When was the last time you took a luxurious breath of fresh air straight from nature?
The more time we spend sitting indoors surrounded by stale air and artificial light, shackled to desks and screens, the more our health suffers. It’s no wonder we’re sicker than ever.
Returning to the show to save the day is the breathing and natural movement OG, Erwan Le Corre.
Erwan is a true wild man with a diverse background in sailing, diving, Olympic weight lifting, rock climbing, long distance triathlons, trail running, and even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Erwan’s a friend and the creator of The Practice of Natural Movement, a wonderful book, a tome really, and an encyclopedia of movement, as well as the founder of MovNat, a physical competence school for the real world.
And on today’s show, we’re talking about…
- Tips on reversing our thinking around natural versus artificial environments
- The link between movement and longevity
- Why health is a survival skill
- How to avoid physical deficiencies and feel confident in your body
- Tips on developing a deep awareness of self
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Erwan.
Erwan Le Corre: The Practice of Natural Movement
Erwan is a true wild man with a diverse background in sailing, diving, Olympic weightlifting, rock climbing, long distance triathlons, trail running and even Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Thanks so much for joining me on the show today, man.
Well, Abel I’m so happy to be back on your show, I love it. Thanks.
Abel: You’re one of my favorite people to talk to you. It’s been far too long.
And right now, it seems like you’ve been making the best of a crazy situation. You’re down in Mexico, you showed me the scenery.
And in spite of everything that’s going on, there is a way for almost everyone to get a little more nature in their life, to practice what you teach. So maybe you can just speak to that, to get us started off?
Well, it’s very simple.
Despite all the governmental recommendations to stay healthy, to practice social distancing and all of it.
It’s smart. It’s something that, we better not take any risk and just do that and see how it goes.
However, it seems that a lot of people end up thinking that they can’t even get out of the house, that they can’t even be in nature, with no mask.
And then breathe good air, fresh air and take off their clothes and get some sunlight on their skin.
Maybe take off their shoes and walk barefoot, get all the energies, the good healthy energies of the Earth.
I may sound a little hippie when I say that, but this is the truth.
And there’s absolutely no… Normally there’s no danger in doing that.
But it’s actually what everyone who has access to nature should be doing every day, if you want to build up your immune system, that’s what you need to do.
You need to be in nature. Breathe through your nose, good air, fresh air, and breathe through your skin, good light from the sun.
And then get some good movements, natural movements, just walking to begin with.
And if people were to just do that, well, they would be finding in themselves at such levels of health, that their immune system would just be much stronger.
Their health levels, their vitality levels would be just much higher.
And so nobody talks about that. At least not the authorities. The authorities don’t talk about that.
They tell you what to not do, but don’t have any guidance whatsoever as what’s the healthy thing to do. Right?
So that’s a very simple solution. It’s free. It’s out there.
It works even in a city, by the way.
There’s always going to be some kind of a park and just being outside, outside of the walls.
That’s a very simple thing to do.
And at least with our family, we love to go in nature, every day actually. And there’s almost nobody there.
There’s almost nobody out there in nature, right?
Where are the people? Why are they confining themselves inside their house all the time?
That is a little too fearful to me.
And I really want to invite people to consider that there is so much space in nature, that you would be really hard-pressed to just get so close to a person that potentially could contaminate you.
I mean, there’s no way.
So go in nature, take off your mask.
If some people are around then just don’t get close, but enjoy that freedom.
It’s so good for the mind, to begin with. And then enjoy the energies. It’s just energies out there.
There’s the energy from the earth, from the ground, from the air, from the sunlight, from the plants, from the whole universe really.
Abel: So right before this call, and normally in New Mexico, you’re actually one of the closest people I would be talking to just a few hours drive away, because we’re pretty remote.
But as you know in the high desert, rain is very rare.
So when it happens, all these plants open up and you can just…
My wife and I, we were just standing by the window as the breeze came through, and there’s nothing like that smell.
And that’s just one of the things that’s going on subconsciously most of the time, but when you really pay attention, it’s always there.
But that’s coming from, like you said, the sun, the grounding, the smells, which cue your body to be in tune with what’s going on in your environment, as opposed to when you’re being stuck inside just kind of shackled, especially sitting, staring down at a phone, around all of these artificial lights.
It’s no wonder that we’re sicker than ever.
It’s no wonder. And what used to sound a little like, again, a hippie kind of talk, talking about the energies of the earth, like, “Forget about that.”
Like, “How do you know?”
“Do you have any evidence to substantiate your claims and this and that?”
But science will back it up any day. We’re talking about the incredibly potent benefits of exposure to nature and to all the diverse energies that are in nature.
I mean, this is where we come from.
This is not a romantic idea, to just state that we as human, living being, living creatures, biologically alive creatures come from nature, are entirely made of it, 100%.
Unless you’re already on your way to becoming a cyborg, you are whole 100% natural biology, made of 100% natural molecules.
