Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Apr

Insider Recap: PrimalCon Oxnard 2013

PrimalCon 2013In case you missed it, PrimalCon Oxnard 2013 took place this last weekend. This recap of the festivities was written by Mark’s Daily Apple team member and PrimalCon attendee Erik Cisler.

It was supposed to be sunny all weekend. That’s what kept telling us in the days leading up to PrimalCon Oxnard 2013. Sure, it was windy and kinda cold, but we were confident things would clear up. And then Friday morning, the attendees huddled together to hear Mark give the opening address of the weekend under a grey sky. “Don’t worry, guys. The sun will come.” Technically, it did. Right after lunch, it popped out and the grey dematerialized. It wasn’t exactly warm, but at least we had sun.

That was the last we saw of it all weekend. It hovered around 60 ºF, with that gray north-of-The-Wall (ASOIAF, anyone?) sameness perpetually overhead. But you know what? It didn’t even matter in the end. Because PrimalCon attendees are the hardiest bunch of customers you could ever assemble. They still ocean plunged. They still went barefoot. They didn’t complain for a second. Instead, people talked, laughed, ate, did everything but worry about circumstances out of their (and our) control. Everyone rolled with the punches (because there’s no other way to live).

Mark Group Photo

Cold weather during the day? PrimalConners just made sure to move around a bit more to get the blood pumping; natural movement, sledgehammer, Olympic lifting, and kettlebell sessions were especially popular.

  Natural Movements

Chilly evenings? We busted out a few cases of wine (purely for the vasodilatory effect, of course) and passed out dark chocolate with ribbons of coconut manna (for the pro-metabolic lauric acid, of course). It’s hard to put into words exactly what this weekend meant for attendees, and I knew I couldn’t do that (I’m not even going to try) so I just took little five minute snap shot observations from time to time. Here’s one: A talented doctoral student named Bryan Barksdale waxes noetic about ketone bodies and neurodegeneration to rapt audiences atop a grassy hill not fifty yards from Glen Cordoza, author/MMA fighter, showing the proper way to use a kettlebell to peel apart gnarly hip flexors right next to CrossFit champion Jenny Labaw (on crutches) showing people hip drive in the Olympic lifts while Barefoot Ted zips around on a personal laptop vehicle that will change the face of human transportation just as Angelo dela Cruz teaches untrained folks to give themselves effective healing targeted massages and right around the time top CA strongman Brian Tabor carries a guy twice his size like a sack of (gluten-free) grain, then shows others how to do the same, while Tracy Barksdale comes back from a fever to lead a group in natural movement, and across the grass Monisha and Maya White instruct attendees in the Gokhale Method of sitting/standing/lying/living. Meanwhile, the whirr of Timothy’s sledgehammers and the whip of Olympic bars and the lilt of KStar slang combine with the twang of someone else falling off the slackline laid on top of William Vives‘ GS style smooth effortless KB swings.

O-Lifting KStar Squat

PrimalCon Attendees Attempting to Walk on a Slackline

If this all sounds a little confusing, that’s okay and I apologize, because you’d kinda have to be there to really get it. The PrimalCon energy, the vibe, cannot be transmitted through text – or even images and video – alone. You just have to be there to feel it for yourself. In the past, I feel like the reviews were easier to write. I could talk about the presenters and their talks and you’d get a good feel for what went down. This year, though, the energy was different. Better, I’d say, too. Lightbulbs were going off all over the place, groups were breaking off for impromptu sessions that weren’t ordained by some paper schedule. We had the schedule, but we also had freedom. It was a big sandbox, except instead of kids there were adults, instead of sand there was grass, and instead of sandcastles there were revelations being discovered and tribes being created.

Event Coordinator Brad Kearns “Lifting” Weights

Before my eyes, I saw people embodying precisely what Mark has been yammering about for years on this blog and in his books. They were present, they were being here/there now/then, rather than attaching their happiness to an outcome that couldn’t be. Paleosphere superstars freely mingled with blog commenters on equal footing, each learning something from the other. A tribe had formed, Dunbar’s number realized. Phones came out to take photos and immortalize moments, but I didn’t see heads buried in texts and Facebook and hashtags. No, this was real raw rendering of humanity.

It was The Primal Connection come to life. I began to wonder: were they just taking Mark’s writing to heart, or had Mark learned from watching them and put lessons to paper? Whatever – it was amazing to see.

PrimalCon: the only place where barefooters worry about shards of macadamia nut underfoot rather than glass, where you can share a dram of scotch with a ninja, a strongman, a barefoot apprentice, and a gym owner, where you get weird looks for not eating spoonfuls of coconut oil, where grandmas wield sledgehammers, where not one but a dozen experts on human movement and posture congregate, where Chef Rachel gives demonstrations and delicious samples that are never quite enough, where the first Primal food truck in Southern California caters your lunches, where teams of men and women compete for prizes by securing their feet to 2X4s with handkerchiefs and scooting along the grass three to a plank, where lifelong friendships form in a single night, where the same man who just attempted a deadlift PR gently plucks a harp’s strings not thirty minutes later, where an attendee can have earnest conversations with the best and the brightest this community has to offer – without even talking to any of the presenters yet. It’s weird and crazy and informative and awesome. In other words, it’s completely and utterly Primal.

Chef Rachel No So Fast! Survivor Challenge Harp

Even though I had to observe and take notes and take photos and tend to my 8-months-pregnant wife and always kinda chilled on the periphery – I had a blast. I can only imagine what the actual attendees got to experience (but I think the smiles and laughs were a pretty good hint)!

Until Austin, and then Tahoe, and wherever else we decide to take this show. Hope to see you all there!

