The David Ford Choice Award is the biggest and most valuable amateur prize currently awarded in the Canadian fitness industry. At the BCABBA 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic in New Westminster on March 19, David was in attendance to select one lucky winner. With almost 200 quality competitors to choose from, he definitely had his work cut out.
David is one of the most respected leaders in the fitness industry today. In the early 2000s, he worked with Robert Kennedy of Musclemag, Oxygen and American Curves. In the mid 2000s David ran the David Ford Fitness Model Search at West Edmonton Mall. In 2006 David began working with Rodney Jang and Status Fitness. Since that time he has offered the David Ford Choice Award at various shows across Canada. This year’s Gold Package prize was the biggest yet, valued at $6999.
“David Ford has an exceptional eye for fitness talent. He is very much a respected leader in the industry and has seperated himself through integrity and consistent quality work. Leigh and Dean Brandt put on an exciting show and there were many quality competitors. Alia’s hard work and practice was evident when I saw her take the stage and I know she and David will capture some very strong photos that we are excited to share through Status Fitness. Congratulations Alia.”
What does this win mean to competitors? Hear what 2012 David Ford Choice Award winner IFBB Bikini Pro Eboney Chipman had to say when she had a chance to work with David this past summer as she prepared for the Vancouver Pro show.
DAVID FORD INTERVIEW
What does David look for when choosing a winner? We caught up with him and asked him a number of key questions.
“The first quality I look for is a marketable face. This goes beyond a pretty or handsome face. I see the potential of a competitor through their expressions, their movements, and interaction with other competitors, the stage marshal and the judges. Many pretty or handsome competitors don’t necessarily make good models. There is something unique that I look for that is hard to express in words but when I see it, I know the potential that awaits.”
At the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic there were a lot of great looking guys and girls on stage. Was it hard to choose a winner?
“I quickly narrowed down my list to three girls at this show. Some qualities were similar but after taking in the entire package that was presented on stage I concluded that Alia Dunnill was my choice. Alia is a pretty girl and was very graceful on stage. She was confident but not overly so. She has nice shape and I know she will photograph extremely well with good direction. Alia went on to win her Bikini C class and competed hard in the overall. Rarely has my award winner and overall winner been the same, in fact Chelsea Gunderson would be the only one and she went on to win her pro card two shows later (Provincials and Nationals). Alia will do great in the fitness industry and I am excited for her. She is looking to take a little time and develop a stronger physique which is refreshing as many competitors rush into their next shows without adequate time to reflect and perfect areas so they can successfully compete at a higher level. We will be shooting this summer and Status Fitness will be the first to see what we capture together!
ALIA IS A PRETTY GIRL AND WAS VERY GRACEFUL ON STAGE. SHE WAS CONFIDENT BUT NOT OVERLY SO. SHE HAS NICE SHAPE AND I KNOW SHE WILL PHOTOGRAPH EXTREMELY WELL WITH GOOD DIRECTION.
(David Ford, official BCABBA photographer, presenting Alia Dunnill with her rising star trophy at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)
ALIA DUNNILL INTERVIEW
Status Fitness caught up with the David Ford Choice Award winner Alia Dunnill after the show.
Alia shared, “Doing the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic helped me find confidence and perseverance that I didn’t know I had. Through my 16 week prep I learned what it meant to truly put my heart and soul into one goal. I can safely say it wasn’t easy – probably the most mentally and emotionally challenging experience I’ve ever endured. It takes complete dedication and focus when it comes to nutrition, training, and posing. Looking back, though, I can honestly say that every moment, every doubt, every struggle was well worth it.”
(Alia Dunnill lighting up the stage at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)
When asked about the show itself, Alia revealed, “The show itself was an inspiration on its own. I met so many incredible people backstage who shared the same passions for fitness that I have, and I’ve never met so many people who were so supportive of one another. Although being on-stage was nerve-wracking and a challenge to all the strength that I had, it allowed me to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to; the only limits we have are those we set for ourselves.”
(Alia Dunnill hits a back pose on stage at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)
Well said Alia. What did it mean to win the David Ford Choice Award?
“Having zero expectations going into the show other than knowing I would give it my best, receiving the David Ford Choice Award made for the most memorable moment of my fitness journey. I was literally speechless when I found out I’d been chosen for this award and that I have such inspiring mentors standing behind me and believing in me. I’m so thankful and excited for the opportunity that it brings and what the future holds.”
RECEIVING THE DAVID FORD CHOICE AWARD MADE FOR THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT OF MY FITNESS JOURNEY. I WAS LITERALLY SPEECHLESS WHEN I FOUND OUT I’D BEEN CHOSEN FOR THIS AWARD…
Alia, you have great mentorship with David and the Status Fitness team. At any time you can reach out and know someone, with your best interests in mind, will answer any questions you might have. That is something special.
Behind every person that steps on stage, there is a team of support behind them. Alia, who would you like to thank for their support over your fitness journey so far?
“Above all else I’d like to thank my incredible family and boyfriend for their support and unconditional love. They were my backbone the entire prep and gave me the courage and motivation to never give up. I’d also like to thank my coaches for everything they’ve done for me as well as my Sandcastle family, friends, and BCABBA for giving me the opportunity to compete in such a fun and rewarding show. Thank you all for supporting me in the most life-changing experience of my life – it’s only the first glimpse of what’s to come and I can’t wait to keep going!”
(Alia Dunnill takes first place in the Bikini C class at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)
NATALIE DUNNILL INTERVIEW
Alia’s mother Natalie shared a little about the special day for her daughter.
“Alia has always been the kind of person who, once she decides to do something, she goes full force. Even when she was really young. Deciding to compete was no different. Her diet was precise and she did not sway from it one bit. Other than the cheats that she was allowed, every single piece of food was properly prepped and measured and eaten at the right time and every workout was done full on! This entire process was such a wonderful experience for her. I know one of the best things about this show was that she made new friends that had the same goals as her.
IT TOOK UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING FOR IT TO ACTUALLY SINK IN THAT THIS WAS THE BIG PRIZE THAT EVERY ATHLETE WAS HOPING FOR, AND SHE HAD WON IT!
As far as winning, she was over the top thrilled. She must have still been on a winning high and not really thinking about much else because the next morning she came to me and said, ”Mom, do you have any idea what I won last night from David Ford?” It took until the next morning for it to actually sink in that this was the big prize that every athlete was hoping for, and she had won it! It was like she had won the show all over again!”
Congratulations Alia on this big win.
We at Status Fitness can’t wait to see the results Alia and David create together later this year. Be sure to check back to see some of the results.
Special thank you to David Aboody and Vicky Lee for providing presentation photos for this news story.