Haydn was the first DDP Yoga community member I met in person, and is also one of my favourite people in the world!
When I first met Haydn, we were both toward the end of the DDP Yoga instructor certification process at a time when there were only a handful of people in the certification program. We had been friends on Facebook for a while when I noticed he listed Bognor Regis as his hometown. I live in America, but my mother not only lives in the UK; she lives less than 5 miles from Bognor Regis!! The two towns are so close that I have run from her house to Bognor Regis on reasonably short training runs when visiting her. I sent a pm to Haydn asking if he actually lived there; I couldn’t believe what a crazy coincidence this was!
Before I knew it, we had arranged to meet while I was home for the holidays. That quickly evolved into us both filming our video submissions for the certification process together, and spending as much free time as I had while in the UK going out to coffee together. By the end of the trip, Haydn, his wife Laura and I were friends for life.
Since meeting Haydn in the UK, I have been able to enjoy two vacations with him at the DDP Yoga retreats in 2014 and 2015. Possibly my favourite of the retreat is our annual tradition of doing a freestyle, instructor-only workout together. This year, Haydn and I, together with Steve Doyle, took turns in kicking each others’ butts in a workout without any push-ups or supine poses.
I’m not the only Haydn fan in my family. My mother takes his class, and is such a huge fan of Haydn’s, that when she and I were driving to a DDP Yoga workshop in Illinois, she spent the entire car ride planning how she would praise Haydn when she met DDP. I had to gently remind her that she may want to mention another DDP Yoga instructor to him (rhymes with Schmirstborn!).
Aside from being a genuinely wonderful person, Haydn is also a true beacon of inspiration for the DDP Yoga community. Not only has he lost weight, healed physical injuries and improved his health with DDP Yoga, he has overcome massive obstacles. Haydn’s humility and grace really model how we should all tailor our expectations to our own situations, practice not comparing ourselves to others, and allow ourselves celebrate our victories even though they may not be big achievements to others.
I’m thrilled to share Haydn’s story, and to share a challenge Haydn and I are undertaking together.
What was your background with physical fitness and exercise?
In school I had a major dislike for any physical exercise. My P.E. teachers didn’t accept my dyspraxia as an issue to work with, and would force me to do humiliating activities, such as sticking me in the goal for class football because I couldn’t catch, kick, or run, so I was used as target practise for the others.
I started general gym workouts age 20, lifting weights and using the elliptical, to improve my physique. At 25, I was looking for a new path, I had lost a very close friend to smoking and alcohol (I was on the same route). I discovered a personal trainer who was a Muay Thai specialist as well as a general PT. Each week I would rock up to the gym and get my ass kicked all over the room for 90 minutes. Bit by the fighting bug, I wanted to turn semi professional and try my hand at in ring competition. Unfortunately, injury (a torn ACL) stopped that.
What exactly is Dyspraxia, and how does it affect DDP Yoga?
Dyspraxia affects the fine and/or gross motor coordination, things like handwriting, balance, hand eye coordination etc. For me it was always balance and hand eye coordination. I found lunges and single leg balance positions killer. DDP Yoga has improved my balance, my posture -dyspraxics have notoriously bad posture- and my mind focus. There is a video on YouTube of me holding the Roundhouse Kick position for a 70 count. That would never have happened before DDP Yoga.
How did you discover DDP Yoga?
In January 2013 Chris Jericho returned to the Royal Rumble after touring with his band Fozzy for six to eight months. This dude came back to the WWE in incredible shape and wrestled for over 40 minutes on his first night back. The next day people were tweeting him asking how he stayed in shape on tour, his answer……DDP Yoga! A few days later a friend of mine showed me this video of a veteran called Arthur*, I put the two together and ordered the package.
What was your physical status when you started DDP Yoga?
When I ordered DDP Yoga, I was close to 235lbs and injured. In 2010 at age 30, I tore my right ACL while training Muay Thai. I tried to keep up some kind of training regime, but since my cardio dropped and the intensity of workouts lessened my body started to break down. I had been harbouring a neck injury (bulging discs at C7 and T4), a bicep injury and my left leg started to deteriorate through compensation. I eventually stopped training, but kept up eating….a lot! By 2013, I was 235lbs, walking badly (some days with a stick), in pain and not well.
What were your original goals with DDP Yoga?
I wanted to see if this really worked…..if Arthur could do this, could I? All I wanted to do was to lose a little weight and not be in pain when walking and driving. The goals were realistic to me because I didn’t believe in myself at the start, so it was a day-by-day approach.
How long did it take you to meet your goals?
My initial goals were met and blown out of the water; three weeks in I was down 20 lbs. I started the Phase II eating plan, which was a total game changer. Did I fail to meet any goals? Not at first, as I said it was a day-by-day approach. I was happy if I survived Energy and didn’t modify, or if I got through Below the Belt without a balance aid.
Are you still working on any goals?
……hahaha……I have a huge block with inversions. For two years, this dyspraxic boy has been trying to get upside down. I nailed Black Crow after 12 months, which is why I have it tattooed on my arm, but forearm balance or Psycho Push-ups are still not happening. It’s easy to get negative over this, as you know. But taking it day-by-day, and realising the little improvements is how I control it. I recently got some awesome help with the inversion positions from you (Liz) and Canada’s own Steve Doyle, while we were on the retreat together. I will be putting the advice into practise over the next few weeks.
