‘Why did you turn?’ asks Masha (Marianna Krupnitskaya, Russian free diving champion, whilst training us Wild coaches). This is Masha’s key coaching, asking students why it is they turned around at a certain depth and came back to the surface. This is a strangely bewildering question, and it seems I really don’t know the answer. Knowing that Masha’s first question when I surface is going to be: ‘Why did you turn?’ I then try to keep this question in mind. The next time I come up, I really think about it and say:
‘My mask feels tight on my face’
‘My weight belt shifted slightly, so I thought I’d come up’
Masha looks dubious and re-adjusts the mask and weight belt. So the next time I go down, I realize the reason I turn is fear. I have never been that deep before and there is an impenetrable mental wall beyond which is the unknown and I find that my body has already turned around before I can reason with it.
So this time at the surface, Masha asks her question ‘Why did you turn?’. And I say ‘because I was afraid’. Masha looks satisfied with this answer because she senses that at last we have the truth. She nods and then says: ‘The fear is irrational, you know from your training on the land that you can hold your breath for longer and go deeper safely, so now when you think about turning remember to ignore the fear’. The only reason that Masha will accept as a bonefide reason to turn is if you can’t equalize your ears anymore. Any other reason she will dispense with, kindly, but firmly.
There is something about the cut and dry arena of free diving that is very instructive. In many pursuits, physical or otherwise, you can kid yourself. Free diving (on land, in the pool, or in the deep sea) requires a state of calm and meditative peace. Much of the training is breathing, relaxing, and meditating.
This Zen state is then tested: Can you stay with your attention in the present moment or do you waste oxygen anticipating what is going to happen? Can you relax every muscle in your body except those essential to swim? Can you accept the discomfort in your chest when holding your breath without reacting to it?
These states of mind are – to Masha – practical, measurable necessities in her chosen sport. This is why an introduction to free diving is part of the Wildfitness course, there is nothing more practical with which to explore the Wild state of mind. You must be focused but not grasping. Alert but relaxed. Responsive but not reactive. Brave but not macho.
A final story from Masha: Masha says that when you are in the right state of mind for free diving, your brain emits Alpha waves. Dolphins live in this state and can somehow sense and are attracted if you are in the Alpha state. Masha says that when she is in this zone she has often attracted dolphins.
I am feeling emotional at the moment. Emotional in the sense that I am close to tears or throwing a tantrum throughout the day. And my body hurts all over. Why? Because I have signed up for a three month training programme with Ido Portal (www.idoportal.com). Ido does inspiring feats of movement; from one arm handstands to flowing capoeira-like performances.
The routine he has given me involves between 1- 3 hours strength training per day, and I am truly fatigued. I also feel cravings for red meat most days – disconcerting for someone who eats meat once every two weeks normally. But here is the bit that only the initiated understand. I love it. I love feeling tired to my bones. I love the ache all over. I love feeling my body respond and I even love the pain during the actual training itself.
The strange thing is that the fundamentals of the Ido training, aren’t exactly fun: it’s repetitive, prescriptive, solo. It is the antithesis of play, expression and exploration – all that Wildfitness specializes in. It has made me realize that I am truly, madly, deeply in love with movement. I love it even with the cruel gruel which is Ido’s USP.
Maybe some of you know what I mean? If you do understand this then you don’t need motivation or reason to train, your body craves it. But if you are reading this and thinking: ‘Are you are of your mind- It hurts and it’s boring’. Carry on and read as here are the steps to become movement possessed:
1. Make movement relevant.
It is well known that movement is the best possible way to live longer, be disease free, and feel and look your best. However, moving because you are afraid of disease or fat, is a motivation that doesn’t work. So my first suggestion is to find a reason to move that is really exciting for you. Tap into something that is a natural or immediate urge.
The evolve need: Becoming more skillful and masterful is a great passion in me and the opportunities to develop through movement are deep and wide. From getting faster at running or learning to do a handstand, to the more mental and philosophical learnings of martial arts and free diving.
