Steven Dahn wants you to “get it back” – your physical health, your vibrancy, your passion and dedication to being the best you that is possible. When we spoke with Steven recently about his work as a personal fitness trainer, it was 10am and he had been up since 4:30am and had already logged in five one-hour client sessions and would be back at it in the afternoon meeting with five more enthusiastic people seeking what Steven refers to as “functional fitness.”
It is impossible to not notice the passion and drive that Steven brings to his work. A former semi-pro athlete and long-time martial artist, Steven embodies a work-happy attitude and thrives on helping his clients achieve total success. Read on to learn more about Steven Dahn and the reason why he knows he can help you reach your goals.
Thanks so much for talking with us today Steven. First off, what is functional fitness?
Functional fitness is fitness that promotes efficiency in movement, strength and flexibility. I train to improve life based on functional movements that you use everyday at work, home, hobbies or sports. Anyone can go into a health club and do the “ole’ go-to” exercises such as bench press and bicep curls but if you don’t use either of those movements in every day life you won’t be getting the best benefit for your time at the gym.
I have been involved in sports and athletic competition my entire life. I have gone from season to season, sport to sport, training specifically for each. I grew up racing dirt bikes and playing football and I played for one of the highest caliber semi-pro football teams in the nation, the Battle Creek Rage. The team was made up of retired NFL monsters, so needless to say I had to be on top of my game mentally and physically. After that I began training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and quickly transitioned into kickboxing and mixed martial arts. This tied all of my fitness training together and I started teaching and coaching soon after.
You have a very unique approach to determining if a client is right for you. Tell us about that.
I was fortunate to work with a top-notch business coach who taught me the value of specialism. Specialism allows me to interview potential clients before we work together. I have a system in place to ensure we are a good fit. I prefer to work with people who are driven, compassionate and mischievous, just like myself. This system allows me to work happy every day because I love each one of my clients. They are goofballs and don’t take themselves too seriously, so it’s fun.
Life is often full of stress; between work, home and everything else. Most of my clients are business owners with loads of responsibilities. I provide an hour of their day where they don’t have to make any decisions. Their job is to simply show up, turn off their brains and let me do the rest.
Tell us about the work you do with corporate wellness programs.
I am certified in corporate wellness. This allows me to work with companies who are interested in the health and wellness of their employees. I can show people how to use their bodies in a more efficient and ergonomically safe fashion. When these preventative measures are taken, companies can save money in the long run. Insurance claims decrease when injuries and illnesses decrease. Safe practices equal safe and healthy employees and that benefits everyone involved.
You have been called a stickler for efficiency. Why is that?
I expect my clients to be consistent and punctual and in return I will give them the best work out they can get in 50 minutes. Everyone has heard the expression “time is money”. That is true, but “health is money” is also true. I work hard to be efficient in everything I do and my workouts are no exception.
My clients all have something in common. They all come to me with a sleeping lion inside. By nature they are driven and successful people, not afraid of a challenge and always up for hard work. However, somewhere along the way, life happened and something was lost. The lion inside got too stressed at work or too busy at home and that level of physical fitness that once came easily, eventually took a back burner to life. That is when my clients come to me.
My mission is to bring that lion to the surface, wake it up, shake it up and make it sweat. I am here to help my clients find that piece of themselves that has been lost along the way.
How do I do that? With Compassion, Mischief and Drive! I will listen to you, support you, and commiserate with you… and then make you put in the hard work anyways.
My clients range from 11 years old to 83; age is not a factor in my system. Also, 90% of my clients are women. Let me tell you why. In my experience once you gain a women’s trust, she will push to the edge of disaster every time if you just ask her. I have also found that women will stick to the plan more consistently and I also believe that women are tougher than men, simply put. That inspires me!
Two and an half years ago when my wife and I moved to the Rogue Valley I started to meet some amazing people, who didn’t realize how amazing they were. For example, I have a client who trains dog agility. When I first met with her, she showed me a few videos of her performing on a dog agility course. What I saw was her dog out performing her at every turn; she didn’t realize her own potential. I hand crafted a functional fitness plan based on her lifestyle and needs; we were able to create more efficient movement for her. Today, she now runs ultra marathons, climbs all the mountain peaks and knows no limitations with her fitness, it’s her dogs who now have a hard time keeping up with her! I have loads of clients just like her, people who just need someone to believe in them and teach them some skills.
I often hear curse words, ha! During the workouts my clients don’t always love me, especially when they are doing jumping jacks and I am eating peanuts mm’s in front of them! But after class they usually say things like, “I hope you never retire,” and many of my clients admit that without me, they would never push themselves as hard as I do. But the best testament to the satisfaction of my clients is that they always come back for more, and usually early. Haha!
Describe for readers what a typical session with you looks like.
I pack a lot into a typical 50-minute session. Based on the needs of the client, we might be indoors preforming high intensity rowing intervals, slamming battle ropes or even executing Olympic lifts. We could also be outside running sprints, stadium stairs or pushing weighted sleds up the hill. I often throw in a Jiu Jitsu class or an hour of self-defense as well. I have also done several competitions and races with my clients. If a client has a goal to run an obstacle race, we will train and run the race together and that is always a good time!
Yes, so many! First, I have had many martial arts instructors who have taught me patience and the value of listening more than speaking. Second, my business coach Jeff Jochum who single handedly changed my entire business approach and turned me onto the value of specialism. Third, my wonderful and amazing wife Lauren Dahn. She has taught me one of the most important things I have learned as an adult, which is the importance of compassion.
Also, I am lucky to be one of those fortunate few who completely admires and respects their boss. Snap Fitness’s Eric Acevedo does a great job of ensuring that I have all of the tools at my disposal and he supports me completely which allows me to be as creative as I can be. That is priceless.
What motivates you, Steven?
I am motivated by witnessing people succeed. I truly love that, it makes me really happy when someone comes to me and says there is a task they “can’t” do and in a short time I have them successfully doing that task.
I am also driven by challenges, whether they are personal, athletic or competitive. For example, I just entered into a Train to Hunt competition. It is a grueling two-day obstacle course for bow hunters. This will test my skills as an archer and will also push me to the limits of my physical fitness ability.
Creativity also inspires me. I really enjoy working with my hands. When I am not motivating others in their fitness and life goals, you can find me in my shop building motorcycles. I am nearing completion on my first build under my new venture called “Juggernaut Vintage Customs.” I can’t wait to finish that bike and take it for a spin!
You mention that you have learned that listening is more important than talking. How does that fit in to your work as a trainer?
A lot of what I do is built around trust. My clients must trust me for us to be successful together. You don’t gain someone’s trust by talking his or her ear off. You gain trust by being a good listener. Sometimes my clients just wanna show up and vent for an hour, my job is to keep them moving while they do so.
Is there anything else that you’d like readers to know?
Yes! Recently I have been hearing a lot of people say “I am too old for that,” or “I can’t do that, I am 60!” I say BS to that! Age is what you make of it. Take it from my 70-year-old clients, who show up, work hard and smile the whole time.
Lastly, remember that health and fitness is the only thing in life that you get 100% guaranteed return on investment. Know that it’s never too late to take control of your health. Even if you lost yourself somewhere along the way, I can help you get it back.