. It’s just physically enhancing,” she expressed.

The training is also based on the human-movement module: “These are some of the courses and different things that I took, so it’s on the push, the pull, the rotation and the movement of the centre of mass.

“So that’s core and one-legged strategy or stances and transformation … so, balance, that’s basically what it’s transformed around.”

She may still take blood-pressure medication, but she is in great shape, plans to continue training others and is looking forward to seeing T.J. graduate from high school this year.

You can visit Dawn’s site at www.dawnsbodysculpting.com.