What Is Your Inner Athlete?

AthleteVisualization time… Take a moment and picture a world class athlete in your mind. What image is coming? If you’re like most people, you’re probably visualizing a tall, lean, muscle-bound (or at least very muscular) man or woman, the epitome of brawny human form. On the flip side of this exercise, of course, that means you’re likely not thinking of anyone who’s short, stocky, slight, overweight, exceptionally tall, etc. And yet athletes, even world class athletes, come in literally all shapes and sizes. You may have seen these pics (a few of which are embedded below) making the rounds recently (or remember them when they were first published by Howard Schatz about twelve years ago or so). On the surface, the idea of body “variety” isn’t all that novel of an observation, but I’m still struck when I look at these photos.

The pictures themselves drive the point home in a way that the general concept can’t touch. The broad diversity and profound individuality of body shapes, forms, and musculature jumps off the page, and yet all of these people are world class athletes. (Inherent to this message, too, is the diversity of sport itself as physical endeavor that uniquely cultivates the body). It’s fascinating, I think, to see what the human body is capable of – not some “perfect,” standardized, conventionally “ideal” physique but a real body with individual uniqueness and stunning utility. In this case, it’s a wide spectrum of body types. When you look at these folks, it makes the fluffy enhanced images on magazine covers look that much more ridiculous.



It also makes me think how many people assume they aren’t “athlete material” because they don’t believe they have the body for it – or so they’ve been told (directly or indirectly). Sure, most of us will never be professional athletes. Most of us are not and never will be 7-foot tall basketball player material. But the fact remains: if you have a body, you’re an athlete. The identity and intention dwell in your genes themselves. Whether you’re a 5 foot tall rhythmic gymnast waiting to happen or a lanky dude who’s built for covering long distances quickly, there’s a niche for you. You embody in some way the athletic mission of our species.

Maybe you haven’t figured out what that embodiment is yet. It’s always eluded you, or you always shunned the prospect so entirely that you struggle against identifying with it at all. (What too often passes for physical education in this country can do this to people – as much of a shame and an irony as it is.) We tell ourselves a whole lot of self-limiting stories, and this arena might be prime territory for that unfortunate tendency. Let me say point blank: find your athletic embodiment in your lifetime. You won’t be sorry you did and will likely always wonder if you don’t.

With that in mind, find your niche. Find your sport. Figure out – or flat out decide – what kind of athlete you are or want to be. There’s no need to play perfectionist and opt out because you can’t be Lebron James or Lindsey Vonn. We don’t let ourselves play defeatist that way in our careers, hobbies or social lives. (Right?) Why on earth would we hold ourselves back from enjoying cultivating our bodies to their full and creative potential because someone on the T.V. can do a skill better (that they get paid millions of dollars a year to do of course)? It should be about vitality and fun. It’s about self-actualization and the unique thrill of it.

When someone tells me they’re not an athlete “type,” I often tell them they haven’t found the right sport for their inner athlete. Maybe they bristle against the athletic “type casting” their build suggests to people, or (again) maybe they rejected the athletic potential of their bodies period. Maybe they shrug off the possibility now because of age. (Another lie to discard…) The fact is, your body is so much more than your build – or your years.

Here’s a novel thought perhaps – an extension of what those photographs suggest. Do what you want to do. Do you think you have to be lean and willowy to be a yoga guru. No, you have to be committed and passionate to be a yoga guru. And guess what? You have to be committed and passionate to be a soccer player or a wrestler or a dancer or a body builder. The same holds for every activity and sport. If you can show up with a good attitude and consistent determination, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself and develop within a sport. It might not be the “natural” fit for your body, but it can be the best, most fulfilling choice for your personality. When we do what we love for exercise, it doesn’t feel like work. How much more ideal can it get?

Primal exercise is a flexible set of general principles that mirror the basic patterns of our ancestors’ exertion – period. How you fulfill these in your modern life is entirely your choice. Be whatever Primal athlete makes sense to you and you alone. By all means, make it as fun as possible. Your fitness should enhance more than your physical health but be a meaningful, self-affirming, self-exploratory part of your life. It’s the best of all Primal worlds.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let me know your thoughts on the photo collection and the journey you’ve taken to find or develop your inner athlete.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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72 thoughts on “What Is Your Inner Athlete?”

