Dean’s journey spanning thirty-two years in the fitness industry has been a global voyage. His aspiration to inspire healthier lifestyle values in everyone has led him to extraordinary heights. As a sportsman, Dean was three times World, and two times European Karate champion, an incredible achievement in itself, but only the beginning of his journey. His written work can be seen regularly in mainstream press and he has notched up numerous appearances both on TV and radio.
In 2012, Dean has been commended at the IFS (International Fitness Showcase), where he was awarded with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, an accolade that realises his services to the industry he has dedicated his life to.
We caught up with Dean to reflect on the past and find out what the future holds!
Congratulations on your recent ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the International Fitness Showcase 2012. This must trigger a lot of emotions after over thirty years of hard work?
It was a complete surprise! I’m a bit of an old cynic and often think the winners of these types of awards are told in advance. I went along just because I heard there was free food and wine, but was totally humbled when my name was announced. In a room populated by the cream of the fitness industry, it was somewhat embarrassing as obviously, I had no speech prepared and waffled on slightly. When you’re standing under the lights with the likes of Cherry Baker, Lorna Malcolm, Greg Sellar, Michael Steel, Rebecca Small and many others staring at you, it’s strange how the power of speech can desert you. This was particularly cringe-worthy as I didn’t mention Pure Energy, (without whom I certainly wouldn’t have been up there) and Lydia Campbell (who kindly took a chance and gave me my first presenting opportunity many years ago). What’s worse – they were both there at the time! After the awards, however, I posted a more considered response on Facebook, which I’m please to report was read by a good number of people.
How was the IFS 2012 for you overall, was your award worthy of a celebration?
Fantastic, it’s become one of the leading fitness events in the world. I hadn’t been for a few years and it was great to go back. Around 7000 people visited over the course of the event and with such amazing presentations from some of the world’s leading professionals, together with first glimpses of the latest offerings from some of the leading global brands, it’s easy to see why the event is so popular. Steve, Ceri and the rest of the Chrysalis Team have done an incredible job, they’ve created something unique and very special, and I take my hat off to them.
Where do you go from here, do you have a new ultimate achievement?
Well, sadly, awards don’t pay the mortgage so I’ll have to crack on with the day job but I feel I’ll have a greater degree of confidence that what I’m doing is heading in the right direction. Currently my time is split between playing Operations Manager at Ragdale Hall (where I’ve been based for 22 years) acting as Product Development Manager for Energie Group (the leading fitness franchise brand) and writing (I’m currently resident on Women’s Fitness, Bodyfit and Weight Watchers magazines, plus finishing my second book for Human Kinetics). Plenty to keep me off the streets then.
Without wishing to duck the question, there really are too many to mention. I’m very lucky to have been able to travel as much as I have, see some wonderful places and meet some amazingly creative, talented and generous people along the way. It’s been 20 years since my first convention and a number of the guys on that line-up (Andrew Crawford, Roy Gayle, Dave Hoy, etc) are still my good friends today. In addition, I’ve seen the likes of Jo Parry, Nikkie Riozzi, Zoe McNulty, Jackie Diss and others, go from being participants that I was lucky to have in my class, to now flying high on the international stage and I get the chance to join their classes. Don’t get me wrong, nothing to do with me, they got there by themselves, I’m not claiming the credit for their achievements, I’m merely declaring that I’m honoured to have witnessed their rise.
Your profession (like most) has been redefined in the recent years by new trends, technology and concepts. What in your eyes have been the most welcomed changes to your industry?
Technology has only made a difference to certain areas of the fitness industry. Education has improved in both the number and quality of training providers but also the option to learn online. At the core of the fitness industry, however, are the people and technology doesn’t change them. Human endeavor, passion and commitment still remain more important than technology.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
Get off before someone tells you to get off! But seriously, when I first represented Team GB (the 1990 Karate World Championships) my Mother had a quiet word when I set off, telling me to do my best, as that’s all I, and anyone else could expect of me. Sometimes it’s the simplest thoughts that carry the greatest depth of meaning, as in this case and I’ve carried this mantra with me from competing into the work domain.
What’s the hardest personal challenge you’ve ever overcome?
Having to understand how celebrity culture affects the fitness industry, even the very part-time instructor in the smallest facility in the quietest backwater town. There’s a whole industry now that’s built on attacking celebrities, from glossy mags to newspaper columns, from preying paps to TV lists of the top 10 celeb gaffs. You have to learn that once you decide to walk to the front of the class and tell everyone in the studio to watch you, then you might have to deal with criticism. Sometimes people think they can inflate their own stock value by bad mouthing you, so you must learn to be thick skinned and remember that you can’t please everyone. From bitching behind your back about the 1-kilo you put on over Christmas (but in reality didn’t) to accusations that you stole your whole routine from someone you’ve never even heard of, the rumours will always fly. Just be true to yourself and be the best you can be – that way your supporters will always far outweigh your detractors.
Not many people know that Dean Hodgkin can…..
Juggle three basketballs!
How do you relax when not focused on your work?
Eating and drinking too much.
What’s on your exercise iPod play list at the moment?
A really eclectic mix, honestly, I go from chilled Ibiza to old school R’n'B and Katy Perry pop to Foo Fighters rock. I’m currently playing Bootyluv a lot when I hit the gym (which is not often enough!)
Do you still enjoy your work?
Absolutely, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. You have to enjoy your work. The day you switch off the alarm, realise you don’t fancy it and call a sickie is the day to be totally honest with yourself – and go find another job. Life’s just too short, so if you don’t love it, then don’t do it. Take a look at the successful people in our industry, Rachel Holmes and Jayne Nicholls spring to mind, they clearly love what they do and that’s why they work so hard. If you really want to see a fitness professional enjoying the work, make sure you get to one of Stuart Harrop’s classes……When I watched him present Carry On Clenching, I laughed so hard I’m sure a bit of wee came out!
Who’s the greatest athlete of all time?
Really tough, but I’ll go with Michael Jordan as I’m a massive basketball fan, and I got to meet him once. Also, he came from very a humble background, faced adversity in many forms during his career, called it a day but then came back and went back to the top of the tree. Inspiration in a can!
George Clooney or Philip Schofield?
I’ve no idea what you mean……..and neither, Dean Hodgkin!!!
Finally, some wise words of advice for young people who look up to you and are pursuing a similar career path?
Most importantly, work hard as this is the only currency with which ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. In addition, always keep your eyes and ears open. I couldn’t have ever dreamed of doing some of the things that I’ve done. I can say that I’ve never made a five-year plan before because it’s all about being receptive to offers and sometimes taking a step sideways to take more forwards. I’ve done some weird jobs – Tai Chi in a car for the RAC, facial exercises for Remington, downloadable X-Factor exercises for 3 Mobile, street-dance on the roof of an office block in Mumbai at midnight, the list goes on. I’ve been very lucky but we all know that luck is simply when opportunity meets preparation, so never stop learning and ensure you’re always ready to take a leap of faith.