The Art Of Coaching With Dan John

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with the man, the myth, the legend…Dan John. I knew I wanted to start attending some seminars/workshops this summer, so when I saw that DJ was coming to Calgary it was a no-brainer. It was organized by Somatic Senses, a great continuing education company, and hosted at Most Physical Preparation, an awesome gym here in Calgary. There were too many gems, between the lecture component and the practical component, to list them all here, but I’m going to share a few with my own thoughts.

Longevity. The art of living forever and doing it well. You hear so much about fat loss, performance and six-pack abs in the fitness industry, but I have to say that longevity is probably my favourite topic. Dan explained that there were two parts to longevity: quantity and quality. Quantity is the length, or the number of years of life, and quality is living well right until the end. In other words, live to 100 and then drop dead. It’s funny because as people get further along into their life, this almost always becomes the focus. Imagine if instead of focusing on being ripped to shreds (although, this is quite awesome), you focused on living forever. If you started in your 20’s, you would be the A+ student that started writing his term paper right when it was assigned at the beginning of the term, while all your classmates are cramming the night before just to receive a mediocre grade. You chipped away at it little by little over the long run and it paid off. That’s a life well-lived.

We talked about shark habits and pirate maps. You know I love me some habits. In the words of Dan, shark habits are “one bite…gone!” They are the things you do immediately when they pop up to clear your brain of all the garbage. That email you just received? Answer it. That list of chores? Do them. It’s also about minimizing trivial decisions in your day that eat up precious brain power, such as what clothes to wear. That’s why I’m currently updating my shirt collection to include two choices, white or black, to help me reduce the noise. Pirate maps are the tiny habits that, when incorporated, will help you reach your ultimate goal, whatever that is. For example, I set a timer for 30 minutes while writing this blog post because I’m trying to develop the habit of writing daily. The ultimate goal of implementing this tiny habit is to become a better writer and communicator.

I found the knowledge shared in the lecture very interesting, but it was a fitness workshop so obviously there were some things we learned by moving. A couple of my favourites were the “get back up” and stumbling drills. The “get back up” drill is exactly how it sounds. Get down on the floor on your belly, side, or back and get back up. Do it a few times. Now do it with no hands. So simple, but does it ever get your heart rate going. The stumbling drill was cool because of it’s purpose. Instead of learning how to break a fall, the drill teaches you not to fall in the first place. It's basically a RDL with a crossover reach, which simulates a stumble, and you do it very slowly. The slower it is the harder it becomes. With falls being so dangerous as you age, I’ll be filing that under longevity.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Dan is such a down-to-earth guy who really loves what he does. He even hung around for dinner afterwards where we had some great conversation over brisket and whiskey. I met some great people at the workshop who are all trying to get a little bit better each day and that’s who I love surrounding myself with. I can’t wait until the next one!