Even though modern humans tend to have a number of pollutions, the food, through the air, through water, that end up in our systems.
But nonetheless, we are biologically alive creatures and therefore, we respond extremely strongly to our environment, and to environments that are natural.
They’re good for you.
But that is reverse thinking, because when we say, “Well, nature is good for you,” you imply that it’s an option, as if the by-default environment for modern humans to live was away from nature in a completely artificial environment.
So if we’re going to say that nature is good for us, then we have to think in reverse, which is to say that artificial environments hurt us.
They are convenient. They’re comfortable.
I’m not saying, “Look, everybody should live naked in the wild.”
That’s not what I’m talking about.
But there’s a number of aspects of artificial environments that are just mildly to highly toxic, and so they cost us.
They cost us in terms of health. So, it is not exposure to nature that is good for us.
That’s exposure, chronic exposure, constant exposure to artificial environments that is hurting us, right?
And that, I believe, is a better way to look at it.
As long as we live indoors, artificial environments, artificial air, artificial light, artificial food, artificial everything—we’re even ending up to the point where we go by artificial values somehow, I believe.
Then, how do we expect any measure of vitality?
It’s proven. You take any wild animal, you plonk them in an artificial environment, and they will start to wilt.
They’ll start to, to the point where some of them would just let themselves die. But even if they survive, they will become depressed.
They will become either obese or lose a lot of weight, or pluck off their feathers, or start to eat their fingers, whatever it is. All kind of horrible things that they do to themselves out of the depression and the misery.
Not just at a psychological level, but even at, again, at a behavioral level, movement level and environment level.
So these animals are going to really suffer badly. And they will not be those thriving, beautiful, extremely healthy animals that once lived in nature.
How hard is it for us humans, modern humans, to understand that at a collective level, exactly the same is happening to us.
Even though we are, for the most part, born in this kind of—I wouldn’t say captivity because we obviously have some levels of freedom—but there is a lot of elements of our modern lifestyle that limit us.
To begin with, that exposure to nature is completely limited.
And I believe that is the number one reason why we collectively are unhealthy as a species.
Modern humans who don’t live in nature can’t be optimally healthy. Of course, they can be healthy, but not optimally healthy, like as in high levels of health.
And that translates also to high levels of vitality, like you display.
Abel: And you, my friend.
Hopefully. Like people who embrace a lifestyle that is based on both tangible in the sense of scientifically substantiated principles, but those principles are just timeless.
They are universal and they are timeless. They’ve been around forever.
We can’t change our nature. Either you respect it, or you neglect it and mess with it, and then there’s a price to pay.
Abel: Yes. And so much of that happens invisibly.
What you’re talking about brings me back to when I was an undergrad doing research in psychology and brain science, I looked at a number of studies.
And one, on perception, talked about how growing up in these environments full of rectangles and squares.
Essentially the longer that you spend in those environments, you actually lose your ability to detect shapes and recognize shapes that are from nature, because all of these artificial man-made things, for the most part, are stagnant.
They’re all exact lines. They’re flat surfaces.
In nature, everything is always moving. There are no perfectly symmetrical things, but there are symmetrical movements, and everything is more alive.
And you literally lose that ability, it stagnates. But you don’t recognize that unless you’re tested.
And most people aren’t running research on themselves in that way.
But the thing I wanted to bring up is, how much of that is invisible?
It’s invisible. Let’s say it is visible, but it’s unnoticed.
Abel: Yeah, yeah.
It goes unnoticed.
That’s just one aspect of, which is a loss, basically.
It’s a loss of ability. It’s a loss of human ability.
Obviously, human beings have the ability to detect and decipher and to spot or identify any shape.
Like you look at hunter-gatherers and they just look at what looks like just green in the jungle and you wouldn’t see anything.
And they’re like, “Okay, right there, right there are two different animals, and this is what they’re doing,” and this and that.
They’ve already spotted them because they’ve been doing that since they’re little. Modern humans wouldn’t be able to do that.
Those who weren’t born in nature and weren’t born living in nature and having to go hunt and harvest or anything like that.
So, it’s a loss.
But it’s one example in so many aspects of physical, physiological, sensory, cognitive losses, that again, we are suffering from collectively as a species, at least when it comes to those of us who are born and raised in artificial environments.
No doubt that many tribes, small human groups that have maintained an unbroken lineage of a lifestyle that is truly wild, truly primal, truly natural, whichever word we want to use today to describe what basically used to be timeless, at least to humans.
That state of being alive that is profoundly healthy, that has high levels of cognition, that have nothing to do with academics.
There are high levels of cognition that are extremely related to sensory abilities, the ability to perceive in detail your direct environment outside of you. Not to think.
Not to think pretty thoughts or brilliant thoughts or highly intellectual thoughts, but to be highly perceptive of the minute details of highly complex environments, which are natural environments.
To understand, to feel the weather, the changes of weather, the changes of smell, any movement, the colors, everything telling them.
