How was the idea for the Hawaii Athlete Summit first conceived?
Z: Last year my friend Kohl Christensen invited the whole Billimoria clan to come to visit his family on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Kohl and I were both on the comeback journey from major life-altering accidents.
My time on the North Shore really left a mark: the aloha culture, the connection to the ocean – it was an epic trip – I came home feeling reset.
At the time I was trying to figure out what would be next for Samsara, and I wanted to bring training and community together. While strength and endurance concepts can be communicated well online, we needed a live experience to really share our movement ideas.
Hawaii was that place, and when Kohl opened the possibility of hosting an annual camp on his property, the Athlete Summit was born!
In 2021 we had our first crew. We immersed ourselves into training, time in the ocean and made life-long friendships in the process. At the end of the week-long intensive, Kohl hosted a ‘Pohaku’ gratitude ceremony. As we passed the stone around the circle, everyone shared the experience from their own perspective – that was the moment that I knew: we needed to recreate this event every year.
What does training look like at the Athlete Summit on a day-to-day basis?
Z: We start each morning around 8:30am with a Mobility & Movement session. This session is all about finding your flow and patterning better movement. You feel your body twist and unwind, revealing left and right side connections. Learn to move well in the morning and everything that comes after will be more comfortable, effortless and elastic.
Each athlete has their own movement history and injuries, so Esther and I work individually with everyone. The morning session lasts about 90 minutes.
In addition to movement, Kohl is going to lead us on a daily journey into the power of the breath. Many of us who were there last year and got a taste for his approach are extremely excited about this. Kohl’s teachings come from a lifelong study of the eastern breathwork traditions and his own experience using breathwork to recover from a serious accident. I expect that this session will form the backbone of my daily breathwork routine from now on.
During our evening training session, we start adding load and speed to our locomotive movements. Using Samsara method-specific equipment such as the roped medicine ball, kettlebells and other simple tools, we incorporate speed, agility and power into our movements. This is where you’ll really start to feel the athleticism come alive in your body.
The ability to work hands-on with each individual and the luxury of unstructured time is the magic combination that makes these sessions so powerful.
After our evening movement session, there’s plenty of time for hanging out, eating, jamming to music and connecting with the crew!
What kind of changes in their bodies and performance can attendees expect to achieve?
Z: The curriculum is divided into 3 stages that reflect our movement training method:
Pattern is about shaping movement – this is the single most important phase – and where the biggest transformation happens. Athletes learn through “doing” and “feeling” in their bodies. The fascia system and its elastic characteristics are ignited through the lived experience of training.
Load is about producing greater force in the patterns we establish. This phase is about strength. You’ll start to develop muscularly as well as neurologically. Part of what happens during this phase is that the brain learns to access motor units that otherwise lay dormant. You will literally get stronger in one week’s time!
Lastly, we accelerate! During this phase, we add speed and power to the movement equation. Our training movements capitalize on elastic rebound, which we learn in phase one. But now we add higher levels of muscle recruitment to unleash the full power of your athleticism. Expect to feel young, agile and powerful – it’s a really cool experience getting to watch people discover their innate abilities.
What makes this opportunity to train in-person with Samsara so unique?
Z: We believe we have the best online training community – and we work year-round to make the experience truly next level. But we’re also social creatures – we thrive on the support and encouragement of friends and others who are on the same journey. The Hawaii Athlete Summit is the one time of the year that we’re able to bring the community together and the results in terms of performance really show that.
You can’t separate performance from community – I think that’s what makes Hawaii so special.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about the Athlete Summit?
Z: It’s a very small group – just 8-10 people, allowing for really individualized training opportunities in an intimate environment. Kohl’s retreat center is incredible – a little oasis that fosters deep connections and personal growth, I just can’t wait for it!