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Carla Dunlap-Kaan
I’m an IFBB Ms. Olympia Champion. This is How I Eat, Train and Stay Strong at 65

Carla Dunlap-Kaans Stats When We Talked with Her 💪

United States
65 years
160 cm

👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

My name is Carla Dunlap-Kaan. As long as I can remember, some sort of physical fitness has been a large part of my life.

When I was very young, the most exciting thing I can remember was participating in the summer camp Olympic day competitions, winning ribbons, and being the best at so many events, which made me very happy.

At home, I danced around pretending to get medals on the Olympic podium or perform some soulful ballet, play the piano or create intricate playtime scenarios.

I grew up in Newark, NJ playing outside with all the neighborhood kids like kickball, Bombardment (a particularly brutal form of dodgeball), jump rope, and on and on. We raced, jumped and wrestled.

Early on being a part of the YMCA programs, I got involved in speed and synchronized swimming, gymnastics and dance. So you could say I was weaned on fitness. I started to compete in sports, again, very early on.

At the age of 10, gymnastics and speed swimming took up much of my time. Then I met a woman who introduced me to synchronized swimming and I dropped speed and began to compete in synchro.

I continued for some 15 years until one day I was introduced to a man by the name of Steve Wennerstrom who suggested I should try competing in bodybuilding.

For me, the challenge of seeing how good I can become in any endeavor is a driving force. I love to ask my mind and body to do something and see if I can. I don’t necessarily need to beat anyone else, I need to see how well I can do and if I become the champ, all the better.

When I retired from bodybuilding, I tried Triathlon, competing for Team Danskin. Even when I was young, I always taught fitness and conditioning classes, interpretive dance, etc. at the Y.

I am still a trainer certified in classical Pilates, functional training, special populations, aquatic and while not certified in Yoga, have taught Hatha for many years. That may be my next deep certification along with integrative nutrition. I have been teaching and training for more than 40 years!

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

Nowadays, training consists of whatever feels right for the day. Be it swimming, lifting, Pilates, morning and evening yoga or just plain walking.

At 65, I am no longer regimented in my training schedule but for the most part I will do an hour+ in the pool, an hour+ in the gym and an hour of morning yoga and/or an hour and a half of evening yoga.

When available, I also do the ballet barre stretch syllabus from my old dance days. I train all over the place. I have a full Pilates studio in my home and do my yoga where ever the ambiance is conducive to peace and quiet.

As for lifting, I work into whatever time I can after clients at the training studio. My relatively newest fitness curiosity is acrobatic pole dance or fitness dance. Super challenging and unlike anything in the average fitness realm.

👊 How do you keep going and push harder?

As you age sometimes pushing harder isn’t the best idea.

I’ve learned to moderate at times, at times take a break but most of all know what my limits are. As you age sometimes pushing harder isn’t the best idea.

Challenging yourself with new moves or skills seems to work best for me. That way I am always learning and finding new paths of physical and mental challenges.

Training for so long has put me in the position of never really being able to take too long away from some form of working out. It is essential to the very functioning of my psyche and physical well-being.

I am not a happy camper without my endorphins! I actually experience physical pain and discomfort if I take too long away from physical activity.

🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Live like water.

I am very grateful for who and what I am and my life past and present. I roll with life as it is my personal philosophy to “live like water.” Water being an exceptionally mutable element that changes with environmental influence and influences the environment.

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I wouldn’t change a thing about my life journey, I have been very fortunate from birth to now and whatever the universe and God have in store for me, so be it.

🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

Injuries have happened and I try to be smart about it and rest or work around them until they are healed.

I have never been a big sleeper. As a child, I would stay up and watch every late, late late and late late late show television had to offer until stations would sign off the air. Four hours of sleep was my norm until very recently. Now a good sleep is around six hours.

I also absolutely LOVE rolling on a ball, roller or with a massage stick. I have been rolling for many, many years before it became a thing in fitness. I spend as much time rolling as I do training-about 40 to 60 minutes several times a week.

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I have been all over the map with food. Fortunately, I grew up in a home where my Mom was not only a great cook but also she taught her children how to cook. Mom did not believe very much in anything too processed so early on I got used to eating real food and loving veggies and salads.

So to this day, I eat a natural, very unprocessed diet and my favorite drink is actually water! I don’t count calories nor track proteins, etc. anymore. I eat fairly intuitively.

Long ago, I streamlined supplementation. Nowadays, I depend on blue green algae from one company called, NEW EARTH. I find them to be superior to most others in every way. I am not super strict when dining out, which for me is rare to begin with. I don’t like to feel bad after eating so that in and of itself keeps me on course.

My junk foods depend on what the current craving is. For instance, I recently got on this kick of eating raw almonds and Medjool dates; or yogurt with apples or applesauce, cinnamon drizzled with real maple syrup. Love Halo ice treat with a jigger of black rum.

👍 What has inspired and motivated you?

My late Mom and Dad were passionate about dance and music and Dad was a sportsman (boating, horseback riding) and Mom always encouraged me to dance and participate in athletics.

When I was young, TV personalities Jack LaLanne, Richard Hittleman and Betty Weider motivated me to workout.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

What works for someone else may or may not work for you, and what worked five years ago may or may not work for you today.

Training is about a self-realization journey. What works for you at the beginning will morph as you progress and age. Do not be afraid to experiment with movement, cadence, frequency, etc.

You have to sample to find what works for you and it takes time and energy. What works for someone else may or may not work for you, and what worked five years ago may or may not work for you today.

Life changes, moves, morphs and sometimes gets in the way so you may have to accommodate many, many ways of sculpting your life and training to suit your circumstances.

🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?

I am always taking on clients. My philosophy is for those who come to train, I would like you to leave me knowing how to intelligently train on their own.

For those who know they will never train on their own, I will train you not just to lose weight or get stronger, but to live a safe and functional life for as long as possible.

📝 Where can we learn more about you?

I have a website but use no social media. Any search of my name will reveal my history.

0 thoughts on “I’m an IFBB Ms. Olympia Champion. This is How I Eat, Train and Stay Strong at 65”

  1. I remember Carla from back in the 70’s at the Newark YMCA where I worker as the youth director. One day I notice a 14 year old young lady at the Y with this exceptional level of maturity, athletic skills, confidence and leadership potential. It was not long before she was the head youth counselor, lead fitness instructor and a lot of other stuff.

    Two additional things stood out from those years. Treading water in the Y pool with Carla for an hour as she trained for her synchronized swim meets. Plus, in addition to Carla’s fitness and leadership skills her she is also an artist.

    Carla would come in every holiday (Easter, July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving , Christmas, etc) and paint a seasonal “Snoopy”scene on the large glass window in the youth department for all the parents and children to enjoy.

    Seeing what Carla could do as a teenager nothing that she has accomplished as an adult surprises me.

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