The nature need: Seeing the horizon, feeling the wind in my hair, being underwater, seeing green; all give me restoration and calm. Moving outside gives me a particularly intimate encounter with nature. The recombobulate need: Movement is a powerful mood changer. If I am stressed or angry, intense movement helps. If I am tired or confused or needing inspiration, gentle movement helps.
The self-expression need: I love to dance. Not because it is good for my health, but because it expresses a part of me that otherwise doesn’t see the light. There are so many other needs that movement can meet. The need for play and fun, the need for connection to other people, the need to explore, the need to experience beauty, the need to challenge yourself, the need for recognition (do something amazing), the need for contribution (do something useful and physical).
2. Practice pleasure.
There is a difference between pain and suffering. Pain can be enjoyed. But suffering is miserable and kills any chance of a love affair with movement, let alone the effects being miserable has on your physiology. The more you discipline yourself to do movement you enjoy and do it when you are up for it, the more pain you can take and still love it!
3. Natural movement.
To complete the positive feedback loop you also want the movement you choose to synchronize with your body. And there is no better guide than nature. What movements and quality of movements are natural to the body?
a) Some variety (different intensities and different body movements will bring strength to different parts of your physiology and psychology and biomechanics.
b) Choose a movement / sport that makes sense evolutionarily. Running, swimming, jumping, lifting, climbing and wielding your body weight in all ways. Something that our body understands. This both animates your body with an immediate natural purpose but also natural movement is the best way to be bullet proof to injury and in many cases, heal injury.
c) Have the intention for your movement to be skillful – graceful and efficient, like any animal would move. This is not only a great feeling but it is the way your body is naturally inclined. Use all your powers of delayed gratification to get through the first phase where movement may be painful. It is worth it! It is the most natural thing your body will do and it will soon love it. You will be amazed and delighted at what your body can do.
Wild Banoffee pie This creation is by request of those of you in Andalucia this year! I took me three attempts to get it perfect but we finally got there! It must be my favourite wild pud – creamy, crunchy and a really great blend of flavours. I’ve always loved a Banoffee pie but here’s one that leaves you still with that spring in your step and not needing a siesta after. Even though you might be tempted to tuck into the lot, remember, don’t overdo the sweet stuff. We were never meant to guzzle down tonnes of nuts and dried fruit at one go (think how long it takes to break into just one nut and you’ll understand what I mean). Now cut yourself and your friends a slice, sit down and enjoy..
Serves 8 hungry folk
Base: 2 handfuls dates or raisins 1.5 handfuls hazelnuts 4 tbsp cocoa powder
Topping: 3 bananas Squeeze of half a lemon 1 handful dates, soaked at least an hour before 500g Greek yoghurt Sprinkling of cinnamon
Start by soaking the handful of dates. Add enough water to just cover the dates. Soaking isn’t absolutely necessary but I do find it makes a smoother paste once it’s blended. Turn on the oven to 180 degrees.
To make the base, grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until they start resembling a flour. Add the dates or raisins and continue blending for a couple more minutes until both are combined. Add the cocoa powder and, gently, (or you might end up with it everywhere!) continue blending. The mixture should stick together when you roll it in your fingers, if not then add a few more dates/raisins.
Cover a baking tray (circular if poss) with parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly across it. Press down on it firmly as you are spreading it so it sticks together. Now put it in the oven for 8 minutes. Take it out and let it cool while you make the topping.
Blend the soaked dates together with the water they were in. You should now have a nice smooth thick date paste. Slice the bananas width ways into even slices. Squeeze a bit of lemon over them so they don’t go brown. It is now time to put it all together!
Take the base out of the freezer and spread the date paste over it so it is completely covered. Place the sliced bananas over the paste and then top it with the yoghurt. Using a sieve, sprinkle cinnamon over the yoghurt and put it in the fridge to cool. When you are ready to serve, slice it like a cake. This banoffee pie is actually as delicious, if not more, served the next day or day after.
