I first met Steve in Mexico, but we had worked together on the Hardship Fund for a long time before that. Steve is Canada’s first ever DDP Yoga instructor, a really important member of the Hardship Fund, and a generally amazing guy. Steve also happens to be in amazing shape, and through teaching both Karate and DDP Yoga he exemplifies a wonderful commitment to health and self-improvement. Steve is in such great physical condition that you would think he was always in great shape. That’s not the case, and his journey and insight will be of great benefit to anyone on the path to health and fitness.
You have been doing martial arts for a long time. What is your history with martial arts?
I’ve been doing the martial arts for years. I started in a style of Karate called Shorei Kan and trained that for around 3 years. I then took some Judo for a short time. After starting in Corrections I decided I needed to get back into the arts. I found Kyokushin Karate and have been training that for the last 20 years.
How do DDP Yoga and martial arts complement one another?
My style of Karate is a heavy contact style with very little protective gear. Injuries are imminent. A lot of traditional exercises are ballistic, including stretching. DDP Yoga is the ying to the yang of karate for me. DDP Yoga has allowed me to become more flexible and really strengthened my core. The balance is struck with the minimal impact and alignment that DDP Yoga gives vs the ballistic nature and high impact of Karate.
You’re in such amazing shape, it’s hard to imagine you any other way. Was this the case when you started DDP Yoga?
No unfortunately this wasn’t always the case. Before my twins were born I was 187lbs at 6.9% body fat. I was ripped. I then injured my back doing a heavy lift. My back has never been the same. I ate and drank a lot. Didn’t do much else. My job was mostly behind a desk at the prison. I continued to train Karate but basically gave up the fighting aspect. At my heaviest I was 230 lbs with a huge (in my eyes) gut. You can see in some of my “before” pictures.
I started DDP Yoga almost immediately after my last serious back episode. I weighed in at 228(I think) and couldn’t put my socks on by myself because of the back pain. After years of abuse of karate my knees and hip were arthritic. It was everything I had in me to start going. Within 1 week I could feel the difference.
What was your introduction to DDP Yoga?
2 words. “Stupid back” A fellow karateka asked what was wrong and I told him that I had re injured my back. I was pointed toward the DDP Yoga website. I watched Arthur’s video and within 24 hours had ordered the Max Pac and had started energy.
What were your initial goals with Ddp yoga? How long did it take you to meet them?
My initial goals with DDP Yoga were simply to alleviate back pain. The more I trained the more my goals shifted. I started July 5th 2013, by the beginning of August my back pain had become dramatically reduced. Within 4 months I was basically pain free. I had a new lease on life.
What has been your biggest achievement with DDP Yoga?
Well this is a toss up. Becoming the First Certified Instructor in Canada and doing a psycho pushup. For most the instructor makes sense and for a few they understand the psycho push up. So let me try to explain. Becoming Canada’s first Certified Instructor is a huge deal for me. Very exciting and a very difficult challenge. Being one of the first 10 in the world (not really sure where I fall in lol) was an amazing experience with some amazing people.
Now as for the psycho push up, I’ve never been able to hold any kind of inversion in my life. I set a goal to do this particular inversion and started practicing. I worked diligently at it. Kicking up and falling down. Squishing my face in the mat and knocking furniture about. Doing all these slow burn push-ups I could feel the strength I needed developing in my arms and shoulders. I remember the day I hit it! I was overcome with joy! Man what a feeling. I can’t wait to hit my next big inversion and when I do, I’ll let you know. For now I’m keeping it under wraps.
What unexpected things has DDP yoga brought to your life?
Wow, a handful of things here. With the heath returning I was able to get back to training Karate as opposed to just teaching Karate. I have gained friends, mentors, and inspirational people from around the world. I can’t wait to get back training with some of these awesome people.
I know you follow DDP’s liquid recommendations. What about the rest of the nutrition plan?
