Sunday, October 31, 2010
Danny Johnson (AKA Danny-J) Interview
Where do I start talking about Danny-J? I first met her when I randomly offered to help her in last years bodybuilding.com Spokesmodel contest. In the year since then she has become my trainer. Results speak for themselves. I am down 100lbs and it is because of her. But I am just one small part of the success stories you will find about Danny's clients. She gets that success because she cares. She genuinely wants her clients to succeed. But there is more to Danny than just her personal training. Danny's got so many different parts that are inspiring. You can look up to her for several different reasons. You know someone is special when you mention they are your trainer and so many people tell you how lucky you are to have her. Danny is pretty much universally liked, whether it is Danny the competitor, Danny the trainer, Danny the fitness model, Danny the writer, or Danny the speaker. I am blessed because I have her as a friend, a trainer, and my hero.
Q: First Danny I want to thank you for taking the time to do a second interview.
A: Thanks for asking me again! A lot has changed since my first one... especially the popularity of your site and blog! Congratulations!
Q: For those who may not be familiar, can you tell a little about yourself?
A: My name is Danyell Johnson, though I like to go by Danny-J. I live and was raised in Las Vegas, NV. I am currently a personal trainer, but it wasn't what I "always thought I would be". However, it is exactly what I feel I should be. I love my job and simply calling me a trainer seems... well... I just do so much more. I'll just leave it at that for now. I also competed nationally in the NPC figure and bikini division. I have been married for 3 years now, and I have two dogs. I have a pretty simple life, I can't complain.
Q: Besides being blessed with the chance to become my trainer (LOL), I know you have had some other great things happen since the first interview. Can you share some of the things you have been up to lately.
A: Well, November 2009 was my last NPC show. A few weeks after that I was notified that I was a finalist in the 2010 Bodyspace Spokesmodel Competition. This was a long 3 month process of voting, then making the semi-finals, and then finally being chosen as one of five to go to LA for a live stage competition. It was a rough time in my life personally, but I had a blast at the competition (where I placed 4th) and I made some lifelong friends in the process.
Then in March I worked for a great company, EST Nutrition at the Arnold, which is always a blast, in May I entered a pretty big Crossfit competition where I placed 2nd, and I also went to Boise in May to compete in another Bodybuilding.com bikini competition at the BFE (Bodybuilding.com Fit Expo) I was in the Top 10.
Then I turned my focus on work and on my clients, and I had some great successes with another client making the Top 10 in Max Muscles' Maxformation Contest this year and too many great transformations to name.
I have been blessed to work with so many motivated people and lucky enough to call my clients my friends.
Q: Recently you became a member of the Vitrix Model Team, with some other amazing women. Can you share what exactly the Vitrix Model Team is and what the plans are for it.
A: The Vitrix Model Team is basically a strategic partnership of 8 women and Nutrex to promote their Vitrix product as well as showcase the 8 models and their different personalities, talents, and endeavors. I was asked to be a part of it a few weeks before the Olympia and was very honored to be chosen. Future plans are to have online contests to add more women to the existing team. We plan on doing appearances, blogging, taking lots more pics, and basically just sharing our lives as fitness models and other aspects of our personalities. I am blessed to be a part of it because it really allows me to show who I am and it is with such a fun, smart, and beautiful group of girls
Q: You again worked the EST booth at the Olympia. What was that like this year?
A: I worked EST at the Arnold and I really enjoyed the team. Keith Thomas and Michael Thomas are great and the booth was very laid back. I actually had quite a lot of offers for booth work at Olympia, which I was able to share with other girls... but I asked Keith if I could work with EST again because I had a great time at the Arnold. The Olympia booth was much smaller and it was in the back near the stage, which was kind of cool because I was able to see a little of the women's prejudging and the FLEX Bikini contest, and I was able to talk to more people because the crowds weren't as bad.
Q: With all the things you have going on, do you ever feel like you have no time for yourself, or wish you had more time?
