WWE Hall Of Famer Diamond Dallas Page is known to millions around the world as a legendary professional wrestler. But rather than spending the rest of his life coasting on his successful wrestling or acting careers, he decided to take a professional path that practically no one could have seen coming: yoga.
When it came to getting his body to heal so he could get back into the ring in the late 1990s, Dallas turned to yoga and defied all odds with a full-on comeback. However, what separates DDP YOGA from all other kinds of yoga is not just that it is fronted by a celebrity, or that the program combines yoga poses and calisthenics with physical therapy principles, or even that it has an interactive app that lets its users do the workouts from anywhere, but that DDPY is something that anybody at any age or skill level can do.
DDP YOGA may have a strong celebrity following (e.g. Darius Rucker, Chris Jericho, A.J. Styles, Gabriel Iglesias), but the program is rooted in adaptability and “making it your own.” Finding the motivation to start doing DDPY is often the major hurdle for people, as it may entail trying things that were not originally part of their lifestyle. In addition to steadily completing the workouts, followers of DDPY are encouraged to reconsider their diets and overall attitude. When following all of these concepts, results are guaranteed. Just ask military veteran Arthur Boorman , who previously walked with crutches and leg braces, or Jared Mollenkopf, who lost around 300 pounds in a little over a year.
To learn more about how and why Diamond Dallas Page keeps fighting, I spoke to the man himself by phone. Dallas also helped me connect to some of his long-time followers, who taught me more about the power of DDPY:
- Ted Evans
- Christina Russell
- Drew Gower
- Brady Jarabeck
- Dave Rutsky
More on Dallas and DDP YOGA — including its annual retreat, live workshops, and success stories can be found at www.ddpyoganow.com.
When you started doing DDP YOGA, were you also wrestling? Also acting?
Diamond Dallas Page: I was already on top of the world as a wrestler. In 1999 I blew my back out and they said my career was over. So I’m gonna do anything, but I wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga, and yoga became the thing along with the rehab. The rehab wasn’t going to do it by itself. I just mixed all that, the old-school calisthenics and the dynamic resistance and I’m back in the ring. So now, I’m doing it every day. It’s literally part of my lifestyle. Even when I got back in the ring, I knew I had to stay ahead of the curve.
While I was doing it myself, I was sharing it with others and that’s how it started. I found out all these regular guys that would do my version of what today is called DDPY, normally the yoga studios were full of chicks. I’m getting all these guys to do it, so I thought, “I’m gonna write a book called Yoga For Regular Guys.'” I got a publisher, we wrote the book and that’s kind of how we got started. Then people started buying the book and then saying, “Do you have a DVD?” I wouldn’t take anybody else’s money. I literally invested all my own money in the production, editing, marketing, everything, and I had never done it before.
My workouts are something anyone at any level can do. I created something for everybody, from the people who are overweight, beat up, run down, to the people who are super-athletes who want to stay ahead of the game, offering preventative maintenance. Again, for anyone, from the little kid at school to senior citizens.
So was there a period when you were doing all three at the same time: DDP YOGA, wrestling and acting?
Diamond Dallas Page: Oh yeah. I do all three at the same time when I’m doing a workout teaching somebody!
When I’m doing a workshop, there will usually be three to five people who are over 300 pounds, maybe a few that are over 400 pounds. There will be people on crutches. There will be people who are coming in ridiculous shape, like instructors. Little kids will come. People in their 60s, 70s, in fact a main guy who works out with me, Ted Evans, he’s 83. I’m doing the same workout for everyone. Now this is a beginner level that I can make intermediate and even throw some advanced things in there. “Here’s how you start this, just get your right foot off the ground a couple of inches.You want to take it a little farther, take your knee up to your chest. If you’ve got that, take your leg and try to straighten it out in front of you. If you’ve got that, let go of your leg completely and bring your biceps to your ears.” MAKE IT YOUR OWN! That’s what whole my whole philosophy is.
Does the “make it your own” philosophy apply to other aspects of your life?
Diamond Dallas Page: Oh, absolutely. Eating, a lot of people want to know the secret of how fit I am. It’s the food I eat. The people who are overweight and ask me, I don’t tell them what they can’t eat. I tell them to eliminate a little stuff at a time. But if they’re over 100 pounds overweight, older and beat up, I’m going to say, “Watch these movies and they’re going to explain what was done to food.” Now make it your own. Hopefully they’ll at least cut out McDonald’s and KFC and start eating real food. Again, food is completely about making it your own. Your diet, what you take in, if you’re going to “cheat,” why not “cheat” with gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chip cookies? If you’re going to cheat, don’t eat the Chips Ahoy!