It comes completely naturally to most animals to eat the amount of food and the types of food that their body needs. It comes naturally to some humans too. The French can be a good example of this, surrounded by paté and croissants they are known for not over eating. Many Kenyans are very in touch with their natural hunger signals too. Their staple diet is ugali, the most energy dense, nutrient poor, stodge you can imagine – but many Kenyans are lean and athletic because they eat only as much fuel as their body needs.
This subconscious automatic regulation of eating is something that many people have lost. It can happen because:
- You have been trying to eat what you think is healthy and not eat what is not healthy which takes you away from sensing what you actually feel like eating
- You have been trying to eat at times of the day when you might not be hungry (e.g. a big breakfast or after training)
- You have been trying not to eat when you ARE hungry
- You are eating for reasons other than hunger – stress or sadness or other emotions
Eating for the sheer pleasure and sensuality of the experience isn’t often given centre stage in the fitness and health world. Kellogg’s was born out of a culture where sensual enjoyment was thought vulgar and indulgent. It was a world where ‘fuel’ fortified with essential vitamins would suffice, enough to keep us productive.
Maybe you can calculate your daily energy and nutrient needs and to stick to that – it’s what nutritionists have been trying to do. But this changes from day to day, depending on our physical state: whether we are active or ill or pregnant as well as other nuances such as being cold or tired. The best way to know exactly what your body needs every day is to re-learn the skill of sensing your hunger and getting instinctual with the eating experience. This mean relying on your own judgement, not on rules given to you by a professional.
The more sensitised we are when we eat, the more able we are to a) have our body register what we have just eaten and b) feel satisfied at the end of eating. Being sensitised means being really engaged with the process of eating.
Netta (from the Isle of Wight courses) is the master of this and this is how she does it:
- Nutrition tells us that we need a certain amount of micronutrients and macronutrients on our plate. A way in which our body understands this is to have a variety of different tastes in each meal – sweet, salty, bitter and sour. We design our recipes around this.
- Think about stimulating all the senses in your food: taste, smell (smell is 80% of flavour – you know how it is eating with a cold?), touch (texture), sound (crunch is particularly satisfying), and sight
- Making food for yourself and others is an ancient behaviour. But we are not primitive, our modern minds are more sophisticated, more alive to many sensations. We appreciate novelty, beauty, variation, complexity and being satisfied means also satisfying these more subtle needs.
- Knowing the story behind where your food comes from, being involved in a physical way with its sourcing and preparation and sharing this story with your fellow diners makes us feel deeply looked after.
- If you can enjoy your food, your body is fully engaged – all your digestive and assimilatory systems are online. Imagine – eating when you are hungry, eating foods that stimulate all your senses and not being distracted too much from your food while you are eating.
If you want to start being more conscious of your food here are some good ways to start:
- Don’t eat in front of the TV, while you are reading or driving. Focus on your food while you eat
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full
- Make your discipline to get meals together that are a sensuous feast, that give you huge pleasure
For some practical inspiration, you can sign up for Netta’s Wildfitness and food 3 day course on the Isle of Wight, where you will be put through a potent experience to re-engage you with your own food sensuality
King Prawn Spaghetti with Lime and Mango Salsa
Whatever Saturday night has in store for you, this colourful dish will rise to the occasion and acts as a perfect starter. Once you have tried a few different food combinations and have confidence in your creative ability, put your family/friends’ senses to the test and see how well they know you: what are your secret ingredients? What is the story behind your creation? Every meal cooked with care has a story and reflects the chef’s personality. The trick is to explore your foods in depth, revel in their associations and then see where they take you. These are skills which we will help you develop on our Creative Cooking Course in July. We will help you to source and combine real foods creatively and will work with you to discover your own tastes and styles of cooking. Then you will have the tools and knowledge to unleash your own brand of creativity and begin your own food story…
6 tiger prawns
1 courgette, cut into thin strips
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 spring onion, cut into thin strips
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Inch of root ginger, finely chopped
Inch of lemon grass, finely chopped
1 lime, zest and juice
Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Begin by making the salsa. Cut the mango up into small cubes and put them in a bowl. Add the ginger, lemongrass, lime zest and juice, half the chilli and half the coriander. Have a taste and add a little seasoning if necessary. Combine all the ingredients and keep it cool in the fridge.
