THIS IS NOT YOGA!
That thunderous declaration can be heard at least three times a week, in a 24 Hour Fitness class, inappropriately named ‘Power Yoga.’ Instructor Averill Kessee (who trained under DDP Yoga founder/former wrestler Diamond Dallas Paige) walks through the class and demands that any new people ‘stand up’ so that he can take note of whether there are any injuries. Inevitably, someone either refuses to stand up or protests that he/she is familiar with yoga and can handle anything that might come their way in the class.
This arrogance is noted, and the class watches as the smug expressions of said person inevitably turn into grimaces of pain… and sometimes tears. No matter how many times this happens, it never gets old.
Maybe you know this guy. Diamond Dallas Paige made his fortune tossing his opponents (and himself) around a ring … when ‘show wrestling’ was all the rage. His career soared, but his body took one hell of a beating. It got so bad that the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning sometimes proved to be too much.
Paige’s wife suggested yoga, to which he immediately scoffed and declared that ‘Yoga was for Girls.’ Hmph. Eventually he gave in… tried it… and loved it. Paige says he created DDP Yoga for everyone… but especially men, who think that yoga is for girls.
This is Averill. Don’t let the body fool you. This man is as flexible as a dancer… a fact which often pisses off the dancers in any one of his classes. There is nothing relaxing about his class, or this particular ‘form’ of practice. Averill turns up the lights, turns up the music (which can range from Funkadelic to Insane Clown Posse), and yells at the class … sometimes with good reason, often with none.
For one hour (give or take), he leads you through poses with the most ridiculous names you’ve ever heard (Bird/Dog… Awkward Airplane… Lunging Touchdown – which is actually Crescent Pose), and twists your body into contortions that you didn’t even think were possible. And just as you look up to glare at him and dare him to do the same thing, you find that not only is he in the freakin’ pose… he’s in a more advanced version of it. Crap.
After you have been twisted, pulled, balanced and disrespected all to be damned… Averill commands you to sit on your butt and close the class properly.
“In this class, we do not say Namaste. We make the sign of the Diamond… raise our hands up… SLAM IT! Give yourselves hand…”
…to which we break into exhausted applause, utter one more cuss word for good measure, and crawl out of the classroom.
The trek home, and eventually into bed is brutal. Everything hurts. No matter how many times I’ve taken the class… everything hurts. Averill does something different each time, so your body is never bored. He firmly believes in muscle confusion, and he’ll make you a believer too.
Especially when you wake up the next morning and find that, despite the fact that you ache from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes, there is an inch missing from your waist. And your hips. And your thighs. WTH! This madness actually works.
Now, if you can’t make it to see Dallas (Santa Monica), or Averill (N. Hollywood)… fear not. This fantastically effective version of torture yoga is also available online.
Go HERE to check it out.
And while you’re there, check out Arthur’s story. Bring a tissue… it’ll make you cry. And say this to yourself: “If Arthur can do it… what the HECK am I whining about?”