Group Picture
click to enlarge

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I can’t wait to go. One day…one day.

    Rob wrote on April 15th, 2013
  2. Slacklining looks like so much fun! Really want to try that.

    Lena Zegher wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • It is amazing! Challenging, wiggly, and absolute playtime!

      June Sinclair wrote on April 15th, 2013
  3. Ahhhhh….to dream! and 60 degrees! Down right balmy in Wisconsin terms! Looks like a great time.

    Judy G wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • 60 degrees! Cold! Where I live that’s when people start sun bathing.

      Greg wrote on April 15th, 2013
  4. Finally we’ve discovered something meaningful to congregate for where one doesn’t have to worry about drinking the Kool-Aid!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • Especially when it’s enhanced with electrolytes.

      Animanarchy wrote on April 17th, 2013
  5. Looks and sounds like a hell of a time, would love to give it a go some time!

    Nick wrote on April 15th, 2013
  6. Come to Chicago! We’ve got plenty of Groks here that would love to attend.

    Eric R wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • I second that motion!

      Susie wrote on April 15th, 2013
  7. Looks so unbelievably wonderful! I hope I can attend one day. But…60F, cold? Sheesh, I would be perpetually drenched in perspiration!

    Siobhan wrote on April 15th, 2013
  8. Wow!! That looks like an amazing time! Like summer camp for paleo adults!

    Bjjcaveman wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • …this one time, at Primalcon……………….


      Bryan wrote on April 17th, 2013
  9. Oh how I wish I could live in sunny California instead of uninviting Ohio. Oh well. At least I have Jungle Jim’s and Dorothy Lane Market at my doorstep.

    Erin wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • 60 degrees! Here in Scotland we consider that to be pleasantly warm.

      Annakay wrote on April 15th, 2013
  10. Please some to SUNNY Florida…..

    Sandy wrote on April 15th, 2013
  11. It really was so awesome. I travelled from Australia for it and I’m so glad …one of the best experiences. Learnt soooo much, met some amazing people.

    Elaine wrote on April 15th, 2013
  12. When a “PrimalCon Europe”? 😉

    primal_alex wrote on April 15th, 2013
    • +1

      K wrote on April 15th, 2013
      • +2

        Greg wrote on April 15th, 2013
        • +3 :)

          Arlene wrote on April 15th, 2013
  13. What a fun surprise to catch you in our ‘backyard’ over the weekend. Welcome to the Shores!

    Elisa wrote on April 15th, 2013
  14. What a ridiculously amazing weekend. Best people ever assembled into one area for 3 days. Great food, conversations and much more. We cannot wait to be back @ Tahoe!!!!

    Bob & June

    Not So Fast wrote on April 15th, 2013
  15. laptop vehicles…bring it on.

    BPT wrote on April 15th, 2013
  16. Did you notice Team Yorange, champions of the Survivor Challenge blowing everyone away in that hot lava challenge – YE-AH!! :) It was a great weekend and now I’m getting ready to go to Austin.

    Megan wrote on April 15th, 2013
  17. Question for people who have attended PrimalCon – Is it worth it to attend for people who have no idea what Paleo/Primal is?
    I am hoping to send my parents to the next one in Austin, but I don’t know if they’ll get much out of it (other than ejoying great food and the retreat in general) in terms of knowledge.

    danielht wrote on April 16th, 2013
    • Although the majority of attendees are already living and eating a primal/paleo lifestyle, perhaps it would be a fun “crash course” for your parents if they attend the next one. At least all the food would be in place. Also, the “swag bags” you receive during registration contain Mark’s books. So, while they are attending various presentations on diet and exercise, they can also browse through and study the books during down time or in their hotel room. “21 Day Total Body Transformation” is such a user-friendly book that beginners can “get it” by reading it. It’s the one I keep around my office and loan out to co-workers.

      In the end, though, are your parents willing to give up their S.A.D. for a primal diet? Were they expressing an actual interest? Or would enrolling them in PrimalCon be a bit too much and make them wonder if we’re some creepy cult?

      P.S. To Erik Cisler/Worker Bee: Thanks for the harp photo with Tara!!

      Russell wrote on April 16th, 2013
  18. Never in my life have I had such a completely fulfilling, life affirming, amazing time. I type this from my office box (well, at least I have a stand up desk) and find myself missing everyone, the vibe, the atmosphere, and the “sunshine”. I can’t imagine spending all day inside today.

    And I miss team Yorange so much!!!

    Cyndi wrote on April 16th, 2013
  19. I was wishing my parents were there the entire weekend! Yes, send your parents to Austin!! They will benefit so much! I am not fit now and I learned so much and had such an amazing time. I feel like anyone and everyone could benefit from it. I learned simple tips to decrease my shoulder pain and improve my form while sitting and walking. Your parents will learn so many valuable tools!

    To Team Yorange: please seek me out on Facebook! My name is Megan Leonard and I registered on the PrimalCon Oxnard and PrimalCon Austin event pages. :)

    Megan wrote on April 16th, 2013
  20. I’m pretty pleased to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to look at new information on your blog.

    kratom wrote on April 17th, 2013
  21. Good times!
    Thank you and hope to see everyone again soon!


    Homer Frizzell wrote on April 28th, 2013
  22. Does anyone know where we can get a list of the contents of the Gift Bags we received? There were a bunch of cool snacks like the coconut flakes. Any help would be appreciated. THX!!

    Mike Giboney wrote on May 17th, 2013
  23. Amazing video and inspirational! I want to go!! Thanks for doing so much good in the world. It’s much needed.

    John wrote on May 25th, 2013

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