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  1. Such a wonderful post. It’s so important to respect different body types and stop pigeonholing. Also I love the emphasis on finding the sport that is right for you. For so long I said I wasn’t athletic because I hated running, but now that I’m finding the joys of yoga and walking, I’m redefining how I think of myself.

  2. oooh, I love this mindset! Right now I hike, spin, and lift weights, but I’m taking skiing lessons next week 🙂
    I also played volleyball in college, and keep saying I need to get back into it..I miss it, and it definitely did NOT feel like work training for it and playing it.

    1. I know what you mean! I played volleyball too in college. It still amazes me what I could eat and still maintain a 9% body fat. But it didn’t feel like work…well, sometimes…lol. After two kids though sometimes I barely have energy enough to get out of my pjs.
      I used to ski and snowboard too, but not this year with this awful drought here in Cali.

    1. There’s always those snowball wars though, Charlie Brown.

  3. Mark is really pushing me to excersise more.. I start pilates tomorrow. Who knows, I might be sprinting by February!

  4. Wow, inspiring.

    ‘Tis true. Whatever I do on land, I am clumsy, pathetic and weak. But when I swim, I feel graceful, lean, strong and confident. Even if I am nowhere near any kind of competition level.

    But, funnily enough, it is FAR easier for me to go do land stuff, as it has less of prep requirements. You do not need to dress down, make that jump into the cold water and share equipment.

    Funny, huh?

  5. Love this post – I agree it’s so important to find your inner athlete! As it turns out, my inner athlete just loooooves to run long. I was a sprinter in high school and took up marathoning kind of by accident in my 20’s. Even though I follow an otherwise-primal lifestyle, I just can’t and won’t give up the sport I love!

  6. I remember one day many years back after I had started hiking to get in shape to go on a trek to see Mt. Everest, I realized that I was actually an athlete. I was so amazed at this realization I wrote it down and posted it on my fridge.

    I had always been the worst one in PE classes in school but here I was actually achieving a level of proficiency at hiking that was above average. I was faster than a lot of people, I could go farther, I didn’t get tired, I was strong and I felt comfortable in the outdoors. I enjoyed competing against myself, trying to do more than before.

    While I felt really proud, I also felt really angry. All during school, ‘athlete’ meant someone who could chase a ball on a field or compete against others and win.

    I have hiked thousands of miles, sometimes more than a thousand on a single trek. I’m also fairly good at hacking away at the brush with handtools and tossing small trees over the sides of the trail. They don’t have a PE class for this type of thing, but if they did, perhaps a lot of years of misery could be avoided for a lot of people. I’ve sometimes fantasized about being a PE teacher of individual sports: hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, running or cycling. Lifestyle athletics, stuff you can do for a lifetime that doesn’t require balls, games or competition.

    1. RIght on! That’s a success story in four paragraphs. It doesn’t have to be about competition or “sports.” Sometimes I enjoy games (tennis, ping pong), but depends on whom I’m playing with…but I ALWAYS enjoy a long hike, and if it’s not very long, I can find ways to “get physical” by climbing, crawling, etc…all in Nature, what could be better?

    2. I totally agree with you! Have you ever read the Calvin comic strip where he calls PE “state sponsored terrorism”? The only thing they let you try in PE class that doesn’t involve throwing/catching/hitting a ball is weightlifting. I still remember that unit with horror. He said he’d set up the benchpress for a “lighter weight” to do lots of reps, but it was 90 pounds – more than I weighed at the time!

      Not everyone has hand-eye coordination to play ball games. Why don’t they have units on rockclimbing, biking, hiking. I love hiking, although I’m not as good as you are.

      Ballet is my thing. I love the music and the precision and especially the jumps. That moment when you get arms and legs all in exactly the right place at the right time, and it’s like you’re flying, you hardly have to touch the ground. Best ever!