Basically, that aspect of cognition is the ability to read what is outside of you, not to read as in reading a text, but to read the currents of the water, to read the behavior of the plants.
You hear things of what those ancient humans are able to detect, that you’d be like, “No, that’s not possible. You can’t.”
They say they can see the light of the plant and they have a different light at different times of the day.
Or like trees can actually talk to each other.
And now, it’s being proven by scientists, so many things where the rational mind would struggle, where it would be like, “That is impossible.”
And now we’re like, “Actually, science shows that not only it’s possible, but that it’s measurable or it’s something that can be learned, or it’s established, basically.”
What do we know? What do we know?
We believe, we know so much. We believe we figured everything out.
But as a matter of fact, it looks like we’re losing a bunch of cognition, a lot of abilities.
Adaptability & Feeling Confident In Your Body
Abel: They take practice and they take a lifetime to master these things, and they also atrophy.
And you don’t notice what’s atrophied unless you really attack it head on.
That’s one of the things I love about the way that you train and your philosophy, is it’s not about powerlifting and doing the things that are straight and easy and predictable.
It’s in fact quite the opposite, where you’re going with all these real world conditions, where if you’ve ever moved boxes, you’re moving house or whatever, it’s not a perfect powerlift.
You’re not going to use perfect form.
There’s too much at stake if you’re holding something fragile and you might compromise yourself.
And that’s what you teach people to practice. That thing that at one time was very natural and intuitive, but has also been lost.
So we need to really recreate it with the way that we move, especially as adults, right?
Yeah, actually, there is one simple word to summarize this ability, is that it’s adaptability. Like I said, it’s trainable.
I understand the necessity in highly specialized sports to regulate everything.
You regulate the bar, the size of the bar, the thickness of the bar, the length of it, the way, the platform where you do.
And that’s just giving one example in Olympic weightlifting.
I love Olympic weightlifting, by the way, and there’s really nothing wrong with sports and with specialization.
Let’s say my message is the following, if you only specialize, you will create deficiencies.
And the approach that I’ve been promoting for over a decade now, that my team has been teaching over the world in so many countries is, let’s say it’s a school of real world physical capability.
Are you capable in the real world?
And obviously, we’re so far divorced from those considerations that most people might be wondering like, “What is that guy even talking about? What is real world physical capability?”
“We’re talking about fitness, right? So like muscles and losing weight, like cardio, maybe a bit of mobility in the mix.”
But I’m talking about what you or everyone used to do by instinct when they were kids.
You learned to crawl. You learned to just stand. It’s a feat of strength, and actually, it’s a neuromuscular feat, just to be able to stand and balance oneself on two feet.
And then, you are going to run and jump and hang and climb and do all these movements.
And all the kids do that by instinct. That’s before they are taught any form of fitness or sports or activity.
So it’s a universal program, it’s a universal drive, it’s an instinct and it’s timeless.
Then who else is going to really understand what I’m talking about?
Well, obviously, first responders, firefighters—they will have to run, they will have to sprint, and then all of a sudden, jump over an obstacle and climb to reach a person that is in danger.
They will need to perform all these real world movements.
So, if you wonder what real world movements are, well, don’t wait until the real world, the real life demands from you that you provide a response where all of a sudden you must run, all of a sudden you must climb, all of a sudden you must jump and land, or maybe hold your breath and swim, or whatever it is, or lift and carry somebody.
You, ideally, every one of us, should be equipped with the skills and the physical fitness, the physiological adaptions that are combined together to give you that physical capability that I’m talking about.
Which is not just a bench press, a pull-up.
We’re talking about the full spectrum of real practical movements that you may have to do to help yourself or help others in a demanding situation.
Or even in some practical situations of life that are not necessarily tough or dangerous, just moving furniture and things like that.
Or walking on the sidewalk in the winter and not falling on your butt, because you have balance and alertness to avoid that.
So there are many examples like that.
Adaptability is extremely important.
So, we look at two things.
Practical—so when you do a movement like a jump, you’re not just doing a jump on a box thinking that, “Oh well, it’s going to be good for stamina, it’s going to work my cardio, it’s going to work my plyometrics and these kind of things.”
This is super intellectual. This is very conceptual.
I want to tell people, “No, you are jumping because you are clearing an obstacle, aren’t you?”
And obviously, there’s more than clearing obstacles by jumping, using the skill of jumping.
You’re just jumping up and down on a box. Because there’s going to be many more variations, and kinds of obstacles.
And maybe you want to have to do 50 or 100 repetitions in a row.
You’ll have one shot, one.
And if you land wrong, then it’s a catastrophe like you really ruin yourself.
But do you train for that? No? Okay, then you’re not adaptable.
And if you’re not adaptable, then you are not actually capable.
And if you’re not capable, then are you actually fit?
Right? So let’s say, we go into a gym.
And I know, a lot of people, especially the people who are physically active that go to the gym, which is amazing.
