If you’re going to describe Diamond Dallas Page’s signature workout program, whatever you do, don’t just call it yoga. Despite its moniker, DDP Yoga, the former pro wrestler wants to make clear that “It Ain’t Your Mama’s Yoga.”
“When people hear yoga, they think humming and chanting,” Page said in an interview. “This is made for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga.”
Before a crippling back injury at age 42, in the prime of his professional wrestling career, Page was one of those people. When he ruptured two discs in his back and doctors believed he had come to the end of his career, his wife suggested rehabilitating with yoga. Initially, Page resisted.
“I learned from a yoga tape and was really frustrated,” he said. “It was a flow-type yoga, and no one was modifying the position. Everyone was a Gumby-like stick figure.”
However, after three weeks of steady practice, Dallas began to notice positive changes in his body. “I was blown away by how much flexibility and strength was coming.”
Eventually, he began to add calisthenics, working in pushups with side plank, cobra and downward dog. While in lunge position, he added in flies with dumbbells. Over time, he developed his own yoga-inspired workout program.
“I learned a piece from every yoga teacher I’ve been around, and I made it my own,” he said.
DDP Yoga combines yoga, traditional fitness, dynamic resistance and sports therapy for a “kick ass” cardio workout that increases flexibility and core strength conditioning with minimal joint impact.
Less than a year after beginning yoga, he was back in pro wrestling at age 42. Page went onto to become a 3-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.
After using DDP Yoga to heal himself, Page was called to share it with others. Professional wrestlers, MMA fighters and football players practice DDP Yoga, as well as everyday people and de-conditioned folks.
DDP Yoga stresses dynamic resistance and engaging the muscles through concentric (contracting) and eccentric (lengthening) movements to build muscle strength and elevating the heart rate for efficient fat burning. Within the warrior position, for example, DDP has students reach out to grab a ball and pull back for three breaths, engaging the lats and biceps. “When you’re flexing or engaging the muscle, your heart rate is going up,” said Page.
Whether students are doing flies with dumbbells in a lunge, moving from catcher squats to regular squats in slow burn or throwing punches, DDP Yoga focuses heavily on countdown breathing.
“When you are counting like this, doing this is in an uncomfortable position, the heart gets bigger beats with the holding of the breath,” said Page. “Where it comes to a runner’s lunge or twisted lunge, and you’re breathing into that position, you’re engaging all those muscles while doing it. Take a deep breath…5-4-3-2-1. I may even be breathing out for 10 seconds. If you can do that in an uncomfortable position, twisted shape or lifting, you get in crazy shape.”
Page prefers using the word position for yoga’s poses or postures. “A man doesn’t want to get into those,” he said. Athletes play a position or get in a position, so that lingo is more familiar.
Along the same vein, Page encourages people to “take a knee,” which is the cue for going into a neutral, safety zone, such as child’s pose.
“I never stop talking the whole workout. I’m making them have fun with it,” Page said. “I’m trying to shift their mindset over to make this fun instead of grueling.”
Through his videos and upcoming fitness app, Dallas speaks to viewers as if they are in the same room as he is. With other people working out behind Page, it feels like a communal fitness experience.
His app will also offer live workouts. “You’ll see when I screw up and put right hand down instead of left,” he said. “When people screw up, they laugh. I screw up all the time. Won’t be perfect.”
There are four levels of DDP yoga: beginner, intermediate, advanced and extreme. Unlike the first yoga video Page worked with during his rehab, he always has someone in a modified pose.
An 80-year-old Ted Evans is one of DDP’s advanced students, whom Page helped to regain flexibility and strength after a knee replacement. Most folks on Facebook will also have seen and shared Arthur Boorman’s “Never, Ever Give Up” video, documenting the tremendous transformation from obese, disabled vet to a mobile man 140-pounds lighter. DDP Yoga helped fuel his path to better health.
Boorman bought the first DDP yoga videos, so Page sent him a note of thanks for believing in his product. Boorman responded in a way that deeply moved Page. He said Boorman described himself as a disabled vet, broken down, beat up and relegated to thinking of himself as a piece of furniture.
A former paratrooper in the Gulf War, hundreds of jumps over his career had done incredible damage to his back and knees, gained a lot of weight and was ready to give up. At 47-years-old, 297 pounds, his doctors wanted to operate on his back. With knee braces connected to back braces that took 20 minutes for his wife to put on this morning, the man was desperate for change, said Page.
DDP was moved to call Boorman, first addressing his eating lifestyle by having him eat real food and cut out wheat and dairy. “I don’t need to have that MD at the end of DDP to tell you if you keep living this lifestyle, in five to 10 years you’ll be dead or completely disabled,” Page said.
Despite the challenges, Boorman changed what he ate and practiced DDP Yoga, despite the falls. After he lost 34 pounds in the first months, he began the journey to believing in himself again. Down 140 pounds in 10 months, Arthur drastically improved his flexibility, strength, and biggest of all, mobility. While doctors said he would never be able to walk again without canes, Boorman proved them wrong and ran.
He continues to inspire and help others. Page encourages a pay it forward attitude with his clients. With deep gratitude, Boorman is more than happy to teach others what he’s learned.
“Everyone wants Arthur Boorman results, but few want to put in the Arthur Boorman work in,” said Page. He believes mindset is key.
Positivity is what led Page to move from running nightclubs to serving as a wrestling manager for Ted Turner to heavyweight champion—despite a late start in the sport and his pivotal crippling back injury. “It can be so depressing to have that kind of injury after signing a multi-million dollar contract,” he said. “I took that negative and turned it into a positive.”
Stuck in a downward spiral, Page believes any exercise helps. “Nothing is greater than dealing with stress than exercise,” he said. “If you find yourself getting depressed, get on the mat. I’ve never gotten off the mat and said wish I didn’t do that.”
Whether he’s working with recovering drug addicts or people addicted to sugar, Page helps people to embrace a new lifestyle and surround themselves with positive people. With the online community Team DDP, clients receive infectious encouragement every step of the way.
“A lot of people don’t have the support, and it’s really hard to stay motivated,” Page said. He and DDP Yoga provide the motivation and the path.
Learn more about DDP Yoga at ddpyoga.com