Thursday, August 23, 2012

Danny-J Interview

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: J3 Photo
Photo 2: Picture Groove
Photo 3: Muscular Development
Photo 4: Satio Photography
Photo 5: RX Muscle
Photo 6: Cock Diesel Photo

Let me take you back to 2009, late 2009. I had just started training. I was about three hundred pounds. I was desperate to lose the weight and maybe get on stage one day. I was scrolling down my facebook wall and saw this girl named Danny-J posting. I offered to help her with some contest and I offered to help. I knew she was involved in fitness but that is all I knew. We exchanged some messages and eventually some text messages and when I needed help, she helped me. Finally at the 2010 Arnold's I got to meet her. I knew my progress wasn't what I wanted and knew then and there that I wanted to hire her as my trainer. So fast forward exactly one year later and at the Arnold's the following year after doing a "practice prep", I weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds. So I lost a hundred and twenty-five pounds in one year with her. Now I am a surgery away from competing. This is not about me bragging about what I have done. In fact, it is me bragging about Danny. This is what Danny does for people, she helps them reach their fitness goals, and as she did with me, she helps them mentally to. By that I mean, she helps them believe in themselves, be proud of themselves. But for those who only know Danny on a fitness level, they are missing out on the best part of her. The giving and caring part. She truly cares about people and goes out of her way to help them. Recently Danny did a video that many have seen. She discussed the metabolic damage she dealt with and the embarrassment she felt and then the anger she felt. Since then I have heard from so many who say that they also had those issues but were scared or embarrassed to talk about it. Danny helped them to be able to. She also is behind the Sweaty Betties, something that has become very popular. I could go on and on, about her, but instead, just read this interview I did with my trainer and my role model, Danny-J.

Q: Can you talk about what initially got you interested in fitness?
A: I guess when I was younger I did gymnastics and was always interested in exercise. I did stupid stuff when I was thirteen we had a house with stairs, and I was so excited cause I would just run up and down the stairs and call it my exercise. I would do like fifty sets of it. I was always into it, but what got me into the whole industry is I was an acrobat at Sea World and we were training eight hours a day, really intense stuff, and I would go to the gym afterwords. People would say "you should compete" or ask if I did compete. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was like "competing in what?", so I started looking into it. I found Oxygen Magazine and looked at the pictures and said "I don't look like that, there is no way". I got intrigued with the idea enough that it stuck in my head a couple years. In 2006 I decided to go ahead and do it. I started looking for coaches and heard Monica Brant was working with Kim Oddo but he lived in California. I found out he did on-line training so I ended up with him and that is how I got started.

Q: What got you interested in training other people?
A: Around the same time, after Sea World I got really ill. I was hospitalized and paralyzed and couldn't walk for a while. I didn't have insurance and couldn't afford physical therapy, so I started going to the gym. I basically put myself through therapy, just reading and learning how to make myself walk again and make my legs strong again. I was spending four hours a day at the gym doing this therapy stuff, plus trying to get out since I was in bed for months, plus I was enjoying it. I couldn't work still because I dint have energy, but was spending so much time in the gym that maybe I should get certified and do it as a job.

Q: How did you come up with No Excuses?
A: No Excuses came from the same thing. From when I couldn't walk. It changed things in my mind. I was told I may not be able to walk again or walk normal again. I felt really sorry for myself for awhile and cry about it. Two months ago I was doing flips and acrobatics and now I cant even walk. I went to the gym and saw a guy with a cane just doing his thing, and I saw more people with disabilities and they weren't complaining and were doing difficult things. I found people with worse injuries than me and they weren't making excuses, they were just doing. That is when I snapped and said "I don't care if I cant walk, this is not an excuses, I will figure out what I can do". No matter what you are dealt or what kind of disability you have, it doesn't have to be your excuse. I had a change in my thinking and turned it all around.

Q: Do you miss anything about competing?
A: Yes and no. I miss the feeling of being really lean and strong and powerful. You get lots of comments and attention. But I don't miss stressing about how to get the cardio in or how to get things done. I don't miss missing out on activities, you sacrifice as a competitor. You cant always go to every party and stay out late or BBQ cause you cant eat. I didn't mind that but it is more the way others react to you, it gets under your skin. You can show up and it is your choice, you can say "I am gonna eat this", but man, there is pressure, people give you a hard time, almost like you are an outsider. I never had a problem with that but now with a relaxed approach, I missed out on some fun things. It isn't about food, it is about the mindset of being allowed to relax. If I did compete again I would have a different mindset, not about restriction, I can still have fun and enjoy people and not be so intense and strict.