Prepare the courgette spaghetti. I have cut the courgettes into julienne strips in this meal but they are also great as ribbons (using a peeler to make long strips).
For the red pepper and spring onions, cut these into long strips too and fry them off with the courgette ribbons on a very high heat with a little butter and the other half of chilli. Make sure you don’t over cook them as you still want a bite to it. Keep warm to one side.
Heat a frying pan to a high heat ready for the prawns. Add them and leave to cook for a minute or so on one side, until it has turned a nice golden colour. Flip them over and quickly cook on the other side for half the time. Take off the heat.
To plate up, make a bed of courgette and pepper ribbons on each plate. Top with 3 king prawns and a quick squeeze of lime juice. Finally spoon a generous helping of mango salsa over the prawns and scatter over the last bit of coriander.
5×5x5 Body Weight Circuit
This is something you can do anywhere – even in a hotel room so it is quite useful. It is also intense!
The idea is to pick 5 movements and do each one 5 times one after the other, then repeat this 5 times.
So, set up a small open space with 5 movement ‘stations’. At each station, repeat the allocated movement 5 times. Do 5 laps of your circuit – visiting every station each time.
Some of the movements that you can do with just your body weight are:
- Explosive jumps (jumping on the spot – kicking your heels to your bum)
- Push ups (do each push up with your hands in a different place – some with them close together, some wide, some with one hand forward, one hand back
- Pull ups (find a branch or wall to pull up on – if you can’t do a pull up, assist by jumping up and then letting yourself down)
- Squats (again do each one differently – one with legs close, one with legs wide, one with one foot in front of the other)
Time yourself doing the 5 movements 5 times each all the way through and then repeating until you have done the circuit 5 times. This will take you between 3 – 6 minutes. Take a rest for about 5 minutes and then repeat the 5×5x5 and see if you can beat your time!
Quails Egg Trio
As the weekend dawns and a plan starts to take shape, we look at ways in which wild and real foods can live up to social occasions. Canapés can traditionally be fairly innutritious but this is really a time to explore different food combinations and flavours using natural ingredients. Whilst our quails egg trios require a little more love and attention than other dishes, you will know from the first taste that it is worth every little chop.
For a plate of 10 canapés:
1 slice of pineapple
5 quails eggs
10 tooth picks
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the quails eggs. Cook for 1.5-2 minutes depending in the size of the eggs. Drain the eggs and put them into a bowl of cold water.
Carefully peel the eggs and cut each one in half.
Cut the pineapple into 10 bite-sized squares.
When you come to putting the canapé together, place an anchovy on each of the pineapple squares and half a quails egg on top. Hold them together with a tooth pick.
Pyramid running is a method we use to train different paces of running. This session makes us better at being versatile, like all animals need to be.. It also can be intense which has great benefit for performance in both short and long distance running. Many people say that pyramid running is a much easier way to cover distance as there is variety. If you want to focus on the skill of running pyramid running also gives a good opportunity to do this at different paces.
-Set out on a running route that is approximately 5km.
-To warm up, test yourself at 4 different speeds:
1. Hunter-Gatherer Trot – this is a slow trot. It should be a run rather than a walk but talking should still be easy.
2. 5km Pace – this is the speed you might run at consistently if you were to run 5km straight. A steady run.
3. 400m Pace – this is a fast run but not quite a sprint. You should be running at about 75% of your full effort. Many find this quite an uncomfortable pace to maintain!
