Workout Your Inner Caveman

We are all alive today because our genetics are well adapted to survive in the natural world. In fact very little has changed in our internal coding for many thousands of years. If we looked back at the lifestyle of our ancient ancestors we would see into a window that reveals clues about how all of us in the modern world can exercise to activate positive long-term changes in both health and happiness.

If we were to take a time machine back to a place before supermarkets and agriculture, we would see a world where our ancestors were fairly active. No one sat on the couch with the TV remote a thousand years ago. People didn’t drive to the convenience store to get a snack. They moved, steadily, throughout the day gathering food, hauling what they collected and of course on occasion making a quick retreat to the safety of a cave when a hungry predator was seen lurking around, looking at them as if they would be a tasty lunch. Historians have put their best estimates at the amount of terrain people covered daily at about three miles. And this wasn’t on nice paved sidewalks, but was rather on uneven, unpredictable landscapes that nature provided.

What does this have to do with developing lifelong fitness, losing weight, getting faster and simply feeling better? Everything! Our ancestors moved to survive. They moved steadily and they survived. They raced fast for one reason only: danger. They walked, collected, then relaxed and they survived and thrived. In the modern world, some exercise programs have very little thread of connection to this ancient philosophy, which has at its very essence lots of steady daily exercise with some lifting of loads and the occasional sprint for survival.

Most people use their exercise as an extension of what has become a very fast paced world. In other words, they exercise at very high intensities all the time and rarely do any of the moderate exercise that was a requisite for survival, one that enables our ancient genetics to release hormones in our bodies that give us that warm fuzzy feeling that says “Life Is Good!” In fact, high intensity exercise gets interpreted in our bodies as a sign of danger; that something bad is about to happen. This type of exercise releases another set of hormones in the body that are interpreted as high stress, that calls out “I am fleeing for my life”. It is not a sign that we are having a good workout!

Steady exercise at moderate levels is related to walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, etc. All at heart rates that are also moderate in intensity, that enables a person to have a sense that what they are doing is as much a chance to let their minds run free of what might be bothering them as it is a workout for their body. The crossover point comes when the intensity moves up a few levels and suddenly you are no longer gaining insight into life’s problems and absorbing life’s wisdom, but rather are having to focus all your attention into getting through your workout. This is a sign that you may have gone from the steady exercise diet that brought health and happiness to our ancestors to the one that was a high signal to get out of a dangerous situation.

In our book we give specific guidelines about how you can monitor your heart rate to make sure you stay on the healthy side of the intensity line when exercising, as well as how to sprinkle your training with just enough “survival” efforts to sharpen you for life. But short of using those parameters, the takeaway thought for your exercise is that if it is enjoyable, if it is at a level of intensity that allows you the ability to reflect about your life and to absorb the wonders of nature that surround you. If that is the case, you are probably working those ancient genetics that give a good sense about life, helping you gain long-term fitness, lose weight, shape up and let the worries of daily life slip away.

 

Settle into Balance: Article by Nico Secunda

Settle into Balance
A seminar with an Ironman and a Shaman

written by Nico Secunda

Authors note: Being the son of Brant Secunda, I have gown up in his seminars and have witnessed the evolution of Fit Soul Fit Body. From meeting Mark Allen as a small child in those seminars to reading the countless rough drafts of Mark and my dad’s book, I have been immensely fortunate to be a part of this blossoming community. I am honored to be writing about this year’s exciting events taking place across the country and around the world. I hope you enjoy this look into the world of Fit Soul Fit Body.

Outside the window, birds chirped in the budding trees and in the the distance Mt. Rainier sat above the clouds. We were in Seattle, Washington, about to begin the Fit Soul Fit Body seminar taught by Brant Secunda and Mark Allen. These two extraordinary men teamed up over ten years ago to teach the first of these events (originally entitled Sport & Spirit, Connect the Power).

After many years of teaching throughout the United States and Europe, they decided to put their knowledge into a book, which was released this past December. Fit Soul Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You is a manual to life of sorts. Both the book and the seminar strive to bring together the often separate worlds of fitness and spirituality. Just as Brant and Mark came from very different backgrounds, the participants at this 2-day event were a divergent bunch. From an athlete to a technician, a doctor to a real estate agent, everyone came from different walks of life. However, we were all there with a common purpose, a related quest; to find balance of body and soul.

Throughout the seminar Mark and Brant offered guidance and strait forward concrete methods to creating a balanced life. Their 9-Key philosophy (found in detail in the book) was a center point of many of their lectures. The two smoothly transitioned back and forth, with Mark instructing on healthy diet and exercise methods and Brant teaching ancient indigenous exercises for managing stress and relinquishing negativity. Everything about the seminar was built upon a platform of balance, in both the physical and spiritual sense. There was a balance of informative material, personal application and unforgettable stories.

Brant told of his amazing journey as a young man to the Huichol Indians and of his 12-year apprenticeship with his adopted grandfather and renowned shaman Don José Matsuwa. A slideshow of the Huichol people and their land brought these stories to life, as did the various videos that accompanied Mark’s remarkable tale of winning the Ironman Triathlon and his climb to greatness in the sport. The two conducted themselves with a great sense of humbleness, surprising to find among a world famous shaman and triathlon champion. Their unassuming personalities made both Brant and Mark extremely approachable for everyone. This inclusive feeling allowed for strong relationships between all of us at the seminar to form in only a short time.

