Mike O’Hearn, Dana Linn Bailey, and Erin Banks reflect on the most important actions of their early careers that was vital to their success

In a recent episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, host Mike O’Hearn engaged in a candid backstage conversation with former Women’s Physique champion and bodybuilder Dana Linn Bailey, alongside Men’s Physique Olympia champion Erin Banks. This insightful interview delves into their motivations, the importance of staying true to oneself, and the journey of success in the competitive world of fitness. Let’s dive into the key takeaways from this episode.

Mike O’Hearn found himself backstage at an event with two iconic bodybuilders – Dana Linn Bailey and Erin Banks. Both champions in their own right. But more than that, they are icons that have a reputation beyond their competitive success. O’Hearn took the opportunity for an impromptu podcast discussion about their current success and how the hard decisions they made early in their career was directly vital to what they have become.

How can you go beyond being a champion and rise up to an icon? Let’s dive into the conversation and find out.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by DayDay Knucks (@danalinnbailey)

Finding Motivation in the Hustle

Mike O’Hearn kicked off the discussion by asking Dana Linn Bailey and Erin Banks what keeps them hustling in the fitness industry, especially after many years of hard work. Dana emphasized the power of the fitness community and connecting with individuals who are inspired by their work.

Erin, considering himself a relative newcomer to the industry, drew inspiration from the relentless dedication of veterans like Mike O’Hearn, Dana, and Jay Cutler. He acknowledged that competitive bodybuilding doesn’t always bring financial success, requiring a strong go-getter attitude to build a thriving career.

The Role of the Audience in Success

Dana Linn Bailey’s emphasis on the role of the audience in achieving success underscores the symbiotic relationship between athletes and their supporters in the fitness industry. In the world of bodybuilding and fitness, success is not solely about personal achievements; it’s about inspiring and impacting others. Here’s a deeper dive into this essential aspect:

The Fitness Community: The fitness industry thrives on a tight-knit community of enthusiasts, aspiring athletes, and fans. This community provides the foundation for success. Athletes like Dana Linn Bailey recognize that their journey is not a solitary one but a shared experience with their audience.

Motivation and Inspiration: The audience, comprised of individuals who admire and look up to these athletes, serves as a constant source of motivation. Knowing that their hard work and dedication can inspire others to embark on their fitness journeys, athletes are encouraged to push their limits and set higher standards.

Building a Platform: Without an audience, even the most accomplished athletes would struggle to establish a platform for their brand or message. Engaging with an audience through social media, events, and other channels helps athletes extend their reach and impact.

Support and Feedback: The audience is not just passive observers but active participants in an athlete’s career. Their support, feedback, and constructive criticism are invaluable in an athlete’s growth. It’s a two-way street where athletes receive motivation and guidance from their audience.

In essence, the success of fitness champions like Dana Linn Bailey is intrinsically linked to the engagement and support of their audience. It’s a partnership that amplifies the impact of their hard work and dedication.

The Humility of a Champion

Mike O’Hearn pointed out Erin Banks’ humility. He considers himself a newcomer despite already being an Olympia champion – essentially the pinnacle award of any bodybuilder’s career. Erin shared that he considers himself a perpetual student, always open to learning. This rookie mentality, he believes, keeps his mind receptive to new opportunities:

Never-Ending Learning: Champions like Erin understand that there’s always more to learn and room for improvement, regardless of their accolades. This mindset keeps them open to new training techniques, strategies, and opportunities for growth.

Respect for the Sport: Humility is deeply rooted in a profound respect for the sport itself. Champions recognize that they are part of a larger tradition and legacy, and they honor that heritage by approaching their craft with humility.

Inspiration for Others: Erin’s humility sets an example for aspiring athletes, showing them that even at the pinnacle of success, one can remain grounded and eager to learn. This humility can be contagious and inspire others to adopt a similar mindset.

Maintaining Drive: The “rookie mentality” also helps champions stay hungry and motivated. They don’t rest on their laurels but instead continue to set new goals and challenge themselves.

Ultimately, Erin Banks’ humility demonstrates that success in the fitness world isn’t just about titles and trophies; it’s about the character and attitude of the champion. It’s a reminder that staying humble and eager to learn is a path to long-lasting success and impact in the industry.

Personality: The Key to Becoming a Legend

The conversation turned to what distinguishes champions from stars, legends, and icons. Dana emphasized that personality is crucial, but authenticity is even more critical. Being true to oneself and embracing individuality helps connect with a global audience. She exemplified this by remaining true to her identity, even after retiring from competition, allowing her to maintain a successful platform and business.

Erin agreed, highlighting the significance of authenticity, especially in the realm of social media. Audiences can detect fakeness, making it essential to be genuine. Being authentic not only fosters audience engagement but also cultivates self-happiness throughout one’s career.

Balancing Opportunity and Authenticity

Both Dana and Erin stressed the importance of seizing opportunities to enhance one’s audience and success. Yes, being yourself and making your own lane is essential to success – but that doesn’t mean that traditional championships and victories are useless.

Winning major competitions like the Olympia can significantly boost one’s following on social media. While personality matters, leveraging competition wins can’t be underestimated. Erin Banks explained how he didn’t change anything about his social media behavior after winning the Olympia – however, the way the audience responded to him changed. The attention he earned from the victory gave him a bigger spotlight to highlight his personality online.

Staying True to Oneself in Tough Times

Mike O’Hearn asked for advice on remaining authentic during challenging career or personal moments. Dana Linn Bailey shared her early experiences in Figure competition when she faced criticism for her physique being too muscular. Despite the naysayers, she stayed true to herself, ultimately standing out in the industry. Her refusal to conform led to the creation of the Women’s Physique division in the IFBB pro league, and she became its first champion, launching her successful career.

Wrap Up

The Mike O’Hearn Show provided a fascinating backstage glimpse into the lives and philosophies of fitness champions Dana Linn Bailey and Erin Banks. Their dedication, authenticity, and unwavering commitment to their true selves serve as inspiring lessons for those seeking success in the competitive world of fitness.

You can watch the full podcast episode above. And don’t forget to check back every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.