Saturday, 3 March 2018
The Dana Shemesh Story
You may recognise this woman. In the last couple of months rather a lot of content from Dana Shemesh's Instagram has been posted on the big fan forums, her striking looks and densely-muscled physique inspiring all manner of gushing compliments, and even comparisons with Denise Rutkowski. Though some fans claim to have been aware of Dana long before this recent flurry of interest, a lot of us have been left wondering where exactly this apparently fully-formed mature beauty has suddenly emerged from. So here's as much of the Dana Shemesh story as we know...
PART 1 - NATIONAL CHAMPION
We begin in Israel. All we know about Dana pre-2010 is that she "used to be a dancer", and somehow this led her towards Fitness (and comes in handy for her routines). She was the IFBB national champion in 2010, then nothing about her for a few years - maybe she took a break, maybe she was still competing - then in 2013, same championships, same winning result, but this time she's in the Figure class.
Now whether this is Fitness or Figure or even whether this is one of those national championships we don't know. Those heels could indicate either. What's confusing though is Dana seems to be wearing them while performing her routine!
PART 2 - INTERNATIONAL COMPETITOR
With her own "Ms Fitness Israel" personal training brand now well-established, in the autumn of 2014, Dana was in the US. She attended the Olympia, where she measured up very well against some of the more famous women at the Expo, got inspired by the Figure Olympians, and had a ball at the after show party "at the best club in Vegas".
She probably didn't overdo it that night, despite appearances to the contrary, because meeting, spectating, and partying were not her only concerns on this trip. She'd also come to compete - the first Israeli woman to do so in the NPC, she says.
The contest she had chosen was the Fort Lauderdale Cup, and so a couple of weeks after the Olympia, she tested herself outside of Israel for the first time. She won her class and placed 2nd in the over 30 Masters. It was amazing, she said, beaming with her trophies backstage. A big event with 220 competitors... and SURPRISE! I won!!!
Dana had plenty of experience behind her, but this was a whole new level and she knew it. She'd spent three weeks training with Debi Laszewski before the show, time during which she "learned so much". This was no novice coming to the US and getting lucky first time. This had been a well-planned smash-and-grab. Dana returned to Israel and found a little bit of celebrity status waiting for her, TV and other media keen to tell the story of an Israeli woman's international success. Especially the story of an Israeli woman with Dana's beauty and charisma. Now... How's your Hebrew?
2014 had been a very good year, but Dana had some new goals for 2015.
If you're thinking she doesn't look much very Figure in the above photo, you'd be right. Taken just a few months after her Fort Lauderdale success, Dana was "in transition". She - as so many of the women we feel compelled to feature here do - was moving up to Physique, and was packing on the muscle to achieve another Israeli female first.
And so, just five months after competing in Figure, Dana lined up at the Arnold Amateur, her first Physique contest. In the tall class, she failed to place, but was far from disappointed. I was extremely happy with the outcome because I was better than my last competition. I feel truly proud of myself what I've accomplished, she said afterwards. My class had 27 international competitors, and it was very exciting and challenging. To compete at the Arnolds, the first Israeli woman to do so, had been "a lifelong dream come true". She was looking ahead to her next competition.
PART 3 - LIFE AND THAT "NEXT COMPETITION"
And relocating. By the summer of 2015 Dana was based in New York, establishing her PT business there, while doing more and more photo shoots as a "fitness model". She married her long-time partner in Miami in 2016 (sorry to have to make you stop dreaming), and by the middle of 2017, they had settled down in Florida.
She looked good before, but she's starting to look absolutely sensational by this stage, and that's not just my opinion. Just glancing through some of your Hot and Hard 100 selections, I'm well aware that Dana's got more than a few votes - I may well be having to come up with even more words about her when we post the countdown soon! It's hardly surprising that by the end of the year she was blowing up the forums.
Having relocated, married, and relocated again, that "next competition" had obviously got shunted down the priority list a bit. Perhaps this was no bad thing. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of stories (none of which I can remember off the top of my head right now!) of women who had been successful in the early part of their career finding a move up in division or level leaves them in the hitherto unfamiliar land of lowly placings. So they go away from the stage for a couple of years, and put in the work. Then they come back bigger and better than ever, and the results follow.
If you noticed Dana was looking more and more shredded at the start of the year, there was a reason for that. That "next competition" she promised was now just weeks away.
She returned to the stage at the Topomania Classic in Miami this time last week. I suspect they put the WPD on just for her (what promoter wouldn't want her on next year's advertising?!) - the only other Physique competitor that day did rather better in her Figure class. Then again, Dana would have beaten a lot of amateur Physique women on this showing. It’s been 3 years since 2015 and the Arnold Classic, she reflected post-show. I didn’t compete for all kinds of reasons, but it feels good to be back!
It's good to have her... er, "back". Even if we didn't know she'd gone away.
Whatever she's gunning for next, she's already started putting the work in.
Follow Dana on Instagram and YouTube