Dorian Yates Then and Now: “Inside the Shadow” Film Review

YouTube channel London Real has produced a free, authorized documentary-feature about six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. Its contents may surprise you! 

[We’ve embedded Part 1 of the documentary at the bottom of this article.]

Yes, bodybuilding fans will get their fair share of entertaining archival footage, but this documentary is more about Dorian Yates the man than it is about Dorian Yates the bodybuilder. In a series of interviews across a range of unique locations, Dorian himself will convince you this is a distinction that can be made.

Yates will concede that it may have been impossible to separate himself from his on-stage persona during his six-year reign as Mr. Olympia. “The Old Dorian” was a bodybuilder wholly consumed by the desire to be best in the world. Today’s version, however, blames an unhealthy, oversized, unchecked ego for such individualistic aspirations.

As such, Dorian Yates challenges viewers’ assumptions about what bodybuilders are supposed to be like. At least my own assumptions were erroneous.

Dorian Yates’ Posing Routine at his first Mr. Olympia Win, 1992. High quality kicks in before the posing routine starts:

The documentary is hosted by Brian Rose, who through his London Real interview series has developed a relationship with Dorian Yates over the past several years.

At times the documentary can seem as much about Rose as it is about Yates. This is no accident. Rose created London Real to “promote personal transformation through inspiration, self-discovery and empowerment.” He makes every on-camera attempt to learn and apply what Dorian Yates teaches him, starting with his take on high intensity training.

But do not watch the movie expecting heaps of fitness related advice. Instead, Brian Rose lauds Dorian Yates as a guru of sorts, and the film carries what might be labeled a spiritual tone. Its narrative begins in the darker years, with Yates living like a bodybuilder-monk for over a decade, rarely smiling, rarely having fun, and entirely committed to training and winning.

Dorian Yates discusses what became of his life when it all ended so abruptly. With one career-ending bicep injury, Yates went from the incredible high of being Mr. Olympia into forced retirement. The monk would turn party animal.

The living legend talks frankly about his own steroid use, of which he is even more open about in previous London Real interviews. He highlights the mistake of quitting cold turkey, but considers the drugs he took safe.

Today, he’s an enlightened man. Dorian Yates sports a “One Love, One Heart” Bob Marley tattoo on his leg, and promotes marijuana advocacy. He calls it a “teacher plant, just like the Ayahuasca,” and does not condone alcohol consumption, which he suggests too often leads to violence. He claims to have “an intention” in mind before lighting any joint.

Yates also shares information about his relationship with psychedelic drugs – particularly DMT. The man who admits he thought Yoga was too girly to perform, gave it a shot after one self-reflective psychedelic journey ended in the realization that his posture was no good. He now practices regularly, and suggests it to athletes seeking to mitigate the risk of injury.

Potentially borrowing a quote from philosopher Alan Watts, he tells Brian Rose he received the message that psychedelic drugs were meant to send him, and so has put down the phone (discontinued using them). He remains a changed man.

With so many unexpected highlights, approaching so many topics not usually intertwined with bodybuilding, I recommend Dorian Yates – Inside the Shadow. The documentary film is worthwhile to anyone interested in bodybuilding, memoir, biography, interview podcasts, self-growth, or modern spirituality.

London Real does require you to sign up at in exchange for the final ten or so minutes of the feature-length film. I tested this myself to make sure no scams were attached. In exchange for my e-mail address, I received access to the full range of their Dorian Yates content, which I continue to enjoy at the cost of receiving a few promotional e-mails each week (that I may or may not unsubscribe from).

[The full documentary can be found here.]

Featured image: @thedorianyates on Instagram