Saturday, January 16, 2010
Danny J Johnson Interview
I found Danny Johnson on Facebook. I saw her profile picture and within seconds said "that is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen" and sent a friend request. While waiting for her to accept I looked her up online and say "that woman has the best abs I have ever seen" always a plus for someone who loves abs on a female. She accepted and since then I have gotten to know the MOST amazing woman I have ever gotten to know. Yes she is beautiful, but now I see that she is so much more than that. She has given me advice, believed in me when someone tried to make me look bad to her and gave me the benefit of the doubt. She is smart, funny, kind, and when I was having emotional problems she was willing to take the time to make me feel better. Danny is the kind of person I started this blog for.The three signed photos I have of her are among my most treasure times. I once said the Industry needs more people like Danny, but that is not correct. The real statement is that the WORLD needs more people like Danny. This is an interview I am proud and honored to share. I ask you to read this and find out more about this amazing woman and I promise you will think as highly as I do
Q: First, Danny, I want to thank you so much for agreeing to do this. I am new to bodybuilding, and although there is a little difference between bodybuilding and fitness, you have become such a role model and inspiration to me.
A: Thank you for the compliments and positive response. I hope to become a role model for many people, and I don't take that responsibility lightly. I feel that is something earned and not given, and I appreciate it!
Q: So lets start before you got into fitness. I know that at age nine you became involved in gymnastics. I am no expert on the sport, but that seems old to get started. What made you interested in that and how quickly were you able to pick it up and learn it?
A: Yes, most kids start gymnastics when they are 3 years old. In my elementary school we did not have PE, but my teacher would have "tumbling" once a week. I realized I was pretty good at it, and it was fun. So I asked my mom to take me to gymnastics, and I just had natural ability and a lack of fear. I picked it up quickly and was competing within my first year.
Q: Is there anything about gymnastics where you can say "that was what I liked most about it".
A: Looking back, I can say gymnastics gave me SO many skills and opportunities. It teaches discipline, that I use for every goal I set now. At the time though, it was just fun, it was as close to flying as you could get, and I always dreamed of being able to fly!
Q: Did you have any dreams or goals of becoming an Olympic quality gymnast?
A: Oh I sure did... it was my thought everyday! I want to be in the Olympics!! But around age 12, some physical changes and emotional things in my home distracted me from that goal and I eventually had to quit gymnastics at 15 years old because I was in the middle of a bad eating disorder and then pregnant
Q: Was there anything or any part of the sport where you excelled at.
A: Initially I loved tumbling, but as I got better at the sport I loved the bars because you could go around and around and it felt like flying.
Q: Did you have any favorite gymnasts
A: I IDOLIZED Kim Zmeskal in the 1992 Olympics. I cried when she fell off the balance beam and lost her chance to win. I also thought Kerri Strug was heroic in the 1996 Olympics when she vaulted on an injured ankle. I haven't followed the athletes much since 2000 though.
Q: After finishing high school you went to college and got your bachelors in physical education. What school did you go to, and what made you decide on physical education?
A: Well, I started coaching gymnastics my junior year in high school. I loved it and I thought I was good at it. I originally wanted to be a social worker/counselor. But I figured out that wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. I figured a Phys Ed degree would make me a better coach, and if I ever had a family, I could teach in schools and have the summers off. I went to UNLV after I realized it wouldn't be financially viable to go to another school. I paid for my education myself.
Q: Did you feel at that point that it was something you could really make a living from?
A: Well, I didn't think I'd ever get rich from being a PE teacher.. LOL.. but like I said, I thought I'd have summers off and that would be great. After working with kids in that setting, however, I'm afraid I'll probably never teach for a school district. Unfortunately teachers are some of the most underpaid, worthy people working, and PE teachers get stuck with more than one class, which means there can be 60 kids in a class! To me, that's not teaching, that's just crowd control or organized chaos.
Q: After that you did something that I find exciting, being an animal lover. You went to work at Sea World as a Cirgue De La Mer acrobat. What exactly did that involve and how did you become involved with that?
A: Basically a friend of one of the gymnast's (that I was coaching) mom, had a friend who was an aerial performer. She introduced us and I began to perform with her aerial troupe called "Ultraviolet Chicks" We had stage names and mine was, Ice! I got to travel on weekends to Phoenix and perform in nightclubs on a trapeze and a wall-walking device. I later heard of the Sea World Audition and I made it! It was in Mission Bay (not a climate controlled pool) so it was only a summer-time gig
Q: Anything that stood out about that job as something you will always remember?