It’s great because that’s, already they are heroes. It’s a minority of people who actually take care of maintaining some levels of strength and cardio.
That’s great already.
Abel: Or at least giving it a shot.
Yeah, exactly. At least giving it a shot.
But nonetheless, they go like, “Darn.”
When I tell them, “Yeah, but that’s great guys, but look. I’m going to ask you to follow me, we’re going to go outside. Not necessarily in nature, it could be in the city. And we’re going to run and then we’re going to climb that wall. We’re going to jump on the other side, we’re going to do this and that.”
They’re not going to follow.
And it’s not necessarily because they are not physically active, it’s just because of the way they train.
They don’t train for those kind of movements.
So you may see a person, they are like, by fitness standards, we’re like, “Woah, you’re fit.”
Everybody would say, “Well, you’re fit.”
You get like pecs and shoulders, biceps, and stuff, yeah.
But the moment they start running, they complain that their knees are hurting.
The moment they start running or put a little of intensity there, more than 30 seconds, they’re out of breath.
The moment they have to jump and land, they’re landing extremely stiff with no precision, with no accuracy, etcetera, etcetera.
So, they are in an absolute, like obvious lack of control over their body.
They don’t have the capability of operating their body in any way that is practical and meaningful to the real world outside the gym.
So, what they are seeking is the image of fitness, but not actual fitness.
If we were to define fitness as an actual tangible physical capability that applies to many, many circumstances of the real world, of the real life, that’s contextual.
I like to put it that way, what it is to be, to have a beach-ready body, is not that you’re tanned and you’re toned and this kind of thing.
It’s that if somebody’s drowning, you’re able to, just like that, to sprint and swim, hold your breath, maybe pull them from under water, if they’re already under water.
And have the ability, the fitness, the cardio, but also the skill, knowing how to place a person, how to drag them and swim, pull them out of the water and things like that.
This is, if you’re a life-saver, that’s what is required from you.
It doesn’t matter if, maybe a life-saver can be chubby. Actually, it doesn’t matter, has no importance whatsoever.
If they do have the stamina, and the strength and the skill and the mindset, the alertness and the responsiveness, then they are fantastic life-savers, because in the real world they have real capability, very capable of saving people.
Whereas you could line up a bunch of Chippendales guys, or girls by the way, but that people would be like, “Woah, they’re so fit, like crazy.”
But then those guys, maybe some of them would drown, actually. You know what I mean?
So it’s very hard to summarize this. It’s very hard to change mentalities.
I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and still people believe in fitness that will just be restricted to strength, then some cardio, maybe a tad of mobility, stretching, and that’s it.
Minimal requirement you can do that already.
We’re like, “woah”, because you’re already, I don’t know, 1% of the modern population.
And I’m telling everybody, that 1% and the other 99%, “Listen everybody. There is much more than this. And it’s real. You can’t squat, you can’t just lower yourself in a deep squat without falling on your butt. Your knees hurt when you run, just hurt feet,” etcetera, etcetera.
So many examples of a lack of movement skill, a lack of strength, a lack of coordination, a lack of all these fundamental physical and physiological attributes.
That’s not good. That’s not good news.
And just quickly, it’s not just about, “Oh well, I may never need this in my life.”
You don’t need that in your life?
You mean you don’t need to ever squat comfortably, play with your grandchildren at the local playground, enjoy running in the woods off the track?
There are so many ways we could tell people that any deficiencies of this kind are also a predictor of your longevity or lack thereof.
For instance, if you have less grip strength, you’re not going to live, probably not going to live that long.
If you can’t get up and down without using your knees or elbows or hands, same thing.
Lung capacity, how much air you can hold in your lungs is also a great predictor of longevity or lack of longevity.
So, all these are aspects of fitness that are going to be developed through actual movements, movements that require strength, movements that require cardio, etcetera, etcetera.
So we’re talking about your quality of life, people.
Not only your longevity, but also your quality of life.
Because if your body is in pain all the time, if your body is stiff, if your body is uncomfortable, well that’s a huge reduction in your appreciation of life.
Much more than if your pecs are not big enough or your butt is not toned enough, and that kind of thing.
Abel: Yeah, it’s not like the movies.
For me growing up, Arnold Schwarzenegger, even the cartoons, He-Man, all the heroes have what would in nature be a giant weakness, a giant liability, being super top heavy.
Like for me, as a lifetime runner, essentially, I just need to run. Otherwise I go insane. And so, I understand that a lot of people aren’t that way.
But for me, training to lose your ability to run and be useful in nature is just… It’s insane to me.
I understand if you’re going toward certain body transformation or composition goals, and that’s a really great thing to study and experiment with.
But at some point, you have to ask yourself, “What am I training for?”
Right. And I agree with you.
So what am I training for?
What are my ultimate goals? Are they relatively superficial? Or are they deeper?
Am I going to enjoy the results of pursuing my goals, only when I look at myself in the mirror, or when I’m in a social setting and I internally feel satisfied because I can tell that people are looking at me for my good physique.
