INSIDE the wrestling ring, Diamond Dallas Page was a three-time world champion.
But since retiring from full-time action in 2005 he’s seen a different kind of success – as the founder of DDP Yoga.
When I interviewed DDP several weeks ago he was quick to tell me it’s not actual yoga – “it aint’ your mama’s yoga” as his slogan goes – but a combo of traditional poses and bodyweight exercises.
He began developing it when rehabbing two herniated discs in his back in the late 1990 and it’s fast becoming a worldwide fitness phenomenon.
His DDP Yoga app offers workouts and healthy recipes – and the relentless positivity that he’s so well known for is infectious.
So with the man himself doing a tour of DDP Yoga workshops last week, I decided to join the WWE Hall of Famer and give it a go.
Friends who have taken up DDP Yoga have told me it’s a surprisingly hardcore workout – and delivers real results.
So who better to try that me, a terminally lazy bloke who’s seen less of the treadmill than he has the bread bin over the past 12 months.
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Do I have what it takes to workout with a former wrestling world champ and fitness guru?
Or will I end up in a heap, body broken and gasping for air, like I’ve juts been hit with his Diamond Cutter finisher?
Arriving at the DDP Yoga workshop, there’s a near-religious vibe. Peering into the gym, I see dozens on DDP devotees spread out in front of the man himself.
Kneeling on their mats and waiting for him to spread the word of good health, it’s like they are in prayer.
And they worship him for good reason. The success stories of DDP Yoga have been well documented.
Most famously, Paige’s programme and diet has turned around the life of WWE legend and recovering alcoholic Jake “the Snake” Roberts – as seen in the documentary, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake.
There are other stories, such as Albert, a Gulf War vet who was told he’d never walk unassisted again but went on to lose 140lbs through DDP Yoga.
Now he not only walks – he runs.
But shifting my beer gut could be DDP’s biggest challenge yet.
That’s when I realise that I’ve failed before I’ve even started – and shown myself up as not having the first clue about working out. I haven’t brought an exercise mat.
I don’t even own one, let alone bring one.
I manage to borrow one from the sports centre where the workshop’s being held, but it’s a walloping great judo mat.
I make a spectacle of myself dragging it into the gym. It’s the equivalent of forgetting your PE kit and having to go through the humiliation of wearing some scabby joggers from the lost property box.
The DDP Yoga movements are about keeping the body engaged as much as possible.
Glutes and hamstrings tensed, arms stretched, fingers spread, shoulders rolled back, and toes gripping – all simple body movements that the average person would probably never do.
DDP asks us how often we stretch our arms up above our heads in everyday life, just to get some movement in the shoulders.
Only when reaching for the emergency Jaffa Cakes, I think.
Next he talks us through breathing techniques. He says it took him three months to “own” his own breathing and learn how to control it.
He teaches how to take deep breaths, hold it in, and push the oxygen out over the count of three – then five, ten, and eventually twenty.
The trick is to breath in when you extend and breath out when you contract (not that at an exercise philistine like me knows the difference between the two movements, of course).
But like every other time I’ve attempted proper workout, trying to coordinate the breathing and movements is the hardest part.
I keep catching myself exhaling when I should be inhaling, and sticking the wrong leg out in the wrong direction.
DDP jokes that it took him “10 years to make DDP Yoga an overnight success”.
He also says that in three years he wants DDP Yoga to be the biggest fitness programme in the world.
He’s already talking to the NFL and US military to incorporate DDP Yoga – and he envisions it as a $100million business.
And I believe he can do it. He’s already an unlikely success story.
Originally working in nightclubs and as a wrestling manager, he didn’t start his in-ring career until he was 35. He should never have made it.
But he became one of WCW’s biggest homegrown stars. He had a classic feud with Macho Man Randy Savage during 1997 and eventually pinned Ric Flair to become World Champion.
While Sting hung moodily in the rafters, in was DDP who was fighting off the dastardly NWO week-in week-out.
It’s fair to say that DDP Yoga predominantly attracts wrestling fans. It’s hard not to get drawn in when the likes of Chris Jericho and Mick Foley swear by it.
And there are some wrestling poses thrown in.
After every sequence of positions, DDP makes form his Diamond Cutter hand pose with our fingers stretched as far as possible (he comes round to check we’re doing it right).
We then raise our Diamond Cutter to the air and turn it into a Hulk Hogan-style bear hug pose and growl like the Hulkster.
It’s a very American-style workout – all big expressions and losing your inhibitions. A bit too extrovert for us poor, permanently-embarrassed Brits.
I’ll confess I wasn’t giving my all, but I have to go full-on Hulk as DDP makes his way through the crowd and stands right in front of me.
As a wrestling fan of 27 years, it’s a surreal moment to be hulking up and growling in unsion with Diamond Dallas Page – face-to-face, looking each other dead in the eye.
I think about turning heel and hitting him with a surprise Stone Cold Stunner.
But at 61-years-old he’s in better shape than I’ll ever been in – or ever likely to be – and he’d easily reverse it into a Diamond Cutter and drop me like a sack of spuds.
Next he has me balancing on one knee, with my other leg held out in front of me. I’m pretty sure it’s physically impossible – which I prove my doing a comedy fall on my backside.
Then come the lunges (never my forte) which DDP has us holding for so long that my front leg sears in pain and wobbles uncontrollably.
The competitive streak in me – which has been laying dormant since a disastrous piggy back race during my school’s sports day in 1993 – comes racing to the top.
I can’t be the first person to buckle. It would an ego-smashing disaster. And not in front of DDP.
Mercifully, I survive. Then after an hour of doing the moves, DPP says: “OK, let’s take a quick break and then we’ll start the workout.”
So wait, that wasn’t even the workout?!
DDP gives us a quick pep talk on diet. He’s gluten free, dairy free, and warns us about GM wheat.
It’s inspiring – and he’s right, of course – but I’m overcome with guilt about the amount of Chinese take away I had the night before.
And pizza and eight beers I had the night before that. DDP would not approve.
The “real” workout starts and it’s a blur of activity – all the movements we’ve been learning put into a seamless sequence.
Huddle position to lunge. Hands stretched to the ceiling. Push ups into the cobra. Squats and more impossible balancing. One-two punches. Diamond cutter into hulking up.
All while controlling our breathing and counting down in military-style chants as we push the air out.
I look at one point when I’m supposed to be holding a push-up (pure torture) and see that DDP is doing a near-headstand, his body almost completely vertical in air.
I’m not convinced I’m getting the most out of it, because I spend half the time looking around to make sure I’m doing it right – and find myself facing in the completely the wrong direction, or poking out the wrong body part.
At one point I “feel the bang” – as DDP puts it – when he has me holding my arms straight up over our heads for what feels like an hour (probably about a minute in reality).
I had no idea holding your arms up a bit could hurt so much. My shoulders are on fire, but refuse to be the first person to crack and tap out.
When the workout finishes it doesn’t feel that bad. I was expecting to be run ragged and sweating buckets, but I’m not.
I put it down to me not doing right, and shrug it off. It’s not until I get home later and realise my legs are so stiff that I can barely get up the stairs to my flat.
The next day my arms, shoulders, and abs – or what pass for abs under the beer belly – are the same.
Every time I try to do something simple like put a t-shirt my body aches, and I see a vision of DDP hulking up in front on me.
In hindsight it was a tough session. But DDP says when it comes to his workouts he doesn’t want to hear “I can’t do it” – only that “I can’t do it yet”.
For more on DDP Yoga visit ddpyoga.com
coming for Ju
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