Age Wave CEO Ken Dychtwald delivered the first keynote presentation at last year's Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego. The theme of his inspiring talk was embracing active aging, as well as the wellness revolution. He began his presentation by telling the audience of 2,500 plus the story of Arthur, a former Army paratrooper who had been injured during the Gulf War. Too many jumps had taken its toll on Arthur's back and knees, and for the past 15 years, he had been told by medical "experts" that he would never walk unassisted again. In his inspirational video watched by more than 10 million people (and embedded below), Arthur describes himself as a 47-year-old disabled veteran who had given up. He couldn't walk. He couldn't run. He had no hope until he reached out to one person: Diamond Dallas Page.
Recently, I spoke with Diamond Dallas Page, the man who transformed himself from high school basketball star to nightclub manager to wrestling world champion to fitness guru. Truly, there are very few out there like DDP, but there are millions out there depending on DDP. As the inventor of DDPYoga — a workout he describes as "cardio that dramatically increases your flexibility and core strength, all with minimal joint impact" — DDP has become one of the poster boys in Ken Dychtwald's aforementioned wellness revolution, inspiring millions around the world to never give up.
DDP's journey to fitness guru started when he was 12 years old. He was hit by a car and was told he could no longer play hockey or football. He was advised to play basketball. "Back then, according to doctors, basketball wasn't a contact sport even though there's more wear and tear on your knees than any other sport," Page says. Despite his impressive size — Page stands 6 feet, 4 inches — he struggled at the sport. But two words drove Page to succeed: work ethic. Page was the first guy to arrive and the last guy to leave, and his commitment translated into honorable mention All-American honors at Ocean County Junior College in New Jersey, where he average 23 points and 13 rebounds per game. "They let me play a sport, which I sucked at. But I worked my butt off, and I think that's where I really understood what work ethic could bring."
By his early 20s, DDP was managing nightclubs while trying to break into the wrestling business. As the years passed, DDP moved on from his dream of being a wrestler to his new dream of being a wrestling manager. He sent to the American Wrestling Association a tape that he shot with guys who wanted to be wrestlers. Ultimately, he received a call from Paul Heyman, formerly known as Paul E. Dangerously, telling Page he was looking for guys that could talk and had a lot of energy. He was looking for DDP. He followed his wrestling dream to WCW and officially put his nightclub career behind him. He flourished in the promotion, but ultimately it was determined by management that, between the hair and girls and diamonds, he might be a little too over the top as a manager. "They said 'We should've given you a pair of tights and boots and seen what you could do.' Then they laughed and walked away," says Page. He, too, walked away. Right to the Power Plant, a training ground for would-be professional wrestlers.
Page was the oldest person training there by at least 10 years, but the man who overcame dyslexia and ADD at the age of 30 wasn't going to give up. "I just worked harder than anybody there," he says. "It was just persistence. Never giving up." At the age of 35, Diamond Dallas Page officially became a professional wrestler and became an immediate hit with fans with his finishing move, the Diamond Cutter, and his inspirational catch-phrases, such as "Feel the bang!" and "Self high-five!"
At the top of his career, DDP blew his back out. And like Arthur, there were many who told him he could never do something he loved again. "Three back specialists — the best — told me my career was over." On top of that, DDP had a lot of scar tissue in his knees and shoulders from previous surgeries. At the suggestion of his now ex-wife Kimberly, he tried yoga. He felt the difference, but the man with the dynamic personality needed something that fit his personality more. Enter dynamic resistance training. "I'm a weightlifter, but I couldn't lift any weights at the time, so I started doing certain moves longer and in sets, and I realized that my heart is getting jacked up doing this," says Page. "That's when I realized the power of dynamic resistance, which is the flexing or engaging of muscles as you move from one position to another."
It was then that DDPYoga was unofficially born, and that training got DDP back into the ring in only three months. And shortly after that, at 43 years old, he became the World Heavyweight Champion. No one was laughing now. Today, DDP travels around the country hosting bootcamps and workshops he describes as "Inspiration meets perspiration." Millions of Diamond Dallas Page and DDPYoga fans out there are using DDP's inspiration to create their perspiration. And for that, they have all proudly earned a self high-five.
To learn more about DDPYoga, visit ddpyoga.com.