A: Ahhhhh... yes, of course there never seems to be enough time, and I have learned that sometimes I just need to better prioritize. I never want to complain about it too much though because I'm blessed to be busy.. or at least if I'm busy because I'm helping people. The only thing I really wish is that I could give my best when I don't have a lot of time. I'm working on trying to increase the quality of my time and minimize wasteful things (like playing on Facebook too long) LOL
Q: Maybe I am wrong here, but I sometimes think you don't realize just how popular you are. Do you realize it, and what do you attribute it to?
A: Ha... this actually made me laugh a little bit... Um, I don't really think I am that popular, but I guess I do have a lot of "friends" on Facebook (though, I just attribute that to not being too picky about accepting them... LOL)
Actually, I do make an effort to answer people with questions and to interact with others, so maybe that is why, because people feel that I am approachable and helpful. If I am popular for anything, I hope it is because of my attitude and the fact that I just genuinely enjoy interaction with people.
Q: You are planning to compete in May. What made you decide to get back on stage and why that specific show?
A: Yes I am planning on competing in May. I plan to do the WBFF Show that will be in Kansas City, hosted by Diana Chaloux and Micah LaCerte. I have never met them, but they are actually big inspirations to me because I know they care about their clients the way I do, they have had great success in modeling, and they try to help everyone they meet.
I also am ready to try something new and I have been excited about competing with the WBFF for a long time. I think Paul Dillet is an honorable man, and I can't wait to represent his organization and compete with those athletes.
Q: A lot of competitors tend to bulk up or however else you want to word it in their off season. You are always in shape. Do you think that helps your prep be a little smoother and easier?
A: Prep is always easier when you don't let yourself get too out of shape. However, I have to say, I never had a problem in the off-season until last year. I posted a blog about it on my bodyspace profile; but after nationals last year I started having some major medical issues; which I believe stemmed from metabolic burnout from show prep.
I have been finding out that a LOT of competitors have been dealing with problems similar to mine, putting on 30, 40, or 50 lbs after stepping off stage, and not even really eating "bad" food.
I am still lucky, that it was only a little more than 10 lbs for me (and it also had to do with my own medical issues with a blood disorder and hypothyroid medication)
I never had a problem staying lean before this started and it was very frustrating to me, but it gave me some insight as to what some people are going through and led me to a lot of research on diets and what our bodies can take. I take responsibility for my own choices and unfortunately I did some things in my prep that were counter intuitive to me and what I know my body does, but I did it anyway. (food related, not drugs... just to clarify)
I have learned a lot regarding damage from contest prep and encourage anyone who competes or plans on competing to really do their research, on their trainers and coaches, on basic principles of contest diet and just listen to you body.
You can find articles about this on www.leanbodiesconsulting.com, www.bodysport.com, and www.scottabel.com to read more about what I am talking about
Q: Do you plan to compete more than once in 2011?
A: Most likely. I would love to compete in the WBFF Worlds in Toronto which is held in September. I also **plan*** to be on stage again to redeem myself in the 2011 Bodyspace Spokesmodel Contest at the LA Fit Expo if I am lucky enough to be chosen again. (PS Please vote for me!!)
Q: Last interview you touched on a personal subject, then kind of put the whole thing out there and received a lot of praise for it. Can you talk about it at all and what made you decide to put it all out there?
A: I spoke about my pregnancy at 15 and my decision to place my baby for adoption. One of the big reasons I decided to finally start talking about it, was the comments I would get from people that "once you have kids, you can't have abs" and stuff like that. I am also at the age now where a lot of my peers and friends are having babies and they would say things to be about pregnancy, as if I didn't know... well I did know, and I do have abs after a child. I was just tired of keeping such a big thing a secret, especially because I am actually very proud of my decision. There is a radio interview about it on Bodysport.com which was very emotional, you can hear it here:
Q: Now let's talk about the personal training. First, what made you come up with the name No Excuses?