That’s a great feeling, there’s nothing wrong about it.
And honestly, if you have any way you feel is best for you to live or to practice your fitness, to practice your body.
What we’re talking about is not a judgment. It’s an invitation.
That there is more, much more to the human movement, physiological potential, than what the fitness industry has been, I would use the word “brainwashing” us.
Because it’s not education.
Formatting us. We’ve been formatted collectively by the fitness industry. Also through the movies.
Abel: Movies, a big influence, yeah.
Through the magazines, etcetera, to believe in a very, very limited idea of what fitness is. Very limited, extremely limited.
And which also explains that a lot of people will not even engage, will not even start or try. Because they’re not interested.
They’re not interested in looking a certain way.
Abel: Or looking bad.
Or they would be interested, but they think that they can’t achieve it. Or yeah, also some of them just don’t want to put the effort in it.
But I think it’s a little too easy to just tell people, or just to say that, “Well, that’s because people are lazy.”
I don’t think that people are lazy at all. I think that they are not sold on that idea of fitness.
They don’t care for machines, muscle-isolation exercise machines.
They’re not sold on them, they’re not sold on the environment.
They’re not sold on the artificial lights, the mirrors everywhere, to the counting, repetitions on the left, on the right, to the separation of the body into parts.
It’s incredible how many people don’t care about that at all. They don’t like it.
But if you were to tell them, “Hey, would you like to go play on the playground?”
“If you could, if I was to give you a body that’s like 10 years old. Would you give it a shot?”
They would go like crazy.
They would want to do flips and rope swinging and run like they used to, because that’s fun.
And why is it that it’s fun? Not because it’s easy.
You look at kids. They take risks, they hurt themselves, they bang their head, they bruise their knees, they take a risk.
Sometimes they fear a certain movement, they’re like, “God, I have to try it.”
They get out of breath like crazy, and as soon as they’ve recovered enough they go back at it again.
It’s not easy. It’s not just fun in the sense of easy.
It’s fun in the sense of diverse, challenging, and feeling natural, inducing time compression, which is altering your perception of time into, it feels like you just spent 10 minutes doing it and in fact it’s been a whole hour you’ve been doing it.
That’s a beautiful feeling, that’s whenever we enjoy something, “Oh my god, that movie is already finished?”
It’s been two hours and it’s such a great movie.
So, that feeling is really priceless, and this is what happens when people move more naturally.
When they do these crawling, rolling movements, jumping, getting up, getting down, hanging, climbing.
And the diversity of movements and the transitions from one kind of movement to the next, without necessarily counting anything or thinking of what muscles are being used in this kind of thing.
It’s a natural organic approach to movement, that we’re talking about.
And a lot of people are also thinking, “Well, that can’t be that easy? If it’s enjoyable and if it’s that easy, then it can’t seriously work. I’m not going to get a result.”
And they would be surprised by how amazing, how big in scope and fast in time those actual results occur.
In terms of your levels of energy, your coordination, your balance, your strength, etcetera, etcetera, just your skills, and your desire to keep pushing yourself and to come back, because that’s a huge thing.
A lot of people don’t go back to the gym because they’re bored.
It’s work to workout. So work, so more work, more sitting. Sit and exercise. A lot of people don’t want to do that. More indoors, more artificiality.
So, we’ve been working hard and continuously to keep inspiring always greater amounts of people to approach their physicality, their physical fitness, in a way that’s way more natural, way more organic, way more diverse, way more practical and adaptable. Way more enjoyable.
And, actually, extremely effective at making you feel great in your body, feel confident in your body, and not just feel but be capable with your body.
And that’s a huge, huge thing. And that’s why it’s also growing so fast, and a lot of people are like, “Woah, what?”
The moment you try it and you get hooked.
Why Health Is A Survival Skill
Abel: Yeah. Well, and a lot of people are starting to realize for better or worse that health is a survival skill.
And health, I include physical movement in that, like the ability to do things, to pull things, push. To run, I think to outrun danger. To carry things.
And this is another thing that happens, when you’ve lost the ability to know that you can go for however many miles under certain conditions, if you don’t do that regularly, it’s not an option.
So like when our truck broke down last summer in a really remote desert location, AAA did not come. They just refused.
They said they weren’t coming. We had to sleep in the truck and then I had to literally walk miles through the desert, like a movie scene or whatever.
And I knew that I could do it because I do it at least once a week. I run up the mountain and it’s really challenging.
And one thing I wanted to talk to you about though is, you bring up in your book—which is awesome, by the way, I encourage everyone to go check it out—is deconditioning and how quickly that happens.
And you explain doing dead-lifts, or trying to at least, when you were coming back from being deconditioned.
So, maybe you can just talk about that a little bit? Because if it’s a survival skill, you have to keep it, and you lose it pretty quickly.
So, the story is, soon after I moved to the U.S., so 10 years ago, 11 years ago now almost, I had been invited to Tanzania.