4. Full Sprint – this is as fast as you can go – 100% effort.
-The aim is to go from one pace to the next with a short walking interval of approx. 30 seconds between each. Each pace has an assigned time:
1. Hunter-Gatherer Trot = 2 Minutes
2. 5km Pace = 1 Minute
3. 400m Pace = 30 Seconds
4. Full Sprint = 15 Seconds
-So start with 2 minutes trotting, then 30 seconds walk. Followed by 1 minute 5km Pace, and a 30 second walk. Then 30 seconds at 400m Pace and a 30 second walk. Then, at Wildfitness we like to repeat the 15 second sprint 4 times with a short break in between each before coming back down the pyramid.
-Go up and down the pyramid of paces for the duration of your running route..!
This session is a great one to return to and improve on.
In the style of the great visionary Roald Dahl, we are going to let our imaginations run wild for breakfast today with one seriously super peach! Our stuffed peaches are a great starter to the day and can be served with the filling of your choice. This recipe includes dates and walnuts but you can use a mixture of raisins and hazelnuts, prunes and almonds, or anything else that inspires you..
2 ripe peaches
Handful of pitted dates
Handful of walnuts
Turn the oven to 180 degrees.
Cut the peaches in half and remove the pip. Place them on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
While the peaches are cooking, grind the dates and walnuts together in a blender until they are roughy combined.
Scatter the date and nut mix over the peaches and put them back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Low intensity Movement
If you have been doing the last few days with intensity you will need a lower intensity day, but movement is still an amazing tool to get your body to recover from any aches or pains. Choose your favourite activity and go for a long walk, swim or even a run, if it flows easily. Find somewhere beautiful to go if you can, and use the time to let yourself relax, even while you are moving.
Dark Chocolate and Orange Torte
Today’s recipe is one of the Isle of Wight favourites, best served after the Run of the Godesses when all the senses are firing! Our dark chocoloate and orange tort is the perfect finale to a grand evening meal, with gentle music and a roaring fire to complete the adventure. We encourage you to get creative and play with variations of this recipe along the way: why not try adding a touch of chilli to really spice things up? Or crushing some fresh mint for a more summery, daytime treat! However your tort ends up, be sure to enjoy every single step of its creation (there are lots of spoons to lick!)
1 large handful almonds
1 large handful medjool dates
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
2 ripe avocados
1 ripe banana
3 heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
7 medjool dates (depending on taste)
Juice and rind of 1/2 an orange
Line a small (preferably circular) baking tray with baking paper.
Begin by making the base. Put the nuts in the food processor and blend thoroughly. Add the dates and cocoa powder and continue until it is all combined.
Flatten the nut mix across the base of the tray until it is evenly spread and nicely combined. Pop it in the freezer while you make your topping.
In a blender combine the avocado, banana, dates, orange juice and rind and the remaining cocoa powder. Have a taste and add another date or two for sweetness if you feel it needs it.
Pour the mousse over the cooled base and pop it in the fridge. This pud is great if you can chill it for a few hours before eating it as it will hold its shape.
A combo is like an assault course – it is a flow from one movement to the next where you work on skilful and graceful transitions between movements as well as the movements themselves. The best thing is to design a combo in a place near you that you can come back to and improve on again and again.
Choose between 3 and 8 movements as your ‘course’ and repeat this course between 4 – 6 times depending on what you need to do to challenge your body and how you are feeling that day. Use the first round to focus on skill and then you can do it with some speed and intensity as you go round again.
See this short movie as just one example on a beach. But choose a course that fits your environment: examples: swinging or pulling or climbing on a tree, jumping (up or down or over something), crawling, throwing something, balancing along something, rolling, etc. This is great in an outdoor space, but you can adapt it to the indoors or a courtyard easily: use stairs, chairs, walls.
