Donald “Dino” Dowl, now retired from active-duty military service, carried just 111 pounds on his 5-foot, 9-inch frame on his first day of U.S. Army basic training.

The physical fitness principles he learned during his military life and in the coming years not only allowed him to bulk up; his training inspired a lifelong love of fitness, as well as a successful post-military career as a personal trainer, massage therapist and massage instructor. 


Donald Dowl | Courtesy of Massage Envy Spa

Physical Fitness

“I quickly understood the relationship between working out and eating,” Dowl said. He gained 20 pounds during boot camp and finished with a goal in mind: becoming a competitor in strength training. “It never really panned out,” he added. “The old saying is ‘those who can’t do, teach,’ so I went into learning to become a physical fitness trainer for the military.”

After 15 years of service, Dowl took a voluntary separation from the military, then re-entered as part of the Missouri Air National Guard. His subsequent assignments took him around the U.S., as well as overseas to Saudi Arabia and Kurdistan. When he retired after a combined 21 years of service, moving into private personal training seemed like an obvious choice. He launched his own business, Your Goal Fitness, which quickly led him to another new interest.

“After grueling training, my clients would tell me, ‘I’m going to go get a massage,’” Dowl recalled. “I thought, what would be a better fit [in personal training] than massage?”


Excelled in Massage Training

To learn more about it, Dowl landed a job as front desk manager of a massage clinic. After talking to therapists there and realizing what a physically demanding occupation it was, he decided his physical fitness could make it a good career option for him. He enrolled in massage school. Within three months he was excelling in the program, crediting the leadership skills he learned in the military for a big part of his success.

Fast-forward two years. A graduate of Everest College in Missouri and a licensed massage therapist, Dowl now specializes in deep tissue, hot stone and prenatal massage. He works for Massage Envy Spa­ in Olivette, Missouri—and was named the franchise’s 2013 Massage Therapist of the Year for the St. Louis region. 


Working Hard for Success

Dowl’s typical workday begins at 9:30 a.m. and doesn’t end until 10:00 p.m., during which he teaches, then heads to his job at Massage Envy, then sees private massage and personal training clients.

“I do that because I want the students to know you have to work really, really hard for what you want,” he said. “They know when I leave there I’m going to work, and then the very next morning I’m in the same great mood, ready to give them all I have: 110 percent.”


About the Author

Allison Payne is associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and managing editor of, MASSAGE Magazine’s publication for student and beginning massage therapists. She has written several articles for MASSAGE Magazine, including “The Ultimate Guide to Incorporating Spa Trends in 2015.”