A: Oh yes!! That was one of the best summers of my life. That job pushed me past fears and made me do things that I thought were impossible! Even things a gymnast would be afraid of. I lived in my car the 1st week of rehearsals until someone found out and let me stay on their couch till I found a roommate. I remember thinking everyday that if I had a "dream", that I was actually living it, right then and there. Flying and getting paid for it!
Q: At some point you then contracted E.Coli. For those who are not totally familiar with that what exactly is it and how did you get it? From what I understand it can be a very dangerous thing and it almost killed you, correct?
A: E. Coli is a gram negative bacteria that resides in our digestive tract and is found mainly in fecal matter. Since I told you I worked in Mission Bay, apparently there is a lot of sewage run-off in that water, and I was exposed to it for up to 8 hours a day. Fortunately I was the ONLY one that got sick, but unfortunately, the bacteria got into my bloodstream and my sacroiliac joint (SI joint) and paralyzed me and nearly killed me.
Q: At that point you spent alot of time in the gym doing rehab and that is where I assume you developed your love for the gym and decided to get your masters in health promotion and exercise science. What about that experience made you decide to pursue your masters?
A: I was already an athlete and went to the gym before the e. coli. In fact, I was running 3-5 miles a day and I was super "ripped" from the sea world training. People used to often ask me in the gym if I competed, but I didn't know what they were talking about. I graduated UNLV in Dec.2002 and was already accepted to the Health Promotion Masters Program there to start in the fall of 2003. I had planned on finishing Sea world and going right back to school. Life had other plans for me with my illness and I never went back to UNLV. I still wanted to get my masters because education was something I always valued and I wanted to excel. I didn't get to start right away because of my illness,but I eventually found a distance education program on the NASM (personal trainer) website at California University of Pennsylvania (CUP) I graduated that program at the end of 2006.
Q: Exactly what is health promotion and exercise science?
A: Health Promotion is basically used in the workplace. Sometimes large corporations like AT&T or Apple will have Health Initiatives for their workers. Its mainly about worksite health promotion. Getting people to live healthier lives by improving their diets, exercise habits, smoking cessation programs,etc. You develop programs for corporate wellness. Exercise Science is like movement-based anatomy. It is basically the scientific principles behind exercises and how and why they work on the body, in relation to oxygen uptake, energy expenditure, and other nerdy stuff I think is cool.
Q: So after that did you right away start becoming a trainer or was there a period before you started doing that?
A: I actually got my personal training certification while I was re-habbing and spending so much time at the gym. I mainly did it to pass the time and to try and help myself. Once I was "better" or at least functional, I went back to coaching, and when I left the gymnastics scene I decided to actually give training a try.
Q: What made you decide to start competing in fitness?
A: Since people would often approach me to ask if I competed, I had to look into it. I didn't know what they meant by "compete". I started reading Oxygen, and Kelly Ryan used to come to our gym and I wanted to look like that! So I started researching it more and learning more about nutrition.
Q: Why fitness over say bodybuilding?
A: I would still consider what I do "bodybuilding" however, I'd say its more about the "look". I still want to look like a female. I love toned arms, abs and legs, but not big.
Q: Was or is there anyone else in the sport you sort of looked up to or admired?
A: Not initially. I didn't really know who anyone was. I guess Kelly Ryan was the first "real live" person I saw that I wanted to emulate. Now, I admire Jennifer Nicole Lee, more for her business smarts than anything. Jillian Michaels is my girl-crush.. LOL
Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: My first show was the 2006 Excalibur, I heard about Kim Oddo, who was Monica Brant's trainer and I started working with him, since I figured he was one of the best. I was 5th place at my first show which qualified me for Nationals but we decided to see how I'd do at some more regional shows. I did Emerald Cup in April 2007, placed 3rd and then Contra Costa in May where I won my class. That is when I decided to do my first National show, where I was in the Top ten (8th)
In 2008, I did Emerald Cup again, with the same placing.. but USA's I dropped to 15th and ended up not placing at all in Team U that year.
I got a little discouraged at that show because I felt some girls won their classes due to reasons that were not related to physique judging. I almost decided not to compete at all again, but USAs in right in Las Vegas, so 6 weeks out, I decided to go for it. I actually got 11th at USA, which was where I saw the bikini division for the first time. I thought it looked really fun, so I gave it a go at North Americans and Nationals this year, but both placings were inconclusive to me as how I look as a bikini competitor.
