We talked with Dana J. Star in August, 2020.
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello, my name is Dana J. Star and I am 28 years young (29 this year). I was born in Kurdistan (Iraq) but now living in Sweden. I have been in Sweden for the past 21 year now.
I have a Master degree in Pharmacy and I work as a pharmacist. But I also work with some projects through Instagram (paid partnerships). I have a girlfriend which I have been seeing for 10 months now.
I have been competing in freestyle and calisthenics, won a lot and of course and lost some as well. I was the National champion in freestyle 2016 and I was even the Scandinavian champion in 2017.
I have always loved training my whole life. I have been training for as long as I can remember. I started with basic home training (pushups etc.), later on I tried Kung Fu, boxing Taekwando and gymnastics for six months to one year with a friend. But got bored of it and did parkour for two to three years.
After that, I found calisthenics and felt in love with the sport. I have been doing calisthenics for seven years now and STILL going strong.
For the time being, I don’t have any sponsors yet but I have some side projects. The people I usually train with are my brothers and my close friends. My close friends usually do freestyle, where my brothers do good old reps and sets (muscle ups, pull and push).
My other hobby currently is to ride motorcycles. I have always wanted to drive a motorcycle ever since I was a kid because of the feeling of being free, which comes with it. So right now that takes a lot of my time.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
I have always trained hard but it has never felt hard for me. I noticed this while training with others. Every time I trained with people I would always do more and I could also go more.
I train differently depending on the purpose. If I have a competition coming up, I make sure that I train at least four to six days a week where each session is around two to three, five hours long with warmup that is. Currently, I don’t have a competition coming up so I trained around three to five days a week for 1,5-2h each session.
I have once followed a program but most of the time I’ve just done the things I want and that has been my key for keeping up my motivation for training. The program I followed was a program that my friend Daniel Flefil did to get closer to a move called, Full Planche and that gave me good results.
During my off-season, I make sure to keep training hard because that is where a lot of athletes fall. They eat a lot and don’t train hard, which makes it harder to come back to the level of confidence before their off-season.
Before competition, I usually stop eating candy/fastfood and sugar, and I try to eat a variegated plate (mainly rice and chicken). If I get cravings for sweets then I usually eat a fruit.
I love training alone because I benefit a lot from it. I can concentrate better on myself BUT I also love training with my friends/others because it’s like a community and I get motivated to see my friends succeed in their performance.
I like to eat dates, walnuts and an energy drink (Nocco) before my training sessions, it gives me a good boost. Sometimes I bring a protein shake after my session but not all the time, as I said before, it all depends on my goal (off-season or competition-mode).
My fitness bag contains liquid chalk, a resistance band, skipping rope, wrist wraps, speakerphone and a pair of shorts. That way I will always be ready for a session wherever I go.
I recently started using the Fitbit pulse watch to see if can optimize my training. I like the Fitbit pulse watch because it keeps better track of my daily steps (10k steps each day minimum) and how much calories I burn during a full day. If I know my daily calorie outtake that I can optimize my calorie intake as well.
Cardio is something I don’t do often because I have never liked it. I do some kind of cardio before a competition but nothing extravagant. I can do reps conditioning where I do a full bodyworkout with high reps and less rest, which can be a kind of cardio but no running or marathon.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
The motivation is a key to many things in life and it will differ many times during a lifetime, but as long as you have a goal the motivation will be there.
I make sure to always train even during my bad days/hours because I know after a training session I will always feel much better both mentally and physically.
So if I feel sad/unmotivated/depressed I always make sure to hit the gym because the gym is where I feel the best and where I can evolve myself to be a better human.
I have never seen my training as something that I must do. For me training is something I hunger for, I yearn for it because I have seen the benefits and the door it opens all aspects, whether its work, friends, relationships or overall health.
My best hack for improving in the gym, whether you want to land a big trick or lift heavy, is to be consistent in the exercise and plan your workout beforehand to get the best out of each workout.
Some days you won’t be able to get the best out of the workout but as long as you are there and trying to achieve the goal, it will improve and eventually hit that goal.
Making time for the gym is always a crucial thing but I always try to make time to hit the gym. If I don’t have time to hit the gym, I make sure to do a 15-45 min home workout, which usually becomes better than hitting the gym.
So when I hear people tell me what they don’t have time I, I try to reply by saying just do 50 pushups and 50 abcrunches before hitting the shower and there you have a 15 min home workout.
My biggest challenge in life was taking my master degree in Pharmacy and trying to keep up my level of training. It really took a toll on me but I managed quite splendidly and I am so proud of myself for achieving that challenge in my life. Now I feel like I can manage anything in life.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
For the moment, I am currently putting a lot of effort into my motorcycle so I train around three to four days a week and just maintaining because a lot of competitions have been cancelled during this pandemic.
The only fitness trend I follow is that I do my reps and sets. There are to many trends to keep track of so If I do what I am good at it will work out as always.
