Eve Dawes: “When you stop growing, you start dying”

Just do it. You’ll never know until your brave enough to take that 1st step and then commit to taking each consecutive step. I’m not going to say until you reach your goal because I don’t believe in an end or a destination but a continual journey. Celebrate the small victories and milestones along the […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Just do it. You’ll never know until your brave enough to take that 1st step and then commit to taking each consecutive step. I’m not going to say until you reach your goal because I don’t believe in an end or a destination but a continual journey. Celebrate the small victories and milestones along the way but keep having the next vision and working towards it.

As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eve Dawes.

Eve Dawes is a fitness professional, WBFF Pro Diva, content creator and founder of Dawes Custom Cosmetics. Before certifying as a Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist, Yoga and Spin instructor Eve was a ballerina. She’s also a blogger (Glamour and Gains by Eve), podcaster (Glamour & Gains) and has a beauty, fitness and fashion segment on Spill The Tea Live!

You may have seen her in Oxygen, Iron Man, Strong, Fit & Firm Magazine, Huffington Post, bodybuilding.com, and various commercials

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up with my parents, sister and 2 cats, in a village of about 3000 people in the English countryside about an hour away from London. I was always active, even from the age of 3 when I started dance classes. Whether it was horse riding, short Tennis (not tennis for short people but typically played on a smaller court and for a shorter duration), guitar lessons, or CYFer (Christian Youth Fellowship) meetings.

I fell hard for the world of ballet and knew at age 7 that was what I wanted to do. Yes, a lot of girls around that age think they want to be ballerinas (or princesses, film stars, etc.) but I knew, and my ballet teacher knew). It’s not just something you can choose to do, you have to have the genetics, athletic and psychological stamina to stick with the difficult journey through adolescence and into adulthood.

At age 15 I started auditioning for full-time ballet schools in London. Auditions are tough and competitive, with hopeful ballet students from all over the World flying in to audition. Candidates that are invited, start by attending a preliminary audition, where if they are then shortlisted, they are invited to a final audition. The audition class normally consists of a Ballet class including pointe work, and either a Contemporary class or a workshop as well as a medical.

I was accepted by Central School of Ballet Upper School (one of the top Ballet Schools in the World) where I went full time from the age of 16. 3 years of blood (literally, from hours en pointe), sweat and tears later I graduated and started performing with different companies including the Vienna Festival Ballet. The company was founded in 1980 by Peter Mallek and is a touring company.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

For ballet it was Royal Ballet Soloist Darcy Bussell, who was ‘the’ ballerina when I was a teenager and I was in awe of her stage presence and performances. I wanted to look like her, dance like her, be her! She made it look effortless and was (still is, even though she’s now retired) the epitome of grace and class.

For Bodybuilding, it was seeing these beautiful physiques in fitness magazines that I aspired to look like. I didn’t know how they’d achieved it so I started looking up the credentials by their photos like IFBB and WBFF Pro and researching the whole competitive bodybuilding world. I’d retired from dancing at that time and wanted to take my body to a new level of athleticism.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I can’t credit just 1 person for helping me. Obviously, my parents were my biggest enablers; not just from an emotional and investment standpoint but the amount of time they gave up, driving me to London for show rehearsals and classes, to summer schools and wherever else I need to be.

As well as my first Ballet teacher, Carol Wedon, who really helped look into different ways to help progress my training and cultivate my interest and love of the performing arts.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Not to use baby oil or moisturizer before a show. I remember warming up on stage one evening and leaving a big greasy spot where I’d been lying on the stage. If I hadn’t noticed and cleaned it, it would’ve been a death trap!

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

Just do it. You’ll never know until your brave enough to take that 1st step and then commit to taking each consecutive step. I’m not going to say until you reach your goal because I don’t believe in an end or a destination but a continual journey. Celebrate the small victories and milestones along the way but keep having the next vision and working towards it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I can’t divulge this right now but let’s just say my pageant journey isn’t over!

I’ve also been creating a lot of free, no equipment workout videos that people can do at home since gyms are closed right now and people are also looking for ways to save money.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

These are all going to sound simple and common sense, but it’s amazing how the most simple things can become hard under stress.

