Dan John

Dan John’s Ten Commandments of Fitness – Ep. 248

“Success is really nothing more than the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. This means that any person who knows what they are doing and where they are going is a success. Any person with a goal towards which they are working is a successful person.” – Earl Nightingale


This week, All-American discus thrower, strength coach, author, and instructor, Dan John, returned to Open Sky Fitness to discuss his Ten Commandments of Fitness, the power of learning through failure, and all about his brand new book, 40 Years With a Whistle.

Furthermore, you’ll listen to Rob and Dan discuss:

  • Why you should find something unique about yourself to set yourself from the rest and how to do it.
  • How Dan tries to look at the world in a different light than everybody else.
  • Dan’s advice for getting anything you want in life and how to create one that you love by standing out.
  • How to stay on top of your game in health and life.
  • The differences between a pirate map and shark habits plus how Dan uses them in his life.


Dan John’s Ten Commandments In Fitness:

1. Constant assessment
2. Constant upgrading
3. Ignore perfect
4. This isn’t moral theology—there are no “good” or “bad” exercises or systems
5. Everything works!
6. Achieving a goal versus achieving success (not the same thing…sadly)
7. After the peak is the cliff
8. Self-discipline is a finite resource
9. Fundamentals trump everything else
10. Take a moment to appreciate those who went before you.


40 Years With A Whistle by Dan John

Click here to get your copy of 40 Years With a Whistle by Dan John

Dan JohnWhen I was a child, people used to tell me that “your life flashes before your eyes” just before you die. As I was writing 40 Years with a Whistle, I laughed a few times out loud as my past kept flashing before my eyes.

“All in all, this wasn’t a bad life, but I would prefer to live a bit longer”

This book has been ruminating in my brain for a while.

In 2011, I popped open my first lifting journal from 1971 and realized I had been keeping track of my workouts for 40 years. So, I wrote a two-part article on the lessons I had learned (Part One, Part Two); very simply, it was 40 lessons from 40 years.

Last summer as I was coaching next to a throwing cage at St. Mary’s in Twickenham, London, a local coach asked me how I could “see all of this.” I responded, “Well, you know, I have been doing this for…”

It took me a minute to figure out that I had been standing in fields, yelling in weight rooms and making half-time adjustments for the past 40 years.

Maybe it’s my background in religious studies and education, but 40 years always seems to get my bells ringing. Walking back to my place that night, I kept trying to figure out how the 40 years had gone by so fast.

In a flash, so to speak.

Everything coalesced when Ron McKeefery asked me to write the introduction to his book, Weight Room Wisdom. As I thought about wisdom in the weight room, it was obvious that my coaching methods came directly from Dick Notmeyer and the Pacifica Bar Bell Club.

But there was more to Dick than just reps and sets. He was a master storyteller. I was going through a rough time at home and his stories always showed me the path, the route, to success. Showing up every day, getting the work done and avoiding stupidity would lead ultimately to success in all areas of life.

I have discovered no better truism in my life.

Writing the introduction to Ron’s book made we want to tell more stories about other mentors who shaped my career. I began to dig into my past and I realized how many people have coached me. Literally, a coach is something that carries one from here to there. I have been carried many times in my life through bad times and disasters. I have arrived successfully many times and I needed to make sure I thank those who got me there.


About Dan John

Dan JohnDan John has spent his life with one foot in the world of lifting and throwing, and the other foot in academia. An All-American discus thrower, Dan has also competed at the highest levels of Olympic lifting, Highland Games and the Weight Pentathlon, an event in which he holds the American record.

Dan spends his work life blending weekly workshops and lectures with full-time writing and is also an online religious studies instructor for Columbia College of Missouri. As a Fulbright Scholar, he toured the Middle East exploring the foundations of religious education systems. Dan is also a Senior Lecturer for St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London.

His books, on weightlifting, include Intervention, Never Let Go, Mass Made Simple and Easy Strength, written with Pavel Tsatsouline as well as From Dad, To Grad. He and Josh Hillis co-authored “Fat Loss Happens on Monday.”

In 2015, Dan wrote Can You Go? on his approach to assessments and basic training. In addition, Before We Go, another compilation akin to Never Let Go became an Amazon Bestseller.

In early 2017, Dan’s book, Now What?, his approach to Performance and dealing with “life,” became a Bestseller on Amazon. Hardstyle Kettlebell Challenge became available in September 2017, too.

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What You’ll Hear on This Episode

00:00 Open Sky Fitness Introduction

1:15  Opening comments with Rob and Devon

3:00 Learn more about being on one of our Coaching Calls!

5:00 How Rob learned about Dan John through his book Mass Made Simple.

7:00 Introduction to Dan John.

8:00 About his new book, 40 Years With A Whistle

11:00 Whether or not he has any regrets for mistakes he has made as an athlete and coach.

14:00 His best practices for working with the parents of athletes and advice for them.

16:00 How being born with pistol grip hip has impacted his training and how he fixed it.

18:40 The importance of getting hip surgery sooner than later if you need it.

19:00 The fact that not only athletes but dancers as well go through plenty of physical pain in training and performance.

20:30 Why more coaches should have a background in economics

22:30 Why the word, “passion” doesn’t mean “love” but “to suffer.”

28:00 Rob and Dan’s story about meeting up at the Perform Better Summit

32:30 Why Dan isn’t only a teacher but a learner for life as well.

34:30 Dan’s stories of his mom and dad growing up and as an athlete – who they are and what he learned from them.

46:00 How to ask people questions about themselves and focus on the person rather than just staying on the surface about who they are.

47:00 The struggles and painful events his family has experienced in life.

50:40 Downsides to coaching and teaching including athletes not taking the advice he has given them.

53:00 The current education system in the US and his thoughts and advice on the matter.

56:00 Why you should find something unique about yourself to set yourself from the rest and how to do it.

57:40 How he tries to look at the world in a different light than everybody else.

59:00 His advice for getting anything you want in life and how to create one that you love by standing out.

1:01:00 How to stay on top of your game in health and life.

1:04:00 The differences between a pirate map and shark habits plus how Dan uses them in his life.

1:08:00 Dan John’s Ten Commandments of Fitness

1:08:20 1) Constant assessment

1:9:00 2) Constant upgrading

1:13:30 3) Ignore perfect

1:14:15 4) This isn’t moral theology—there are no “good” or “bad” exercises or systems

1:18:50 5) Everything works

1:24:00 6)Achieving a goal versus achieving success (not the same thing…sadly)

1:25:00 Why losers get more out of losing than winners do out of winning.

1:26:00 Why we have higher standards for our physical appearance than for our careers and every other aspect of our lives.

1:28:00 7) After the peak is the cliff

1:30:00 How to answer the question, “Now what?” after a big event in your life.

1:35:00 Why injuries and illness can be a blessing in disguise sometimes.

1:37:50 8) Self-discipline is a finite resource

1:40:00 How posting about workouts (whether it happened or not) releases the same endorphin release in the brain.

1:44:00 The benefits of fasting and why it’s different than starving.

1:48:30 What metabolic derangement is, how it impacts weight loss, and how exercise can keep your metabolism regular.

 1:49:50 9) Fundamentals trump everything else

1:57:00 10) Take a moment to appreciate those who went before you

2:01:00 Final comments with Rob and Devon.

2:02:00 Let us know if you want to be a guest on the show!

2:03:30 Open Sky Fitness Closing





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Thanks for listening/reading episode 248 Dan John’s Ten Commandments of Fitness!  We hope you have gained more knowledge on how to be a healthier you.

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