So I went to Tanzania. And I got stung by a mosquito.
Well, I got stung by many, but one of them carried malaria. So I got malaria.
But little did I know. As a matter of fact, soon after, I went to London and I had a big workshop there.
And the day before the workshop, I had this massive headache and perspiring.
Okay so, obviously the symptoms were there already.
And I thought I had caught some kind of a flu, and I run the whole two-day workshop already in a state of just having a bad case of malaria.
Yes. So imagine that, like doing all the demonstrations, the running, the jumping, the climbing and all, and showing nothing, basically.
I was sick as a dog, and I didn’t show anything.
But at that time, it was my first workshop, I didn’t have a team yet, everything had to be built, including even higher levels of credentials of people talking good about it and coming back.
And to even to cancel the workshop was completely out of question for me.
Not even a question in my mind, so I just did it.
Anyways, I was hosted by a friend and I became so sick that I could not re-hydrate, I was constantly shivering.
Up to three days of that, because I’m hard-headed.
Some people would have been to the hospital on the first day already, it took me like five days before I tell my friend.
“You know what? It feels like I’m actually dying. Can you please take me to the hospital?”
So he took me to the hospital, and right away, they asked me the questions. I had malaria, sort of thing, and it took me a whole week in the hospital to recover enough so that I could go out.
It was just really so bad. I really believe that without medical assistance and modern science, this thing probably would have killed me the same way it has killed so many people.
Okay, and now I go back to France, South of France at my parents house, where I still had some weight, like a weightlifting bar in some way, and believe me or not, I had the hardest time lifting, just deadlifting 45 pounds.
Abel: Yeah. Wow.
45 pounds. It’s not that I had lost that much weight. I did lose weight, but I had lost so much strength, it was incredible.
So obviously today, I wouldn’t lose those levels, that amount of strength in such a fast period of time, just doing nothing, obviously, there was the combination of not training, but mostly of being sick. Really, really sick with malaria.
But nonetheless, it was such a great, great experience, actually.
Very humbling, a big teacher there, big teaching moment, where it was really humbling. 45 pounds was difficult, was actually, it felt so hard.
And when you think of the people who haven’t trained anything in so long, maybe decades, and they can barely jump, they can barely hang, if at all.
See, that moves me even just thinking of it, because I believe it’s a profound injustice, a prejudice, that affects everyone regardless of gender and ethnicity, social background, all of these considerations.
They don’t matter when it comes to just your movement ability.
So what I want to say is that it really affects so many people, and I really understand. I have gained an ability, a greater ability to put myself in people’s shoes.
Especially those people who need our assistance the most, our inspiration, our guidance, our coaching, our instruction, in order to be back in shape, but to be back in, again, physicality and ability, capability to operate their body.
They really, in my opinion, they don’t need competition, they don’t need comparison, they don’t need any of that.
They just need to know that there is a process that works.
Wherever we find them, they will be able to recover, they will be able to get back to where they once were when they were kids, and even beyond that, best shape of their lives.
By being humble, obviously, by not being pushed, in the sense of pushed like in a, it’s called like a boot camp.
It’s ridiculous, because you don’t learn anything, you just have somebody yell at you and kick your butt.
Okay, maybe some people need that and it works for them, but for the most part, the people are smart and they need to be gentle with themselves.
To start where they’re at with a gentle level of challenge and a little more and a little more, and a little more and a little more, until they get you that place in both their body and their mind where they can really start to push themselves like harder.
But let me conclude with this, a person who has a huge difficulty lifting 45 pounds, but who does it, who commits to it, has more merit than a person who, by just their natural strength, can lift 200 pounds or more, 100 pounds, with little effort.
It’s the commitment to overcome your weaknesses so that you can find strength. Now that is where the gold is.
This is what creates merit.
Abel: Yeah. And the people who it comes easily to, sometimes you think you want that.
You think you want it to come easily to you, but oftentimes, if it comes too easily, they just give up. They don’t keep doing it.
And you’re going to win. If you keep doing it, even if you’re just lifting 45 pounds, you’re going to be able to do 50, and they’re going to be falling apart at the same time.
So it’s more of a practice than a thing that you have or a gift that you have.
It might be temporarily so, but oftentimes, that’s not a permanent type thing.
Nothing is permanent.
It’s a timeless reality. Nothing is permanent.
And that’s why you want to just tell people, “Look.”
You look at these people who can do this, they’re like, can lift heavy, they can run a long time or run really fast, they can swim, or they’re just healthy.
Yes, you can call that a state, but the truth is that it’s never really a state.
A state is only a sample at any point within a process.
So if you stop running and if you stop eating right and if you abandon the principles of a healthy lifestyle that you’ve committed to, what will happen to Abel, what will happen to Erwan?
What will happen to any of us who basically made ourselves healthy or healthier and then kept ourselves healthy and healthier? So it’s a process.
And at any point we could stop and then start to decline, and it will happen to any healthy person.
