Winter -A Time for Introspection

Hello from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. Today is the first day of the season of winter. I want to personally wish everyone a beautiful winter solstice, a time of inner light. During this time of the solstice, your hearts and souls fill up with love and light. In this way our soul hopefully becomes brighter and our heart is open to the power of introspection, of going inside to find balance and harmony. The earth becomes quieter at this time and inherently and naturally charges herself up with the creative power of introspection. It is also a time for us as people to find our inner brightness and build character. Our character is constantly surrounded by qualities of life that make us who we are. Don Jose always told me to work to be a good person, to build a positive character and appreciate the gift of life. I am sitting in front of my fireplace remembering these wise words of wisdom.

On this first day of winter, the winter solstice, I am reflecting upon the beautiful year that has just transpired. Last winter our book, Fit Soul Fit Body, had just been published and since then it has spread around the world. I hope our book has helped to truly transform people in a positive way. It is important to build a soul with inner character and strength, as well as to develop a strong body. Together a fit soul and a fit body can help not only people but our earth and environment as well.

An exercise to practice during this season of winter to build character is to imagine you soul in the center of your heart. At this place is also your character that gives you strength on an emotional level. Imagine your soul or character surrounded by love, physical strength, intuition and intelligence or moral strength. I hope this helps you go through this season of light in a joyful way.

Have a happy and joyful Holiday Season.

Mark Allen - six-time Ironman World Champion

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL- profiles Mark Allen and Fit Soul Fit Body

During Sunday’s Chicago Triathlon, I kept my heart rate low, cut my pace at every hint of muscular or cardiovascular pain and crossed the finish line about half an hour behind my personal record in that race. It was exhilarating.

What I accomplished is a goal I once considered unreachable, not to mention undesirable: I raced without competing. My ranking among the more than 4,200 participants in the Olympic-distance triathlon couldn’t have mattered less to me. More important, I ditched the notion of competing against oneself. That had been an appealing concept at age 40, when I was fitter, faster and trimmer than I’d been at age 20. But at 50, the triumphs of the last decade—the time I flew past most of the few-and-proud at the Marine Corps Triathlon—are far behind me, and anyway my cardiologist is urging moderation since the discovery of an aneurysm in my aortic root. “Race all you want,” he says, “but keep your heart rate below 120,” far lower than most peak workout targets.

“If you have to go as fast at 50 as you did at 20, you will grind yourself into the ground,” says Mark Allen, a former triathlon champ once known as the world’s fittest man.

Amid ever-rising calls for more exercise in America, there isn’t much guidance on cutting back. As the baby boomers who fueled marathon and triathlon crazes enter their 50s and 60s, their unquenched competitiveness can become a threat to their stiffening joints, rigid muscles, hardening arteries and high-mileage hearts. And it doesn’t help that nearly every exercise message they hear emphasizes more. It’s as if nobody wants to acknowledge that exercise isn’t the fountain of youth.
“The no-pain-no-gain mentality suggests that you can keep making gains if you just work harder,” says Mark Allen, a 51-year-old athletic coach once known as the world’s fittest man for winning six Ironman Triathlon World Championships. As co-author of a new book called “Fit Soul, Fit Body,” Mr. Allen argues against fighting age with more hours on the treadmill. “If you can’t let up on the competitive part of it, if you have to go as fast at 50 as you did at 20, you will grind yourself into the ground and become stressed out, bitter and unhealthy,” he says.

A growing number of exercise scientists are questioning the more-and-harder philosophy of fitness, and not only for aging athletes. A study published last year in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine reinforced other recent research showing that intensity tends to diminish the view of physical activity as pleasant. “Evidence shows that feeling worse during exercise translates to doing less exercise in the future,” says Panteleimon Ekkekakis, an author of that study and a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.

Taking on new sports or challenges can give long-used muscles a break while feeding the desire for new goals, says Marjorie Albohm, president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, who at 58 has become a recent devotee of spinning. “As you age, you have to be flexible about new activities.
Of course, exercise can provide substantial protection against chronic ailments ranging from heart disease and diabetes to dementia and depression, all the while helping weight control. But like any medical treatment, exercise can also cause damage, particularly in older athletes. The risk of sudden cardiac death rises substantially during exercise. Overuse injuries, especially involving joints, rise with age.

