Fit, Focused and Fabulous at 50 and Beyond

Dyanne Bam-Bam Blevens, Elite Trainer and Athlete

Blevens, age 54, at the NPC Emerald Cup Contest, April, 2019. Photo courtesy of D. Blevens.

Dyanne Blevens is proof positive that women do not have to lose muscle and gain fat as they age. In fact, she has shown that even after age 50 they can actually gain muscle. In her mid-40s, Blevens decided to get fit, so she started doing cardiovascular activities — running, cycling and swimming, leading eventually to her competing in triathlons. In 2014, at age 49 she started weight training. Once she decided to go for it, she went all in and within a year, at age 50, she entered her first bodybuilding competition. She is a motivated, focussed, and disciplined athlete whose Instagram page is filled with fitness pictures interspersed with inspirational quotes.

Blevens’ transformation pictures, from age 40 at 160 pounds to age 50 at 113 pounds. Photo courtesy of Dyanne Blevens.

You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved

Blevens, age 50. Photo courtesy of D. Blevens
Blevens started competing in the least muscular level of competition in women’s bodybuilding, known as “bikini.” At that time, she weighed 113 pounds on competition day. As she continued to train and put on muscle, she advanced to the “figure” level where clear muscularity is a requirement. When she competed in November of 2018, Blevens discovered that the 16 pounds of muscle she has put on since her first competition means that she is now too muscular to win in the figure category. As a result, her plan is to move on to the “physique” level of competition this November. Impressive at any age, this accomplishment is even more impressive at 54, a time in life when many women are told to resign themselves to accepting weight gain and muscle loss as inevitable consequences of aging.

I’m not beautiful like you. I’m beautiful like me.

Blevens is a natural bodybuilder, which means some of the competitions she enters prohibit athletes from using a long list of performance-enhancing drugs and testing for these drugs can occur throughout the year as well as at the time of competition. She has achieved professional status in the International Natural Bodybuilding Association. She also competes in the National Physique Committee (NPC) events which are for amateur bodybuilders only. One of Blevens’ goals is to achieve pro status in the prestigious International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and that can only be achieved by winning a national NPC contest.

Go ahead, underestimate me. That’ll be fun.

Blevens is just over 5’3” tall. When she’s not within the 12-week period prior to competition, her weight is close to 150 pounds. In her gym attire of workout tights, sports bra and a tank top she looks so lean and muscular that there is no question that she is a bodybuilder. Muscle is denser than fat and Blevens has a lot of muscle. As a result, when she is fully-clothed and you cannot see her muscles, Blevens looks much more petite than you might expect from her stats, appearing closer to 115 pounds than 150 pounds.

When I lost all my excuses I found my results

Blevens now at approximately 150 pounds. Photo courtesy of D. Blevens

Her most recent competition weight was 129 pounds, approximately 20 pounds below her normal weight. On competition day, her body fat is approximately 7 percent. When she’s not competing, her body fat might be as high as 20 percent. “Anything higher than 20 percent and it is too hard to diet down within the 12-week period before competition.” Blevens explained. When asked why she does not maintain her body fat at levels closer to her competition levels, Blevens said, “It is very unhealthy. That’s why you don’t stay in that state.”

Oh, you wanna know what cake tastes like? Third place.

For a relatively lean person, it takes a fairly dramatic decrease in calories to drop 20 pounds in 12 weeks. Since during this period Blevens is weight training three hours a day and doing cardio to help shed the weight, dropping calories requires enormous discipline. Over the 12 weeks, Blevens changes her diet every two weeks, consistently dropping calories, particularly complex carbohydrates. Although she says most of the time she finds sticking to a bodybuilder’s diet to be pretty easy, “towards the end of prep it’s hard because you’re low on carbs so you’re low on energy.” In the 12 weeks before a contest, Blevens’ whole life revolves around the gym. She has a friend who stops in at her home during the day to attend to her two dogs and two cats, enabling Blevens to stay much longer at the gym than she otherwise would.

Discipline, not desire, determines destiny

Blevens originally started going to a gym as part of her training as a triathlon competitor. “I was watching a woman do lat pulldowns and her back was amazing,” Blevens said, explaining one of the motivators in her decision to switch from triathlete to bodybuilder. “I said to my coach, ‘I wish I could have a back like that’ and I was shocked when she said, ‘you can’.” Blevens said what originally attracted her to bodybuilding was her amazement at the way diet and exercise choices could make dramatic changes to her body.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you” — Fred DeVito

Blevens, age 54. Photo courtesy of D. Blevens

During those initial days in the gym, Blevens recalls she was doing lat pulldowns using 20 pounds of weight. Today she’s moving 150 pounds. Her leg press weight has increased threefold from 50 pounds to 360 pounds and she has a personal best weight in squats of 225 pounds. Aside from the 12 weeks prior to competition, Blevens weight trains for an hour a day five days a week and does 20 minutes of cardio at the gym three or four times a week.

Much of her down time tends to be sports oriented. Blevens loves to cycle. Most Saturdays, just for fun, she spends the morning cycling with friends from Ocean Beach to San Clemente and back, about 65 miles, round trip. She also loves to hike and swim. In preparation for an upcoming vacation in Fiji, Blevens has just become certified as a scuba diver.

Of course, I lift like a girl. You could too if you lifted heavier.

In addition to being a competitor, Blevens is also a fitness trainer. Blevens and her clients train at Self Made Training Facility (SMTF) in Temecula. This facility offers select trainers the opportunity to train clients in an impressive 18,000 square foot space that’s fully equipped for serious athletic training. Blevens’ clients are mostly women. She’s happy to train men but finds most men prefer to work with a male trainer. She’s coached several competitors but most of her clients are not aiming to be bodybuilders. Instead, many are simply looking to build strength and/or drop weight.

“It’s ok if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up you rise as the whole damn fire ”— Collete Werden

Over the years, her clients have ranged in age from 18 to 80. “A woman came to me on her 80th birthday,” Blevens said. “She had never been to a gym before, never picked up a weight. About a month after she started training she told me she didn’t have to use her stool anymore to [help her] get up after she’d been sitting on the ground in her garden picking weeds.”

Yesterday you said tomorrow

Blevens has found that just as she once doubted her ability to make big changes, her clients often have similar limiting beliefs. “It’s crazy what our body can do but our mind tells us we can’t [do].” It is this gap that Blevens seeks to bridge as a coach. “I’m always pushing and I will push you to your limit and beyond.” She explained that in pushing she never yells, she only motivates with energy and positivity. Her nickname, ‘Bam Bam,” comes from her telling clients, “Bam! You nailed it!” She also encourages clients with fist pumps, high fives and hugs.

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition ”— Timothy Leary

Blevens sees four key roles for a coach: teaching correct form, giving diet advice, motivating clients, and giving clients someone to whom they are accountable. As a coach, Blevens delivers beyond these areas. “I’m your friend and your confidant, because it’s a personal thing,” Blevens said. “It’s tough to train and it brings out a lot of emotion. Sometimes I’m a counsellor, too.”

A one hour workout is 4% of your day. No excuses.

Blevens, herself, uses a coach for motivation and accountability. She likes that when her coach is directing her workout, she can be totally focussed on lifting. Even when weight training without her coach, Blevens does not listen to music because doing so would prevent her from fully concentrating on every movement in her body as she’s lifting.

“Champions don’t show up to get everything they want; they show up to give everything they have ”— Alexander Den Heijer

When asked about what it is she loves about training, Blevens face lit up. “The biggest compliment I get is when someone says, ‘You inspire me’,” Blevens said. “That’s what I love. That makes my day.”