And conversely, the people who do not yet enjoy high levels of health or physical capability and vitality, should understand that they should not compare themselves to people who have already years of practice, years of following the process.
And that’s why you look at their state, you can reach the same state tomorrow already or in a week, after just a few sessions or a few healthier choices on your food, on your sleeping, on even on your positive thinking, and so on.
You will already be in a different state, a higher state.
A better estate, a healthier state. So would you like to understand that?
And to understand, it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
It doesn’t have to be so hard, it doesn’t have to feel like an ordeal and a horrible deprivation or chore.
You could make it much easier if you were to just understand it’s a process, and if you could engage in that process step by step, before you know it, you’ll be a completely different person.
Abel: We only have a couple of minutes left here, but I want to make sure I ask you, because it’s fresh on my mind.
The altitude. You’ve been living at 8000 feet for a while now. How has that played out in your training, either recently or over the years, living at altitude for an extended period of time?
Well, it just makes you become like a super human with no effort.
Abel: Except for feeling like there’s a pillow on your face in the middle of the night sometimes.
Exactly. So my life is split between New Mexico and Mexico. But with my family, we now spend more time in Mexico.
We just love it, that place where we live. Because we can be barefoot and there’s a lot of nature around us.
There is the jungle, the river, the ocean, all that. And obviously, that’s sea level.
But when we go back home, our original home in New Mexico, that’s high desert altitude, 8500 elevation, obviously the air is thinner.
And so, while you are aware of it, I do a lot of breath-holding, steady breath-holding, dynamic breath-holding, training, free diving, and all.
Abel: One of the OGs.
So, the difference was dramatic when I arrived.
So three months ago, I did a personal best of seven minutes breath-hold.
We’re talking about static and dry, which means I’m not immersed in the water, but I just hold my breath.
I have not tested it now, but my assessment is that I’m about eight minutes at this point, three months later.
I definitely believe that training at high altitude has helped because… So I used to do five minutes, series of five minutes breath-hold.
So eight times five minutes breath-hold with a shorter and shorter recovery interval.
So you start with a two minutes interval recovery, the last one is 45 seconds. The seventh round, you…
It’s like interval breath-holding. It’s like the idea of interval running or intensity applied to breath-holding.
So the seventh round, I do five minutes, then I have 45 seconds recovery, then I do five minutes again, and those five minutes are real hard.
When I arrived at 8500 elevation, feet elevation, doing two minutes 30 was super hard. Two minutes 30.
So you cut your time in half, boom. That’s how much the environment can impact your…
The runners know that, people who do endurance kind of sports, and you’re going to go to do a race in a place where it’s super-hot and super-humid, and you can’t cool off as efficiently and it’s going to kill you and your performance will be highly lowered.
So the environment, if you do breath-holding, if the water is too hot, it’s not good.
If the water is too cold, you start shivering, your performance will be lowered, etcetera, etcetera.
So you want to keep your variable stable. But definitely, the altitude was really not good for performance but extremely good for physiological adaptation.
You will have… Your spleen will be more efficient or become more efficient, that creates red cells. So better oxygenation thanks to that.
So when I come back to sea level… The last assessment I did was a no warm-up, no hyper-ventilation breath-hold.
So what that means is that you don’t do a shorter breath-hold first, you start straight with the first breath, and then you… Well, actually, I did three minutes hyper-ventilation.
So what I call a hyper-ventilation is not a Wim Hof kind of hyper-ventilation. It simply it’s a five seconds…
It’s a slower five seconds inhale, five second exhale for just three minutes.
That alone will induce what’s called hypercapnia, which is that your levels of CO2 in your blood will be lowered, which means that your response to high levels of…
Actually, I was talking about hypocapnia, low levels of CO2.
So, when after a certain time of breath-holding, your CO2 level in your blood streams increase, your urge to breathe, the first contraction, that spasm that tells you, “you must breathe now” is delayed a bit.
It’s delayed about one minute. So I delay that first spasm to nearly six minutes, to exactly five minutes 43. That means that… That has never… Three months ago, I could not do that.
Three months ago, my first spasm, in the same conditions, would be at four minutes. Now it’s nearly six minutes.
So that means until that first contraction, you are in a zone of comfort to relative comfort.
After the first contraction, that’s when you start to be in what’s called the “fight zone”.
But if your first contraction comes around six minutes, adding two minutes breath-hold to that is no problem. Because the ratio is six minutes: Two minutes.
So that’s about 75% in the comfort zone, two minutes would be just 25% in the fight zone.
Whereas, when I did seven minutes, my first upon came at four minutes. And so I had to add three minutes.
So that was more like almost half time in comfort zone, a little more than half time in comfort zone, and the rest in fight zone, which is much much harder when you spend half of your breath-hold fighting and struggling.
So, I can retell that high altitude on top of the specific training that I do that I call, it’s more like mental techniques.
