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

PrimalCon 2011: Learning to Be Kids Again

Whew. PrimalCon is over. It was everything I’d hoped and everything I’d feared: incredibly uplifting, inspiring, and affirming, but also over way, way too quickly. I guess that’s how good things go. The coolest part was seeing actual full-sized three dimensional Homo sapien sapiens in the flesh, moving, interacting, eating, getting sunburnt, eating some more, diving for Frisbees, laughing, and learning, instead of tiny stamp-sized avatars exchanging digital text on a computer screen. Despite that digital divide, when people met and put screen name to face, there was none of the initial awkwardness you might expect. It was a seamless transition – a testament to our remarkable ability to adapt to any situation.

And boy were there a lot of situations. Imagine this:

An endless shirtless, screaming, barefooted cavalcade streaming toward a 55 degree Fahrenheit ocean just before sundown. Many a bewildered look was shared between gawking onlookers. I also saw a few envious ones.

Our complete destruction of the hot tub’s maximum capacity. Chatting about shifting nutritional paradigms with Chris, Bryan, Melodious, Primal Toad, and others. Fighting over the last couple chocolate truffles (PBers are suckers for 85% chocolate!).

Watching sledgehammer master Timothy extol the virtues of hammering under the sun to a rapt audience of PrimalCon attendees. The guy has lots of enthusiasm, and it’s super infectious. Cute kid, too (Hey Leo!).

Angelo dela Cruz doing backflips off of kids’ playground equipment, putting lemurs to shame with his Grok crawl, providing restorative body work to PrimalCon staff and attendees (he had quite a waiting list by Sunday), and just being a generally awesome dude.

Reid, his irrepressible kilt, and his incredible Ultimate Frisbee catches. I was thrilled to see my son Kyle taking a leadership role on the Frisbee pitch.

The demolition of hundreds of pounds of animal flesh by the fittest, healthiest crowd of gluttons I’ve ever seen. Well done, all.

The team leaders, stars from last year, without whom we seriously couldn’t have done it. Thanks, guys.

Barefoot Ted trotting around on his “perfect, natural vehicles.”

The ever-enigmatic Curley brothers. What really lurks beneath those beards?

Worker Bee Erik chasing his prey, Austin, and catching him during the survivor challenge.

Kettlebell master Billy Vives showing how anyone – regardless of age, fitness level, or weight – can get something out of a pullup bar.

Michael Stember basically gliding across the field, reaching top speed and making it look way too easy. Maybe if he was coaching me back in the day, I’d still be running. Nah…

Esther showing me how, and why, to squeeze my glutes when I walk so that maybe, one day, I’ll have an apple butt like an Amazonian tribesman.

I’m definitely gonna start parboiling more. Thanks, Chef Rachel.

Team leader Chris toughing it out with a broken foot, still making Ultimate Frisbee plays like a champ. A master at poultry dismembering, too.

One of my favorite things was to just go around and quietly observe the interactions between you guys without being noticed. This wasn’t always possible, but when it worked it was incredible. More than anything, I saw relief on people’s faces because for many of you, this weekend marked the first time you could actually let loose in front of other people and not be ridiculed or given that look (you know the look). To not be, as Timothy said, the outlier in the office. Half the people went barefoot, and the other half were mostly in Fivefingers. People were exchanging meal plans and exercise routines and sleep hacks and cooking tips and success stories, and although everyone had their unique take on it all they were each on the same general wavelength. It’s cool to see it in emails and on the forum, but to see it in person? It’s indescribable. Seriously, it brings tears to the eyes.

At some point on the second day, looking at more than eighty laughing, playing, wild grown men and women swinging from jungle gyms, rolling on the ground, organically cooperating, crawling, jumping, running, scrambling, lifting and tossing things, and exploring movement, I realized something. Instead of kids mimicking adults, playing doctor or trying to grow up too fast, the reverse was true – adults were playing like kids. The juxtaposition between PrimalCon attendees playing and actual kids at the park with shoe-clad, overly serious parents giving nervous looks in our direction was striking and the perfect encapsulation of what PrimalCon is all about. Whether it was Michael Stember showing us how to run again, or Billy teaching the proper way to manipulate a weighted object through space, or Esther helping people regain natural posture, PrimalCon 2011 was just a bunch of big, gainfully employed kids figuring out how to be kids again. And you know what?

That’s what it’s all about.

That was PrimalCon. All the nutrition we fine tune, the exercise we explore, the studies we read, the experiments of one that we conduct – it’s all about rekindling that essential connection with our own bodies that most of us lost somewhere between grade school and adulthood, and rejoicing in its renewal.

