My relationship with exercise has never been that great. In school, PE was something that the school foisted on me, that I would’ve gladly skipped given half a chance. Failing that, if it were up to me I would’ve eliminated about two thirds of the activities it entailed. My maternal grandfather was probably the single most conventional person in my family, and it was pretty much entirely because of him that as a kid I had a lot of mostly-unused athletic equipment. In college I took exactly two PE classes. In community college I took a badminton class, which I sort of enjoyed except for occasionally getting so tired it made me dizzy, and which I eventually just decided to stop going to. When I was at a proper 4-year college I took a Tai Chi class (because bowling was full up), and stuck it out to the end, but had pretty lousy attendance. I think it shows how much college PE teachers know their place that I got a C in both classes, where with my attendance I’d have been dropped from any normal class.
I don’t entirely dislike doing physical things, but school had provided an ample supply of physical activities I didn’t like. Competitive sports were usually at turns boring and just plain unpleasant, and running felt like a punishment. Being behind basically everyone else in the class didn’t help either. As an adult I developed hip problems that made most forms of exercise physically difficult. There have been times when it took some considerable effort to get out of bed, and stairs have been Not My Friend for a long time, so exercise was pretty much off the table. Doctors have largely told me there isn’t much they can do about it; my hip condition is rare and tricky to treat, yet not urgent. Even so, there were a few forms of exercise I tried pursuing on my own–playing Dance Dance Revolution, bicycling, etc.–but they were hard to do consistently, and often presented too high a hill to climb. In spite of that, until late last year I was getting around fairly well on the bus.
Recently things have turned around. Last November I got a car for the first time. Although it cut most of the walking out of my life, it also seemed to have simply given me a chance to recover from some of the wear and tear that all that walking around was causing. I had been planning to continue commuting by bus and leave the car for weekends and errands for a while, but I fell into regular driving much more quickly than I’d have thought possible. More recently I started on an exercise regimen in the form of DDP Yoga .
People have been known to dismiss professional wrestling as “fake,” which is true in the sense that there’s stagecraft involved and matches are decided ahead of time, but false in the sense that it’s pretty brutal on the human body. In that sense it’s probably comparable to, say, American football, but without the sky-high paychecks. Some take better care of themselves than others, but alcoholism and other forms of drug abuse are common among retired professional wrestlers. Even the few who are into clean living still suffer the occasional serious injury. I mention all of this because “DDP Yoga” is from Diamond Dallas Page. When I got into pro-wrestling, it was a bit after his real glory days on WCW, but I saw and genuinely liked his run on WWE, around 2001 and 2002. (His catch phrase: “I like me, and you like me, and I’m gonna help you like you!”) DDP Yoga is a blend of yoga and rehabilitation techniques. I roll my eyes a bit at how his story of DDP Yoga’s genesis involves him finally overcoming his reluctance to give yoga a chance because he saw it as too girly. (Though it’s nothing compared to the silliness of ” Broga .”) Yoga as a thing (affluent, white) women do is basically the strange way it’s developed in America, and in that respect is not much like authentic yoga as practiced in India. Of course, I say all that, but embarrassment helped keep me from getting into a proper exercise routine for over a decade. In any case, DDP Yoga (formerly YRG; “Yoga for Regular Guys”) helped pull wrestling veterans like Jake Roberts and Scott Hall out of downward spirals. I don’t drink or do drugs, and my indulgences are basically limited tea and junk food, so despite my own health problems I may be at a better starting point than guys who’ve been through decades of wrestling and alcohol and painkillers.
Researching it less than I probably should have, I ordered the DDP Yoga DVDs (for $90) and got started on the workouts. For me the two main advantages over other forms of exercise are (1) it’s something I can do in my bedroom in half an hour or so with no equipment to speak of, and (2) it’s a challenging but zero-impact workout. The $90 I spent was a bit hefty at the time, but it was a one-time expense. Being the introverted weirdo that I am, I doubt I could bring myself to keep up with going to a gym on a social level, and it’s nice to be able to close the door, exercise in my boxers, and then resume whatever I was doing at home. If I decide I need a break, it’s a close as the Pause button, and I’m neither interrupting nor missing a class. DDP Yoga moves involve a lot of standing in place or getting on hands and knees and going through poses that use dynamic resistance, and the only material things I need to bring are water and a towel. DDP’s upbeat, encouraging attitude in the videos doesn’t hurt either. I’ve now rounded out about 3 months of doing DDP Yoga at least 3 times a week, and the sheer consistency with which I’ve been doing it has surprised me and my friends alike.
I still have a ways to go, but the improvement has been pretty enormous. For a while I was getting ready to look into being considered officially Handicapped, if only because it would get me better parking and cheaper buss passes ($25 a month instead of $70!). I still get winded easily, and I can’t be on my feet for too long, but taking stairs is no longer a massive ordeal involving lots of pushing myself up with the guard rail. For a while when something fell on the floor I would semi-jokingly think, “Welp, that’s gone forever.” After a while I bought an old-people grabber arm, but more recently I haven’t needed it because I’ve regained the ability to bend over to pick stuff up, and it feels like a superpower. At times I kind of resent being human in the sense of being a sack of meat, but it’s all I’ve got and all I’m likely to ever get. Not exercising and not seeing any way to start exercising sometimes had me worrying that I would die prematurely from heart failure or some such. Being more fit not only helps alleviate that fear, but makes the whole experience of life a bit better better. The path there isn’t always clear though, and like a lot of things each person needs to figure out what works for them. For me a whole lot of more conventional forms of exercise have largely failed in one way or another, but for whatever reason a yoga variant from a retired professional wrestler is doing the trick.