    3. I 100% agree on schools teaching lifestyle athletics. Team PE was absolute misery for me, in part because of undiagnosed asthma. My junior year I did take Individual/dual PE where we did things like bowling and archery and I really enjoyed it a lot more. I did really well in weightlifting in school and was one of the strongest girls in my class. Running, I was always dead last and too slow and clumsy for team sports. Now as a mom with two grown children and one in school my favorite activities are hiking, biking,backpacking and camping. Living in Northwest Washington where it is accessable, I also want to try ocean kayaking, cross country skiing and winter backpacking. I could probably do rock climbing but I’m not that fond of heights. I love to swim as well, but around here it means going to a public pool because it is too stinking cold to swim in the lakes. I have a long way to go until I’m as fit as I want to be, but I am able to take things at my own pace and just keep puttering away.

      Personally I find lifestyle athletics should be more taught in school because they are more likely to lead to lifelong fitness because they don’t require a team of people to participate with. As someone who didn’t have a prayer of being able to compete, team sports were just an exercise in humiliation.

      1. Fancy rock climbing but don’t like heights? – Try bouldering.

    4. I just so happen to be a PE teacher. One of the most popular classes we offer at my school is called “Lifetime Activities” where we do all sorts of things like you listed. Outdoor activities, including our high ropes elements, geocaching, snowshoeing, and hiking are half the program. The other half are skills like table tennis, and then actual beneficial lifetime activities such as weight training.

      It’s the greatest job in the world. PE is no longer just team sports, and as we develop better PE teachers in our field (they ARE coming) PE will continue to grow into a more positive experience for students. What you’re thinking about is a reality, so if you do ever consider a change of career, at least think about it!!

      1. That is fantastic to hear! I am one of the earlier PE participants who was humiliated by what I could not do, but now have a fully-physical job…just not in sports. Thank you for teaching the next generation!

  7. I always considered myself a book worm, nerd type – turns out I’m actually a pole dancer, Crossfitter, silks aerialist and acro-yogi. I’m an athlete even though I only compete with myself.

  8. I could never run to save myself and did not like sports very much at school. I didn’t mind the school gym and did a little bit of swimming but that was all. It wasn’t untill my late sixties that I discovered the most primal of sports, Archery. It’s something people of all shapes and sizes can do. We even have three generations of the one family shooting at archery club. It involves quite a bit of slow walking and pulling the bow exercises the upper body. Very enjoyable.

  9. I read somewhere…”We are ALL athletes, just not all of us are in training”.

    My passion is long distance running.. that’s when I am happiest..when I am truly me.

  10. Mark, ok…I’m inspired! I am female, broke my wrist on my 61st birthday a few days ago, and have been really feeing like I can’t do a thing. Well, Mark you have set me straight. I believe and I have begun…now writing this to let you know…pecking at keyboard with one finger. Don’t know what kind of training I will do, however I believe it will come to me. Thank you.

  11. Ok, it’s one thing to say that people with these shapes can be the best at what they do, but to say it is because of it is a different thing. So these folks with less than ideal shapes would not be even better with less/more fat given identical work ethic?

    1. Only up to a point. Rulon Gardner will never look like Brandon Slay, no matter how hard he trains.

      The smart “athlete” works with, and makes the most of, what nature gives him/her.

      1. I don’t agree as they both look pretty similar body types if you take away the body fat, but I get the point & would say that it could be said of Alexi Lalas & Brandon Slay.

        I think the point is if you’re built for long distance running maybe you should try that, but if you love wrestling, go for it; just don’t waste your energies trying to look like Rulon Gardner and work on the strengths your physique is geared to (like speed & agility maybe).

        It’s all good – Grok’s tribe would have benefited from the tall guy who could reach stuff or the little girl who could get into tight spaces, but survival may also depend on everyone being able to do a bit of everything together.

  12. I just want to dance!
    My husband went to college with a 50 yo guy with short fingers who learned to play the piano like he had long fluid ones. We both went ot high school where the best basket ball player was about 5 foot 5 inches at the most. He was better because he wanted to be, learned that being that close to your center of gravity was an atvantage that he could use agains all the other players.
    When I was young I love to run everywhere. Now that my knees have been run into the dashboard of a truck they aren’t as happy about running as they formerly were, they are ok with sprinting tho.

  13. Mark, this is definitely one of your best posts!

    It strikes a chord with so many of us who were either really bad at PE, or were good at it but hated it. I have commented on one of Mark’s previous posts that PE classes are one of the biggest reasons people end up disliking physical activities.