  1. Breathe — it sounds so simple but it’s what most of us forget to do under pressure and causes us to tense up, speed up our heart rates and cause a stress response.
  2. Practice — I practice relentlessly, especially the things I struggle with the most, until they’re muscle memory and second nature. There’s always going to be more difficult parts of a performance that you can’t avoid but by being as accomplished as you can be at it helps reduce the stress and anxiety. There was one lift I always found hard and I’d practice it right before every show with my partner. Nailing it before the show, gave me confidence we’d nail it during the show.
  3. Be prepared — most athletes will have very specific ways they like to prep for a performance. Mine was always like a good luck ritual. Everything from what I ate, how I did my makeup, how I warmed up and laid out everything backstage.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

I tend to be quiet so I can focus. I don’t mind being around others, I’m just not chatty as I’m visualizing, mentally preparing and getting into character.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?





Recovery (glutamine, warm up and cool down stretching, active and passive recovery days, nutrition, hydration, sleep, massage).

These are the 5 pillars that help me with peak performance. Without any 1 of those, everything else crumbles.

These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?

Yes, but I started at the age of 3, seriously at age 7 and went full time at 16 so honestly, it’s really hard for me to break it down as I’ve never known any other way. In ballet you’re taught if you have 1 day off you know, if you have 2 days off your teacher knows, and if you have 3 days off the audience knows. So being consistent keeps you on top of your game and at peak performance levels.

Creating habits makes everything so much easier, I thrive off of structure and routine.

Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Creating habits is based on consistency. According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, depending on the habit you’re trying to create. It also found that it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic, so be patient.

If you give up before it’s become a habit, then it’s not going to be a habit. The reason this normally happens is because your why not is bigger than your why. So, before you try and create any new habit, write a list of your whys (why you’re doing this) and why nots (e.g. it’s expensive, I’d rather sleep in, I’m sore). Your why’s must outweigh and be stronger than your why nots to succeed.

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

Yes! I put off meditating for the longest time as I thought it was a waste of time. I go at a million miles an hour so when I first started, it would frustrate me rather than relax me. But, that’s even more reason for me to do it.

I’m still very particular about which ones I do, as some are still annoying, but it is helping me sleep. It hasn’t solved it but it has helped. I’ve always had problems sleeping so I started using meditation for sleep (which is essential for recovery and performance) a couple of years ago. I use 10 minute sleep and relaxation meditations on either the Insight Timer or Peloton App, both of which are free.

Many of us are limited by our self talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?

It depends on what the thought is. How you handle it is specific to each case e.g. self-confidence, not quitting, positivity.

I had a sports psychologist at ballet school, who would use visualization techniques to help us fix performance issues, so I was lucky to be introduced to the power of self-talk at a young age and make it a life habit. A lot of my friends find mindset podcasts useful but as an athlete, it’s almost second nature to us and affirmations that have been drilled into us our entire lives so much we don’t even think of them in that way.

Even at ballet school, however tough it got, never once did the thought of quitting cross my mind. Maybe that’s what separates athletes from others is that quitting isn’t in our thought capacity, we just do whatever it takes. You just do it. You will never be your best if you give up.

Since, I’ve never really had to change my channel of thinking, I can’t really relate or give my take on it. However, I have had guests on my podcast Glamour & Gains discuss flipping your mindset and interrupting your chain of thought when you catch yourself to a positive one. The more you do this, the more you’re training your brain, a muscle like any other, to go towards the positive thoughts.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

That’s so kind, thank you! I believe all companies should have a philanthropic core and lead by leading by example. I created Dawes Cosmetics For A Cause as a way to give back, where a percentage of sales are donated to different charities and causes throughout the year such as the American Cancer Society and Be A SHERO Foundation.

I also donate my time, giving workshops or volunteering on non-profit organization gala committees. Living to serve others gives life so much more meaning and purpose.

My lifestyle blog and podcast also allows me to help others by interviewing experts in their fields and getting realistic, action based tips from them that everyone can implement into their lives.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“When you stop growing, you start dying.” William S. Burroughs. We were taught this at ballet school, as ballet is the never-ending pursuit of perfection.

Some people may disagree with this or think it’s extreme but it’s how I live my life, trying to learn something new every single day. Even during the stay home order, I got a certification from Harvard. I’ve never been one to coast or think I know it all, there is always something new to learn and ways to grow and learn. I love that possibility and ever evolving. We are both the sculptors and the clay.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Mark Cuban. I’d love to know how he managed to achieve success and how he balances everything he has going on. He actually wrote the e-book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, about his experiences in business and sports.

I think that’s why so many athletes turn to business successfully, as they have a winner’s mentality. Failing forward is an option, quitting is not!

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.