Taylor Somerville joined us in Malibu this summer for the XPT Experience. Here’s what he had to say about it…
I originally heard about XPT while listening to a Tim Ferriss podcast with Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece, and Brian MacKenzie. At that point, I became fascinated in their philosophy and what they were teaching in regards to fitness and recovery. I could tell that XPT was not just some workout fad or short term fix; it is a lifestyle, focused on always improving yourself and becoming the best you can be. I knew I needed to experience XPT first hand so this year I decided to make my way to Malibu.
What struck me from the very beginning is how friendly everyone was. Laird and Gabby make you feel like part of the family right out of the gate. They are all knowledgeable, giving, and grateful people with a desire to help others maximize their performance and longevity in their lives. XPT was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about going.
The week was setup with multiple workouts ranging from pool training, gym training, high intensity, a beach workout, paddle boarding with Laird, yoga with Jill Miller and a little beach volleyball with multi gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings. The breath work and ice and heat for recovery were intertwined throughout the Experience, too. While all of the activities were amazing, the time sitting around and talking might’ve been my favorite. It’s not every day you get to sit back and talk about life, longevity, and fitness with high performers like these.
The workouts were mainly focused on getting out of your comfort zone, moving, and trying activities you may rarely have the opportunity to do on a daily basis. The XPT team strives to test your abilities while also stressing proper form and taking care of yourself to be able to recover and keep going the next day. As adults, we don’t do that enough and it really is a great way to stay young. One of the great things about the Experience was the lack of ego and competition between participants. It is more about learning new things and enjoying the company of like-minded individuals.
The pool training was like no workout I have ever done. I do not train very often in the water and it took some getting used to. The water stresses your cardiovascular system, forcing you to stay calm and focused on your breathing. It is great to have such an intense workout with no hard impact on the body. Laird and Gabby were there every step of the way coaching all of through, making you feel comfortable regardless of your fitness level.
Even though I have a lot more experience with the gym and HighX workouts, I was still able to learn a lot at XPT. Brian led us through the gym workout and I really appreciated the focus on form over speed; quality over quantity. It is nice getting back to body awareness instead of trying to beat your friends in a workout. Gabby’s workout was very intense! It was non-stop movement; 3 minutes at each of the 12 stations. There’s no trying to hid or cheat on reps because she will be all over you. It was nice doing it with other members of the Malibu community in such a beautiful setting.
The breath work, run by Laird, focused on having you perform deep nasal belly breathing all day long. Nasal breathing will keep you out of the fight or flight state and is a great way to reduce anxiety. While most of the breath work we performed each morning lasted upwards of 30 minutes, they also gave us a few exercises that can be performed in 5-10 minutes. In the morning, one of the breath techniques we used was called cadence breathing. It helps to stimulate the system and prepare you for the day ahead. Cadence breathing calls for doing a ratio of 1 inhale, 1 hold, 2 exhale, 1 hold sequence – repeating for 5-10 rounds. An example would be to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 8, hold for 4, all through the nose. Apnea breathing is a technique we used when regulating our breath from working out and is great before bed. Use a tempo of 1 inhale, 4 hold, 2 exhale–repeating for 5-10 rounds. For example, breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 20 seconds, exhale for 10 seconds. It takes a lot of focus to control the air out on the exhale. We also did some more intense breath hold work that is really hard to explain; it sent me to a place of euphoria and then relaxation that is not something I would’ve ever imagined possible with just my breath. For more on XPT Performance Breathing™ click here.
The ice and heat is a great way to recover from sports, but can also be used for general health and wellness. The heat can improve cardiovascular function, lower the heart rate, increase red blood cell count and increase efficiency of oxygen transport to the muscles. The cold boosts the human growth hormone, increasing norepinephrine and circulation while reducing joint swelling. While you are in the ice, it is a great time to focus on your breath to downregulate your system and stay calm. After a few sessions of heat and ice, your body and mind will feel refreshed and recharged. At XPT, we used saunas and ice baths but you can get the benefits with hot/cold shower contrasts. Start with 30 seconds of cold water to end your shower and work up to 3 minutes over the course of a month.
They also had a group of excellent guests; Jill Miller, the creator of Yoga Tune Up put us through one of the best yoga workouts I’ve had. She takes a different approach to yoga by incorporating multiple mobility balls she has created. The mobility balls enable your body to open up and relax like I’ve never felt in a yoga class. Her “corgeous ball” is a great way to get in touch with your diaphragm and help with lower back pain.
Don Wildman, the creator of Bally’s fitness and circuit training, is truly an inspiration to all. He’s an 84 year old machine that works out daily. He does 1.5 hours of circuit training three days a week and 3 hour bike rides the other days. He also is an avid heli-snowboarder and adventurer. He completed his first Ironman triathlon at 50 and proceeded to do eight more, until he finally won his age group. He is passionate about living your dreams and never allowing others to define you. Don’t let age or people’s perceptions bring you down. You are the one in charge of your life.
Darin Olien spoke to us about nutrition and superfoods. He’s been traveling the world for the past 20 years to find the best superfoods. He’s a vegan but advised that it is just his way of living and not for everyone. He emphasized getting the most nutrient rich food in your body combined with the best water. According to Olien, the meat and vegetables we buy in the grocery store are pretty much crap. He emphasized getting food from local farmers markets, eating seasonal, and choosing colorful food. He also believes you need to filter your water and add a pinch of Himalayan salt to properly hydrate. He recommends a liter of water with salt first thing in the morning. He is a big proponent of intermittent fasting and does not eat breakfast, which Laird and Don also believe.
While we had more speakers and experiences I’d love to share with you, these are just a few highlights. XPT is something I wish everyone could experience and I plan on making the trip to Kauai next winter. Until then, I will be incorporating the pool training, heat and ice, and breath work into my life. I like to push myself in training and all of these techniques are helping me get better. It is also a lot of fun sharing my new knowledge with friends and family. XPT has had such a positive impact on my life and I know it can do the same for others.
One of the things Laird said before we left was “Life is fragile, so maximize everyday.” Enjoy life, play, don’t let stress overtake you. We all live stressful lives, but you control how you handle it. Don’t be rigid in your thinking, be willing to try new things, and learn from others. Don’t stress about having the perfect routine or living the healthiest life. It’s ok to get off track on occasion. Just have fun!
“We create our own limitations. No one can do you, better than you!” – Laird Hamilton
Taylor Somerville grew up playing sports in Montgomery, AL. He’s lived in Memphis, TN for the past 14 years where he works in the investment business and lives an active lifestyle. Taylor will be competing in the World’s Toughest Mudder in November, a 24-hour race around Lake Las Vegas. He enjoys focusing and learning all he can on mental, physical, spiritual well-being and he reflects on these in his weekly newsletter, The Long Game: http://bit.ly/2rf91Ku.