    I would draw the line, however, at calling myself an athlete, as the word comes from the Greek “athlein”, meaning “to compete for a prize”. I prefer to call myself a “mover” which means what it says.

  14. I tend to gravitate towards sports and physical activities that I don’t have a natural strength for. But as you mentioned mark doesn’t matter if your gonna turn into lebron james as long as your having fun.

    Exploring new sports is fun and you might just find that niche. Pro curling could be just around the corner!

  15. Ya know im sat here 37 years young 😉 and have been undiagnosed for hypothyroidism since I was fairly young (mother had it and results always came back ‘borderline’) Now they change the ranges and everywhere else the numbers go down, but in UK they increased it to 10…gee thanks….

    So i decide to treat myself, and its been a journey, and T3 25mg with some isocort is working for me. Within a month of starting that, I had the will and energy to take up mountain biking and Im really enjoying it (tho weather at mo is pants) I always loved MTBing but thought only fit people did that and did the self limiting talk. Now I have me own bike and bike rack, Im slowly getting back into after going primal two weeks ago (I played cautionary with the hypothyroid suffers shouldnt do primal/paelo) Well ive been primal for two weeks now and its TOM, and ive not limited myself at all these past two weeks simply because of being due on and knowing what my carb munster PMS eating days were like (id start shifting weight only to gain it all back miserably at TOM) and also not limited as I know my body is changing fuel sources…


    I goes out on me bike after couple days of carb flu, and I was riding out the saddle uphills in harder gears….I loved that feeling in my glutes and thighs of pure strength (not there yet really but still…)

    It was such a freeing and “F’you” feeling, and very reminiscent of my tomboy days on my BMX bike, not to mention my PMS is much better and I didnt put on 7lbs as per usual…Infact I just stayed the same whilst still feeling like i had water weight. Be interesting to see where im at when TOM passes 🙂

    Now Im eye-ing up that Xpole in the spare bedroom laid on the floor, thinking I should get that up and do some pole work to put some more insecurity imps to bed!

    I love your posts Mark, they are so uplifting and positive and fit with my own look on the world of healthy living. Looking forward to your lass’s book coming out too 😉

  16. I’m a dancer. 10 years in ballet, 14 years in oriental dance, and now teaching oriental dance at the Y.

  17. before going primal i wouldn’t even think of touching any sort of weight but I now incorporate a lot of strength training and have learnt to love using my body for what it was designed. Thank you Mark for opening up my eyes in this way and encouraging others to USE their bodies. I’m starting at my local CrossFit gym this weekend too!

  18. Maybe this is a really dumb question, but I don’t understand how two weightlifters have dramatically different body types. Not bodybuilder versus weightlifters, I understand that fundamental difference. My question is why are Tara Nott and Cheryl Haworth so different? According to the photo they both do “weightlifting”. I understand they are in different weight classes, but is their training also fundamentally different. Are they both Oly lifters? (Sorry, I’m not familiar with either athlete).

    1. Cheryl and Tara are both Olympic weightlifters (that is, the snatch and clean and jerk), and they have both been to the Olympics (among other international events). Cheryl is in the 75+ kg weight division, and Tara is in the 48 kg division. (According to Wikipedia, Tara has trained at the OTC in gymnastics, soccer, and weightlifting!)

      O-lifting is great in that if you are shorter, you have a lower center of gravity and also less distance to travel to get under the bar.

      I just took up O-lifting after 4.5 years of Crossfit left me with chronic knee pain (not to mention almost always finishing last at any WOD).

      O-lifting with HIIT (interval training) has made me stronger and much happier as a person, and my trainer has made me participate in local meets to get out of my comfort zone and convince myself that I’m an athlete even if I’m not lifting very much weight. There is something that happens to you when you go on the platform in front of 50 people and they applaud your successful lift (even if it’s only a 35 kg clean and jerk). I also learned that I can be fast for about 3-5 seconds, enough to do a lift correctly, and that my “Human Sloth” attribute actually can fit in somewhere in the athletic realm.

      As far as other sports I enjoy (and am SLOW at): cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, biking, swimming, and just this last summer I became an avid paddleboarder (our season isn’t very long here in Seattle, though!)