Q: A lot of trainers post pictures of their competitor clients and their progress, and while you do help competitors, it seems your biggest pride is just the people who lost a lot of weight, is that the bigger thrill for you?
A: Absolutely! Of all my clients, the ones I am most proud of are the ones who made a lifestyle change. It really is a mental change, where they thought they could never do something, fit into a size of pants or could never be a confident person. They change and gain confidence. A couple clients I trained in person I remember, the first few weeks I put them in front of a mirror to do lateral raises or something and they wont look at themselves, a month alter they are flexing in the mirror and showing off. It is so cool to see how proud they are of their bodies and how much they can do or text me to tell me what they did, where a year ago they didn't feel it was possible. Competition clients are great to, but I feel there are so many prep coaches out there. There is a certain type of person who will compete and no matter what coach they use, they will succeed. They have the mentality that they can do it and it is great and inspiring to see someone set a goal and do it. It is way more inspirational to see someone transform from lack of self esteem to amazing sense of the person they have always been and are starting to realize it.

Q: You recently did a video talking about your metabolic issues, what do you feel caused it?
A: Well, it is funny, when I first started having the issues I was looking to point the finger at anything. I was on birth control and a lot of things happened at the same time. Knowing what I know now I feel it was caused by two things. My competition diet which I was on for far too long. It would have been o.k. for six weeks, which was my original goal, to do a show in six weeks and be done. I got greedy and wanted to do another show and another one. Six weeks turned into seven or eight months. My coach never changed my diet, and honestly I put it on myself because I should have and do know better, but I thought I could handle it. Competition is suffering and you are supposed to suffer, so I was suffering and doing it for the greater good kind of thing. The other part of it was my work schedule. I was working seven days a week and two nights where I was up for twenty-fours straight, so I got very little sleep. That on top of my food and being up just really screwed me up real bad and real quickly.

Q: When you didn't know what was wrong, how frustrated were you?
A: Oh my gosh! I would cry all the time. Because it was hard for me to train my clients. I wanted to be happy for them but inside I wanted to scream. I knew what I was doing, eating super clean and had just done an hour of cardio and was going to do an hour later. I was doing that and gaining weight. I was like "it's not fair, these people can lose weight because they quit drinking soda, and I have to do four hours of cardio and eat nothing but chicken and asparagus, and I gain weight if I look at something different". I was upset with the unfairness of it all and not understanding why it was happening. On paper everything looked fine, and I would go to the doctor and he asked "are you exercising?", "yeah I'm exercising", "well what's your diet like", "I can tell you my diet for the last year and a half, not even a cheat meal in it". It made no sense on paper or in my mind why I would eat like this and gain weight and get so tired. I would get on the stair-mill, normally I can do level ten with no problem, and on level five I had to keep stopping to catch my breath. I was like "what is wrong with me? Am I out of shape?" It was confusing. It didn't make sense.

Q: Why did you make the video?
A: I never planned on talking about it. It was embarrassing to me, it was embarrassing to train clients, I wanted to stop because they saw me getting bigger. I started Sweaty Betties and we were gonna do videos and I was embarrassed to be on video. I didn't wanna talk about it because I didn't know the answers. I realized I did it to myself but didn't know how to fix it. I started going to a hypno therapist. He taught me some techniques to work with the anxiety and feelings. I still had in my head that anything I ate I would gain weight. I learned these techniques in two days. I got an email from a girl who used to train with the guy who did my last diet and she said how she gained twelve pounds in a couple days and all these things were happening to here. I got pissed off, it cant be happening to more people. I put on the recorder and recorded a couple times cause the first time I just cried and couldn't make out what I was saying. I got to the point where the therapy helped with the anxiety and it turned to anger and I had to say something. I didn't expect the response it got. I got so many emails and comments and the response was crazy. I am glad I did it because I got many messages saying they were glad I did the video because it was happening to them. IFBB pros messaged me privately saying "this has happened to me, I cant talk because I am a pro". I am tired of it being a secret.

