My 1-2-3 Moment

My 1-2-3 Moment: Neal Dakmak

Neal Dakmak is the owner of DAKMAK Performance, a private fitness and training facility located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. DAKMAK works with clients across all lifestyles - college athletes, people with physical limitations such as amputees or chronic pain, people who exercise regularly, and people who haven’t exercised in years. Neal sets himself apart by bringing a deeply intuitive approach to training and a real, genuine desire to help people feel better and live a more fulfilling life. You can follow Neal on Instagram and at DakmakTraining.com

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For years I was looking for the perfect program, for myself of course, but even more for my clients. I developed a strong understanding and appreciation of the body through weightlifting and functional training but I always felt like there was something missing. The first big step to finding that missing piece came through a “mind-muscle connection” when my brain understood exactly what my muscles were attempting to do during a variety of movements. So many of the people I work with are really just getting to know their bodies. Age is irrelevant, whether they are in their twenties or retired, and it’s extremely important to help them feel at one with their body. As I developed my understanding while working with so many different people, I became confident that if I could help someone find strength in their core and connect their brain to their actions, I could help them improve their quality of life. When I first learned about Reflexive Performance Reset, RPR, I found myself in a state of total information overload and didn’t really understand how it would fit into my program but, as everyone involved with RPR has said, you can’t really get it until you’ve experience it.

The First Moment: Getting RPR’ed

I was first introduced to RPR about a year ago by my buddy, Chad King, but I wasn’t really ready to open my mind to it. My focus was centered on my business and my clients. At the time I just wasn’t truly interested in learning something new but Chad believed in it, and I trusted his opinion, so I really listened as he explained RPR. He taught me how to perform “wake up drills” by demonstrating them on me. Chad learned RPR early on, before the focus was on teaching people to do the wake up drills on themselves. Like I said, I wasn’t really ready to open my mind to it but by the end of our first session together it was clear to me that RPR was going to be a key to growing myself and my business. This was something I could see becoming a regular part of my program, allowing me to help people further. This was going to open up an entire new world for DAKMAK Performance.

After that one session I felt so relaxed. And so ready. I sustained the feeling by continuing to perform the drills on myself daily. A month later a RPR Level 1 clinic was being held in Dallas, only a six-hour drive from my house. No question, I’m there. During that trip I met some incredible like-minded individuals. The 1-2-3 lens we learn in Level 1 put structure to so much of what I believed and lived. The clinic gave me the knowledge and confidence to bring it back to DAKMAK and interlace it into my own program. This was EXACTLY what I needed to push forward and really appreciate the benefits of RPR.

The Second Moment: Back to DAKMAK

Once I introduced RPR into our program, by implementing the wake up drills, we immediately started seeing clients grasp the concept. They were able to experience improvements in breathing and movements within a short time – all without fully understanding much about the mechanics of what they were doing. It was truly an eye opener to improving my training program and business model.

Any trainer will tell you that in our world timing is everything. Some of the things we’ve worked on for months or even years are able to improve instantly when everything comes together.  And it really is everything – from mindset to training to recovery. RPR was helping me improve MY system of training and time management. It has allowed me to do MORE GOOD in LESS TIME. We can provide our clients with more value, proficiency in their training, and an overall peace of mind knowing that we care about more than just getting them in and out the door!

The Third Moment: Walking without a Cane in 6 days

Only a few weeks after implementing RPR I was confident we could help people change their lives much quicker than we previously thought. That led me to the third moment that really drove it all home.

While out one night I came across a guy I knew from elementary and high school, Jonathan Drummond. At first I didn’t recognize him since he walked with a cane, had a drag-to gait, and looked nothing like the person I knew in school. I learned Jonathan had been shot 13 years ago, not long after we last saw each other, and had been in constant pain and forced to walk with a cane ever since the accident. His doctors didn’t have an answer as to why he’d been unable to regain his walking ability. He felt abandoned by the medical system and was out of other ideas. I had already experienced some remarkable results with RPR and Jonathan was ready to try anything, so we decided to work together to see if RPR was the miracle he was waiting for.

