'Through the pain'
U.S. Army veteran, teacher regains health through DDPY fitness program
Arthur Boorman's inspirational story has essentially ascended to celebrity status, gaining close to 50 million views on YouTube in recent years. A veteran of the U.S. Army, his health fell into a state of neglect following his discharge, and he was on a path to an early grave. He acknowledges an unintended discovery during an internet search connected him to an individual who helped turn his life around and inspired his achievement of fitness goals once thought unattainable.
A native of Maryland, Boorman enlisted in the U.S. Army in the late 1970s because "it was what my family did," he remarked of the motivation behind his decision to serve.
Completing his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, he attended additional training at Fort Devens, Massachussetts; Fort Benning, Georgia, and other posts. The soldier participated in multiple overseas tours in Europe and the Middle East in addition to other deployments. Stateside, he served at locations such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
As a paratrooper, he served with reconnaissance teams who monitored enemy activity but were not intended to engage the enemy. He added, "Our function was to patrol and conduct surveillance in areas prior to the troops coming in."
His service continued through the Gulf War; however, the pace of his military activities led to injuries resulting in his disability discharge in the mid-1990s. At the point of discharge, he had invested 17 years of his life to the U.S. Army.
"I was hurt and had slowed down a lot," Boorman recalled. "I did not want to get out of the Army, but I had no real choice." Solemnly, he added, "It was a frightening period because the Army was my career and I did not know how I would take care of my family."
Married with two sons, the next few years were full of ups and downs for the erstwhile soldier while he made the transition to a new career. Possessing a bachelor's degree, he returned to school to complete a master's degree in education. He became a certified special educator and a math teacher, a position he holds to this day.
"I was trading one mission for another — leaving the Army and embarking upon a new purpose in teaching," he said. "The people who I saw making the most difference in the lives of young persons were teachers and that's something I wanted to do as well."
Despite the satisfaction that came with pursuing a calling in education, Boorman admittedly struggled with issues related to post-traumatic stress and physical injuries from his military service. Although he did not seek escape through drugs or alcohol, he became sedentary and was eating excessively.
His unhealthy lifestyle resulted in the evolution from a former 185-pound soldier to a 390-pound veteran riddled with mobility issues. Within a short period, he reached the point he required leg braces and other supportive devices to walk and was unable to perform such simple tasks as wrestling around with his children.
"I was eating myself into a grave and making bad choices," he starkly recalled. "I realized my actions were demonstrating that I valued food more than my family, and I did not like what I was doing I did not like me."
In the quest for assistance, he began scouring the internet for methods to relieve the pains he was experiencing and happened upon information regarding a fitness program developed by professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page (often referred to as "DDP").
"At that time, he had a program called YRG but it has since become DDPY," he said. "There was an article about the program and how it was helping others so I ordered the DVDs to try it for myself. DDP sent me an email, and we began communicating back and forth."
Initially, DDP requested some pictures of Boorman in his obese condition to garner an idea of his current physical capabilities. DDP then tailored an eating and exercise program that worked around Boorman's disabilities in addition to ensuring he was committed putting in the work. Within 10 months, he was able to shed 100 pounds.
"My body started changing but it didn't happen overnight," he said. "It wasn't the DDPY fitness program alone; it was the associated eating plan as well. It's been a battle to keep the weight off, and DDPY isn't a one-time deal — it's a lifelong commitment."
Boorman was eventually able to regain his physical independence and no longer requires the supportive braces. His amazing transformation was captured in a YouTube video that has inspired countless others — including disabled veterans — to pursue their own weight loss and fitness goals.
The veteran is now employed as a special education teacher and proudly self-identifies as a "geek," running a science-fiction club at his school, writing science-fiction stories in his spare time and has even dedicated a room in his home to his massive comic book collection.
When reflecting on the viral YouTube video that has made him an unexpected fitness inspiration, Boorman admits it has at times felt like a burden; however, he believes he has a responsibility to help others just as he was given assistance during his time of need.
"Diamond Dallas Page saved my life, there's no doubt about that in my mind," he said. "When the YouTube video shared my story with the world, it became a little terrifying for me because I started getting all of these phone calls and messages— and I still get them."
Pausing, he added, "I wouldn't be the person I am now if I hadn't gone through the pain, but succeeding through DDPY has been a great experience that has encouraged me to help others through their fitness struggles just as Dallas was there for me."
Jeremy P. mick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.