Q: Just from people who know you are my trainer I have had so many people message me about it so you have to get so many more. Are you surprised how many people are dealing with this?
A: I am not surprised. I am at the point where I see people post about their meals or being on round two of cardio and I see what they are eating and I cringe. Even if their trainers aren't telling them to do it, they do it on their own like it is extra credit. I just go "yep, they will be down this path". It may not happen with the first show, I competed three years and was fine. Changing my diet was a big thing. Prior to the last one I ate more carbs and was more balanced. The way I see a lot of trainers do competition diets, they pull out all carbs, which might be fine for the day or two before the show, but they do it ten weeks out or bump cardio to two hours ten weeks out, three months out you shouldn't be that high. I am more surprised it isn't talked about more. Coaches need to educate themselves more and admit where they have been wrong so more women and men are not in this boat.

Q: When I see a friend write that stuff on facebook it is hard to bite my tongue, do you have that problem?
A: Yes haha. I don't like to step on a trainers toes. However, once in awhile, I may not come at them and say they will get hurt, but I want them to be careful and leave it at that, or post a link to my video. But most of the time I keep my mouth shut and hope they see my stuff. If someone had come out when I was doing it, I don't know if I would have changed. Some people are stubborn and think it wont happen to them. It is hard to say if I had known, I hope I would have stopped, but I was consumed with being a pro and wasn't questioning the methods. I didn't do drugs or anything but the diet and extra cardio was enough damage.

Q: What are your goals with Sweaty Betties?
A: I am working on this now and am excited, the motto is Inspire, Educate, Motivate and don't be a Bitch. I wanna inspire people to work out, people like how you started, interested but fearful of the muscle heads who intimidate you. Not just for the athletes, anyone can go to a gym. I wanna educate people because there is so much out there that is wrong. I did a video the other day about these weight loss products that are just crap. They claim they have these special properties and they don't. The don't be a bitch part was meant to be funny, but to say to just do it. There are to many trainers who act like they have the secret to abs or losing weight, but there is no secrets. There are tips and principles of nutrition, but no secrets. There is not just one way. I see people who do Paleo and eat a lot of fats and are ripped and they eat lots of fruit. There are competitors who say you cant have fruit and get lean, but I see people who eat fruit who get lean. Find what works for you, follow the principles of nutrition, don't eat a lot of processed shit. Twinkies are not on anyones healthy diet but are fine in moderation. I would like to make it accessible for people. I made a twelve week program that anyone can download for free, it is a progressive program, I walk you through everything. After the twelve weeks I will have a membership program. My online clients pay quite a bit of money, a hundred or two hundred a month, but not everyone can afford that, and my in person clients pay even more than that to work out with me. My membership program, I will write a monthly program they can take to the gym, for like ten or twelve dollars a month. They get the expertise and take the program to the gym and do it affordably. It isn't personalized but it is something that will work and be affordable. That is my goal for the next six months.

Q: Myself and others give you so much credit for reaching their goals, when that happens, how does that make you feel?
A: It makes me feel really good. But I always wanna give the client the credit. I have found a gift and am able to show people who they really are. I think it is a gift. I am grateful for being given credit but they do the work, hey get the credit. The biggest thing is I am thankful they trust me because if they follow the plan they will get where they need to go. I am grateful they let me show them what they can do.

Q: O.K., this is an important question, why the hell do you like burpees?
A: Haha, I don't like them but like making my clients do them haha. They are so effective, you feel them everywhere. You don't need equipment or anything to do them. They totally suck but I like to have people do them. It is fun to hear the whining that comes along with it haha.

Q: If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
A: Someone you wouldn't expect, I am obsessed with Michael Phelps right now. I would wanna see what he does besides swimming. He has to go to the gym and lift and other things. He is gangly and skinny and I wanna know if he is strong or not. He is kinda goofy so would be fun to hang out with.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: All of the fans on my facebook page and have reached out to me. Recently people have emailed me to say thanks for the twelve week program. I am not looking for thanks, I did it because I wanted to, but it was a lot of work and I spent a week in tears figuring out how to get it on a site so I didn't have to email it. To get a few thanks was so awesome. I do it for you guys. All my clients are a huge part of my life. Thanks for them being in my life, they have become my friends and am grateful for that. My husband for supporting everything that has happened and letting me follow my dream.


  1. awesome interview! Danny is my coach while I'm training for a Bikini Comp and I swear.....she's amazing!

  2. New Diet Taps into Innovative Concept to Help Dieters Lose 12-23 Pounds in Only 21 Days!