Older athletes struggling against declining performance are prone to excess training, which can hurt the immune system and raise levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. A number of medical experts, including Kenneth Cooper, the physician long ago credited with founding the aerobics movement, now believe that extreme exercise can increase the body’s vulnerability to disease like cancer.

For aging athletes, it is loss of prowess that can lead either to abandoning exercise or to a health-endangering doubling up of it, “in pursuit of what can’t be recaptured,” as Mr. Allen puts it.

In his mid-40s, after dozens of triathlons and swimming competitions, Dan Projansky was yearning for something new, so he took up the unusual challenge of open-water distance swimming, using only the butterfly. That’s a stroke that wears out many accomplished swimmers after a few hundred yards. But this month, Mr. Projansky gained glory in national swimming circles for completing an open-water 10-kilometer swim using only the butterfly. “I belong in the psych ward,” jokes Mr. Projansky, a suburban Chicago insurance professional who is 51.

The competitive flame is hard to extinguish, as the returns from retirement of cyclist Lance Armstrong and professional quarterback Brett Favre have shown. And it’s no different for fanatical amateurs. A decade ago, marriage and children brought to an end the elite triathlon career of Matt Rhodes, a 50-year-old Chicago metals trader. But in the pool where he swims these days, he competes against whoever is in the lane beside him, particularly if that athlete appears younger, “and I’m crushed if he’s faster than me, even though he doesn’t know I exist,” says Mr. Rhodes. He still believes, “probably wrongly,” that he could match his long-ago feats in triathlon.

Charles North similarly understands the undying nature of competitive urges. He was relieved when knee troubles ended his record of elite-level distance running, including a 2:46:34 Boston Marathon. As a practicing physician with two young children, “I really didn’t have time to train like that anymore,” he says.

But no sooner did Dr. North start swimming than he began plotting how to finish atop his age group at statewide meets. “Then it occurred to me, ‘What does it matter?’ ” recalls Dr. North, 61. Even so, while cycling in the hills around Albuquerque these days, he often feels compelled to pass the riders he comes upon, he says, especially if they’re younger.

In my case, the aneurysm-induced prohibition against high-intensity aerobics seven years ago presented an ultimatum: Either give up trying my hardest in races, or quit racing altogether. At the time, I was still setting personal records, and training alongside competitors who had the Ironman logo tattooed on their ankles.

Unable to imagine myself aiming for last place, I gave up triathlon. For exercise, I devoted usually an hour a day to walking, riding a stationary bike or jogging around a neighborhood track, and occasionally lifting a few weights.
As the years passed, it began to seem remarkable to me that I had ever engaged in hours-long bouts of exercise. Eventually, I started wondering whether I still had the stamina to do it—even at a snail’s pace, per doctor’s orders.
That’s when the old excitement returned. During Sunday’s triathlon—a one-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run—there were moments when I felt tempted to speed it up, usually to pass somebody. But mostly I resisted, allowing myself to turn it on only in sight of the finish line. After crossing it, I entered the medical tent and checked my heart rate: It was 97. My time was about 2:54. Next year I’m aiming for just over three hours.

For Baby Boomers, lighten the workout load

For Baby Boomers, lighten the workout load
September 1, 3:40 PM
Baby Boomer Examiner – by Paul Briand

The man who was once known as the world’s fittest man, is backing off when it comes to exercise.

That’s because, at 51, Mark Allen is slowing done … on purpose: advice he offers other Baby Boomers in a book he co-authored entitled “Fit Soul, Fit Body.”

Allen has remarkable credentials as an athlete. He was a six time Ironman Triathlon world champion. It was Outside magazine that dubbed him the world’s fittest man.

He believes Baby Boomers are at an age where the “no pain, no gain” mentality is more hurtful than helpful.

“If you can’t let up on the competitive part of it, if you have to go as fast at 50 as you did at 20, you will grind yourself into the ground and become stressed out, bitter and unhealthy,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Baby Boomers as much as anyone, perhaps more so, need to exercise.

They are advancing into the age of possible heart disease, diabetes and muscle/joint ailments. Regular exercise can help control weight, reduce stress, improve strength and balance, and improve our overall well being.