A: That also came from another struggle in my life. At 23, I got e. coli and ended up paralyzed (for a short time) after feeling sorry for myself; I just started to work really hard and give everything I had into coming back 100%. I started to notice other people; who had it worse off than me... Maybe they would never walk again, or they had cancer and still managed to live life fully, or they were 80 years old and running a marathon, or had been addicted to drugs for years and now were millionaires.
I realized that there were NO EXCUSES to getting anything you want... Age is no excuse, disability is not, having alcoholic parents, being raped, being homeless, being a victim... I had let myself believe too many of those things and I realized it was untrue.
I wanted to be one of those people who could say; "Yes bad things happened to me, yes I've struggled, but I'm still here, I still made it, and I'm not going to let anything stop me!" Looking at the some of my answers above, my life sounds pretty good, but it wasn't always that way. From now on I know I have a choice.
Its all about the attitude... No Excuses.
Q: I know you pretty well. I have realized just how much you like seeing others succeed. A lot of trainers, view it as a paycheck, but you take a real interest in your clients success. Is that an accurate statement?
A: Absolutely. My first job, I was a gymnastics coach. It was then I realized I actually enjoyed coaching more than I ever did actually being a gymnast. I was pretty good at helping those girls learn new tricks and motivating them to do better and push harder. I think I have a gift, which is seeing the potential in people and getting them to see it in themselves. Of course I have to work and make a living, but I just want to see people make positive change. I have a few clients who I work with financially, and some that I train for free, because I know that they need it and want it. I believe in karma and that life is too short. Besides, if I were all about money I probably could have found a more lucrative job, especially living in Vegas if you know what I mean... LOL
Q: Is there one aspect or one part of training or dieting others that you most enjoy?
A: Yes... I love seeing clients confidence grow with their strength, weight-loss and the things they learn about themselves, when they do things that they never imagined.
I love when they send random texts about how excited they are about their new bodies or their new race times or new relationships. I feel their happiness and love that I get to share so much of other peoples lives and positive changes.
I also enjoy a challenge with a client, when I'm making a meal plan and they are a little "different"; like I had a client who was Vegan, now that was a challenging diet to write!! But it was fun! I also work with people who have diabetes, kidney disease, gout, thyroid conditions, etc. Its fun for me to throw myself into research and come up with the right calories and nutrient breakdowns while still meeting their goals.
Q: If someone hired Danny-J as their trainer or dietitian, what are they getting?
A: Usually someone who hires me will come to me with some kind of goal in mind. (weight loss, contest prep, off-season maintenance, etc.) Sometimes there are deeper issues and I'm good at pulling that out of people. I like to ask a lot of questions and get to know the person and their lifestyle.
After I have a good idea of who I am working with, I will put together a plan for them, but I like to get continual feedback so I know what is working and what isn't so we can make the optimal level of change.
Q: If another woman wanted to start training, what is the most important piece of advice you would want to give her?
A: Training your body will make you feel strong, healthy and confident. The most important thing anyone needs to remember is to be patient. Results come from consistency and time.
Q: What is the biggest or some of the biggest mistakes you see people new to training make?
A: Expecting quick results and giving up too soon. I started implementing a "3 month rule" that you must commit to 3 months training (online or in person) because it takes at least that long to see real results. (of course, you will see results before that, but some people don't think 2 lbs is enough)
Q: When that rare moment comes and you have some free time, how do you like to spend it?
A: Oh wow... its so different now.
I love to read. So, if I have a book on hand, I will do that. Back in the day, I used to love to go hiking and rock climbing, but seems like that just doesn't happen anymore. Also, I try to carve out some time to take my pups to the park with my husband. Those are always fun moments that I need more of in my life.
Q: Are there any people in the fitness industry that you would call yourself a fan of or that you admire?
A: Absolutely. Lately I have been becoming fans of people in the industry, based less on their physiques and more on their work ethic and their actions. I also have become "fans" of some of the photographers and supplement or business owners. In the Bodyspace spokesmodel contest I was able to become friends with Sasha Porshnikoff, she is a National NPC girl, and sponsored by Isoflex. Let me just say that she is one of the most unselfish and generous, loving people in the industry. If you don't know who she is, find out.