Whatever you have planned for tomorrow, our next recipe idea will work itself into your day and will last for 5 more! Our ‘chickpea nibbles’ are new, exciting and a novel substitute to popcorn or to pre-dinner nibbles. So whether you choose to grab a few handfuls throughout the day, serve them with drinks and nibbles or produce them on your next film night, we hope you enjoy the experience!
To make a bowl
500g dried chickpeas
Tbsp smoked paprika
Few sprigs of rosemary and thyme
Rind of 1 lemon
2 splashes of olive oil
Scattering of salt and pepper
Soak the chickpeas for a minimum of 4 hours and then drain well.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees.
Put the soaked chickpeas in a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Mix together the lemon rind, paprika, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Cover the chickpeas in the marinade and put them back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and serve hot or cold.
Wild Ones who’ve been on our holidays will certainly remember their first Lactic Lift Off experience. It’s the ultimate intense workout and a great Wild exercise that can be done in any outdoor space. This exercise increases the lactic acid in our blood, telling our body to produce Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is deeply rejuvenating, and gives you an animal-like physique. It only takes 15-20mins of your time leaving you more time for making love and sitting under trees…
This is a great Running warm up (thank you Anne-Laure). Then:
Step 1: Go to your local park and find a track, or any circular distance you can measure (you could use a group of trees for instance).
Step 2: As fast as you can, SPRINT around the track for 3 minutes straight, remembering the distance you have travelled (e.g. 4 laps).
Step 3: Rest 3 minutes.
Step 4: Divide your time in half (1 ½ minutes) and your distance (e.g. 2 laps)
Step 5: Begin the SPRINT again!
Step 6: Rest 1 ½ minutes, then repeat again until you can no longer make the distance in the time (should be 3-5 times in total if you really pushed yourself on the first run).
Done properly you will be amazed at how much you can challenge your body in only 15-20mins.
Sunny spiced chicken with grapes and celery
We hope this reaches you feeling reenergized and rested! Today’s recipe gives you a packed-lunch idea to set you off to work tomorrow on the right foot. It’s filling and tasty so I would recommend doubling the recipe and enjoying it over the next few days too. Do try to get good quality chicken though as it really makes a difference.
2 chicken breasts
2 celery sticks, chopped into bite-sized chunks
Bunch of grapes, halved
Handful of almonds, toasted and roughly crushed
100g cashew nuts
1 clove of garlic
Root ginger (size of your nail)
2 tspn of cumin
1/2 red chilli (or depending on taste)
50ml Tamari sauce (or soya sauce)
Juice of 1 lemon
Bunch of coriander or parsley
Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts in a deep baking tray and cover them with boiling water. Scatter a few herbs and seasoning in the water and place in the oven for approx. 30 minutes, until the breasts are cooked through but still tender.
While the chicken is cooking, chop up the onion and fry it with a little butter until it softens. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and cumin and stir over a medium heat.
Add the lemon juice, Tamari (or soya) sauce and a splash of water for another couple of minutes and take off the heat.
In a blender, grind up the almonds. Add the onion mix and coriander or parsley and blend to a creamy consistency. Add sea salt and pepper for taste and pour it into a large mixing bowl.
When the chicken is cooked, tear them into strips and add them to the bowl of sauce. Toss in the grapes, celery and almonds and mix thoroughly.
Doing movements that use our full range of motion and challenge our bodies in ways different ways give us animal like strength and agility. The Wildfitness courses usually starts with animal circuits, watch this short video clip as the best way to see the movements demonstrated by wonderful Wild coach Gareth.
Choose a grassy or sandy area, or an indoor space.
As a warm up do some bouncing (with our without a skipping rope!) for a minute or two and then some squats.
Choose a distance, either in a circle or a straight line between 7 – 15 meters to do each movement, once forwards and once backwards. If you have been through all the movements and you still have some energy, go through them again. Focus on trying to do them with as much fluidity and as least noise as possible. Graceful, efficient movement is natural for your body and will do wonders for your physiology and biomechanics.