"Eat real food, practice functional movement and stand up for environmental preservation, sustainable agriculture, peace and social justice. Take care of your internal organs, of course, but take care of your external organs too. It’s all one body."
- Frank Forencich
Olen itse lukenut Frankin kirjoja ja seurannut blogia vuosia ja todella moni tämän blogin postauksesta on saanut alkunsa Frankin inspiroimana. Jos haluat lukea lisää niin suosittelen tutustumaan Exuberant Animal-blogiin sekä kirjoihin Exuberant Animal ja Change Your Body, Change the World. Mutta antaa nyt Frankin puhua.
Could you give a little background about yourself. What got you involved in health and fitness?
I was a pretty sick little kid growing up, but that all changed when I started taking swimming lessons and joined the water polo team. By the end of high school I was as fit as my peers and completely turned on to exercise and movement. Later, I began training in martial art. The discipline and practice really got me focused on training and the mind-body connection. At the same time, I was studying human evolution and reading a lot about environmentalism, biology and the state of the planet. After awhile, it all came together and I realized that the body, earth and tribe have always been a single whole. This is why I'm a critic of the fitness industry; so much of it is radically disconnected from the rest of the human experience.
You have created a health and fitness system called Exuberant Animal. What is that all about?
We describe Exuberant Animal as a "health leadership organization." Our focus is on training via seminars and workshops. Because of our broad, holistic focus, we don't target any single demographic and we don't limit ourselves to the fitness industry. Our typical event includes vigorous movement sessions with focused presentations on health, training and performance: think "TED talks with movement sessions." Our physical training is functional and play-based. We do a lot of games and team-building. Everyone leaves at the end, "laughing, sweaty and inspired."
I see your work as a counterforce to the modern fitness and health industry. Movement should after all be natural and fun and not a system separated from life itself. How could one incorporate the principles of Exuberant Animal into one's life?
The first thing is that we need to take an integrated, holistic orientation to whatever we're doing with our lives. Native people typically pointed to the combination of mind-body-spirit-land-tribe-ancestors. Rather than isolating any one component or element, these cultures looked to the relationships between them and sought to sustain all of them simultaneously.
The second point is that there has to be a practice of some sort, preferably a physical practice that sets the ground for everything else. Any solid physical practice will do: yoga, martial art, barefooting, sports and even the gym if there's no other option. Then, rather than isolating the body as a solo discipline, look to connect and integrate as broadly as possible. Round things out with more time outdoors, more meditation and more focus on real food and tribe.
You talk a lot about the modern human predicament. In short, what do you mean by that and what is the state of the human animal?
I see the human predicament in biological and evolutionary terms. That is, there's a profound mismatch between the history of our bodies and conditions we experience in the modern world. Simply put, our bodies have been built by evolution to survive in the bush. Every detail of our anatomy, physiology and psychology is the way it is because of thousands of generations of experience in the mosaic forests and grasslands of Africa. But now, we live in an "alien environment." Almost every dimension of the modern world is different from our ancestral environment: physical movement, sensation, tribal experience, food. It's no surprise that we're feeling the effects all across mind, body and spirit. Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease are only part of the problem. Psycho-spiritual afflictions such as depression and attention disorders are also on the rise. This is the paradox of the modern world: we are living longer than ever before, but our physicality is declining. Many of us have forgotten how to be good animals.
You emphasize the external body and the role the environment has on our health probably more than anyone else in the health and fitness world. Do you believe it is even possible to be a healthy human animal in a modern city?
Yes, I do think it's possible to be healthy in a modern city; lots of people manage it. Much of this depends on affluence, of course. If you're wealthy, you can leave the city, travel to natural areas and restore your connection to the earth. You can also import natural food from the surrounding habitat, get the medical care you need and surround yourself with interesting people. As for getting down to raw physical experience and reaching one's potential as a fully robust human animal, that of course is a different story. This requires sustained contact with the natural world: physical risk, exposure and engagement. Some people get this contact through adventure sports, backpacking and the like, but without this primal contact, physical vitality will never reach its full expression.
What does the future hold for you. What are your plans for 2012?
At the moment, I'm just finishing up my latest book: Stresscraft: A Whole-Life Approach to Health and Performance. I've always been intrigued by the science and art of stress. I find it a great, multi-disciplinary study that's becoming increasingly relevant for all of us. The book will be out in e-format in April. Otherwise, I'm teaching seminars and workshops and looking to get out climbing in the Pacific Northwest this summer. Exuberant Animal seminars and workshops are starting to pop up around the US and possibly overseas as well.