Diamond Dallas Page is a former three-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most popular wrestlers that ever graced the WCW ring. His Diamond Cutter finisher was an insanely popular move, being named best maneuver by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in 1997, and while his time in WWF/E following the 2001 merger was far from exceptional, he is still remembered for standing up to the NWO and being a leading light during the peak of WCW's popularity.However, since he stepped away from the squared circle, DDP has become known as a purveyor for healthy living, specifically through his yoga program. He has helped people turn their lives around and saved more than one former wrestler from bad places, as well as developing an exercise system that has helped to extend many an in-ring career.
We were lucky enough to sit down with DDP during his recent trip to the UK, where he is putting on a course of seminars, Q&A's, and workshops. Tickets are available at http://www.ddpyogaworkshops.com/uk/
RealSport: I’m curious to where it all began. You explain on the DDP yoga website that you first discovered yoga while recovering from a back injury, but who was it that introduced the idea of yoga to you in the first place?
Diamond Dallas Page: It was my ex-wife Kimberly. She said, “I really believe this will help you heal yourself.” I actually ruptured my L4 and L5. I basically broke my back. I said “No, I’m not doing yoga,” and she was like “why not?” and I said, “‘cos I’m not doing yoga.” I was that guy. So when people say “I don’t do yoga”, I get it. That was me. But this is DDP Yoga. I started to do the rehab and I mixed the rehabilitation techniques with the yoga. I mixed with the calisthenics, the pushups, squats, crunches, but I did them with a slow-mo movement because I had to. It was not like I did it by choice. I did it with a slow burn, which helped my body not work too hard.
What it was doing, what I figured out by accident, was every time you flex or engage a muscle, and especially when you are moving slow, every time you flex or engage a muscle, your heart has to beat faster to get blood flow to that muscle. What ends up happening is, your heart rate goes through the roof. So what I really created by accident, is DDP Yoga, which is a kick ass cardiovascular workout that will dramatically increase your flexibility, strengthen your core like never before, and with minimal joint impact.
In less than three months, I was back in the ring. At 42, when I threw my back out, I had three spine specialists, top in the United States, tell me my career was over. In less than three months, I was back in the ring. At 42, they said my career was over. At 43, I was a world champ.
RS: When did you start teaching the regime that would become DDP Yoga to other people?
DDP: Actually some of the guys in WWE. I can remember Randy Orton had hurt his shoulder, and I was doing it just for me around ringside and Randy came up to me. He said, “Diamond, what are you doing?” He was a kid then, like 22. I said, “I’m doing my program.” He said, “Do you think it could help me?” And I said “Yeah. You know Randy, guys are going to laugh at you.” Nobody understood it back then. They thought I was just doing yoga.
He goes “I don’t care. Will it help me?” I said “Absolutely.” That became me teaching people little pieces of it. So I decided to turn it on to some of my friends. A lot of people got healthier and lost so much weight and felt better. DDP Yoga was never developed to help people lose weight, ever. It was developed to heal my body and get me back in the ring. The crazy thing is, the weight loss thing, turned out to be a really awesome side effect.
RS: Is this your first time doing the yoga clinics in the UK?
DDP: I came about four years ago, and I came a year before that. I was doing a comic-con, and I just did a couple of DDP Yoga workshops. Then I came back about a year and a half later and I did some spoken word Q&As with my buddy Chris Brooker. I did two DDP Yoga workshops, one in London and one in Manchester. This time I’m coming over with my wife Brenda and we’re making it a whole vacation and speaking tour. Matter of fact it’s more than just a Q&A whenever I do that. It’s also attached to a meet and greet. You can do either one. You can come just for the Q&A, or you can come for the meet and greet, the whole deal.
But I’m also doing, of course, DDP Yoga workshops, which are literally inspiration meets perspiration. Those are three-hour events, and I don’t want people to think it’s just doing a workout with me, because that’s not the case at all. It’s literally inspiration meets perspiration, and I guarantee you two things. One, they’re going to be so inspired that they’re going to feel like they can run through a brick wall. Number two, at some point, they’re going to sweat their ass off. That’s why people come to them. The first forty minutes is just me talking, my story, and how I got to where I got to from my professional life. [I talk about] my whole DDP Yoga thing as well, where it came from.
It’s all about inspiration. It’s about inspiring people to believe that they can do it too. And that’s the message: 'if I could do this, what could you do?' Then I break it down. I give you a whole section on breathing. Then I explain dynamic resistance, which is literally engaging and flexing your muscles when you’re doing one group into another. That gets your heart rate jacked up. Then I get into the Diamond Dozen. That’s where anyone at any level can come to my workshop. There are people who are big, that are 300-plus pounds, I’ve had 400 pounders come, but I’ve also had people who are extremely fit. Then there are people who are young and people who are old.
I have DDP Yoga Now, the app, and when I do my live workouts, you’ll see a guy named Ken Evans work out on stage with me occasionally. He’s 83 years young. I’ve had everyone from 12 years old to 83 years old or more. You go from really big to really fit, and actually more men than women. There are a lot of women, but more men than women there, always is. And that’s because it’s DDP Yoga. It ain’t your mama’s yoga. I never developed this for people that do yoga. I developed this for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga, because I was like that starting out.
And then after I was done with all the modifications, with the Diamond Dozen, then at that point, I’ll go into the workout, and some people will say “well that’s enough for me, I’m gonna sit here and watch this”, but I guarantee you, at some point they’re going to get up and start doing the work out with us. Because they’re going to be like, “wow, I already know how to do this”, or I can make it easier and then they’ll get into it, and that’s super powerful. At the end of everything, we take a group picture with everyone, and then we take selfies with each person. It’s all part of the experience.
RS: I see. Now, Daniel Bryan has made a lot of comments, as has his wife, that he is planning on returning to the ring once his WWE contract expires. Is he someone you maybe have reached out to use DDP Yoga to maybe get back into ring shape?
DDP: I have but he has never gotten back to me on it. I have reached out twice and he hasn’t gotten back to me. I don’t do it more than that. If someone needs my help, I’m there but they have got to put the work in and if they really are injured, they have to stop doing what we normally do. Stop so that I can heal you. I can’t do it if someone is beating the hell out of their body. I can help you get out of the way there partly, but if you really want to get all the way there again, then I really can’t do that. You have to heal your body and take care of it and he’s doing that by not working.
But that is a serious injury. A very serious injury. And what no one wants to do is walk away and stop, you can bet your ass Stone Cold Steve Austin didn’t want to stop. Edge didn’t want to stop. They were at the apex of their careers when they had to. That’s why you don’t see them out there doing that anymore. They would like to, but then what is the payoff? I wish that kid all the luck in the world. Someone like a big guy can work and not have to take all the bumps but when you are Daniel Bryan, you take a lot of bumps. I can watch one of his matches, which I love, thinking he is one of my favorite guys to watch, and I loved how he grabbed the people. One thing is for sure, if he does start again when his contract is over, whether it is independent or otherwise, he’s going to be a big draw.
DDP: I think he will draw a lot of money. He has to know when to walk away. So I wish him all the luck in the world in whatever he chooses.