Another way would be with my personal life. When it comes to spending time with your significant other, when I get into that mode, I’m “work-work-work-work-work.” I’m lucky that my wife works with me. But there are times that we have to take “our time” so that we can continue having a really great personal relationship. It’s all about making it your own.
How did you first learn about Dallas and DDPY? Did you know of him through wrestling?
Ted Evans: One day I was over at the gym and I had been introduced to him but didn’t really know him. I said, “What the heck are you doing?” (laughs) He said, “Man, I’ve got to turn back the hands of time.” I said, “I kind of thought this was girlish stuff,” and he laughed. We got to be associates. I kind of gravitated into yoga with Craig Aaron for a while. Dallas was doing a book and asked if I would consider being part of it. Eventually I went out and did the book, Yoga For Regular Guys. From time to time he’d call me and say, “Hey, how you doing? Time to get off your butt and do something.” (laughs)
Christina Russell: I first learned about DDPY through a video my husband Aaron found on YouTube. He is a huge wrestling fan and was watching wrestling promos from the 90s when he came across the Arthur Boorman transformation video. He called me over to watch it and I really connected to it. We had just lost a baby five months earlier and Arthur’s video was just the inspiration I needed to see. If Arthur could do it, I knew that I could too!
I wasn’t allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, so I didn’t know many wrestlers at all, but while I waited for the DVDs to arrive I watched a bunch of his wrestling matches. That’s pretty much all I knew until I started working for him! (laughs)
Drew Gower: I watched DDP growing up and was a huge fan through his WCW days. I learned of DDP YOGA through a friend of mine who had lost about a hundred pounds in a year.
Brady Jarabeck: I learned about Dallas from watching WWE. And while watching, I was looking up info on some of my favorite wrestlers. When I searched DDP, I saw the link to DDPY and clicked the link.
Dave Rutsky: I first learned about Diamond Dallas Page by watching WCW in the mid to late 1990s. I was a fan of the finishing move the “Diamond Cutter” and enjoyed his promo style/mic skills. In regards to the DDP YOGA program, I listen to various genres of podcasts and I kept hearing the ads for DDP YOGA on the Talk Is Jericho podcast. I was impressed hearing the success stories of DDPY users. During the summer of 2015, I tweaked my back doing a hack slide squat at the gym. While I recovered within a week, the lower back injury I sustained was a nagging one that disrupted my comfort on a daily basis. While stretching helped a little bit, I finally decided to try DDP YOGA in an effort to treat the discomfort on a consistent basis and it was my best exercise related decision to date.
For you what was the most challenging part of getting on-board with DDPY?
Ted Evans: When I was 22, I was in a car wreck. I broke my back in three places, almost destroyed one vertebra. I have three vertebrae that are naturally fused together. I have documented arthritis in my knees, my hips, my hands and my shoulders. I’ve had two operations on each knee and a knee replacement on my right knee. I have torn both rotators in my shoulders and I have a complete tear of the supraspinatus tendon in my right shoulder. I have two pinched nerves documented in my neck. God knows what else, but I can keep up with most 40-year olds.
Dallas reached out and said, “You better get your ass in shape because I’m coming back [to Atlanta]”. I went over to his house and we worked out for a while. This is one of the things I think put us kind of close together. He said, “You know when I go around and we’re doing this, people go and do 10-second push-ups. Very few people can do ten 10-second push-ups.” I said, “What do you mean 10-second push-ups?” He said, “10 seconds up, 10 seconds down.” I go back to my room at the hotel and I said, “I can do 100 push-ups, 10 shouldn’t be that difficult.” I did 11 and I said, “Something’s wrong, people can’t do 10 and I just did 11.”
I go back and challenge Dallas, he tells me to go home and practice for six months and then he’ll consider it. We finish doing all the shooting, he says, “Enjoy your food, have another dessert. Ted, we’ve got the cameras, we’ve got the crew here, let’s do those 10-second push-ups.” I said okay and go out and we start. He’s filming it, about five seconds I start shaking and he starts laughing like hell. (laughs) I think that probably put us closer together.