      I *LOVE* activities where I can be alone and not have to compare myself to anyone else. I think that is a big demotivator for a lot of people.

      1. I really loved reading your post. I am a SLOW athlete too. After almost a year of CrossFit I still almost always finish last. I feel like it looks like I am not trying very hard when in reality I am moving as fast and hard as I can. I always shy away from doing athletics with another person because I feel like I am always holding them back.

        It is nice to know there are other slow people out there.

        1. I just bought a workout tank that says “slow is the new fast” 😉

        2. Hi! Yes… the Crossfit trainers I had always were pushing me to GO, and it actually had the opposite effect on me; I began to resent them because they seemed to assume that I was dawdling when in fact I was gasping for air. I’m also not one of those people who “meets Pukey” at Crossfit – I know where I stand and am not going to let someone pressure me into working out so hard that I pass out or throw up.

          Another note: I got stronger (easy when you’re coming from zero-level) my first year of Crossfit, and the following 3.5 years I basically never improved any lift or bodyweight exercise. I never moved on to full pushups. I never got a strict pullup. I never moved beyond 150 lb deadlift (with awful form). Now that I am working on treating adrenal fatigue among other issues, it makes more sense!

          One other note you may enjoy: I have knock-knees (or genu valgum), which means when I stand with my knees together, my feet are about 8-10″ apart. Running (and skiing) was / is very difficult and painful … and those trainers could have cared less. Eventually I got up the nerve to pull out the rowing machine and just do that, all by myself, in the gym when people went to run.

          All I can say, is don’t be afraid to take control of your skills. And remember: you are PAYING them to help you improve. If you are not improving and find yourself getting injured a lot, it may be time to find something else to do. I am not knocking all Crossfit gyms, but my anecdotal experience eventually forced me to admit that WODs were not my sport. 🙂

        3. Hahah! I love it. I have knee socks for lifting with sloths on them. 🙂

  19. A very “sweet”, inspiring post. Mark wouldn’t probably like the “sweet” part just as he was a bit iffy about “chilli sun-kissed” recipe at first.

    I love Jillian Michaels because her bootcamp-like attitude motivates me. I don’t like the touchy-feely, whispery voice trainers. The 30 Day Shred and 6 Week Six Pack gives you all you need in the least amount of time.

  20. Brilliant post. Thanks. I umpire 70 and 80+ year old competitive softball players. They are having the time of their lives and not trying to be pro athletes. If they don’t like a close call, you can bet your &^&$&)) they let me know about it. I love it.

  21. Great post! I hated gym class way back when, and my daughter hates it now. Martial arts is her thing. She is good at it, and everyone proceeds at their own pace. I highly recommend martial arts for anyone still searching for a challenging sport in a judgement-free environment. Not to mention the dual benefit of learning self-defense.

    For me, I just keep on moving. Treadmill, elliptical, weights, walking outdoors (minus 25 this morning so not today!), gardening, biking, playing with the kids – it doesn’t matter. A body in motion…

  22. Great point, Mark! Right now, I’m pursuing rock climbing (play everyday, right?) but I most enjoy when I have time to do Bikram yoga. Each requires athleticism in its own right.

  23. Fantastic post, Mark, and once again reminds me that I need to thank you for helping me become what I always wanted to become – a swimmer. As a child I was strongly discouraged by my mother, who was terrified of water, and as an adult I was too afraid to appear in public in a swimsuit because my body wasn’t perfect. After being primal for six months and shedding 40 lbs, I went to the local Y, donned a swimsuit, and I’ve never looked back. My body still isn’t perfect, but you know what? That’s not what it’s about. I have more fun in the 1 1/2 hours I spend in the pool every week than I would have ever imagined. And when people ask how I work out, I get quite an inner thrill saying, “I’m a swimmer!”

  24. Okay, if you’re talking about following my bliss & using my body’s strengths as they are, hoop dance is IT. That’s the one thing I can do every day (besides walking & stretching) without getting hurt or just burning out, meanwhile enjoying every minute. And I know it’s good for me mentally & physically. In fact I move my body in more & more various ways than with ANY other activity.

