I’m mendacity flat on my again on Laird Hamilton’s pool deck, perched excessive on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean close to Malibu. I’m surrounded by about 20 strangers, who’re doing the identical. Thick clouds are rolling in off the water, obscuring the close by hills, and Hamilton is pacing between us, calling out instructions to manage our respiration. Breathe in via the nostril, out via the mouth; quicker, slower, maintain. It’s undoubtedly not my typical Saturday morning, however that’s not even the strangest factor about it: I’m euphoric. My arms and fingers are pulsing and tingling, and I really feel like I’m excessive. And all I did was breathe slightly in another way. I’m at Laird’s home to get an intro to XPT health, the excellent well being routine he developed together with his spouse, professional volleyball participant Gabby Reece.
Over greater than a decade, XPT has morphed from a means for Hamilton and Reece to remain match right into a full-fledged program for elite athletes, army particular forces, and anybody seeking to push themselves to a brand new degree of bodily and psychological health. Respiratory beside me on the pool deck are former Navy SEALs, an MMA fighter, a former NFL participant, Olympic water polo gamers, and several other very match women and men from across the nation.
XPT is made up of three components: respiration, transferring, and restoration. In between periods, I caught up with PJ Nestler, XPT’s director of efficiency, to get slightly extra perception into how this system is structured.
Breath work types the inspiration, Nestler tells me, and there are two causes for that (feeling excessive will not be considered one of them). First, for those who’re not respiration correctly and utilizing your full lung capability, you’ll tire extra simply when understanding. Second, by controlling your breath, you possibly can successfully management your psychological state by firming down anxiousness and stress, reaching higher focus. In some methods, the psychological recreation is much more essential than the bodily.
“In case your psychology is off, your technical expertise, your data of the sport, methods, bodily talent—all that’s out the window,” he says.
The breath work attracts from a wide range of sources, Nestler explains. The respiration session contains gradual, meditative breaths; fast-paced huffing and puffing; and even Wim Hof Method strategies.
“The respiration we’ve developed via studying from different folks,” Nestler says. “Quite a lot of these items’s been round for 1000’s of years.”
The motion facet of XPT occurs within the pool. By weight coaching within the water, you get a strong exercise with much less influence in your joints than you’ll within the fitness center. The water helps you as you progress, and presents one other benefit, too: It forces you to work in your psychological recreation.
Nestler leads me via a pool exercise that entails a number of varieties of weighted squats and crawling with dumbbells throughout the pool and again. Sounds fairly easy, but when I mess up a squat and don’t break the floor, I don’t simply have unhealthy type; I miss out on an opportunity to breathe. When that occurs, all of the sudden all my unhealthy reminiscences of seventh grade swim workforce come speeding again. The secret is to inhale deeply once I come above water, then exhale on the way in which down. That means, I harness extra energy to finish the train and I maintain my anxiousness in verify.
The cross-pool carries had been additionally a giant problem. The purpose is to crawl—utilizing 30-pound dumbbells to remain planted on the underside of the pool—throughout and again on only one breath. About midway via every rep, that burning, desperate-for-air feeling creeps into my lungs. However by specializing in the duty, I handle to energy via. And by slowing my respiration as soon as I end, I’m in a position to recuperate and go for the subsequent rep pretty rapidly.
In XPT, restoration means alternating between a 220-degree sauna and an ice bathtub, or “hypothermic coaching,” as the web site calls it. I often get pleasure from a visit to the sauna, however this was undoubtedly hotter than I’m used to. After struggling via 15 minutes of intense warmth, my group and I took turns hopping into the ice bathtub for 3 minutes. The warmth was powerful; the ice bathtub was excruciating. Once more, all of it got here all the way down to respiration: By specializing in inhaling and exhaling, I powered via the ache.
Whereas research have come to some conflicting conclusions relating to the efficacy of ice baths over time, distinction remedy remains to be broadly utilized by athletes in an effort to hasten muscle restoration. The thought right here is to assist your physique recuperate via publicity to excessive warmth and chilly. Ice baths are thought to scale back swelling and tissue breakdown, whereas saunas are believed to spur the discharge of a progress hormone and testosterone whereas decreasing stress hormones within the physique. Just like the breath work and the pool exercises, there’s a giant psychological facet to those as nicely. By sweating within the sauna and plunging into the ice bathtub, you slowly situation your self to cope with excessive conditions calmly.
Till just lately, XPT was primarily accessible via multi-day retreats in far-flung locales or native workshops run by licensed instructors (there are presently round 250 XPT trainers). As the gang on Saturday illustrated, it has largely appealed to elite athletes and people who find themselves already in prime bodily form. However with the current launch of the XPT app, which incorporates guided exercises and respiration periods, the corporate is working to make this system extra accessible to on a regular basis folks.
“I personally assume that these items is far more impactful for the typical client,” Nestler says.
A Navy SEAL may strive XPT to push his psychological and bodily limits just a bit additional, Nestler explains. However the common particular person has much more room to develop, and XPT can probably do much more for them.
I undoubtedly appreciated the distinctive challenges I confronted throughout my go to, and walked away with a brand new understanding of how respiration could be a highly effective instrument for rising efficiency. I additionally actually loved the pool exercises, that are a sort of train I typically draw back from. However the greatest shock got here the subsequent day, once I went out for a night run. As I ran, I targeted on inhaling deeply at a slower cadence than normal. I ended up tying my quickest time for that route and feeling means much less fatigued than regular. So, yeah, I’m kinda hooked.