Well, thanks for reading, and thanks for coming, if you came. I’m dying to hear about your favorite little (or big) moments from the weekend, so let us all know in the comment board! What did you learn? Who did you meet?

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. 1. Thank you, Mark! I had an absolute blast! :)
    2. It was play, in its highest form. At one point, we even took over the playground, climbing on equipment, sliding down slides, rocking on the seesaw and playing leapfrog.
    3. My favorite parts included the running stuff: Stember’s sprinting, Barefoot Ted’s tips and the all-out on the Ultimate field.
    4. Yummy!

    melodious wrote on April 18th, 2011
  2. It’s kind of depressing that things like this are an exception rather than the norm in our society. That is, healthy people gathering to celebrate life and their bodies. How often does that happen? I’m not usually one to be pessimistic or whine about the current state of things, but sometimes I can’t help feeling discontent with the current state of things.

    Events like PrimalCon are nevertheless a promising ray of hope. And that is enough to make one smile. :)

    Jeremy Priestner wrote on April 18th, 2011
  3. I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed
    Land in a Grok squat, then stand on my head
    Doesn’t matter that I mess up my hair
    Grok wouldn’t care
    He doesn’t wear underwear
    Do some calisthenics, finish with the plank
    Then jump in the shower when I start to smell rank
    Breakfast is easy, I chug a few eggs
    Trying to get my protein so I can get ripped and coerce lady Grok to open those legs
    To hell with the subway, I walk my commute
    Trodding along as I chew on some seasonal fruit
    I look at the throngs of soda drinkers and junk food eaters with heavy contempt
    You know, you could at least give that shit up for Lent
    Hop a couple fences and gates on the way
    Why not, cavemen parkoured all day
    You don’t see me sitting when I get to my destination
    I’ve decked out the office with a standing work station
    Doing calf raises as I talk on the phone
    While some get fat, I strengthen my muscles and bones
    Noon rolls in and I head to the cafeteria
    The healthiest thing there is probably the bacteria
    I don’t waste my time, I skip the line
    Sit down and eat what they ate in old times
    Sandwhich eaters give me weird looks from every direction
    We’ll see who’s laughing in a few years when I can still get an erection
    I go back to work, or pretend to be doing that hassle
    Really I’m reading the day’s post on Marks Daily Apple
    After my update I get all my stuff done
    Now that I can sweat, my commute home is a run
    Sometimes I wish I had much farther to go
    Since anandamide gets you stoned, giving a new meaning to chronic cardio

    MC PRIMAL wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Brilliant!!!

      peggy wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Just WOW

      Sagar Bansal wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Awesome poem! I love it!!

      Krys wrote on April 19th, 2011
    • The Grok Anthem! Great Job on that one

      Charley wrote on April 19th, 2011
    • @mcprimal

      Can you email me tips on decking out your office with a standing work station?

      Charley wrote on April 19th, 2011
      • I don’t actually work in an office. I wanted to mention topics that have been brought up on MDA before so I made that part up. However Mark wrote a post about standing at work.

        MC PRIMAL wrote on April 20th, 2011
    • great poem! love it!

      Rachel Johnson wrote on April 19th, 2011
  4. I had an absolute blast. Simply meeting fellow caveman was well worth the cost. All the food, activities, weather, etc. was an added bonus. I will be signing up for next year on day 1 – no question about it.

    I will be organizing a thread in the MDA forum so there is one area with all pictures and videos taken from Primal Con. I got over 30 minutes of video so look for that towards the end of the week.

    9 of us stayed a little longer and went out for sushi around 3 pm. The food was amazing and it was awesome to grow so close to people that live hundreds of miles from me. People that live the same lifestyle that I live. 7 of us stayed Sunday night and spent the whole rest of the afternoon and evening together. It FLEW by.

    I am now at the Chicago airport about to board my plane going to Grand Rapids, MI.

    I am a young man who will be 23 on May 11. I hope to travel over the next few years and will do everything I possibly can to grow the primal lifestyle. I hope you will join me.

    Primal meetup groups will be popping up everywhere this summer so be on the outlook for them. If you live in Michigan then let me know!!!

    I don’t wish to miss my flight. For more on the amazing experience check back at the MDA Forum and my blog – Primal Toad.

    Grok on!!!!!

    Primal Toad wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Really? Todd has more class in his little finger than you have in your body. He’s an impressive young man who has a bright future. You are simply a troll.

      Dave Fish wrote on April 18th, 2011
      • HAHAHAHA. This is Jeff. Meet Geoff. The guy who for some odd reason hates on Primal Toad. I feel bad for Jeff, Geoff because when you hate on people you usually aren’t enjoying life yourself. He spells his name differently which is why I am using Geoff and Jeff.

