GGS Spotlight: Steph "Iron Lioness" Dykstra


ironlioness-withdogellenripley-300x375Name: Stephanie Rosemarie Dykstra A.K.A. Steph ‘Iron Lioness’
Age: 35
Location: Toronto, ON - Canada

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I’ve been strength training off, and on for eight years. I had always been involved in martial arts (kung fu, taekwondo, muay thai, boxing), and when I made the decision to compete in K1, I was encouraged to strength train by my Coaches at the time, to be a more well-rounded athlete. I visited gyms like DCC, and Bang Fitness in Toronto from 2008 to 2013.

I fell in love with kettlebells first, then was introduced to ‘the bar’ by my husband, and strength & conditioning coach in 2009. My competition schedule was pretty busy when I switched over to Boxing, so I never really completed a full powerlifting cycle, but always enjoyed deadlifting.

After almost an eight-year love affair, I began my first full powerlifting program in April 2016.

What does your typical workout look like?
Typical workout for me starts with a 20-30 minute warm-up. I usually foam roll, do some dynamic stretching, then activate what I intend to focus on. Depending what program I’m on, I write it out in my workout log notebook, then try to position myself in the gym so my exercises flow (in public gyms this usually involves some modifications), but in our gym, set-up doesn’t take much time at all. My workouts typically are 60 to 90 minutes long, with extra time given to warm up, and cool down.

ironlioness-powerliftinggroup-450x340Favorite Lift:
Favorite lift has been the Deadlift, however, now that I’m working on all three lifts, I’m starting to dig squatting more. (Pictured: Iron Lion Powerlifting Team)

Most memorable PR:
My most memorable PR would have to be in 2013, and it was 6 chin-ups, and 3 pull-ups. I had always been frustrated with these movements, but with some good coaching, and persistence in my training (working banded variations, and negatives), I was able to get'er done.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:

  1. Freedom - Beyonce feat. Kendrick Lamar
  2. E.D. - A Tribe Called Red
  3. Collard Greens - Schoolboy Q.
  4. Gravel Pit - WuTang Clan
  5. Jackie (B.M.F.) - Ciara

ironlionessgroupworkout-350x350Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym or in your gym bag:
Weightlifting Bag: stiffy stick, belt, towel
Boxing Bag: wraps, athletic tape, towel

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I love training with hardworking women. It excites, and motivates me to push a little harder. It also keeps me honest, and accountable to my program. I also enjoy the support, and social aspect of training with a group of women.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
While teaching a Beginner’s Muay Thai class, I demonstrated a spin kick, slipped, and fell on my butt.

Best compliment you’ve received lately:
My last heavy training day before the CPF’s Women’s Open hosted by CrossFit Connection Burlington this past September, my husband and I were training at our condo gym. When I hit 325 pounds in the deadlift, some random gym guy began to cheer loudly, and let us know, "He rates that." It was pretty awesome, as I’ve never been acknowledged in that way, especially in our condo gym!

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I usually compliment all the time, but recently I’ve been complimenting women on their resiliency.

ironlioness-hair-350x350Favorite meal:
A Jamaican dish, served as breakfast or brunch: Ackee with saltfish, and fried dumpling

Favorite way to treat yourself:
I LOVE changing my hair style/color every 6-8 weeks.

Favorite quote:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

What do you do?
I’m a the Co-Owner, and Creative Director at Iron Lion Training Inc. We are a brand new company (open for business October 1st, 2016), so right now, my husband and I are wearing many different hats. I currently manage, and help create systems that we can eventually hire someone to manage on our behalf.


I also work as a Martial Arts, Fitness, Nutrition, and Business Coach, with the majority of my Business Coaching clients being online, and couple that I meet with in person.

We are currently refining and testing our Corporate Wellness programs that I hope to begin heading, and servicing in 2017 (Work Wellness Seminars, Lunch & Learns etc.).

ironlionessvarioustraining-350x351What else do you do?
Family adventures, hanging out with my dog (walks, play & cuddles), being creative, playing dress-up, music, Boxing (practice, reading, watching, learning), trying something new (new sport, activity i.e. olympic lifting, surfing, dance). Want to take on drumming in 2017.

Describe a typical day in your life, from waking up to bedtime:
I wake up between 5-5:30am, check email, watch the sunrise with my husband while we have our coffee and breakfast.

Sometimes I go for a walk with the pack (with Hubby, and our dog Ellen Ripley) or sometimes they’ll go without me if I’m working on a project.

ironlioness-2016onlyquantumcrossfit-450x300When everyone is back and settled, we have a meeting to discuss actions for the day, week, goals etc. then we get to work. For me this includes, gym admin, social media updates, prospecting, teaching classes and/or PT, checking in with online business Coaching clients.

Lately I’ve been blocking off ‘sacred’ time for meditation and writing(usually early AM). I like to train mid day (between 1-3pm), however if i don’t get it in, I’ll train alongside our PL Team in the evening. We try to wrap up at the gym by 7:30pm, then its home for R&R. I try to be in bed by 10pm.

Your next training goal:
Dec 17, 2016, Townson Fitness Christmas Special, CPF Powerlifting Meet
Goal: Have fun, and aiming for 275-pound squat, 150-pound bench, and 350-pound deadlift

What are you most grateful for?
Love, and Good Health

ironlionessmarriage-450x300What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
Marrying my BFF, following our mutual dreams, and starting a business together.

Which three words that best describe you?
Tenacious, Teacher, Nerdster

What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out?
Choosing autonomy over stability - leaving a stable position within Finance in 2009, to Health & Wellness, and then again from a commercial gym to begin a business more authentically in line with our values.

It has been quite the adventure, both exhilarating, and terrifying, but definitely rewarding and fulfilling. It’s not easy, but it was so worth it.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
The amazing community of women I’ve found! So supportive, and encouraging. Also, my legs have become “thick-a-vicious” 😉

ironlionesssurfingcostarica2015-450x340How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting really helps me focus, and allows me to be competitive in a healthier way than I was with Martial Arts (big weight cuts, constantly trying to be smaller). It also makes me feel super confident, knowing my ability, and power, is, well powerful.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
DO IT. Drag a friend, or a family member and get it done. The benefits of resistance training for body, mind, and spirit are so abundant, there is really no reason not to at least try.

Camaraderie, community, confidence AND you get stronger?

Research a good Coach or PT, make sure the program and approach is safe, sane, and sustainable, and you won’t regret the investment.

Learn more about Steph on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

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