I approach the nutrition plan very much like Dallas’ talk of living life at 90%. I am basically Gluten and Dairy free. My biggest problem with food is I am a chronic overeater and would go back to that if not for using myfitnesspal to track my intake. As a matter of fact you (Liz) were one of my first friends on MyFitnessPal. My wife, Bettina, is one of my biggest supporters by making our meals within the limits that I set for myself. I still slip. I have the odd chocolate bar or small bag of plain chips. I still enjoy a beer or three or maybe a few more…I train very hard to enjoy my few excesses in life.
Have you encountered any hurdles along the way? How have you overcome them? Are there any hurdles you still cope with?
Most of my hurdles have been food related. I love to eat. I love pasta! We have been able to find some wonderful gluten free pasta so that has helped. As matter of fact I am eating some GF lasagna during this interview. Now it’s just about portion control. When I fall off the food wagon I mentally push that day into the past and reset the very next day. I don’t beat myself up about it. I use myfitnesspal to help track my intake and keep a good guideline for calories in and out. I think I will always struggle with my eating but am prepared to meet that. Just a matter of diligence.
You’re the first ever Canadian DDP Yoga instructor. How did you decide to pursue that goal? How did you meet that goal so quickly?
I think that becoming Certified was just a logical step. 15 years of instructing karate and helping people that way made it easy to try to help people regain their life through DDP Yoga. I couldn’t wait to show others why this is such a great program. I was training DDP Yoga 6 times a week when I applied for the Certification program. Completing that program was foremost in my mind and I attacked it. I worked hard at getting the routines down and trying to understand the flow of each. I trained very much in the style of training kata for Karate. Get the basic forms. Then apply the principles of:
- A) Timing and tempo of technique
- B) Breath control
- C) Points of power and stress
Using these fundamentals, the helpful hand and guidance of Yoga Doc and the others in the certification program, I think, really accelerated me to become Canada’s first DDP Yoga instructor.
What has being a DDP Yoga instructor meant to you? What classes are you teaching?
It’s an opportunity to help those that may not find Karate to be for them. It allows me help more people and develop myself more. The satisfaction I get when I see the joy on someones face when they complete their first full 3 count push up when a few months earlier they couldn’t hold plank for a count of 9 is amazing. Seeing people exceed their own expectations is the greatest gift to me.One of my longest students Heidi can now out plank me and she now inspires me to work harder. It becomes a symbiotic relationship Instructors challenging students then the students challenging the Instructors. It’s an amazing ride and I cant wait for the next new person to walk through my door and experience this.
I teach 4 nights week 1 hour classes. I have amazing students and am slowly growing. I’m almost scared of when this all goes crazy and the numbers grow exponentially. Scary and exciting at the same time and am really looking forward to it.
You’re a key member of the Hardship fund. How did you get involved? What do you get out of it?
As you know, I was there the night the Hardship Fund came into existence. What an amazing night of kinship and love. I made my own donation to help buy a DVD set. I was then asked if I would like to help oversee the administration of the funds. I accepted and since then we have never looked back. I think to date we have had applications exceeding 102. I am very excited to continue to be a part of this grassroots program.
The program through the administration side and donation side allow me to help someone who may be struggling financially but has the desire and drive to change their life. It allows me to pay it forward by helping those people and allowing them when giving the chance to pay it forward themselves.
Next for me in DDP Yoga is getting certified for Level 2. I’m also looking forward for when the app comes out this year. Exciting times. I’m also looking at opening my own studio to teach Karate and DDP Yoga. There’s nothing like having your own space.
I really want to continue to train hard and hopefully I can inspire someone to change their life.
What would you say to someone who is considering DDP Yoga?
I would say “Try it, you’ll be surprised because I sure was” I follow that up explaining that I’ve been a gym rat, I used to run, I’ve been an athlete most of my life until my injuries brought that to an end. I explain how DDP Yoga has allowed me to pursue those goals again. I’ve been thinking I would like to do the Tough Mudder before I turn 51.