‘Every day is Veterans Day’ - Professional wrestler helps change the lives of veterans through fitness
Diamond Dallas Page (DDP) has never been one to let age define his goals—he entered professional wrestling when he was 35 years old and now, after turning 64, remains an example of fitness potential for everybody from professional athletes to those simply yearning to take control of their lives by regaining strength and flexibility in addition to weight loss.
His daily activities often place him in contact with military members who have not only inspired him to participate in morale visits to military bases overseas, but to offer an unprecedented discount for veterans investing in his enhanced DDP Yoga fitness program (recently branded DDPY), which he describes as “yoga for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing yoga.”
Page recalled, “My father and grandfather were both veterans. Growing up, I wanted to join the Marines, but like so many things in our lives, it didn’t work out.” He added, “But when I later became involved in professional wrestling, it provided me with several opportunities to give back to our veterans.”
In 1998, after being slammed into the mat during a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) match, the future of his career came into question when he discovered he had incurred severe damage to vertebrae in his lower back and might never again wrestle.
“I saw three different spine specialists and each one said my career in wrestling was finished,” said Page. “There was always the possibility of spinal surgery, but that can end up causing severe damage.”
While recuperating at home and pondering his next step, Page’s wife at the time encouraged him to consider trying yoga. Although he affirmed that he was the type of guy that “wouldn’t be caught dead” engaged in such a fitness endeavor, the excruciating pain he experienced helped change his outlook.
“At first, I learned to engage my muscles quite by accident and noticed that it increased my heart rate,” he explained. “Then, I created several modifications along the way and incorporated slow-burn movements and calisthenics into my fitness program. It became a fusion of many approaches and increased my strength, flexibility and endurance.” Excitedly, he added, “Within three months, I was back in the ring.”
Throughout the next several years, Page refined the fitness regimen that helped return him to the ring, eventually morphing into DDPY. The the fitness model has not only helped fellow wrestlers such as Chris Jerico return to ring following injuries, but has introduced him to a veteran whose experiences have inspired countless others in their recovery journeys.
“Several years ago, early in the development of what is now DDPY, I personally contacted everyone through email who invested in the program,” said Page. “In the email, I asked them to respond to six questions, which Arthur Boorman did … and his answers amazed me.”
Page went on to explain that Boorman submitted pictures of himself, revealing he was at the time both morbidly obese and unable to walk without the assistance of crutches and supportive devices. Many of his injuries, Boorman explained, were from his service with the U.S. Army during the Gulf War.
“I didn’t know if I could help him, to be honest with you,” he said. “But I was able to give him a lifestyle change that not only included my fitness program, but an eating plan as well. He certainly changed his life and lost about 140 pounds in ten months … and no longer needs the braces!” he exclaimed.
The weight loss Page has witnessed throughout the years by those using his DDPY is what he describes as a “side effect.” He noted, “I inspired one guy to change his life and Arthur has gone on to inspire millions to change theirs.”
The flexibility and strength Page reclaimed through his tailored fitness endeavors have allowed him to continue his professional wrestling career. Additionally, his popularity as an athlete among members of the armed forces has motivated his participation in several morale visits at military bases overseas.
“I’ve been to Iraq three times and once to Afghanistan,” he explained. “I would take the world title belt with me on the trips and pose for photographs with the troops—I loved doing it!” he enthusiastically remarked.
During one these troop visits, he posed for photographs with a young soldier, Sergeant Christopher C. Simpson, who explained that he was a dedicated fan of the wrestler.
“On a flight home from one of my trips, I got an email from Simpson’s uncle,” Page recalled. “The title of the email read something like ‘Diamond Dallas Page fan killed in the line of duty.’”
The 23-year-old Sgt. Simpson was killed on March 17, 2008, while serving in Iraq. Tears streamed down Page’s face as he read the email from the Simpson’s uncle, inspiring him to contact the fallen soldier’s mother.
“His mother responded to me and I went to visit with her; we helped raise money that was used to dedicate a park in Virginia in his memory,” he said. “There is a picture of him, Sgt. Simpson, hanging in my home and I will never forget him and all that he sacrificed for us.”
Page explained that he is surrounded by veterans on a daily basis and is eager to hear stories of how DDPY has helped many of them reclaim their lives. In respect for the service they performed and the difficulties they have endured while in the military, he gives back through affordable access to his fitness program.
“My program works and the results speak for itself—it’s not a gimmick or a bunch of smoke and mirrors,” he affirmed. “Because of this, I am not one to give a break on the price and am not one inclined to offer discounts.” He continued, “But every day is Veterans Day here at DDPY and I give veterans a 50% discount off the program all of the time.” Pausing, he concluded, “It’s my way of giving back to those who defend our freedoms.”
For more information on DDP Yoga visit www.ddpyoga.com or www.DDPY.com.
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.