To get there, Allen suggests an approach that focuses less on trying to outdo yourself … or others.

“…exercise can provide substantial protection against chronic ailments ranging from heart disease and diabetes to dementia and depression, all the while helping weight control,” notes today’s Journal article.

“But like any medical treatment, exercise can also cause damage, particularly in older athletes. The risk of sudden cardiac death rises substantially during exercise. Overuse injuries, especially involving joints, rise with age. ”

As the saying goes, everything in moderation.

Institutions using Fit Soul Fit Body

Fit Soul Fit Body is now being used as a text in numerous institutions around the world. Below is a list of just a few.

Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Menlo Park, California – Recommended reading text for a number of their courses

Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona – Used by the Department of Preventative Medicine as a resource material for health assessment of at-risk patients.

Cabrillo College, Aptos, California – Recommended reading for PE7 Human Performance

Wellnesscoaching School, Holland – 2nd year course curriculum in Wellness Coaching Course degree program.

Fit Soul, Fit Body

Soquel, California, March 2009 – Shaman and Healer Brant Secunda and Legendary Ironman athlete Mark Allen have combined their wisdom into Fit Soul, Fit Body, a book they co-authored to help enable readers to live a more fulfilling life emotionally, spiritually and physically.

The book offers 9 keys to achieving a healthier and happier life through strategies and advice on how to: test your wellness; manage stress; overcome emotional barriers; beat boredom; slow down to get faster; choose the right eating and exercise plan; employ the power of nature; quiet your mind and set realistic goals and secure a fit vision for life.

Brant Secunda is a shaman, healer and ceremonial leader in the Huichol Indian tradition of Mexico. He is the director of the Dance of the Deer Foundation Center for Shamanic Studies and a teacher of seminars and retreats worldwide. Mark Allen is a six-time Ironman triathlon world champion. Allen’s final victory in 1995 at 37 makes him the oldest men’s champion in the history of the race. He attributes his success and dominance to ongoing studies with Secunda, who showed him how to find fitness not only in physical strength, but in the power of personal spirit and balanced living.

Fit Soul, Fit Body began as a seminar that has motivated and inspired people for decades. “There is no question Brant and Mark know how to get people into the best shape of their lives – both mentally and physically,” says Michael Besancon, senior global VP of Whole Foods Market. “With this book they bring all their knowledge and insights together in a brilliant, one-of-a-kind volume that if read and applied will change your life.”

“Our backgrounds are totally unique, and from that we integrate two worlds that are rarely united,” says Allen. “There are many books that focus mainly on physical fitness but only touch lightly on the inner person, while others delve deeply into personal growth, yet have very little if anything about how to have good physical health.”

According to the authors, “fitness” needs a makeover. It’s not about the size of your muscles, how fast you can run, or how much you weigh. There are plenty of physically fit people who are unhappy, eternally pessimistic and drained of spirit.

Their book teaches that true fitness starts with emotional and spiritual wellbeing, which provides the foundation for attaining a fit body. When you learn to manage stress successfully, replace negative qualities with positive ones and make a spiritual connection to both your inner and outer environment, you begin to trust in life. You begin to see the power in nature to heal and charge up your life, and within yourself to discover joy, happiness and fulfillment.

“Our philosophy trains the mind alongside the body, which can bring a profound metamorphosis,” says Secunda. “Our connection to nature is a universal way to reduce stress, stave off boredom, find gratitude and gain the energy we need to move through life with grace and power.”

“Reading Fit Soul, Fit Body sent chills up my spine,” says Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and Mother-Daughter Wisdom. “This is it – the missing element in athletics and fitness – bringing the wisdom of the soul into our workouts and our lives. It is a revelation.”

The foreword for Fit Soul, Fit Body is written by well-known author Stephen Covey. “This book could very well be its own habit in my bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” says author Stephen Covey. “Brant and Mark are a living example of what it means to be fit from the inside out, from the depths of the inner spirit to the outer symbols of health and wellness,” adds Covey.

Reposted from

Conversations on Dreaming with Brant Secunda

DN: By way of introduction to Dream Network readers, would you be willing to share a brief autobiography? How did you get from Brooklyn to becoming a Huichol apprentice, to shaman/teacher? That’s quite a number of quantum leaps in a short 40+ years!