    But I also know it’s not enough. Some of the tricks (repeated jump-through, alternating under-leg moves & such) are pretty close to sprint level, but there’s no heavy lifting, though my arms do get a lot of use.

    Still I have found that when I don’t feel like exercising, if I just hoop for a few minutes, my body “wakes up” & is much more willing to do the hard stuff!

  25. Love this. In school I only did sport because it was compulsory & the only thing I was good at was hiking. Since school I have tried rock climbing, belly dancing, salsa, fencing, surfing, pole dancing, archery, touch rugby & mountain biking. I found I love trying new sports… things like archery & fencing come more naturally to me, team sports bring out more competitiveness in me than I like to admit, but I still love nature & hiking & thoroughly enjoyed surfing & mountain biking (despite the fact it scares me witless) and plan to do more of them! A good sprint every now and then feels amazing to but I hate jogging 🙂

  26. I love this post! I love barre workouts (a combination of pilates, yoga, and ballet) and dancing. Love them! They make me happy and make my body happy. I feel taller (which is always good at 5’2″), more flexible, stronger, and more at peace after a barre workout. There’s a paleo podcast where they always talk about weights and sprinting and basically have the attitude that if you aren’t lifting heavy and sprinting, then all other exercises are a waste of time. They basically laugh at anyone who spends time doing something that doesn’t involve hoisting a heavy barbell several times a week. Don’t get me wrong, I like to lift heavy occasionally, but I prefer my focus to be barre and dancing. That podcast made me feel like I was wasting my time doing the things that I love, but this post made me realize that I should trust myself and do what I love and makes my body feel good 🙂 Thank you!

  27. I was always active as a child and teenager but body and eating things I just flat out couldn’t took a huge toll. No one had ever heard of anyone who could not eat wheat or dairy when I was a teenager, well I can’t eat either though I did for years. Now after years of serious auto-immune trouble, I am back active again!

    I have tried almost everything, swimming was ok except the chlorine really made me sicker. Walking is ok so I do that regularly. Biking is ok so I do that sometimes. When my son started track and I first read about sprinting I started doing that. I only sprint about once a week but am trying to up that to 3x a week. The big thing I started doing 3 years ago was Karate. You wouldn’t think a plus-size gal with some health problems could do it but seriously it is amazing! I have learned more about proper body mechanics and how to hold myself to keep from injury at Karate than I anywhere else. I actually found out about Mark’s Daily Apple because of a problem I was trying to solve from Karate. My feet hurt so much by the end of a karate class because I was not used to being barefoot. While looking for ways to strengthen my feet I came across M.D.A. and Vibrams. I am fully transitioned to minimalist shoes now and most of my foot issues are gone. My doctor is impressed as I need a lot fewer adjustments now than I have ever in the last 10+ years. My Vibrams have paid for themselves many times over just with fewer doctor visits! Now 3 years later, I have survived several injuries that could have been a lot worse but were minor because of knowing how to fall correctly to avoid injury. I am an athlete, I train regularly in Karate and while I still have a long ways to go I am better at being me than ever before.

  28. Thanks to the 61 year-old who just wrote. I was feeling Mark’s post wasn’t meant for me; I’m 58 with a chronic foot issue that’s stopped me from even walking long distances. But, you and he are right, and one just has to be motivated and determined to find an exercise or sport. Thanks again.

    1. You are welcome Debbie. I didn’t think this post was for me, at first either. Then I thought about it and realised it applies to us all. All body shapes and all health issues/problems. I don’t know if Mark meant it this way, but so many of his sentences included ideas that woke me up to “meaning within meaning”. Perhaps, it would be useful for those of us who don’t think we even fit into the above post/encouragement, to have a post on how injured/disabled and or senior people could reach our best potential for the “circumstances” within which we live. Good luck with the foot problems, I went through that two summers ago. It eventually left after I gave it time to heal. Took about 8 months.

  29. What if the problem isn’t body shape, but chronic body weakness? I have found things that I love (martial arts and yoga) but have been forced to give them both up due to shoulder and wrist injuries that “healed” into chronic weak points. If I’m careful, I can do normal life as a mom of four kids, but too much scrubbing, or digging in the garden, and I’m back in a wrist brace for a week. It has been a problem for 8 years now, something that doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists haven’t been able to help me fix. Mark, I’d love it if you’d address this kind of problem sometime.