Christina Russell: I found the program easy to follow and with the help of the Team DDPY community. In fact, this is the first workout program that I actually DIDN’T struggle with! I had so much support through the community and my family which helped make DDPY a staple of my day-to-day activities.
Drew Gower: The most challenging part of getting into DDP YOGA was just doing it. I was almost 400 pounds when I started, that was 16 months ago. Today I weigh 208. DDP YOGA and hard work definitely pay off .
Brady Jarabeck: There really wasn’t much of a challenge getting on-board. I tried multiple diets and they failed. The most challenging part was making sure I made time to do it each day and breaking the normal routine of my daily activities.
Dave Rutsky: The most challenging part of getting on-board with DDPY was forcing myself to start the program as a beginner. Not that I had prior yoga experience, but I’ve been a lifter and runner my entire life and figured I’d pick up the yoga quicker than other beginners.
After doing the Diamond Dozen and Energy workouts, I was quickly humbled and had to learn that the program was no joke and I needed to learn the basic building blocks of DDP YOGA. I had to remind myself not to get angry when struggling with a position or falling on my backside, which occurred often in the first few weeks of the program. In the end, the attitude adjustment I made was the toughest part of my initial dealings with DDP YOGA.
How do you manage to stay motivated when it comes to doing DDPY and maintaining a good diet?
Ted Evans: Ego, friends.It’s hard to do things by yourself. But when you’re with a group, and the group expects you to be able to come through on stuff. The expectations of others are a heck of a motivator for me.
Christina Russell: When I first started DDPY in 2013, the weight loss, improved mood and flexibility was enough to keep me motivated to keep it up. Once I reached my goal, I started helping others, which turned into getting certified to teach DDPY, which led me to working for Dallas and changing lives on a whole new level! When you feel good about something you’re doing, especially fitness and the way it makes you look and feel, the diet falls in line too. If I ate bad, I felt bad and it wasn’t worth it, so for me, it was easy to maintain a healthy eating habit.
Drew Gower: I wouldn’t really call it motivation, it’s more of an obsession at this point. Motivation comes and goes. Passion, commitment, determination, those will sustain you long after motivation.
Brady Jarabeck: My main motivation was girls. Let’s face it, I’m 16 and a junior in high school. I wanted girls to like me, and being an overweight kid, I wasn’t exactly filled with confidence. After losing weight and getting compliments, I knew DDPY was working, and I knew I had to stick with it.
Dave Rutsky: A huge motivator I’ve noticed has been the aches and pains I get when I take a week off from DDP YOGA. I know if I get into a lazy mode and forgo the yoga for too many days, I will feel the tightness and that’s a punishing motivator for me. Outside of the pain maintenance aspect, I stay motivated by mixing up my yoga workouts which enables me to have a lot of fun. Outside of the traditional workouts such as Fat Burner or Below The Belt. I try to do some of the DDP YOGA Live workouts on the app as I find that the different workouts keeps my interest level high.
What is your favorite part of DDPY?
Ted Evans: As one gets older, they lose their strength, their flexibility, their balance and this impacts your confidence, the way you live and the quality of your life. Working with Diamond Dallas Page has enabled me to retain most of these characteristics.He’s always been very giving to me. He’s always been very supportive. He keeps me going. Basically, I’m 22 or 23 years older than him, and he kind of chides me that he’s going to be in better shape when he’s my age than I am. (laughs)
Christina Russell: My favorite part about DDPY is that ANYONE can do it. I love showing up to teach a class and being able to have students that range from injured to obese to young to super-fit and all can enjoy the class together. There are modifications to make each move easier or more challenging and that’s why I love this program and know that it will be a sustainable workout for anyone at any age.
Drew Gower: My favorite part of DDP YOGA is that anyone can do it. Also, Dallas is wholeheartedly invested in his program and in people. He wants the best for you. I’m beyond thankful for DDP YOGA and the change I have made in my life by using it.
Brady Jarabeck: DDP. And the fact that it actually works!
Dave Rutsky: My favorite part of DDP YOGA has been how great I feel after I finish the workouts. I have increased flexibility and I feel that I have better posture from doing DDPY. I also love that there are so many moves/positions in the program so you always are learning something new. Often with lifting and running, the monotony can sap the fun out of exercising but I don’t have that problem with DDP YOGA. It’s one of the reasons why I have recommended the program to many people since I started doing it a couple of years ago. Oh, and I can’t forget screaming “BANG” at the end of each workout — and making it my own!