        Jeff, or Geoff is a troll. He makes me laugh inside so its all good 😉

        Primal Toad wrote on April 19th, 2011
        • Hey Todd..we love you….never mind any trolls… :-)

          Janine wrote on April 19th, 2011
    • I live in Michigan, in Battle Creek actually, so not too far from you. I would absolutely LOVE some sort of meetup this summer! I’m so bummed I couldn’t go to PrimalCon, but I think smaller more local groups are a fantastic way for us PBers to network and learn from eachother.

      shadia wrote on April 19th, 2011
      • You bet! That’s AWESOME that you live in Battle Creek! My goal is to have our first meetup in April. You would be the 6th “caveman!”

        Join here:

        Can’t wait to meet you!!!! I’ll share a few insights I learned from Primal Con this year 😉

        Primal Toad wrote on April 19th, 2011
  5. Thanks again Mark.

    Primal Toad wrote on April 18th, 2011
  6. Perhaps you should do a post addressing the sustainability of the primal lifestyle.

    Sure, it does wonders for us, the, in many ways, intellectual and economic elite, or near elite, either with our minds or with our pockets, if both are not hand in hand, but how can the masses, the ugly proles enjoy the primal style?

    Are the mundane masses even able to enjoy it, and would they exist if it were not for the SAD?

    These are interesting questions, perhaps beyond the scope of your blog, but interesting nonetheless.

    I would like to see some political, or socioeconomic discussion on this topic.

    Johnson Wycombe wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Anyone with internet access, can enjoy the benefits.
      In its essence its the ultimate in sustainability [eat the plants and animals around you], but in practice if it makes people healthy (fertile) and live longer = even more population growth no it’s not sustainable.

      Without the checks and balances of predation and a limited mating season the human species will continue to grow exponentially which is not sustainable. Not that there is anything wrong with that, people are great. Go team people!

      There’s carrying capacity for 7 billion we have 7 billion plus 1 who’s it going to be?

      So the real question is would you sacrifice yourself for sustainability?

      Alex wrote on April 18th, 2011
    • Access to medical care in America is a zero sum game because of the severe shortage of primary care doctors. If you see a doctor that means someone else can’t.

      Thus it is immoral not to eat paleo as you have a duty to society to remain as healthy as possible.

      Jake wrote on April 18th, 2011
      • I don’t necessarily follow your logic about it being “immoral” to not eat paleo, if your reasoning is that it takes away a doctor’s visit from another person. You could be ill and stay at home, that would solve that problem. The lack of sufficient numbers of primary care physicians has more to do with decreased pay, reimbursement and incentives that steer most of us into other specialties where we actually have a hope of paying back our ridiculous student loans.

        shadia wrote on April 19th, 2011
    • The SAD of today is an invention of the latter half of the 20th century.

      Goodness knows my grandparents, born in the 1890’s (and ugly proles like their grandson), were far closer to primal instinctively. In many ways we are simply learning what they knew and we rejected.

      Peter wrote on April 19th, 2011
  7. Favorite moments? How could I pick and choose! If I tried to share them all, my wall of text would bury the page. So here’s a random few.

    – Trotting barefoot to the park in the early morning light, hammers slung over my shoulders, singing a marching song, lost in a moment that seemed to last forever.

    – Standing on a slack line for the nth time and actually planting a second foot down before being flung to the ground. Euphoria!

    – Watching the human tide at Stember’s training, a sheer wave of humans of all shapes and sizes united in mad sprints.

    – Teaching the joy of the sledgehammer to an excited class of living, breathing initiates. It was Shovelglove Community College come to life at last! This was my happiest dream come true. I know that my long-forgotten, woad-smeared, hammer-swinging ancestors were cheering in Valhalla that day.

    – Showing off Baby Leo’s pull-up and parallel bar skills. He’s only 18 months old, but he knows what he likes!

    – Meeting Billy Vives, a man whose unquenchable enthusiasm for swinging iron dwarfs even my own. I learned much from the master. His pistol squat is off the hook!

    – Learning to parboil from Chef Rachel. Simple, yet brilliant! I will never prepare my vegetables the same way. This alone was worth the trip.

    I could go on and on. But the best part of all was simply talking and playing with my fellow Groks and Grokettes. There’s no other group of people I’d rather be stuck with. If the Toba volcano ever blew up again, leaving us all with nothing but our bare feet and a couple of crude spears, I wouldn’t miss modern life for a minute.

    Turn faster, Earth, and hasten the arrival of PrimalCon 2012!

    Timothy wrote on April 18th, 2011
  8. We had the opportunity to talk one on one with all the experts. Mark stood for hours answering any and all questions. Everyone was friendly and willing to teach.

    I picked up much useful information during these private and semi private sessions.