Brant: I used to ask Don Jose, my teacher, “Why me?” And we would say “That’s just your good luck!” Really, I grew up on the East Coast in New York and New Jersey and at about age 15 I had many dreams that I would go to Mexico. I was somehow drawn to going there and the day of my 18th birthday, I left New Jersey and hitchhiked to Colorado – where I am right now. I went to a few of the big peaks here in Colorado and kept dreaming of going to Mexico… so I went! To Ixtlan. I was kind of like a young tourist looking for Don Juan.

DN: Don Juan of the Carlos Castaneda books?

Brant: That’s the one! So I went to Ixtlan, where I met a Huichol teacher and he told me that his family village was a five day walk from the town of Ixtlan. He gave me a letter of introduction, because you have to be taken there or somehow invited. It’s private land. So, I left there, came back about a month later and decided to try and go to his family village and on the third day of my journey, I was completely lost! It was wild. I’d wandered down a deer trail – it’s not like here in America, where everything is marked, two miles to the next road. I was completely lost on this trail and started to pass out from sun exposure and dehydration. I became unconscious. The next thing I knew, there Indians were standing over me, sprinkling water on my face, telling me that the old shaman of their village had had a dream about me and hey had been sent down by him two days earlier to look for me. What was interesting is that I was looking for Don Juan and the name of the shaman who had the dream about me, his name was Don Juan. Don Juan is a nice way in Huichol to say Mr. John.

Soon after that, Don Jose, who became my teacher, also had a dream about me… and sent for me. He initiated me and adopted me into the Huichol tribe and put me through an apprenticeship which lasted twelve years. Now, I would go back and forth, I wasn’t there the entire time… but most of it. During the course of the apprenticeship, they took me to many places of power and through many ceremonies and pilgrimages.

In the beginning, he initiated me by taking me to a cave called the Cave of Grandmother Growth. She is the Mother of Creation, according to Huichol mythology. I was taken to this beautiful cave and that was where my initiation took place.

DN: After all this time, more than half of your lifetime – being so deeply involved in their ways, being adopted by them – do you identify yourself as and feel Huichol?

Brant: Yes. Absolutely.

DN: What can you tell us about your practice with personal dreams. In most people’s minds, there is tremendous emphasis put on visionary dreams in shamanic traditions, but I’m asking about the dreams that come every night , as well. Culturally, how do the Huichol integrate dream- sharing into their everyday lives?

Brant: In the Huichol tradition, dreams are the re-emergence of our life. We say that at night, we die. You go to the Great Spirit, to the realm of light and you are on your way to being reborn. And on your way to being reborn is when we dream. The dreams are very important. The Huichols have many mystical dreams, as well as what we would call regular kinds of dreams. Both are considered very important; they are like another reality being revealed through the medium of the dream. So, let’s say someone is having a problem with their neighbor, it will come out in their dream – almost, you know, like therapy – and the problem gets worked out in the dream. So, that by the time you see the neighbor, it’s already worked out… hopefully.

DN: You mean there isn’t any actual verbal sharing of the dream with that person in waking reality?

Brant: Sometimes they share but not so often. Dreaming, for the Huichols, iis a very personal matter, as well.

DN: So, when a problem with someone is worked out in the dreamtime, it’s considered to be taken care of in this reality, as well, and no further discussion is necessary?

Brant: Not really, unless it is something very personal that they want to discuss with the shaman; then they will talk about the dream. But, generally, we do talk to the Fire every morning. We wake up and make a fire and tell our dreams to Grandfather Fire. This is a family fire. Whoever wants to, in each family, can get up in the morning and tell their dreams to the Fire.

DN: Is this practiced daily, today?

Brant: Every morning it is practiced.

DN: Why of the four elements do the Huichol people share their dreams with Fire?

Brant: The fire is helpful in remembering the dream. We say that the fire’s power is wisdom and the fire is our memory. So by telling our dreams to the fire, it helps us remember dreams from the night that we may have forgotten. So, the fire acts like a mirror, helping us. The fire is like our memory and will help us to remember dreams that we may have forgotten. This is one of the techniques that I teach at my seminars.