    Oh, I also wanted to mention that my favorite yoga teacher would definitely have been considered “overweight”. But she was incredibly skilled and healthy!

    1. This may help – I had a chronic back problem that “healed” but would always re-occur – then I found a book called The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies. You may actually still have trigger points in your shoulder, and what’s worse, the muscles can shorten giving that “healed shut” feeling – but don’t worry, it can be reversed via self-therapy. This was the only thing that got me “back” (I tried Chiro, Physio, Doctors).

      I am now doing full speed sprinting, weights and martial arts (something I thought would be an impossibility a few years back). The other key to my “healing” of course is the primal lifestyle, which I can’t thank Mark enough for – 10 years later my body is definatley more rubust, even to the level when I was 20 (now in my mid 40’s) – at age 35 I would not beleived it was possble, and I had doctors telling me I had inevitable deteriation of the back – now I’ve healed and my back is healthy and strong – the book above and the Primal Blueprint will empower you to do this.

      1. Many thanks, Storm. I’ve already checked this out, and sent the information to a relative that could benefit also. It looks promising, and very simple to implement. Being free of chronic pain is so important to health and mobility.

  30. I’m 18, and I only recently discovered that I love to dance. For me, it’s probably the only physical activity that doesn’t feel like work. It just feels FUN! 🙂

  31. Wow, thanks a million for the post Mark! 😀
    It seems almost right on point with what I asked you days ago when you asked us to give you ideas for posts this year. Whether or not that was intentional, this is truly an inspiring piece today. 🙂
    +100 lol

    1. in 1974 I went into basic training (Army). Not sure if I had ever worked out a day in my life before that (other than GYM class). I was a nerd who had a two and half packs a day, smoking habit.

      There were five routines you had to pass to get through basic with a maximum
      of 100 on each. 300 required to pass basic.

      Four of the five events I was terrible at, at first anyway, for instance I could not
      run a mile, just could not finish, at first.

      But amazingly, one of the events was the Inverted Crawl. For some unknown
      reason, I am a demon doing the Inverted Crawl. I would just destroy guys who before basic were football players, basketball players, boxers, sprinters, usually leaving them in the dust.

      By good faith, one of the Drill Sargent’s snapped a picture of me while I was racing. showing me with a huge lead, dust flying all around me.

      That was one of the highlights of my life I had to post a response 🙂
      going Primal is right there with it.

  32. I love this post. Everyday life requires being an athlete. I used to mow the lawn with the ride on mower. Now I use “Honda Therapy” as my husband calls it and use the push mower.

    We also have a trucking company so there are always tyres to change and move. I have one in my shed at home to flip on a regular basis.

    I am so glad to have found this website. It has made such a difference to my life and my family. Our dog included who is an amazing Frisbee player so it turns out.

  33. My favourite sports are Tree Climbing and Sneaking Around The Woods.

  34. Great post Mark! I didn’t think it was for me at first, but you changed my mind. I’ve been doing yoga and walking for a while, and after yesterday’s post I’m going to try some sprinting again ~ pulled both hamstrings a while back the first time I tried it ~ I like your suggestion to sprint up hills.

    I have to say that one of the most skilled and graceful hula dancers I’ve ever seen was the largest gal in the group. I wasn’t expecting that. She outperformed all of the others beautifully.

  35. I can’t find a good photograph for Ice Hockey Referee! LOL, I have failed again… just like my calls on the ice!
    Great article Mark – as usual.

  36. WOW! This post makes my heart sing and inspires me to kick some butt!

    Mark, I just had a really crappy day-8 hours in the ER with my 96 year old grandma, and I was feeling pretty down. I read this and now I feel so fired up and inspired. Great post.

    Thank you.