Q: What have you learned about yourself an competing since you started competing.
A: I have learned that attitude is EVERYTHING!! There are a lot of good looking, GREAT looking, women in this sport, who are just NOT nice. On the other hand, I have met some of the friendliest, down-to-earth people and some of my best friends too. Even though it is technically a competition,we aren't really competing against each other as much as we are just pushing ourselves. So I've learned to try and base my views on how I FEEL that I look rather than my place in line.
Q: Is there any kind of goal you set for yourself in competing that you still are trying to achieve?
A: You know, this year was an interesting one, competing in both bikini and figure divisions. I think I'm trying to sit back and objectively figure out what I'd like to do from here on out. I may take this year off, as I have a personal goal to see 30 countries before I'm 30.. and competing and travel is very expensive. I may be using my time and money in completing my first goal!
Q: What is your typical training and diet routine? Both off season and for contest prep.
A: On and off season is about the same for me. The only difference is that I eat "off contest" foods a little more often and I am not as strict if I miss a cardio session.
5-6 meals a day. The usual oatmeal and egg white type breakfast, slow burning carbs, protein and veggies for lunch and a similar variation minus the carbs at dinner.
Q: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the sport?
A: My favorite; that's easy, its meeting new people, traveling and getting to know others who enjoy the same type of torture that I do;) I have met some amazing friends all over the country and world through competing. My least favorite part, is that the judging is not all its cracked up to be. There are political aspects of any sport or industry and I have come to just accept that. Though, I was a bit naive to it in the beginning.
Q: Do you prefer to train alone or do you prefer a partner and why?
A: I used to prefer to train alone because no one could keep up with me. I still train alone, though sometimes I wish I had my own trainer or a friend to push me. The motivation is much harder when you train other people all day long.
Q: Is there anything that people have a tendency to do at the gym that really bugs or annoys you?
A: There are a few individuals that do things that annoy me... one guy bangs weights as loud as possible EVERY time he works out. Some chick is always on the phone and leaning on the stair mill, that annoys me too.. LOL.. sometimes though, I find the annoying things people do entertaining. That's why the gym is fun.
Q: Where your family and friends supportive when you started, and how do they feel now?
A: My husband, my boyfriend at the time I started, has always been supportive. In fact he's encouraged me to compete even when I thought maybe I should just stop. My parents, however, are very conservative. They won't come to my shows because they don't want to see me in a bikini.. but the longer I've been doing it, the more they have come around. I'd even go as far as to say they are pretty proud of me now.
Q: Now I don't care who says what, to meet there is not a person in the sport with better abs. Any secret to them or are you just lucky and develop them better than most?
A: I'd like to say there's a secret. But the secret is this CONSISTENCY. Clean eating day in and out and consistent cardio. That's where the abs come from. I'd be lying though, if I didn't say it wasn't genetic. I tend to store excess bodyfat more in my booty than abs. Ask me how to have a tight butt year round, and I'd have a harder time with that one!
Q: Is the a body part that you feel is your best?
A: I think my abs are my best... but the guys tend to tell me my legs and glutes are best.
Q: Is there any specific body part or exercise you most enjoy training?
A: I love training back. Specifically Pull-ups. It makes me feel STRONG!!
Q: When people do see your figure, what is the common reaction, is it more positive or negative?
A: Hmmm... good question. When I worked at a night club, the most common question was "Do you work out?" or "let me see you flex" I think its fascination, but not really sure what they say when I leave, whether its a turn on or turn off.
Q: Also when people see it, is there any one question you get sick of them asking?
A: In person, people will say "Let me see you flex", online or through emails I get a lot of questions about my diet and/or ab routine.There's not really a question that I get sick of.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who do fitness and train as hard as you?
A: That lifting heavy will make you look like a man or that you have to train hours and hours a day.
Q: I am often very critical of the judges in female bodybuilding and fitness. Is there anything you would change or do you think it is ok the way it is?
A: Well, I'm not sure what you have to do to qualify to be a judge. I think the main thing is the judges need to decide, before hand, what the criteria is that they are looking for. I think the problem is that there is no established criteria.
Q: If someone came up to you and said they were going to start training for fitness or weight training, what is the one piece of advice you would want to give them?