DN: I suppose anyone wanting to incorporate that ritual in modern society would use a candle.

I understand that Don Jose, your teacher, once told you never to forget that your relatives are the earth, sky, rivers, birds, animals, stones, gems, mountains, caves, springs and lakes. How do you conduct those relationships in your daily life?

Brant: I try to be part of nature, I was taught, when I was involved in my apprenticeship, to develop my relationship with the gods and goddesses, mountains, lakes and springs, by learning to communicate with them. So, we would go out on many different pilgrimages and that’s one of the main tools we used in the art of pilgrimage or going to a place of power. In the beginning, we went in groups. Don Jose would take me along with a small group of Huichol apprentices and we would go together to places in nature and Don Jose would say ” We will learn the language of this cave, we will listen to the cave speaking in the night.” And we would leave offerings in the cave and sleep there and hopefully the cave would talk to you. Or, we would go into the mountains and would talk to the different rock people, the rock formations that are around the Huichol Sierra and we would learn to communicate with them in their language. Also, for instance, we would go to a body of water – the water is seen mostly as goddesses – and again, be offering a prayer arrow or something of that nature and we would try to learn that language, the language of water.

DN: Can you give an example from your own experience of achieving that level of communication?

Brant: In my own initiation, I was put into a cave for five days without food or water. There, Grandmother Growth, the mother of the gods, came to me and spoke to me and told me many different things.

DN: Would you be willing to share what she told you?

Brant: One thing that she told me is that I would live to be old and that I should go through an apprenticeship with Don Jose. And she came in a dream and told me how that cave used to be a gourd bowl that was transformed into a cave. Which, as it turned out is part of the Huichol mythology … but they had not told me that yet!

DN: You were told this before you knew the myth?

Brant: Yes. So, I had to go and dream the myth and then they filled in. There’s many different parts to that, which are a part of the teachings that come later… but I had to dream the first part.

DN: Then, what you were told in the dream in the cave was confirmed by Don Jose and you learned it was a part of their creation mythology?

Brant: Yes.

DN: What an incredible experience! I’d love to do this whole interview on that particular mythology; I expect the Huichol people have many mythologies. That must have been a good part of the confirmation that Don Jose needed in determining to take you on as an apprentice and engage you ever more deeply in their culture.

After ten years of going back and forth, working with Don Jose, you were told by him that you were to go out into the world and teach the Huichol way. I get the impression you were somewhat resistant, simply because of the conflict of being white, from the East Coast… and I know there’s a lot of controversy among the traditional people around this country about people receiving and teaching Native traditions, especially whites. There’s considerable controversy around this issue.

And yet, in addition to Don Jose’s instructions, you had the confirmation in a vision of your own that you were to teach the Huichol traditions? Would you be willing to share that vision, if it can be described in words?

Brant: The dreamed showed that I would be teaching people in the future. It was a whole dream and with that and Don Jose’s inspiration, we started the Dance of the Deer Foundation. Through the foundation, we offer seminars and teachings centered around what I learned over the years of my apprenticeship.

DN: Would you share why?

Brant: Basically, I had a vision where the gods came to me and told me that I would teach. Don Jose had essentially the same vision.

DN: The Huichol people have a unique way of praying by speaking to the ancestors. Teach us how you pray.

Brant: We pray to the four directions, to the ocean, to the sun, to the fire, to the eagle… and we pray to what we call the ancient ones in order that they hear our prayers and will hopefully respond to our prayers. We pray out loud. Most tribal people pray out loud, calling to the spirit so that they can heat our voices. Hopefully, they respond when they hear us pray out loud. The Huichos like to pray like that, especially around the fire. We usually pray in the morning, unless you are at a ceremony and then, it’s anytime. It’s very beautiful, like a symphony.

DN: All the people praying together and saying different prayers? I’ve experienced that.

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the Huichol people for those of us who have had any exposure to their ways at all, is your unrelenting joy and happiness. I hope you have fully adopted that way of being. What is the secret of Huichol happiness?

