Never Let Your Imaginary Limitations Interfere With Your Real Potential
- Derrick Nowlin
Get to Know Derrick
With over 40 years experience studying, teaching and demonstrating the Martial Arts, plus over
20 years as a fitness instructor, and more than a decade as a published fitness writer, Derrick
Nowlin has established himself nationally in the fitness and martial arts arenas. He is a sought
after Martial Arts instructor, Fitness Coach and Writer as well as an often quoted subject
matter expert in martial arts and fitness.
As a teenager, Derrick was almost abducted. That was a real eye-opening experience. He learned
that you can’t just “know” some self-defense, you need to have reflexes and have the ability to
execute what you know. But beyond that, you must be in the right condition to protect yourself.
Training harder became a priority. Derrick has had the absolute pleasure of training with
several Great Martial Arts Masters over the years, including 7 Time World Karate Champion and
Creator of Tae Bo, Billy Blanks, The Legendary Guro Dan Inosanto and undefeated World Kickboxing
Champion Pete “Sugarfoot” Cunningham, to name a few. Derrick was also the Creator and a member
of the performance group Momentum.
It's been called the king of back exercises, the backbone of the back workout and the only true
test of upper-body strength. But regardless of what you choose to call it, the pull-up is the
most grueling exercise you can do for your upper back.
Because pull-ups are so difficult (and in spite of their effectiveness), the pull-up bar at most
gyms hovers overhead in bleak solitude - underutilized, unloved and largely ignored. Sure, the
occasional patron will stop by and hang from the bar to stretch or maybe do some hanging leg
raises, but you can count on one hand the number of people who will grab hold and pull
That's unfortunate, because the pull-up, in all its variations, is without peer in developing the
upper lats. "The lats are responsible for pulling your upper arms backward, downward and toward
the sides of your body," says William Finney, a Washington, D.C.-based personal trainer. "When
done properly, pull ups maximize all three of these movements, making them one of the purest lat
No other back exercise allows for so many variations. Different grips and body angles allow you
to target the back in different ways, which, in turn, helps you develop your back more fully.
For example, the basic pull-up with an overhand shoulder-width grip stresses your outer lats,
while the wide-grip pull-up with your back arched (pulling your mid-chest to the bar) stresses
the middle of you back and involves your rear deltoids more. And as you get stronger and a set
of 15 becomes easy, you can strap on a weight to develop your back even further.
Men's Fitness (Oct. 2000)
High-Impact Abs - By Derrick Nowlin
Contrary to what Hollywood would have us believe, legendary magician Harry Houdini did not die
while attempting an underwater escape during a performance. He died on Halloween, 1926, in a
hospital bed, from complications caused by a ruptured appendix. Besides being a peerless
conjuror, Houdini was also known for his extraordinary physical conditioning and could withstand
tremendous shots to his abdomen by tensing his muscles.
Yet it has long been believed that a college student ruptured Houdini's appendix by delivering a
blow to his midsection before he was ready. We know you're not dumb enough to ask someone to
sock you in the stomach as a party trick, but developing a strong, durable gut has applications
in everyday life as well as in sports. Putting vanity aside, abs play a major role in keeping
"In addition to helping hold the torso erect and helping to make trunk movement possible, abs,
along with the rib cage, are part of the armor that protects our organs," says Will Finney, a
Virginia-based post-rehab conditioning specialist. High impact ab training should focus on the
development of muscular hardness and density through-out the abdominal region. These muscles
include the rectus abdominus, the obliques and the spinal erectors. "Any shock to the abdominals
jolts the lower back; therefore, development of the lower back and spinal erector muscles is
necessary," says Kevin Steward, a strength coach and fitness director at the Sport & Health Club
in Alexandria, Va.
Men's Fitness (March 2001)
Reinvent Your Training - By Derrick Nowlin
As Roy Jones Jr., considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, entered
the ring before his title bout against Eric Lucas, ring-side commentators were amazed that he
looked so energetic, alert and prepared. Their surprise was understandable, given that Jones had
played in a semipro basketball game earlier that same day. Why double up the demands on his body
on the day of the big fight? Simple boredom. Jones needed a new challenge to spice up his
training and keep the fight game exciting.
Since even world-class athletes have moments when workouts seem unproductive and monotonous, it
stands to reason that any of us are vulnerable to such ebbs in our training -- especially since
our motivation doesn't include million-dollar paydays. If you've reached a plateau, have a case
of gym daze, or just want to juice up your workouts, consider these 10 tips to help get you back
on top of your game.
Men's Fitness (Oct. 2001)
Shopping For A Personal Trainer - By Derrick Nowlin & Dave Ferguson
You buy this magazine. You clock in at the gym, eat the right foods, take the right supplements,
get plenty of rest. And it works. In the back of your mind, though, you've probably wondered how
much better you might do with the help of a personal trainer. Yet you're reluctant to take that
step. We understand. After all, we don't ask for directions when we're lost, we can't admit when
we're wrong, and we never tell our wives we're clueless when it comes time to hook up the
surround-sound audio system.
But if you believe you haven't tapped into your potential or that you may need special attention
after a recent injury, consider obtaining the support of a certified professional, even for just
a short while. The facts are, it helps. According to a recent study by the National Strength and
Conditioning Association, men who used trainers became 30 percent to 45 percent stronger three
times faster than those who exercised on their own.
Be wary, however, of making an ill-informed decision. Fail to do your homework and you'll likely
end up with the wrong person for the job. That slipshod approach is roughly akin to asking a
urologist to do your dental work or a powerlifting coach to prepare you for a triathlon. You're
courting, at the least, dissatisfaction or loss of funds -- and at worst, an injury that will
keep you sidelined for the foreseeable future. Getting the right person for the job means
knowing what you want before you start looking.
Washington Post (June 2003)
Make The City Your Gym - By Derrick Nowlin and Kate Williamson
Health Kick- I really got serious about fitness when I was in college. [Back then] I was
the junk-food king; I was sick all the time. Working out regularly made me feel better. Now,
I've been teaching martial arts and fitness classes for about 12 years.
Training on Tour- The idea of creating an outdoor workout in Washington came to me when I
was a tour guide in the early '90s. All these tourists were so fascinated by the monuments and
our city's architecture. But those of us who live here often take it for granted. So I created
outdoor routines for myself and discovered great workout spots everywhere. Later, I started
Morning Worship- I like to take people to do the stairs at the Masonic Memorial in
Alexandria early in the morning. Afterward, we sit on the steps, soaked in sweat, and watch the
sun rise. Clients get addicted. They're like, "Are we going to do the sun thing?"
Alexandria Times (June 2011)
Mind Over Matter - Featured in Article
Alexandria native Derrick Nowlin has a board broken over his back at a martial arts demonstration
at Lee Center, June 4, 2011. Nicknamed "Dragon Chyld" Nowlin is a T.C. Williams graduate and has
taught martial arts for 20 years. During the presentation, he also broke cinder blocks and
performed push-ups on broken glass without inflicting cuts or bruises on himself.
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With over 40 years experience studying, teaching and demonstrating the Martial Arts, plus over 20
years as a fitness instructor, and more than a decade as a published fitness writer, Derrick
Nowlin has established himself nationally in the fitness and martial arts arenas.
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