  37. What you say about that inner athlete is so true. I started to swim to loose weight not primal then, lost a little weight just with the additional excercise.
    I kept meeting the same 2 guys in the pool each morning, I was a little slower than them, so I was ‘in the way’ so to speak but the asked me to tag along which I did, since then the group has grown to approx 15 people guys and gals from 30 years to 63years (thats me 63) who meet 3 mornings a week as you can fit it in with work and family. I find the excercise is now some what secondary to the reason to get up at 5:45 and go to the pool it is a social as well as fitness thing ( its certainly not a a talk fest) with ‘coach’ Brian at you to keep up.
    Since going primal about 15 months ago the weight has fall off, 18kgs so far and my shape has changed and so have my times reduced.
    The group has been going about 6 years now and recently we have started to take part in Ocean swimming events, they are a bit testing at my tender years but I do complete each event.
    There is an athlete there in us all.

  38. I have to say that tennis has been a very rewarding sport for me as an adult. I started with a beginners class at a local club back in 2000 and have enjoyed it ever since. It is such a social sport ( you have to play with at least one other person for a singles match!) that my husband & I have made many friends and continue to socialize thru mixed doubles matches and get togethers as well as our own teams. Most tennis clubs have beginners programs where you can start with others at your own level. I play several times a week and get lots of sprinting in! You don’t have to be a superb athlete to start, but you will find many rewards, both physically and mentally, if you continue. I agree – there is an athlete in every one of us!

  39. I started my fitness quest in November 2012 with one of my goals to become a better golfer. For me that identity aspect is easy, even as someone who is 5’8″, 150.

    Lifting a lot, eating a more primal diet, and lots and lots of stretching has gotten me from not being able to touch my toes, to being able to palm the ground.

    I always think about cultivating the Tiger Woods or Adam Scott body. It is unlikely I ever get to their level, but that isn’t the point.

    Major improvements in strength and flexibility along with better stamina for long and hot summer rounds has and will continue to pay dividends.

    Great post Mark.

  40. My inner athlete is gravity defying. I imagine being able to move my body in any way that I want to despite gravity’s pull. Probably some sort of gymnast-ballerina-yoga-parkour-ninja. I think I’ll start by increasing my strength and flexibility 🙂

    In the meantime, my husband and I have decided to take an introductory archery course.

  41. I feel sport has suffered a lot over the last 50 years. With the advent of electronic media and the commercialization of the Olympics and other major sporting events, sports have gone from body culture to an ultimately destructive obsession.
    I cringe when I hear people talking about how a 23 year old athlete is “growing too old for competition”, or about all the performance-enhancing drug use and the fascist methods used to fight it.

    Being a top-class athlete is no longer in line with the Greek ideal of a healthy mind in a healthy body. It has a lot more to do with Aztec human sacrifice rituals.

    Amateur sport (originally known as “sport”) is in a real pinch, and I have no idea what could be done to bring it back to the forefront.

  42. Wise words – we are all beautiful and blessed with physical bodies of infinite complexity and capability. Our bodies do the most amazing things all the time, and I believe that as a race our diversity has been key to our survival. We are the enlightened and lucky few – so sad that so many people are at war with their own bodies. My 6 year old daughter is lean, light and runs barefoot like the wind – I’ve never seen a more natural, fluid runner. Because she’s not confident doing conventional sport she thinks she’s “useless at P.E.”. This inspirational post is a reminder that we all have individual capabilities and should never have our athletic potential constrained by conventional ideas of sport and athletic achievement.

  43. I like to shake my ass, dance is great fun, it’s my religion. I also like to be strong, lift weights. It’s all good. I used to walk everywhere and enjoy the view. Now I drive to work and walk for exercise. You see so much when you move at a human pace. I wish I could do parkour but I think I’m too old now. I’d have loved it. It looks so expressive. Yoga is a nice meditation. I’ve learned not to push too hard. You have your whole life to learn how to move. Don’t hurt yourself. Listen to your body. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can do. Find out for yourself. I can’t believe it when people tell me they exercise even though they hate it. Why? Find what you love to do. Honor your body.

  44. I just finished the book “the sports gene” by David Epstein. He stresses as well the large variety of body types. For example, long forehands are a must for certain ball sports but short forehands are a great advantage for weight-lifting.
    He goes even further by saying that certain athletes are gifted with high training response while others cannot handle high training volume.
    There is no one-size-fits-all even at the highest level

  45. Awesome post, thanks for showing those images, they are very encouraging!
    I’m tall and thin, but a decent boxer. Athletes definitely come in all shapes and sizes.