According to a 2012 survey by Yoga Journal, more than 20 million Americans practice yoga – and only 18 percent of them are men. But in the last couple of years, a number of dude-yoga brands have sprung up, promising the benefits of the ancient practice without all the girly, overtly spiritual stuff. The Broga franchise, for one, now has franchises in 13 states. But probably the most influential, and unexpected, guru of guy's yoga is ex-pro wrestler Diamond Dallas Page, whose DDP Yoga DVD series has racked up more than $3 million in sales since it came out in 2012.
While Page's big, barky persona may not appeal to everyone, his program is surprisingly practical and well thought out. The 4-DVD set ($79.99, ddpyoga.com) features 11 distinctive workouts – ranging from a mellow 10-minute "Wake Up" routine to super-challenging "Strength Builder" and "Double Black Diamond" sessions that run about 40 minutes. There are suggested 13-week programs for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels – and along with the DVDs, you get a printed program guide that's heavy on nutritional guidance, plus a poster that illustrates the 13 postures you'll use most frequently.
RELATED: Our First Impressions of DDP Yoga
DDP claims to be a total fitness solution, promising "ripped abs," a "shredded body," and "a comparable workout to running on a treadmill, or the asphalt, but with no impact." The workouts link together relatively simple yoga postures that don't require a lot of balance or flexibility to perform successfully. If you've taken other yoga class, though, the names may not be familiar because Page has rebranded many of them: The familiar warrior pose is called a "road warrior," pigeon pose is "can opener," and child's pose is "safety zone." Page also throws in a variety of dynamic-resistance strengthening moves that you wouldn't encounter in most regular yoga classes, such as his signature "diamond cutter" move, a sort of backbend and chest stretch, finishing in a Hulk-style flex.
There's no doubt that DDP routines – which include lots of holding in plank pose, slow-burn yoga pushups and lunges – will tone your shoulders, chest, arms, core, and quads. The promised cardio- and fat-burning benefits are less certain. A 2006 study found that performing vigorous ashtanga-style yoga only increased heart rate by about 30 beats per minute over resting, comparable to walking, but nowhere near running, swimming, or spinning. A very vigorous yoga practice can burn enough calories for modest weight loss, though – and the pace of DDP's sessions is faster, with virtually no built-in rest time – than most traditional yoga classes.
Page encourages the use of a heart monitor to keep you honest, and taking breaks when you're pushing too hard. And he is particularly good about suggesting modifications to poses, to accommodate different levels of strength and experience. This is especially important for guys, because studies show that men who practice yoga get injured more than women, likely because they push themselves too hard, instead of listening to their bodies.
Bottom line: For a relatively small investment of time and money, DDP Yoga offers a safe and sensible way to tone up and get the flexibility training you likely need. But don't rely on it as a stand-alone cardio – or weight training – routine.