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PrimalCon 2011: Learning to Be Kids Again

Whew. PrimalCon [1] 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 [1] 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 [2], and others. Fighting over the last couple chocolate truffles (PBers are suckers for 85% chocolate!).

Watching sledgehammer master Timothy [3] 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6] 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 [7] 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 [8] 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 [9].

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?