GGS Spotlight: Dr. Alison Chen, ND


alisonchen-350x526Name: Dr. Alison Chen, Naturopathic Doctor
Age: 30 – I’m turning 31 on Feb 15th.
Location: I’m currently travelling through Uruguay, but I’m originally from Toronto, Canada.

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means having the strength and courage to know myself inside and out. Being able to be happy in my skin and humbled by my vulnerabilities while continuing to challenge my boundaries.

How long have you been training?
I’ve been an athlete all my life. I started out as a gymnast at the age of 4. I competed nationally until I was 16 and then went into competitive cheerleading at the University of Western Ontario.

I became a personal trainer in my final year at university, where I turned my love of sport into my love of weights. In 2012, I gave up personal training to become a Naturopathic Doctor, but I never gave up strength training.

How did you get introduced to strength training?
During my gymnastics days I visited physiotherapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists weekly for multiple injuries. As my body was trying to heal, I started working out at the gym.

At 14, I didn’t know much exercise physiology, but I understood my body. I didn’t really start weight training until I got certified as a personal trainer and enmeshed into the culture.

alisonchen-bentoverrows-397x340What does a sample workout look like for you?
These days while I’m traveling to remote locations, my boyfriend, Jon, and I go for a run along the beach and do some body weight exercises: jump squats, lunges, planks, bear crawls, push-ups, and pull-ups on the frame of our deck.

Thick bands work great to get in our deadlifts and back work (lat pull downs and rows). I always follow-up with some intense wave jumping.

When I’m not traveling I love getting back into a regular gym routine. I start out with an active warm up and some foam rolling, then hit the legs heavy:

  • Heavy leg exercise – BB squat; or Deadlift
  • Upper back series – Bent over row, lat pull-down, pull-ups (I try and get more back than chest from all the years of sitting like Quasimodo while studying)
  • Leg series – Walking lunges and single leg press; or Single leg RDL and hamstring curls
  • Chest/shoulder series – DB chest press, skull crushers, military press
  • Core series – hanging leg lifts, pike ball roll ins, press to handstands

alisonchen-shouldertaps-beach-450x338Favorite Lift:
Deadlift, RDL and Arnold press (for some strange reason).

Most memorable PR:
A 185-pound squat. I’d been training all summer and soon after tweaked my back. SMH.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I’m typically an ‘old skool’ hip hop and RnB fan but I have my exceptions. I really love the ‘Watch the Throne’ album by Jay-Z and Kanye.

  • The Next Episode – Snoop Dog and Dr Dre
  • Niggas in Paradise – Jay-Z and Kanye
  • Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
  • Push It – Salt ‘n Pepa
  • Jump Jump – Busta Rymes

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:

  • Clean socks
  • Extra colorful hair ties and bobby pins
  • Bar straps

Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
With a trainer or partner who is more bad-ass than me. I like to be pushed and have a strong competitive spirit - I’m used to sweating and bleeding with my teammates.

alisonchen-backbend-straightlegs-450x307Most hilarious pick-up line you’ve heard at the gym:
It really annoys me to be picked up at the gym, which is hilarious because that was how Jon and I first met. Seven years later, we started dating. It definitely took a lot of persistence to let me get over it...

It’s not really a pick up line, but I’ll never forget it: “Hey, so you’re a Cheerleader right?”

Most embarrassing gym moment:
"Thong-out-deadlifts." My thong had crept out from the top of my shorts and everyone was watching. I thought it was because of how awesome I was, until another trainer whispered in my ear, “You might want to pull your shorts up”.

Favorite meal:
Sushi – more specifically spicy salmon hand rolls or red-green-golden dragon rolls, extra wasabi please.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Traveling somewhere warm (and new). A snuggle. Hot shower. Sushi. Dark chocolate with almonds.

Favorite quote:
“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”

Favorite book:
I am the slowest reader ever. But I’ve been making a conscious effort to read more marketing and behavioral economics books in the last two years. The one I’m reading now is a game changer – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnaman.

What inspires and motivates you?
My mom – she’s the most humble, genuine and compassionate person I will ever meet. There are things I am still learning about her that inspire me to be a better doctor, partner, sister, daughter, and maybe mother one day.
alisonandjon-450x327My husband, Jon Goodman – he looked at the struggling industry of personal trainers and started a small website to promote his book, teaching how to become a personal trainer. He started from scratch without any idea of what he was doing and grew it to where it is now – serving over two million trainers a year. I am always motivated by his courage, determination and ability to work smarter and not necessarily harder, which is great because he leaves lots of time to spend with me.

I am inspired and motivated by people who go after something for the greater purpose of helping others. Having a big enough cause to still act regardless of fears, discrimination, and judgment.

Whether it’s a mother to a family, owner of a growing blog or even a world peace activist, having the heart to create something bigger than yourself and make a positive difference is inspiring.

What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)

As of lately, I’ve been traveling and am not currently working in a private clinic, so this is my typical day:

Wake up between 7 – 8 am.

10 minutes or more of meditation.

Open up my laptop and get to work on writing articles for my personal site, or TheNDDC, a site I've co-created to help Naturopathic Doctors develop their businesses and help more patients.

Breakfast at 10 am consisting of eggs, nuts and fruit.

Work for another hour.

Go for a run, swim, workout and shower.


Lunch around 3 pm.

Walk into town for groceries or get some beach time in.

Work and make dinner.

Dinner around 8 pm.


Bed by 11 pm.

As you can see, there is a lot of work throughout the day, but I also make time for sleep, movement, meditation, and time with Jon.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
The confidence I get about my body image, more positive mood, better sleep, and the feeling of being unstoppable – as if can tackle any challenge in life.

Next training goal:
I don’t have any training goals right now. I have thought about doing a figure competition, but I don’t think I want to dedicate so much time, money and effort into it.

Right now, I’m focusing on being healthy and strong, building my online businesses, and trying to create balance.

alison-bicep-350x524Three words that best describe you:
Determined, curious, patient.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
I was a scrawny kid and always the weakest, smallest and least talented (or that’s what I thought). Lifting has changed the way I perceive myself. The confidence and strength I have about my body and abilities have allowed me to go against the grain.

The year I started training (2007) I lived in East Africa for six months, then started Naturopathic medical school, traveled to India, Thailand and now Uruguay, and have started my online businesses. And somewhere in there I got out of an unhealthy relationship and into the most rewarding one now with Jon.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?

It is the most empowering activity you can do for yourself to strengthen your personal relationship to your body, vulnerabilities and insecurities. Pick the right trainer and gym, for you, so that you are safe and confident to progress.

If you don’t have friends or family members who lift, get into a solid community to help motivate and stay accountable to one another—like GGS!

Feeling inspired?

If you're inspired by Alison, read on to learn more about—and join!—our community of strong, supportive women...

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About the author:  GGS

GGS is an organization dedicated to empowering women. We do this by creating world-leading resources, and educational materials that help women, and health & fitness professionals who work with women, take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

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