Brant: Happiness and sadness are the same, only happiness makes you feel better. So, we say, why not be happy! The Huichols just love to joke, from the time they get up to the time they go to bed. I think the secret is that we have self confidence and good self esteem. We, of course, have many problems just like everyone. We also feel that we are helping to keep the earth stay in balance, by making a ceremony for the well-being of the earth, the sky, the sun, the water and the rain. Doing this brings about a sense of well being and when we have this, we can just joke around. We love to joke around. We also believe that it’s healing for the spirit.

DN: That’s been proven in modern medical science, as well.

Brant: When you are happy like that, when you laugh during the day, then you have a good dream at night, according to traditions.

DN: Does dance play a role in your way?

Brant: Yes. the dance that we do, the dance of the Deer, is like trance dance, which produces a feeling of ecstasy and well being. At the same time, we are dancing our thoughts, our prayers, into Mother Earth. We say we are dancing on the altar of Mother Earth.

DN: The Deer is integral to Huichol culture. It is also your totem animal?

Brant: Yes. It’s the totem animal for all the Huichol people. It’s the heart… so, what most would call the heart, the Huichols call the deer; what most would call intuition, the Huichol call the deer. And the deer is also known as the lord of dreams, the one who brings you a dream, an intermediary between people and the ancient ones. So, the deer is like the heart or what we would call our Higher Selves.

DN: And from that heart-space, you have been directing the Dance of the Deer foundation… all around the world? And are dreams an integral part of your teachings?

Brant: Yes, to the first question and yes, we use dreams quite often, doing the dream exercises each morning. We show how to purify and work with the dream around the fire. If anyone is interested in shamanism – they have to be into dreaming. You can’t separate them. Dreaming is an integral part of my work, that is why I was so happy to see the Dream network. Dreams can really help all people. We don;t have to be from any one culture; everybody has dreams, no matter whether we are Indian, African….or whatever. Everybody is dreaming and we can dream these symbols alive, like the symbol of circle or figure eight.

DN: Some of the universal symbols we all share, collective symbols?

Brant: Yes.

DN: May I do something unusual for an interview and share with you a dream I had on New Year Day?

I am in an unfamiliar setting and am being prepared to receive the embryo of a deer. I am being opened to receive the embryo of a deer, I can see it.

That’s the dream.

Brant: Well, my first response is that you are that little deer. That was you. In my experience, the embryo represents new beginnings and so does New Year. Yourself opening up to the spirit heart and intuition.

DN: I have also connected the sweet medicine animal attributes of trust and innocence to the deer I carry. It’s a dream that I treasure. Thank you for allowing me to share.

As we come to closure, are there any other perspectives about dreaming that you would like to share?

Brant: Dreaming is a time where one can really get into contact, because when we’re awake, our rational mind is working. And if we start hearing a stone, most people will freak out! They’ll think “This can’t be true; I can’t be hearing a stone, I must be going crazy!” Most people can’t handle that, even if they’re on the path. When they really get a vision like that or communication with a non-human life form, it’s very difficult for them to accept. Whereas in a dream, we are totally open. That’s the beauty of the dream world. It’s a whole other world where we really are free. In the dream world, we can really come into contact with the stones, the birds, we can fly! In normal life, we can barely walk. We humans can transform into animals and then change back. In that way, the dream world takes on an important objective, really, to let us go into another reality and not worry about it.

DN: Then, on your path, the dream world is as valid as waking reality?

Brant: Yes, it is. We Huichols emphasize that, we say, “We are poor and we have nothing, but we dream! In dreaming, we are as free as the light.”

DN: Gracias, Brant. Hope we’ll go into depth about Huichol mythologies, soon.

Join Brant Secunda and Mark Allen at the Kripalu Center for a weekend of Fit Soul Fit Body

Good Times Article

Fit Soul, Fit Body



Mark Allen, Brant Secunda

If you think 30 minutes on the stair climber is hard, imagine competing in a triathlon. This spectacle of human endurance requires participants to first swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, and finish with a grueling 26.2-mile run—all in sultry equatorial conditions. Completing the race alone is a feat in itself, but local athlete Mark Allen has actually won the Ironman Triathlon World Championships six times during his prestigious career. Astonishingly, he credits his many wins not to his impeccable physical condition, but to the fitness of his soul. And how does one build a fit soul? Allen seems to owe his spiritual well-being to Brant Secunda, a shaman who studied his craft while apprenticing for 12 years with Don Jose Matsuwa of the Huichol Indian tribe in the remote mountains of northern Mexico. Together, Secunda helped Allen become a world-renowned athlete, and they went on to create an all-encompassing fitness and well-being program called Fit Soul, Fit Body. Their workshops have inspired people all over the world for the past 10 years, and their new book, “Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You” guides readers to attain their physical, mental and spiritual goals. GT caught up with these two locals to find out more about their new book, and to pick their brains about how to keep both body and mind in tiptop condition—no triathlon or tribal apprenticeship required.

