Former NFL player teaches yoga

A knee injury ended Herv? Damas’ professional football career after only one year, but opened his mind to an alternate career and activity – yoga.

Damas, a 31 year-old graduate from Hofstra University, is in his third year as the coordinator of the Physical Enhancement Center at the College.

After playing football in college, Damas signed as a free agent for the Buffalo Bills, but only played for a year as linebacker, 1995-1996, before he suffered a major knee injury. The injury spoiled his chances at playing football any longer, and forced Damas to look for another option.

Damas decided he preferred the college environment, and, having interests in health and exercise science, he began working in the College’s Wellness Center.

In addition to weight training, he teaches yoga classes – more specifically, hapha yoga. This type of yoga incorporates meditation, while improving posture, strength and balance.

Damas laughs about the contrast between his choices of football and yoga.

“They are two entirely different things,” Damas said. “I suppose the only similarity between them would be that I’m still the leader. In football I was the captain, and here I am teaching students. That would probably be the one similarity.”

While Damas has been an athlete since childhood, he did not discover his interest in health until after his knee injury. While playing football, coaches always dictated how he should take care of himself. During his recovery after reconstructive surgery on his knee, Damas became curious about the healing process within his body. His “curiosity snowballed” and he began looking into health and fitness.

Damas still enjoys working out and being healthy, but does not seem to miss football that much. It was harder for him in his first couple of years away from the game, and every once in awhile, he still thinks about it.

“Sometimes I miss the contact, the excitement of the game,” Damas said. “It was a great release of energy. But I really don’t miss the injuries or the pain.”

Years after his injury, Herve still feels pain in the morning. “Aches and pains,” he said, “that a thirty-one year old shouldn’t have.”

However, Damas understands that football players are meant to take a beating, and although it catches up to the players, he doesn’t seem to regret it. Instead he took many positive things from his years of playing football, and is putting them to good use at the College.

And his hard work certainly shows through the number of improvements recently seen in the Physical Enhancement Center (PEC). There is new equipment in the gym, trainers, more hours, as well as an improved aerobics program in the Travers/Wolfe Aerobics Center. Yet Damas refused to take the credit.

“The staff I have, the students, those are the people that make the program the way it is,” Damas said. “If I were doing this on my own, this place would be falling apart.”

Although Damas puts a lot of time and effort into making the PEC the best it can be, he spends most of his free time with his family and friends in Brooklyn where he grew up.

Right now, he enjoys his time at the College, but has no definite plans for his future. “I’m more of a New York kinda guy,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll see what happens.”