THE OFFICIAL DAVE PROWSE WEB SITE


TRAINING

Around the age of 15, my Brother in Law, Roy, who was 18 decided to send away for a Charles Atlas Course of Physical Self Improvement. I think he'd been inspired by the great physique shots of Charles Scilliano Atlas, who at the height of his fame in 1922 won the worlds best developed man contest. This, alongside the now world famous cartoon strip type ads of the skinny wimp on the beach having sand kicked in his face clinched the decision. The course duly arrived and I was invited to join Roy in the exercise routine that didn't involve the use of any equipment whatsoever and revelled under the title of "Dynamic Tension". With hindsight, dynamic tension was nothing more than what we now term as Isometric and isotonic exercises - isometric meaning static contractions, isotonic meaning muscle contractions during and after movement.

There were also quite a few standard type exercises like press ups, sit ups, leg raises, plus others where your own body supplied the resistance instead of utilising expensive equipment like weights and chest expanders. The pair of us struggled manfully with the routine and it wasn't long before I saw the first signs of progress, a muscular lump came up on the inside of my forearms. Flushed with success I started training even harder whilst unfortunately Roy gave up, moved out of the house, but fortunately left me with the course with no instalments to pay.

I very quickly decided that I needed something a bit more strenuous than the Charles Atlas Course, so I bought myself a Health and Strength magazine and joined a weight training group that used to train in the house of the area organiser for the Health and Strength League. From there I graduated to buying my own set of weights, and from then on trained either at home in the back garden in what used to be a coal shed, and with other dedicated enthusiasts living in and around the Bristol area in makeshift gyms that were invariably attached to larger sports or works social clubs.

My competing days started with the Junior Mr. West Britain that I never won, on to the Mr. West Britain, where for several years I was always 2nd or 3rd to the like of much shorter but more proportionate bodybuilders like Ron Thomas, John Pegler and Graham Price. By the time the 1960 Mr. Universe contest came round I'd blossomed from a start of 6' 5" and 11 1/2 stones (2meters and 75k) to 6'7" and 17 stone 31bs (just over 2meters and 110k). But my problem was that although I was regarded as one of the top 20 physiques in the country, at 6' 7" I was nowhere near as heavily muscled as the shorter competitors and after the disappointment of being told by the chief judge that my ugly feet would always count against me, I decided to throw in the bodybuilding towel and turn my sights to competitive weightlifting.

After a short spell competing on the bodybuilders lifts in what used to be called the strength set, I set my sights on Olympic Weightlifting, and in my first year of competition won the Western Counties title and went on to place 3rd in the British Championships. The following year, 1962, I won the heavyweight title and was invited to compete in the World Championships in Budapest and the Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. I retained the title in 1963 and 1964, but then the disappointment of not getting selected for the Olympic team to compete at the Tokyo Olympics, forced my early retirement. I'd already left Bristol to live in Croydon and on retirement formed a professional act calling myself "Britain's Strongest Man", became director of weight training at the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace, was appointed European Sales Manager and assistant editor for the Weider Company (the leading publisher of bodybuilding and fitness magazines and major manufacturer of weight training equipment and bodybuilding supplement products), endorsed the Bullworker for many years, and opened my own health and fitness gymnasium which I continued to run for over 30 years.

To satisfy my competitive spirit I took up professional highland games, won third place in the World Caber Tossing Championship, and was then sponsored by McVities Biscuits to tour the world giving exhibitions of the Highland Games, whilst at the same time promoting interest at British Export Week in the McVities delicious products.

Eventually I had three gymnasiums under my control and had the good fortune to train many famous celebrities, such as Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman, Cary Elwes for his role in The Princess Bride, Daniel Day Lewis for his role in The Last of the Mohicans, Vanessa Redgrave, Edward Heath M.P., Robert Powell, Peter Davidson, Sandra Dickenson, Jason Donovan, Shane Richie, H.RH. Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Azziz of Saudi Arabia, Gary Wilmott, John Barrowman, Stephanie Powers. My personal client list was so 'star studded' that the Sunday Times newspaper in Great Britain described me as the Worlds no. 1 personal trainer.