GT: How did you two meet each other and decide to collaborate?

Mark Allen: How I came in contact with Brant was one of those things you could never plan or count on, but it was one of the most significant pieces of good luck that I ever came across. I’d been racing the Ironman without success, and I was very intimidated by what I was up against in Hawaii. I couldn’t get past my fear and self-doubt. Two days before the race I was flipping through a magazine and saw an ad for a workshop down in Mexico. I was really taken by the pictures of these great shamans because they looked so peaceful and powerful. Then, during the race when I was neck and neck with my nemesis, the best guy in the world, he started to pull away. Suddenly the image of the shaman came to me and I gained strength from it. I did a 10-day workshop with Brant. It was the most amazing experience and it was a huge turning point in my life.

GT: How do you feel “Fit Soul, Fit Body” differs from other nutritional and fitness self-help books?

MA: There are certainly shelves of self-help books that help people work through life’s challenges, and also shelves of fitness books about exercise, losing weight, and eating well. We feel like what we have done is to span the whole spectrum of all of these topics. Our book shows how all these elements are a part of who we are. We provide simple tools to heighten each of them. We teach people how they can become physically healthy, and, through Brant’s tools, how to have a fit soul. We also discuss ways to feel better about life and get rid of negative emotions.

Brant Secunda: There’s no book like our book. It combines sport and spirit. We talk about letting go of stress, which is relevant in today’s world with the economy. We talk about finding what you want from life. Our book explains how you can do one thing per day to begin the process of finding a fit soul and a fit body.

GT: How can “Fit Soul, Fit Body” help ordinary people in their everyday lives?

BS: I lived with Huichols in Mexico for many years, growing corn, and hauling firewood. Then I came back to living in America where we have so many choices with food, and drive cars to get around. I gained a lot of weight. We started a training program, and I lost 50 pounds myself. We totally believe everything that’s in our book. We believe in each other’s work and have had it touch us.

MA: All of the tools come from things we use personally every day. I ended up being the oldest ever Ironman champion at age 37. Brant helped me spiritually and physically and brought me to a point of hope and trust.

GT: Do you feel that someone who does not consider themselves spiritual would benefit from your book?

MA: We really wrote the book trying to address the commonalities among all of us. We wanted the book to be able to touch everyone from top athletes to someone who’s never worked out before.

BS: Some people were pushing for the book to be more spiritual, and others were pushing it to be geared toward fitness buffs. Our idea was to bring the two worlds together.

GT: What challenges have you faced while writing the book?

BS: We wanted the book to convey laughter and joy. We want to encourage people to be content and joyful and have a peaceful heart, without sounding too spiritual. Really, we wanted it to be perfect and for everyone.

GT: What is the response when you tell people that you are a shaman?

BS: Shaminism is a way for people to become complete or whole. We are all trying to become whole or complete or to find ourselves on mother earth so we don’t feel alone. Sometimes people feel alone and they don’t realize they are a part of something great.

GT: What is your current daily workout routine like?

MA: It’s pretty ordinary. I try to do a run every day. Brant and I go to the gym every day, and I live at Pleasure Point and surf there. A lot of times my brain gets weary from all my time in front of the computer so I walk down the street and look at the ocean for five or 10 minutes and then I’m recharged and refreshed. That’s how simple reconnecting to the natural world can be.

#1 Bestseller in Boulder (non-fiction)

Fit Soul Fit Body, 9 keys to a Healthier, Happier you is now the #1 Bestselling book (non-fiction) in Boulder, according to the Daily Camera. Earlier in February, Mark and Brant gave a lecture at the bookstore. It was the biggest event in the bookstore’s history and they sold out of books.