I also really admire the DeLuca's (owners of Bodybuilding.com) not only for their huge success with their company, but because I was able to see that they really have a family business in Boise, that the staff LOVE their jobs, and they treat their employees as family, they are also very generous and I believe they have a great philosophy.
Jamie Eason, I know a lot of people say her, but I now know why. I'll keep it short and just say she is also a perfect fit and representative of bodybuilding.com and she takes her role as a role model, very seriously. Jaquelyn Kay, the 2010 Bodyspace spokesmodel, I think she's not as well known as she should or could be, but she is just funny, cool, down to earth and has made a lot of her success "outside" some of the drama of the fitness industry. Nick Scott, you will see him in the wheelchair at the bb.com booth. He is a prime example of the No Excuses philosophy. Read his book and you will start to think that you need to stop being so lazy! LOL
I have also had a great opportunity to become good friends with Elaine and Terry Goodlad. They have been in the industry a long, long time and have a true perspective on what is important in life and they have great senses of humor.
Paul Dillet, Micah LaCerte and Diana Chaloux for above mentioned reasons and Danny Fittro of Fit Treasures for being the best networker and dreamer I have ever met.. I could go on and on and I'm certainly missing people... but those are kind of some that you wouldn't normally hear.
Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: Hmmm... I just get on food "kicks" and I have very specific cravings. For my first show, all I really wanted was fruit! Then the next one, I wanted pancakes. I guess if there were anything that I would love to have at anytime, and if calories didn't count, I would eat garlic bread and fettuccine alfredo... but I can't even get myself to eat that now even for a cheat... LOL
Q: Describe Danny-J in five words.
A: Passionate, adventurous, fun-loving, silly, driven
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That I was totally a hippie in college... I didn't shave my legs or armpits for two years, and I wanted dreadlocks soooo bad!!
Q: Want to give you the address's where people can find you online.
A: I need a new web person to update my site (had some drama with that this year)
but you can get the basic idea at www.dannyjfitness.comprices might not be correct so please email me for specific info
Q: Anything I missed that you would like to take this time to mention?
A: Check out the November issue of Max Sports and Fitness (the magazine at Max Muscle stores) I wrote an article about body image.
Writing and speaking are something I'd like to do more of this year and I have been lucky to have a few published articles and speaking engagements. I'm always looking for more opportunities for that kind of work.
Q: Anything you want to plug or promote?
A: The Bodyspace Spokesmodel Contest is starting again November 1st, so I'm going to ask for votes again. you can vote once a day, so be on the look out on my FB page and fan page for the link, I would be so grateful for everyone's vote. I really would like a chance to compete again, now that I'm physically doing better.
Also, I'm helping many competitors with offseason eating. Feel free to email me for online training for offseason or anything really!
Keep an eye out for me on stage next year with the WBFF~!
and follow me on twitter @dannyjfitness or my FB page at www.facebook.com/DannyJNoExcuses>
Don't forget to look for me with new pics and blogs on vitrixmodelteam.com
Q: Are you looking for sponsors at all?
A: I would be open to sponsors of course, but it has to be a good fit, both ways. I love to speak and I actually am looking for more opportunities to give seminars and speak at conferences on a variety of health topics and women's issues. I have also been blessed to work with Nutrex and Vitrix Model Team as a sponsor and I hope to continue that relationship.
Q: Danny, anyone who knows me,knows the role you have played in my success. You are my trainer, but have not only helped me physically, but mentally. My goal when I compete is not to win, but to make you proud. I call you my Hero and I mean it. You are an amazing woman and I am honored to have you leading me and honored to have you as a friend. Thanks so much for everything you do, have done, and will do for me, and thanks for doing this interview. Any last words before you go?
A: Jason, its been awesome to see your growth and confidence since we first met. I am lucky to have such great clients and to have people put their faith in me and trust me with their body and health. I don't take that lightly.
I can't wait to see where we both go from here, and you deserve all the success you have created.