A: Find people who work out and professionals and pick their brains. Start slow and don't expect results right away. Don't be afraid to experiment with your diet and different styles till you find what works for you.
Q: Now you also still do personal training. What does a person get from being trained by Danny Johnson besides just the opportunity to train with an expert?
A: First and foremost, I deeply CARE about my clients. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I love each of them. They are all unique and have their own struggles. I am their personal cheerleader and any progress they make, makes ME happy. I think they know when they work with me, they try harder because they want to make me proud. If they take the tools I give them, I know they will be successful, and I am grateful that I have had so many trust their bodies and their lives in my hands. That is a huge honor.
Q: How can people get ahold of you if they are interested in being trained by you, and is it only in person or do you offer other services?
A: The best way to contact me is by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I actually do online training, which is great because you don't need to live in Las Vegas. I care about my clients and keep in touch as much as possible, through texts, phone calls and emails.
I expect the work to be done on their own, but I am there to give them the tools, the encouragement, and the expertise to reach their goals.
Q: Outside of fitness, do you have any other hobbies or interests?
A: ADVENTURE! I love to travel, to see other countries, cities, places.. and without too much of a plan, I like to see where it leads me. I also love to read, snow and wakeboard, and I used to be really into rock climbing and hiking though I haven't found the time to do that in a few years.
Q: Describe a day in the live of Danny Johnson.
A: Wow, that's a hard one. Every day is so different. I know at some point in my day I need to work out, though I never know when its going to happen. 3x per week I get up at 3:45am for a 5am client, so a morning workout is absolutely out of the question. I generally train clients from 5 or 6am-11am. I eat breakfast before starting, have a snack in the middle and then eat lunch. After lunch I generally run errands, answer emails, maybe get in a little cardio and a shower. Pack my meals and dinner and then start training clients again from 3 or 4pm to 7 or 8pm. Usually, its after that long day that I make it to the gym. I usually spend an hour and a half to two hours and then head home to eat dinner around 9:30-10pm. take a shower and get on the computer and try and get to bed before midnight! Its long days!
Q: If you were told you could only watch the movies of two actors, watch two TV shows, and listen to two musicians for one year. Who would you choose?
A: This is hard, since I don't watch much TV, movies or all that. What comes to mind is
Jennifer Aniston and Will Farrell
Biggest Loser and Keeping up with the Kardashians
and Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley
Q: Describe Danny Johnson in five words.
A: Passionate, Fearless, Smart, Tenacious, Outgoing
Q: Now outside of personal training you have other things going on such as your website. Would you like to use this opportunity to mention your website and anything else you have going on.
A: I was chosen to be a finalist for Bodybuilding.com's Bodyspace Spokesmodel Contest. It will be at the LA Fit Expo Jan 23rd. This would be an amazing experience for me and I just feel blessed to have the opportunity.
My website is www.dannyjfitness.com
I will be adding some new things this year, some autographed photos, an e-book, and a few other programs.
Please email me if there are things you'd like to see added. I've had some interest in how to get started in modeling, so I may do some workshops on that.
Q: Any plans so far for 2010 such as competing or other projects?
A: Right now, there are a lot of things going on in my life and in training. So, I am taking the first few months of the year to just reflect and see where I feel my next step should be.
Q: Sponsors are obviously very important in the sport. Are you looking for any and if so what are the benefits of sponoring you and how can they, and anyone get ahold of you?
A: I feel that I have a strong voice and a strong following. Sponsors need an athlete who stays on the scene and stays in touch with the consumer, who is also relatable to the consumer. I feel I have those qualities. I also want to be associated with a quality product and will not sell out just to make a buck. You won't see my face on the "cookie diet" or anything gimmicky like that. If I believe in something, I will do my best to promote it.
Any companies interested in sponsorships can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Again, I want to thank you so much for agreeingvto do this. As I ahve told you I think you are a role model, not just for fitness and training, but for life. You are a credit to the fitness industry and someone I truly admire and am inspired by. Any last words before you go?
A: Jason, I want to thank you for giving me a platform for people to learn a bit about me and other women out there trying to do what they love as well. I am passionate about healthy living and this lifestyle has taken me from a depressed and lost person, to a confident beautiful and tenacious woman. I want people to know that I am very approachable, and not the least bit a diva. So feel free to email me or come talk to me at Expos, its the one thing I truly enjoy is meeting all kinds of people!