    Jake wrote on April 18th, 2011
  9. Mark,

    PrimalCon sounds like it was a blast! Glad you had fun and rekindled the care-free active childhood spirit among adults. I agree with Jeremy that society has become somewhat of a drag when it comes to relaxing, letting go, and simply enjoying life.


    Alykhan wrote on April 18th, 2011
  10. So jealous! Very different from my weekend! It snowed a bit here! Haha. Canada…

    Anyway, sounds like a blast. I hope to make it out one year. Or at least to California!

    Keep it coming Mark.

    Graham wrote on April 18th, 2011
  11. The whole weekend was a blast. Not having to explain my lifestyle for the entire weekend was such a relief (that makes it sound like I’m into something far more exciting, doesn’t it?!!). It was great to meet other people who are aspiring to “live long, drop dead.”

    I loved
    –both the running sessions and know they’ll help me make a big improvement in my sprinting.
    –getting to meet my primal heroes, Mark and Timothy (who led me to this site originally) and ask all the questions I want
    –seeing primal baby Leo crushing the assisted pullups. I wish all kids could be raised in such a loving, healthy way by their parents!
    –my teamleader Tonice, whose unflagging enthusiasm during the scavenger hunt kept us digging in the sand for so long that I think I actually caught a glimpse of China…
    –yummy primal dinners
    –Esther Gokhale’s laser insight into posture; I feel her instruction will really help me with my chronic coccyx pain. The photos in her book are so beautiful.
    –Chef Rachel’s tips on preparing food in advance, which are really going to make the eating aspect of this lifestyle easier.

    I wish I could have brought all my friends, family and colleagues along to PrimalCon. I know they would have been inspired just as I was! I’m already looking forward to next year.

    superdeluxe wrote on April 18th, 2011
  12. Congratulations on a great event guys, the rest of the world envies you!

    Peter wrote on April 19th, 2011
  13. I’m curious, were there any events for kids? Or is that possibly being planned for next year?

    Nicole wrote on April 19th, 2011
    • Nicole,
      there were no kids involved and as a mother of 4 believe me I am so glad to have had this time away to grow and “play” like a kid myself! Not sure if I would want it any other way.

      Felicia wrote on April 19th, 2011
  14. My favorite things:

    1.) being barefoot for three days straight
    2.) being outside for three ENTIRE DAYS – much of that time half naked
    3.) playing ultimate Frisbee; haven’t played a pick up game like that in probably ten years. It’s something I am going to try and do more of. Play rocks! (but you never know what you are missing without it)
    4.) I’m very excited to make the dips that chef Rachel demoed – I have a Paleo pot luck at the end of the month that will be perfect for them.
    5.) Soaking up the sun half naked in a kilt – priceless!
    6.) Food was tremendous – as much as I ate I never felt bad afterward because it was high quality, Primal and we were using so much energy moving around all day.
    7.) Meeting and talking to Mark and listening to him speak really affirmed that I was doing things correctly and had a complete comprehension of the Primal lifestyle. It was also a good motivation to stay on the right track.
    8.) I really enjoyed meeting and speaking with Aaron Fox about this website. Aaron does a lot of work researching the blog posts and topics as well as editing them. Aaron – I think you should get the heads up from Mark to do foreign correspondence from this year’s Burning Man! What do you think?

    Reid wrote on April 19th, 2011
  15. Ah I love me some Ultimate Frisbee. Now, if only we could find a tlachtli court… We’d play Inca rules, where you don’t have to kill the captain of the losing team…:)

    Hal wrote on April 19th, 2011
  16. I had such a blast meeting everyone this year’s at PrimalCon! I just posted one in a series of posts about the event that I’m planning for this week. This one is called Paleo Then & Now, showing how much the movement has grown since the late 1990s.

    I can’t wait for next year’s event. I plan to bring people from our growing Phoenix Paleo/Primal MeetUp Group so they can experience the feeling of being part of a bigger tribe.

    If any of you who attended PrimalCon 2011 plan to visit the Phoenix Metro area, please email or call me in advance and I’d be happy to offer suggestions for where to dine and take on a primal hiking excursion.

    Chef Rachel Albert wrote on April 19th, 2011
  17. i added my pics to the primalcon 2011 flickr group…….

    coley wrote on April 19th, 2011
  18. Reminds me of Peter Gray. Mark, maybe you should get a guest post from him, or get him to speak at the next PrimalCon.

    Ed wrote on April 20th, 2011
  19. Guys I found this site about a very good diet and exercise program. You should visit it.

    Primal Toad wrote on April 20th, 2011
    • This is interesting… I did not post this yet it says me name linked to a different website.

      Primal Toad wrote on March 26th, 2012

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