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Each session began with RPR which helped to loosen him up, get him ready to work, and also helped to clear his mind so he could focus and adapt to his body changing. Next, we used the Sand Dune Stepper to stretch out his hips, help with balance, and to develop the range of motion in his feet and stride. At the end of each session, he would walk without his cane knowing he was in a safe environment. We both learned through a bit of trial and error and our training was as much about me pushing myself as it was about him. It wasn’t easy, but his strength and mindset helped him progress rapidly. His courage during his training inspired me and carried me forward as well. I genuinely believe that without RPR Jonathan’s results would have been drawn-out and much more laborious before seeing positive results.

Jonathan’s body has reacted very well to RPR sessions. During his first visit his body was extremely tight, as if protecting itself. After RPR, even before any other exercise, his body began to move more fluidly and he was more relaxed. After such fantastic results using RPR and the Sand Dune we performed a full session in a heated pool - to see if we could increase blood flow and muscle movement - and it worked exceedingly well! We witnessed immediate improvements and he was able to increase his momentum when walking. After six days of training together, Jonathan was able to walk across the gym without a cane, something he hasn’t been able to do since his injury.

One of the big challenges we face as trainers is helping people take their mind off focusing on pain or discomfort and reestablishing a better connection between their mind and what they are asking of their body. In Jonathan’s case, that meant overcoming fear and pain that’s been constant for almost half his life and trying something completely new. That takes confidence and hope like no other.

Each time we work together Jonathan has made improvements. His body is relearning coordination, balance, and movement without pain. Simple things such as moving from sitting to standing are now a more natural sequence rather than an awkward struggle. For him this has been a very fast and very emotional experience. And it’s been that way for me as well. I’m such a passionate person that sometimes it has become overwhelming. I’ve cried during sessions with Jonathan, had to walk out and calm myself, and it’s because I care so deeply and I’m so moved to see someone improve their quality of life to this extent. Not that caring is a bad thing, but RPR has helped me grow in this way as well. It can be painful or difficult to care so deeply about someone’s progress, but going back to the 1-2-3 lens, I know I need to take care of myself first in order to help someone else. When I take care of myself, I can give back to people the way I have always dreamed of doing.

Confidence is the biggest key in my world. RPR is a huge catalyst for the confidence I have in myself and is something I’m lucky to have the opportunity to share with other people. This wider lens that 1-2-3 provided me reflects the experiences I’ve had in such a short period and I really could not be happier.

I can’t wait to learn and share more!

My 1-2-3 Moment: Jeff Bramhall

This is the first in an ongoing series talking about how the 1-2-3 lens impacts people’s lives. if you’d like to be part of this series, shoot me a note.

At RPR, we talk about the world through a lens we call 1-2-3.

In the body, that’s a metaphor for optimal movement. It’s hip flexion and extension (zone 1), quads, hamstrings, and abs (zone 2), and then out to the extremities (zone 3). Just like your baseball coach told you when you were ten years old: power comes from your hips.

The body’s truly amazing - it will do whatever it takes to move you. If zone one isn’t doing its job to its greatest capacity, your body will compensate to find a base of stability further down the line. Great athletes can be great compensators, but compensations prevent you from reaching your full potential.

When I was introduced to this idea, it made sense but it didn’t rock my world, it just sort of … made sense. I’ll say without hesitation that I’m lucky. I never had any allegiance to what I’d believed because it was never a core part of my identity. Training, bodywork, coaching - those things brought joy and richness to my life, but they were never my sole pursuit.

When I attended one of the first RPR clinics at The Spot in Columbus, meeting Cal, Chris, and JL, looking around the room and seeing NFL coaches and trainers, entire Big-10 athletics staffs, and some of the best lifters in the world, I knew there was something here that was bigger than injury prevention or performance enhancement. There was something more than the lightness I felt when I first experienced the Wake Up Drills that had some incredible value. I was bound and determined to figure out what that was.

