Lessons From Dan John

I recently had the good fortune of getting my Hardstyle Kettlebell Certification in Clayton, MO.  Now you may ask… why did I travel from my beloved NYC to get a certification?

Two reasons.

Number one, in a world of fly-by-night internet certifications for ninety nine beans and open-book, online, multiple-choice tests, this is the entry kettlebell cert from a company called Dragon Door.  Usually I would LOL at a company that calls itself “Dragon Door”, but let me tell you… Dragon Door is filled with straight up NINJAS.  To my mind, Dragon Door certifications offer some of the best education and the most rigorous standards of any certifications in the entire industry (including performance testing; this is NOT the norm in my industry).  It’s also fair to say Dragon Door founder John Du Cane and fitness super hero Pavel Tsatsouline pretty much launched the kettlebell revolution in the beginning of the century.  I’ve found Pavel’s work invaluable over the years and getting my HKC is just the beginning of my journey with Dragon Door.

Number two… this guy.


Long time readers will know the name Dan John as he’s frequently cited in my writing and has been one of the single biggest influences in my work in health and hotness.  In addition to being a gracious and humble guy, Dan is literally a living legend in my field.  Hopping on a plane for a whirlwind 24 hour visit was a small price to pay to spend some time with one of the most respected (and well liked) fellas in the fitness industry.

As a complete and total nerd, these events tend to be a chance to review information and deepen my understanding of concepts I’ve already been studying.  And while I DEFINITELY learned some shiny new tricks and concepts to add to my tool belt, I won’t bore you guys as it’s not all going to be super relevant for your particular journeys in health and hotness.  That said, there are number of Dan John-isms that are worth keeping in mind, even for the casual fitness enthusiast.

1) The goal is to keep the goal the goal – Simple but profound.   Like most pieces of wisdom, this particular nugget works on many levels.  Although we could apply this to many realms of life, its implications for training are pretty straight forward: when you’re pursuing a goal, KEEP GOING.  How many times do folks start on a fat loss journey and then… get side tracked… by cookies?  Or the skinny guy in pursuit of muscle mass who flips from eating big to desperately dieting off the little bit of pinchability on his abs?  If you have a fitness (or life) goal, sometimes the only missing ingredient is the tenacity to stick with it till it’s done.  Particularly for health and hotness, where we’re often attempting to do something pretty simple (though not necessarily easy).  If you want to lose 10 pounds, keep the goal the goal.  KEEP GOING.

2 Fat loss is an all-out war – While I admit this isn’t appropriate in all situations, I’ve found a lot of wisdom in this approach for a lot of people.  This particular statement from Dan John is literally what birthed the idea of our “Snatched in 6 Weeks” Total Body Makeover Program.  Although the original quote went on to recommend 28 days as the ideal time, nonetheless it’s been super influential in my work to help clients get after their fat loss goals.  Get in, get out, get back to life.  While I understand and appreciate that many folks will do better by slowly layering in behavioral changes over time, I think the obvious and early(ish) wins that can happen with this approach often provide the necessary motivation to keep going and create the dramatic physique transformations MFF gets with our clients.

3 Everything works, but only for so long –  AAAAH, the truth burns my eyes!!!  This is one of the most profound things you’ll ever hear.  We can spend all day parsing over the fastest, safest, or most effective way to reach a fitness goal, but at the end of the day, everything works for a while, and nothing works forever.  So even a crappy program that’s totally different will work at first – hence people who are deconditioned do pretty well on any program, because any program is better (and different) than couch surfing.  Conversely, the best program in the world will cease to be effective if you do it for months on end.  That’s why variation is one of the key principles of any solid fitness regime.

I really could go on and on about Dan John and the things he’s taught me.  The man is a fount of “big rock” principles, and I attribute much of my success to studying his work.  Getting to spend a day learning from and being coached by him in person was not only a pleasure, it was an honor.

For those who actually dig reading about training,  check out Dan’s blog at www.danjohn.net.  And while all of his books and DVD’s are excellent, I think even folks not in the industry can learn a lot about training (and life) by reading Never Let Go.

A huge thanks to Dragon Door, Dan John, and Loren and Austin at Studio RKC for helping me get better at taking care of my clients!!


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