It’s really, to me, it’s spiritual techniques that I work on, where I literally talk to my brain-stem, and I do all kinds of visualizations, and I scan my body in every way, and all kind of things.
It’s literally like a meditation on steroids to hold your breath.
Because you cannot let your mind run wild. You have to be completely centered.
If people are wondering what I’m talking about, the breath-holding, studying breath-holding helps with free diving.
That’s my new passion. I’ve always wanted to do that. So that’s what I’m training now.
But it has implications beyond just the physiology. It’s extremely good.
When you learn to not breathe, you really learn how to breathe, by learning to not breathe.
And there are obviously very precious gains for cardio.
Then you can go on a run, run the whole time breathing through the nose, no problem, because your CO2 tolerance threshold is much, much higher.
And this is super-beneficial to anyone, but also obviously for athletes.
Abel: Yeah, for sure.
And last, the mind. Just what I’ve learned about my mind is phenomenal, and yeah, teaches you real deep, deep awareness of self and relaxation.
And it’s like a time capsule. It doesn’t matter that you hold your breath for two minutes, three minutes, five minutes, eight minutes.
World record is at 11 minutes, 35 seconds.
We’re not talking about those guys who also breathe oxygen before and then they go all the way to 20 minutes. This is not natural.
We’re talking the people who do it really naturally without breathing oxygen prior.
It’s a real introspection into your deep psyche and also your superficial psyche. So, “Monkey mind, get out of this body.”
Where to Find Erwan Le Corre
Abel: That is so cool. Alright. We have to roll in just a bit, but before we go, please tell folks where they can find your book.
And once again this is… I go through so many books every year, for the show and just for fun. And this one really stands out.
I’m looking forward to… I feel like I could spend the rest of my life with it and still learn a lot. You know what I mean?
So what’s the best place to find you and your work?
Abel: It’s a beefy book.
And a happy practical material. Here’s the thing, yeah, it’s a beautiful book for a living room table to…
Abel: Yeah. A coffee table book, for sure.
You can train with it. You can use it with running and jumping and landing.
But there’s only about 20% that’s about the philosophy, which explains to you why it matters, why it totally makes sense to train that way with that idea of natural movement.
But 80% of the rest is just really practical tips and insight, techniques, photos, descriptions on how you can learn to train yourself. From the simplest level, the simplest movements.
Actually, it starts with learning to breathe correctly, to breathe properly, to feel your body, to identify body parts, and then to put that together.
And it starts with simplest movement at ground level and then we build our movement up to standing and running and jumping, and then climbing and lifting, carrying, all of that.
It’s extremely, extremely structured and practical. Simple. Simply explained.
Before You Go
Here’s the note that came in from Kevin, he says:
I hope you’re well! I just wanted to say “thank you“ for the shout-out before the Dr. Berardi podcast!
I’m loving the Collagen Cocoa. It helped alleviate some pain I had in my left pointer finger. No complaints at. I’ve learned to stir it while mixing it with water.
Have a safe and happy weekend!
Kevin, that is so great to hear. Thanks for the feedback on Collagen Cocoa.
We’ve worked for a long time to get this ready over at Wild Superfoods, and we’re really happy about the flavor, quality, and how it turned out.
But yes, avoid the clumpage, avoid the clumpiness.
That’s usually what I do. And then I use a hand mixer or hand frother, and kind of pour the water in as I’m mixing the powder.
Once you get that balance right you can avoid the clumpage factor. But it sounds like you’re already on your way to doing that, Kevin.
With Collagen Cocoa, I like to do it with hot water to make a nice little hot cocoa; add a splash of heavy cream in there, oh, good gracious.
If you’d like to try Collagen Cocoa yourself and you’re in the United States, (hopefully international soon), just head on over to wildsuperfoods.com.
And also, there are other ways to support this show.
If you’d like to go to fatburningman.com, you can check out our store where I have my books and courses. And also, we’re working on a new app.
So, if you’d like to just drop a few bucks into the tip jar or support us on a monthly basis and join our Wild Guild community chat and coaching communities, then go to FatBurningMan.com/TipJar.
And you’ll find all the goodies there. Or you can look me up on Patreon under Abel James and support us that way.
You’ll find some secret music videos which I’m going to be be posting soon, some exclusive, never before shared live music shows from the vaults, me playing live in Austin, Texas with some friends.
I’m excited to put that out there, so go to Patreon and look for Abel James for that one.
And then one last quick thing, just for free, if you’d like to sign up for our newsletter, in exchange I’ll send you a free meal plan and some goodies, including a cookie recipe to get you started.
Just go to fatburningman.com/bonus, or sign up for the newsletter over at fatburningman.com.
And when you reply to that email, I do read them, and I always love hearing from you.
If you have any questions, if you’d like one-on-one or a group coaching, or if you just have feedback on this show, you’d like to recommend a guest or anything else, just send me an email.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity? Are you getting outside in nature? What did you think of this conversation with Erwan Le Corre? Drop a comment below to let us know!