I have a distinct memory from the summer of 2014. It was a moment that would have a profound effect on my journey as an athlete.
I was guiding in the Tetons for Exum Mountain Guides. I absolutely loved my job, but there was no denying how poorly my body was tolerating the toll: achilles tears, low back pain, spasms in my neck, arthritis in my wrist, and tendonitis in my knees.
On my days off I would schedule bodywork appointments with Gary, who ran a small sports massage studio in Jackson called Bear & Doe. He was the bear, and his bodywork was correspondingly burly. I would regularly come in with more aches than he had time to work on, but as soon as I was lying prone on the table he would get to work.
The bodywork was intensely painful, though undeniably effective, if only for a few days. During the sessions I would grunt and squeal. The ruckus was apparently so bad that he was afraid prospective customers in the waiting rooms wouldn’t want the treatment if they heard me screeching on the table. His solution? I was to be relegated to after-hour appointments only.
I would come in at 7p when all the unsuspecting customers were gone. Then one day – this is the memory that sticks with me – I hobbled in with my neck locked in place with a terrible spasm. He took one look at me and ordered me to leave.
“There is no way I can work on you like this, you’re a mess,” I remember him saying.
I was 36 years old, strong, fit, I could climb 5.12 and run all day through the mountains – but I was perpetually injured. What little natural athleticism I had as a kid was long gone. I awoke stiff in the mornings and was very guarded in my movements. I was bouncing from one injury to the next. I was stuck and had no capacity to evolve as an athlete. I had many dreams: I wanted to learn to surf and do martial arts, but I had no confidence in my athleticism; I was too frail.
Experiences like this one left me feeling like I was approaching the end of the road. I was getting to a place where I would soon run out of options, where pain would be constant.
I saw dozens of PT’s, doctors and specialists who all had one thing in common: they offered external solutions to my body’s internal dysfunction. From the latest gadgets, to surgeries – they all came at the problem assuming that my body was broken and needed a fix.
But my question was simple: how does my body restore itself? I know this is possible because we see it everyday; we lift weights and we get stronger, we run further and we get fitter – our bodies are hardwired for adaptation. How do I trigger the mechanisms of healing from within?
It took me almost 10 years of unrelenting inquiry to begin to understand how to resolve my pain, through training. This journey of study took me around the world, from modern medicine to eastern movement practice. What I found is that contrary to the interventions the medical industry offered me, my body is designed to heal itself from within.
Testing my discoveries on myself and developing the Samsara Method created the breakthroughs that I knew were possible. Today I’m 45, and feeling like the most athletic version of myself. I ran a 50k with no distance training last year and woke up pain free the next day (I was on the JiuJitsu mats getting my limbs pulled off at 10am the next day!). I’m climbing and skiing as well as I ever have, I’m finally learning to surf, and pow surf. I’m practicing martial arts 5 days a week and just came back from a 3 week immersion into MMA in Thailand – these are things I could only dream of 10 years ago.
That’s not to say I don’t get injured and suffer setbacks – I do. The difference is that I have the tools to address the setbacks, I’m not stuck anymore, and I’m so grateful for that!
The Hawaii Experience
Today my passion is to help athletes on their own journeys of reclaiming their athleticism and addressing their pain. That’s why we started the Hawaii Athlete Summit. Now in its 3rd year, it is the most impactful training experience we offer. It’s a 6 day accelerated immersion into leveling up every aspect of your physical performance, resolving your dysfunction and improving your athleticism. We will have a team of 3 coaches so that each athlete gets our 1:1 attention. We are 100% dedicated to you leaving a better athlete than you arrived.
We are staying in a private secluded retreat center just minutes from the North Shore surf breaks and beaches. Expect delicious catered island meals, time to surf and hang, and genuine athlete community – an experience like no other.