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“This Is The Hard I’ve Chosen”: Dale Chambless’ Onnit Story

Written by
January 11, 2022
Updated November 30, 2023

When Dale Chambless decided to get in shape, it led to workouts that pushed him to the brink, confronting his physical limitations, and a knee injury he has yet to fully recover from. Still, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. For the father of three, the collateral damage of an active lifestyle will always beat the hazards of weighing 300 pounds, and setting a good example for his kids is more important than protecting his ego.

Dale, a member of the Onnit Tribe—our private Facebook support group—spoke to John Wolf, our Chief Fitness Officer, for another installment of our Onnit Stories series: live video interviews with people who have made inspiring life changes with Onnit’s help. Watch the interview below, or see the edited transcript of the highlights, time-stamped so you can find these moments in the video.

You can stay up to date with Onnit Stories by following Onnit’s Instagram TV (IGTV), where a new one appears every other week. 

Dale Chambless Onnit Story Show Notes

3:00 – Finding Onnit… and leaving it.

Dale says: “I first heard about Onnit in 2017 from Joe Rogan’s podcast. He had Aubrey [Marcus, founder of Onnit] on the show. I had been an athlete in my youth, but as I got older, I got out of it and put on weight. In 2017, I decided I was going to get in shape to set a good example for my daughter. I went on Onnit’s site and purchased a kettlebell program, but it was too advanced for me—this was before your Onnit 6 programs.

“Then, two years ago, I saw the Onnit Tribe on Facebook, and they were doing a Challenge. It sounded like fun, so I signed up. Now I’m 100% an Onnit fanatic.”

5:30 – John and Dale talk about being fit for their kids (each has three children).

Dale says: “I got in shape to guide my daughter a little bit, and the more children I had, the more fitness became a priority in my life.”

7:10 – Using Onnit to be a better person.

The Tribe encourages members to get out of their comfort zones and push themselves mentally and emotionally with various themed Challenges (many of which are separate from the Onnit 6 Challenges). These Challenges are offered periodically.

Dale says: “The Tribe had physical Challenges, but it seemed to focus more on personal development, and that really spoke to me. The Challenge that stood out to me was the Pay It Forward—a dare to go out and give something back, or do something nice for other people to start a wave of positivity. So, I wound up going to a drive-through and paying for the food that the people in the car behind me had ordered.

“I used to have the mindset that anything I spent on anybody else meant less for me, but that Pay It Forward Challenge really got me outside of my bubble. It got me more community-minded. I really appreciate that Onnit is more focused on the whole human experience, not just working out.”

11:10 – Finding the right workouts for him.

Dale says: “I started doing the Onnit 6 Kettlebell Challenge and, oh my God, those iso holds [see more about these below] on the first day killed. But I just kept coming back for more, and I fell in love with it.”

Dale had trouble pressing the kettlebell overhead due to shoulder mobility restrictions, so John suggested he try the Onnit 6 Durability program afterward. “Durability has become my go-to program,” says Dale. “I see gains every time I do it.”

15:30 – The lesson to be learned from the movie Happy Gilmore.

John says: “Shoulders were a focal point for you, and also hip mobility, and Durability covers both because everybody needs work on both. It’s like Chubbs said in Happy Gilmore, ‘It’s all in the hips.’

“If your hips and shoulders are working, then we can distribute the work load really nicely through the whole body.”

16:30 – Discovering Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Dale says: “My daughter came to an age where I wanted to start training her in some self-defense. I said, “I’ve got to be the example. So I went with her on Day One, and we both put our gis on.”

19:50 – Why Onnit focuses on longevity.

John says: It’s not always the sexiest thing to say, ‘Hey, we’re training for your longevity.’ But it is, I think, when we talk about what it feels like to experience a setback—when you’re having so much fun driving the body hard, and then you’re no longer able to do that for a period of time. It’s very costly mentally and emotionally.”

21:05 – Dealing with a knee injury.

Dale says: “Jiu-jitsu was a driving force for me. It made me want to be stronger, faster, and more responsible. When I lost the ability to do that, the desire to do all the other things lessened also. 

“I’ve got an all-or-nothing mentality. If I can’t do it all, then I don’t want to do anything. But I’m learning to do what I can and take my time, giving myself grace when I need to.”

26:15 – How the Onnit 6 program levels help you customize your workouts.

Dale says: “Level 3 is beast mode, but here’s Level 2 and 1 if you’re not quite there yet. And if you’re in the Tribe, you, John, or one of the members, are always offering other modifications if you can’t do a particular exercise. You can always do something.”

27:45 – Setting an example for kids.

John praises Dale’s perseverance. John says: “It’s an amazing thing for our children to see that life isn’t always easy and that there are setbacks. Even people that they hold to the highest standard, like Dad, have to dust themselves off and figure out a way to keep moving forward. You got up, and you’re dusting yourself off, and you’re doing the work.

“If we go back to your original purpose—to demonstrate in action what you hope to inspire your children to continue doing—I can’t think of a better thing than for them to see their father having struggles but being committed to the process anyway.”

34:15 – John and Dale take questions from the audience.

John says: “One viewer asks, ‘What are the iso holds you referred to earlier in the kettlebell program, and what programs does Onnit have for beginners?”

Dale says: “Iso holds are where you do something like a lunge and hold the bottom position for some time.” John explains further.

Dale says: “I think all of the Onnit 6s are pretty accessible for any level, especially with the Onnit Tribe being able to help with modifications. Most of the Level 1 moves were very accessible for me. And when I started, I was almost 300 pounds and would get winded tying my shoes. Durability could be a great start for anybody who has injuries, or range of motion problems.”

39:15 – The pain of effort vs. the pain of regret.

Dale says: “I put it all out there in the Tribe just to show people it’s not always easy. It’s not always successes. Some things hurt and they suck. There was a quote I saw the other day that was like, ‘Everything in life is hard.’

“Working out is hard, but so is getting fat and not being able to move. Choose your health. This is the hard I’ve chosen, and I’m loving it.”

40:20 – Dale’s essential Onnit products.

Dale says: “I love Alpha BRAIN ® and New MOOD®. I love your apparel—all your clothes are great. I’ve been using your JOINT Oil to help my knee. That Tangerine flavor is yummy.”

42:35 – Dale’s favorite piece of Onnit equipment.

Dale says: “If I had to choose a favorite, I love those Primal Bells. They look so awesome and you feel primal when you’re using them.”

44:00 – Dale’s favorite food products.

Dale says: “Protein bites!

46:30 – What Onnit means to Dale, and advice for taking the first step. 

Dale says: “Your tagline says it all. It’s about Total Human Optimization. It’s not just working on your body. It’s working on your emotions and figuring out your psychology. Being a good member of your family. Being a good community member.

“How you get there is about consistency. Do a little bit every day, and do what you can. Interest compounds in your bank account, and it compounds in your body too.”

Onnit Academy is the most comprehensive database of information related to Unconventional Training, a unique new form of fitness methodology that focuses on functional strength, conditioning, and agility using the most efficient means and tools possible. The online database includes articles, videos, tutorials, and workouts featuring alternative implements like kettlebells, sandbags, steel maces, steel clubs, battle ropes, and more.
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