It took a long time, a lot of experimentation, and a lot of seeking, but it became clear. What drew me in and held me close was how 1-2-3 applies outside of the body and can improve every aspect of life.

What I found with 1-2-3 was that the ability to separate input from reaction. I was able to engage with myself from a place of authenticity and integrity (Zone 1), which allowed me to bring that same clarity and calm to my interactions with my close circle of people (Zone 2), and choose how (and whether) I wanted to engage with the rest of the world (Zone 3) - ATOF (if you know, you know).

I can tell stories of being a better salesperson using this approach (prior to joining RPR, I was a sales lead at Onshape) and I can tell stories about choosing to stepping away from relationships that didn’t align with my values. But the story I want to tell is when the power of 1-2-3 became REAL to me.

After work one day, I was on the subway heading downtown to meet up with my wife. I’m sitting near the end of a car and across from me is a mother and her probably three-year-old daughter and a few seats down from them is an older man, potentially homeless, probably drunk, but definitely down on his luck. One of those guys who carries an air of sadness with them. One of those guys that is, more often than not, simply ignored.

He’s being friendly with them and the mother is tolerating it because it’s pretty clear that he’s at least mostly harmless. Eventually, he starts being a little more friendly than the mother is comfortable with and she moves away. This does not go over well. “Just a bunch of princesses……..” he starts saying, getting loud, but not actively doing anything. He just starts running his mouth.

Now, this is where for the first 36 years of my life, I would have met force with force. I probably would have gotten in the guy’s face and verbally overpowered him.

But with this new 1-2-3 lens, and the space to separate input and reaction, I just walked over and stood next to the guy, outside his space, but close enough to speak softly and said to him:

“Hey man, is this really how you want to be?”

And he came back with a bunch of noise about princesses and entitlement and how he was just trying to be a nice guy. And after he stopped, I said simply:

“I totally hear you, but is this really how you want to be?”

And he stopped. He just stopped. And he said that he was tired. I’m sure tired couldn’t even begin to explain it.

And I held space with him. Every few minutes he’d get agitated and I’d coach him through to the next stop, reminding him that he was ok and he just wanted to get where he was going.

Now’s where it gets fun.

We reach what he thinks is his stop and he gets up to get off the train. I walk with him over to the door when he realizes that he actually has to go one more stop to reach his destination and, for obvious reasons, turns around to get back on the train.

And some other guy comes up behind me in a ball of rage and yells “NO WAY, YOU’RE GETTING OFF THIS F*CKING TRAIN RIGHT NOW!”

I turn around to the newfound hero, and quietly and gently say to him, “Hey man, you don’t need to worry about it. Everything’s all set here.” This is the moment that I’m honestly the most shocked by because he was so violent and forceful. And I chose to deflect that rage and meet him with calm kindness.

And I turn back to the older guy and say “The next stop’s in about a minute - let’s just get there.” And he does. And he thanks me for staying with him for the train ride. Maybe this is the first time he was treated with empathy in a long time, I don’t know. I just know that I was able to meet him on a level that acknowledged his humanity and reminded him that he had a choice.

Now, the hero’s gone, the older guy is gone, and I sit down - shocked at what had just happened because it’s so starkly different from how I imagine that situation to play out. The mother and daughter are sitting right across from me again. The mother looks at me with one of the most genuinely grateful looks I’ve ever seen and says, “That was amazing. Thank you.”

And I, at a loss for words (which I still am when I describe my feelings about this), simply say, “I’m glad I could help.”

I credit RPR for giving me the ability to create that space to choose empathy and kindness in that situation. That space allowed me to engage with human beings as human beings, rather than as problems to solve or as combatants to defeat. I also credit the 1-2-3 lens for giving me the language to describe this.

Anyone who has attended an RPR course that I’ve taught can attest to the earnestness and passion that I bring to this calling, and this story illustrates why. There is an infinite amount of good that can be brought to the world, all we have to do it choose it.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3.