CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: SUP TO SAND – STAND UP PADDLEBOARD FROM PUNTA SAYULITA TO BEACH FOR SAND TRAINING; SAND RUNNING DRILLS; DUMBBELL SWINGS IN GABBY’S HIGHX WORKOUT; “THE CELLPHONE” – SWIMMING WITH WEIGHTS; LAIRD PERFORMANCE BREATHING
PHOTOGRAPHS BY SPENCER IAN HARRIS
What do you get when you combine 3 days of non-stop training with some of the world’s most renowned athletes on the gorgeous Pacific coast of Mexico? The XPT Experience: Punta Mita! Everyone was invited and we promised a life changing experience. For those of you who showed, we delivered!
We featured The XPT Experience back in October. Hosted and led by former pro-Volleyball superstar Gabrielle Reece, legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, and human performance specialist Brian Mackenzie, XPT is 3-day turbo-charged immersion into the cutting edge training, nutritional guidance, and recovery techniques of these super athletes. XPT clinics are held throughout the year in different locations from Malibu to Hawaii to Montauk, and for the first time this past April, in Punta Mita, Mexico. This idyllic spot is nestled next door to Sayulita, one of our favorite surf and SUP destinations.
XPT stands for Extreme Performance Training. Each XPT Experience is a little bit different, featuring a mix of guest coaches and speakers, all on the cutting edge of sports performance and nutrition. Consistent throughout each is Laird’s underwater pool training, Gabby’s HIGHX circuit workout, ice/heat therapy, and at the core of it all, Performance Breathing. Integrated into every different workout and as its own daily session, Performance Breathing is at the heart of every XPT activity.
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: MONKEYING AROUND AT THE LOCAL BAHIA CROSSFIT; FERNANDO STALLA, MEXICO’S TOP WATERMAN, LETTING IT FLOW UNDERWATER; FEATURED LECTURER, DR. ANDY GALPIN & LOCAL GUIDE AND TRAINER, SHANTI TILLING MAKING THE ICE BATH LOOK LIKE A WARM SOAK (IT’S NOT!); LUNCH OF LOCAL CEVICHE, GUACAMOLE, AND FRESH SALAD; POST WORKOUT IN THE HOT TUB; LAIRD HAMILTON, GABBY REECE, AND BRIAN MACKENSIE; BRIAN GETTING THE WEIGHTS READY; BRIAN AND LAIRD COACHING PERFORMANCE BREATHING
We all know breathing is oxygen in and carbon dioxide out, but that pattern has gotten disrupted by our body’s physiological responses to the stress levels of our daily lives. Says Brian, “In our current lifestyle, we think convenience has made things easier, but actually it has not. Our bodies were designed to buffer off stress by moving. If we don’t, that stress has to go somewhere else. As a result, we deal with a lot of CO2 intolerant issues, such as chronic hyperventilation.” The breathing he teaches helps flush those excesses out of the system by applying techniques to deal with CO2 intolerance and increase oxygen absorption.
In the context of XPT, the breathing we learn and practice is designed to improve sports performance, both as a warm-up and recovery, in ways that can’t help but carry over into everyday life. Count how many breaths you take a minute. Ideally says Brian, we want to be under 10, but many of us breathe in excess of 20 breaths per minute. The breathing practice at XPT calms the body down to less than 3 breaths per minute, through a combination of the “Pranyama” breathing practiced in yoga, along with “Apnea” breath holds. This is known as cadence breathing, and something anyone can practice at home. Here are a few simple routines:
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: BRIAN HANGING AROUND THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL; GABBY’S HIGHX CIRCUIT CLASS – 10 STATIONS, 3 MINUTES EACH, ALTERNATING EXERCISES EVERY 30 SECONDS – IS ALWAYS OPEN TO ANYONE WHO WANTS TO JOIN; YOURS TRULY HANGING AROUND THE GYM; PHOTOGRAPHER ANNE MENKE LEARNING TO EXHALE; PERFORMANCE BREATHING UNDER THE PALMS; PUSH-UPS ON BREATH HOLD
Before working out, we want to get the body prepped and ready for action — to make more oxygen available for exertion. Nasal breathing helps with that, as we release nitrous oxide through our sinuses which acts as a vasodilator and oxygen absorber. Brian recommends an inhale – hold – exhale – hold pattern in a 1-1-1-1 sequence. For example, inhale for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold on exhale for 5 seconds. Do that for 10 minutes at an interval that feels comfortable. It might be 5 seconds, it might be more or less, but find the interval that feels best for you.
As opposed to revving the body up pre-workout, here we want to bring it down. To do so we extend the breath holds, which helps get rid of excess CO2 and calms the body down. The rhythm changes to 1-4-2 sequence. For example, try a 5 second inhale, followed by 20 second breath hold, and then a 10 second exhale. Both these techniques and more can be easily followed on the Apnea Trainer app.
At XPT these breathing techniques are not just practiced on their own, but integrated into every workout. From sand running drills, where you can only go as fast as nose breathing will allow; to relay races on breath holds only; to swimming underwater the length of the pool with weights, this is where all that breathing practice comes into play.
And play is then operative word. I’ve now been to three XPT Experiences and at the heart of it all is the notion that fitness is a lifestyle and training should be fun. Although just as physical, besides workouts are activities like stand up paddleboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. XPT is centered around the idea of enjoying being fit, and all activities are designed to be entertaining. I’ll take running underwater with weights and rolling a truck tire down the beach over lifting weights in the gym any day!
Next up is XPT Montauk in August and we hope to see you there!