What role did the Team DDP Yoga community play for you?
Well, as I said above, I received help on inversions from you and Steve. The whole team is an incredible family. I read stories that motivate me every single day, from seasoned DDP Yoga people and complete newbies. When you see someone like Nathan Munsell posting his videos each day, it makes you work harder. This family is built on respect and inspiration.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
So so many to mention! Laura, my wife, has pushed me harder than anyone. She knew my goal was to walk down the aisle at a comfortable weight and not limping. Laura will attend almost all of my classes, she was my guinea pig while learning my Level 1 certification and she is my rock when I struggle with food or inversions.
My parents need a mention here too, they have always shown pride in all I have achieved due to the interesting start to life I had with dyspraxia. I will never forget my parents telling me that “it’s great you are doing the DDP Yoga thing, but remember it might just be a phase….” When they saw the difference it made to my posture and my walking, it’s not just a phase it’s a way of life.
What hurdles have you encountered along the way?
Physical hurdles came from the balance aspect of the workouts. I was not able to get deep in lunges for a long time. Punching while in a lunge would throw me off the mat. Further down the line Wrap and Burn and Black Crow became huge obstacles that I would spend time working through. I would do Fat Burner then put ten minutes of Wrap and Burn and Black Crow at the end. Also, Can Opener was a real git to get into; my hips were so messed up through a lifetime of bad posture and hypermobility that it used to hurt!
Food wise, I struggle with sugar! Gluten and dairy were easy to give up, but sugar will not go away. In fact I’m working on a new plan with you right now, so people can look forward to some insightful blogs from us both in the near future [see below].
How did you decide to pursue certification?
Within 3 months of DDP Yoga I had fallen in love with workout and the way of life. In June 2013, we attended a DDP Yoga workshop in the UK. Meeting Dallas was a huge honour and I asked then if there would be any way of teaching this program, he explained the plan for the certification and told me to keep looking for the launch date. The certification launched on August 1st 2013 and I signed up that very day. My original plan was to be able to teach DDP Yoga to my friends; just to pass the certification was a goal beyond my wildest dreams.
How long did the certification process take for you?
I passed the certification on 16th December 2013. I found the whole process a pleasant challenge, nothing was easy, but also nothing was unobtainable. I enjoyed pushing through my 100 hours of practise, most of which was taken up with learning the Level 1 workout. Becoming an instructor increased my fitness level, calling a workout and doing the workout at the same time can be challenging… especially if you don’t keep track of your heart rate throughout.
What has being an instructor done for you?
This has pushed me to a whole new place in life and in physical fitness. I have recently moved away from my old job in government music education to become a self-employed drum tutor and DDP Yoga instructor. For the first time in 12 years I am my own boss. I have met so many incredible students, and helped people achieve their goals no matter how small they may seem. This is very humbling.
How did you build your classes?
I started with one class at a local boxing gym. Through self motivation and social media, by September I had fourteen classes in five days. Due to a venue closing, I’m currently running eight classes and three one-on-one sessions each week. Classes sizes vary from six to fifteen people per class. The best part about teaching DDP Yoga for me is watching people take control of their lives, if I have a client that wants to gain flexibility so they can improve their running speed, or a 60+ year old who wants to be able play with her grandchild on the floor again, if they achieve that then I am over the moon. Not everybody wants to be able to hold a 60 count Black Crow, some people just want to feel good about themselves! That’s why I do what I do.
My mother will kill me if I don’t ask: who is your favourite student?
Hahahaha…..I have so many favourites…..all of them! It’s a real pleasure teaching my Over 60’s class (which includes your mother, Mary). These are ladies who want to regain flexibility and they are lovely to teach**. But I genuinely couldn’t pick a favourite from all of my classes! They all Rock!
What advice would you give to someone considering the certification process?
Do it! Own it! Listen to the advice your mentor gives you, listen to Yoga Doc, be open-minded and most of all take any information on board and store it!
What is next for you and DDP Yoga?
I want to build my classes and increase the knowledge of DDP Yoga in the UK. I’m keen to progress through the next Certification Levels as they are released.
Is there anything you continue to struggle with?
As I mentioned above, forearm balance is an ongoing struggle. I will overcome this with practise and using the advice given to me by you and Steve Doyle. It’s mind over matter! Sugar is my other struggle, again I touched on this earlier too, a change of work/life balance and staying focused will help with this, along with staying accountable to you.
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
Teaching at the 2014 and 2015 retreats are easily my proudest moments. I feel privileged and honoured to have taught in Mexico in front of Diamond Dallas Page and other fellow instructors.
What would you tell anyone considering DDP Yoga?
Don’t consider it any longer, just do it! Whatever you want to achieve DDP Yoga will help you get there.
Where can we find you?
As Haydn touched upon, both he and I struggle with sugar addiction. This year at the retreat, we discussed this issue and realized that we had the same pattern of cycling on and off the wagon. We decided to become accountability partners, and came up with a challenge whereby the second we stepped foot onto our respective countries of residence, we would abstain from all sugars and artificial sweeteners.
We have laid out the rules of our sugar free challenge, our personal motivations for quitting sugar, and a diary of our progress on this page. Check in to see how we’re doing… You may even catch us live-blogging!
We are going to do this challenge for at least 60 days (the length of time it takes to rewire your brain), but hopefully longer.
** He can’t possibly be referring to the same woman I taught to knit!