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Insider Recap: PrimalCon Oxnard 2013

In case you missed it, PrimalCon [1] 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 weather.com 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).

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.


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 [2] waxes noetic about ketone bodies and neurodegeneration to rapt audiences atop a grassy hill not fifty yards from Glen Cordoza [3], author/MMA fighter, showing the proper way to use a kettlebell to peel apart gnarly hip flexors right next to CrossFit champion Jenny Labaw [4] (on crutches) showing people hip drive in the Olympic lifts while Barefoot Ted [5] zips around on a personal laptop vehicle [6] that will change the face of human transportation just as Angelo dela Cruz [7] teaches untrained folks to give themselves effective healing targeted massages and right around the time top CA strongman Brian Tabor [8] carries a guy twice his size like a sack of (gluten-free) grain, then shows others how to do the same, while Tracy Barksdale [9] comes back from a fever to lead a group in natural movement, and across the grass Monisha and Maya White [10] instruct attendees in the Gokhale Method of sitting/standing/lying/living. Meanwhile, the whirr of Timothy’s [11] sledgehammers and the whip of Olympic bars and the lilt of KStar [12] slang combine with the twang of someone else falling off the slackline laid on top of William Vives [13]‘ GS style smooth effortless KB swings.

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 [14] 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 [15]. Paleosphere superstars freely mingled with blog commenters on equal footing, each learning something from the other. A tribe had formed, Dunbar’s number realized [16]. 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 [17] 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 [18] gives demonstrations and delicious samples that are never quite enough, where the first Primal food truck [19] 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.

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 [20], and then Tahoe [21], and wherever else we decide to take this show. Hope to see you all there!

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