By the end of the uplifting and empowering program, I think all the participants left with not only more knowledge of how to shed unwanted weight and stress or win a race, but more importantly a greater sense of balance in their life. All of us came away with a toolkit of techniques for finding that balance in both body and spirit. Not only did we have tips on utilizing heart rate during exercise and quieting mindful chatter, but indeed through the teachings a new perspective on life was reached. By being a part of the seminar, you could feel a renewed sense of health and well-being from the inside out.

Nico Secunda
Son of Brant Secunda and part of the Fit Soul Fit Body Team

Welcome

Welcome to the Fit Soul Fit Body blog! We are happy that you stopped by to check out our posts. The topics we chat about will vary from updates on what is going on in the world of Fit Soul Fit Body to information about upcoming events to thoughts on how you might be able to integrate the 9 Keys of our book into your life.
We hope you enjoy the posts and invite you to be a part of the community and give us your thoughts and experiences from your life of having a Fit Soul and a Fit Body.

Best wishes,
Brant Secunda & Mark Allen

Fit Soul Fit Body-Seminar

Overview

Join Mark Allen, Ironman Triathlon World Champion, and Brant Secunda, world famous shaman and healer for Fit Soul, Fit Body. Experience the extraordinary worlds of fitness, health and spirituality.

Mark Allen is the six time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. He has been called “The Greatest Triathlete of All Time,” and Outside Magazine pronounced him “The Fittest Man on Earth.” His races have been featured numerous times on television and in various magazines. Currently, Mark works as a sports commentator for NBC and has developed “Forever Fit,” a special program designed to help people live a healthy life. Mark is the author of “Workouts for Working People.”

Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He completed a twelve-year apprenticeship with Don Jose Matuswa, the renowned Huichol Shaman. Brant is the adopted grandson of Don Jose. Since 1979, Brant has been the director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies in California. He leads seminars worldwide, and his work has been documented on television, radio, and in articles and books throughout the USA and Europe.

The Experience

The workshop will begin on Friday evening with with check in, an introductory talk by Mark Allen and Brant Secunda, and often an Huichol Indian Deer Dance ceremony or slideshow of the Huichol Indians in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.

Mark Allen will present the latest research on health, physical fitness, and nutrition. He will explain the essentials of an effective strength program, and how to eat for lifelong health. You will hear Mark’s personal story of how he integrates fitness and spirituality. We will have the opportunity to train, run, or walk with Mark Allen.

Brant Secunda will present the ancient traditions of Huichol Shamanism and the spiritual world of nature. Huichol myths and legends encourage healing and empowerment through direct experience and a balanced relationship with the natural world. Brant will teach shamanic practices of health and healing, dream exercises and how to approach sacred places of power.

The sessions are a nice blend of lecture and experiential shamanic exercises. Many of the exercises are done outdoors, giving participants a chance to become familiar with the beach and the Monterey Bay immediately next to the retreat center. During the breaks you can explore the park surrounds or the beach, or take time to enjoy the exception exhibit of Huichol Indian artwork. Refreshments are served and include coffee, tea, fruit and nuts and of course, water. We ask you to bring a picnic-style lunch on Saturday and Sunday. We will all picnic together during the lunch break. Each day will culminate with a Dance of the Deer Ceremony, an ancient Huichol ceremony that re-enacts creation. Everyone may participate in the ceremony, dancing this ages-old dance and rattling with traditional Huichol rattles.

Don José Matsuwa trained Brant to have the special ability to lead people to sacred places of power, and to transfer the blessings of these places to the hearts of the people. On the final day, Brant will take the group on a pilgrimage to Grandmother Ocean. Here we will leave our offerings and prayers in exchange for the blessings of the ocean transferred to each participant by Brant Secunda.

The workshop has plenty of time for questions, and to get to know the people who sit with you in our sacred circle around the fire. Community is very important to the Huichols, this circle quickly becomes our community for the weekend.

The Environment

Our retreat center is located at the edge of the Monterey Bay nestled between the grassy dunes overlooking the ocean and a lagoon that is home to osprey, egrets and a myriad of other shore birds. The ocean here is expansive and full of power, the sunsets are magnificent, filling the sky with colors that speak directly to the soul as the sun drops below the waves. The broad beach extends to infinity in either direction. It is just a few steps from our meeting center and is a wonderful and tranquil place to sit while doing the Huichol shamanic exercises taught during the workshop. At other times, we congregate in the beautiful center with its inviting fireplace and an outstanding exhibition of Huichol Indian artwork.

Accommodations

Our workshop hours are 7pm to 9pm Friday evening, 10am to 5pm Saturday and 10am to 5pm Sunday. The center itself has no over night accommodations. There are many beautiful hotels nearby in a range of prices for every budget. Following are a few of the hotels and campgrounds with in a 5 to 10 minute drive of the center.

HOTELS and MOTELS

Pajaro Dunes on Monterey Bay 831-768-7285 Beautiful ocean view houses or condos
Seascape Resort 831-688-6800 Very beautiful ocean view rooms, Aptos, CA.
Sea Cliff Best Western 831-688-7300 A chain motel in Aptos, CA.
Motel 6 831-728-4144 A chain motel in Watsonville, close to the retreat
Red Roof Inn 831-740-4520 A chain motel in Watsonville, very close to the retreat
Comfort Inn 728-2300 A chain motel in Watsonville, very close to the retreat

CAMPGROUNDS 800-444-7275

Manresa State Beach, local 831-761-1795, tent camping only in La Selva Beach
Sunset State Beach Park, local 831-763-7063, tent camping only in Watsonville