I have always loved mastering full body control so my goal for the next five years is to become much stronger in my element (calisthenic) and mastering my body to the max. Every year, I try reevaluate what I need to master to keep up with my goal and making sure that I achieve my five-year plan.
I have never regretted my fitness journey because each step has led to me to become better and stronger. It has made me into the man I am today and happy and blessed.
There is no idea in regretting and wishing that I should change this and that. I am happy with what I have done and happy to see what the future holds for me with my fitness journey.
If I could give my younger self, I would say just keep doing what you are doing, just remember to document your journey more.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Injuries is something that is hard to avoid when training on a high level, because you often push your limits, but there is always a way to prevent it from becoming a big injury.
READ >> Alessandro Ciorlano: This is How I Eat, Train Hard and Avoid Injuries.
When I started training hard a few years ago, I did not warmup but later on I noticed the more I warmed up the better performance I had. So my big prevention to avoid injuries is warmup for 20-40 mins before a session and think before acting when making a big move/lifting heavy.
If I get a big injury, I try to rest a lot and see a chiropractor depending on the injury and get right on the rehab, because the faster you rehab the faster you will come back.
I tend to sleep around eight to 10 hours but my average is around seven to eight hours. There some days where I get less sleep but I make sure that I get more sleep the day after.
I am quite adaptable when there are changes in my schedule but if the changes happen too often during a period of time, I usually get really tired because I over exert myself. So I try my hardest to plan for the week.
The only supplements I take are vitamins from my local pharmacy In Sweden and my proteinshake Casein from tyngre.se. I take extra omega 3 vitamins, extra magnesium and sometimes bio collagen type II for the recovery of ligaments from the brand Great earth.
If I have a small injury I want to recover from, I usually use a foam roller and if it doesn’t help that is when I go see my chiropractor. My chiropractor is always the last resort because then I have tried all I can do.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I am currently following a diet I got from my Daniel Flefil (he got it from his nutritionist). It’s a very good diet where I can eat a lot (which I LOVE) without getting bloated plus it enhances my recovery and performance. I just started using it again but I tried it for four months and I could really feel the difference. In this diet I have to count macros and calories.
During my diet plan, I try not to attend too many social occasions but If I have to then I usually prepare myself by eating before attending the occasion and also bring a healthy snack with me.
Many of my close friends already know that I compete and I try eating healthy before a competition and they usually support my cause.
During my preparation for a competition, I tend to skip cheat days because I am motivated for my competitions and my cravings usually disappear. However, during my off-season, I eat what I want but I don’t exaggerate.
My philosophy is If I train hard enough, I can eat what I want. I bulk during the winter and cut during April-May so that I am lean for the summer.
I tend to be around 250-500 calorie deficit from my regular calorie intake, that way I can still feel good while training hard without being tired.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
As I said before, I have always loved training but I found watching Rocky movies very inspiring when I was younger. I wanted to have Rocky’s physique so I started training really hard at home.
Later on, I saw a clip of ”Hannibal for King” on YouTube where he dominated body control and got inspired by him. I started my calisthenic journey after watching him.
If I am alone I usually listen to music, nothing specific, just a mixtape of all my songs. But when I train with my friends while doing some reps, I listen to good old hip hop from the ’90s for example, Tupac, Biggie.
The best advice my dad gave me is don’t let fear run you. He said it with so much force and meaning behind it that it was drilled into my mind because he has been through a lot and seen a lot. I then thought if he has been through so much and is still going strong then I can’t let fear control my life. That is why I don’t let fear control my life BUT it’s a good factor to respect.
I follow some crazy people on Instagram and one of them is @Simonster (Instagram name) who is a big fitness athlete that I get inspired by. He is strong as an ox but still flexible as a gymnast.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
If I were new to bodybuilding I would start by youtubing on how to become fit because nowadays you can youtube anything. I would later on try different sports that I am into, just to get an overview on how to start training.
People I meet usually ask me for recommendations/hacks, I say stick to your plan it will give you results. I have seen it and I have proven it, as long as you stick to the plan.
I have seen many people do wrong in the gym, sometimes I try to tell them that it is harmful by having an input in their technique, sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t.
I use bodybuilding to help me in my sports. I make a schedule for a month and try to follow it as hard as I can to get the best results.
I try to enjoy life to the fullest and always smile and bring positive energy to wherever I go because if you have a positive vibe everybody will get infected by it.
The best $100 I used was to buy myself a pullup bar at home. It helped me a lot when I had a lot of studies and couldn’t hit the gym.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I am currently not taking clients but I will in the nearest future. I am currently trying out a project, testing it to see if it does good for experienced athletes.
My specialty is dynamic power. I am very dynamic and powerful in bodyweight. My expertise and experience is based on many sports and I have cut down to small pieces so others can experience it much better and faster. I can take both real-life clients and online clients, but I prefer online clients because I don’t have much time for real-life clients.
The most common question I get is “How did you get that strong and fit” and the answer is quite simple “I make sure to train even on my bad days”.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
I have several platforms that I use but the one that I am most active on is my Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.