The cavemen must have had some pretty hot bodies back in the day. At least that’s what I gathered from the one Paleo Fitness session I took with Daryl Edwards. My muscles were completely tenderized not twenty minutes after that single section and I thought, maybe this method of exercise – no matter how unorthodox – could be pretty effective if one stuck to it.
As some may already know, taking part in a paleo anything today means taking a page out of our ancestors’ books. Its philosophy stems from trying to be as healthy as possible, and to be able to survive. In a world where survival of the fittest was the name of the game, one had to be in completely tip top shape, ready to sprint at the snap of a finger from any impending doom (say, a lion that’s about to eat you or something) or ready to carry a fallen friend (because, you know, there were no ambulances back in the day).
In order to get into such a healthy and prime state of fitness using the “paleo” philosophy, many people have taken to going on the “paleo diet.” This means eating what our ancestors once ate in a very au naturale fashion if you’re, cutting out essentially anything at all that is processed – in some cases, including dairy.
As for paleo fitness, this means moving as our ancestors once did – doing very primitive moments.
Before my session began, Edwards asked how fit my fellow pupils and I were, and I told him the plain truth about myself. “Not at all.” And then he asked how much we were willing to be pushed to our physical limits that day. I said, “Yeah sure.” And then, the workout commenced.
The Warm Up.
No stretching. The work out began with a different kind of warm up. There was no stretching involved at all. He used animals as an example throughout the session. In this case, he talked about how a lion, if hungry, did not get up and go, “Man I’m hungry, I think I’m gonna go get a bite to eat,” then get up and stretch before sprinting and hunting down its prey.
So, he had us partner up and play a game of tag, having to tag anywhere from our partner’s knee and below. We were to stay stationary as much as possible.
Beginning the warm up, I could already see how the moments were primitive. I don’t know if it was subconscious, but my arms were dangling down to my sides and I was bouncing cautiously to avoid my partners hits – much like a floppy caveman, in my mind. It was an interesting way of warming up, really.
Afterwards, he had us do exercises in which we would press our palm against our partner’s opposite palm and push down on it. This exercise had us throw all our strength into it, showing that it is not an arm exercise, and that it is important to work with one’s whole body when working out.
And then, he had us piggy back our partner. My partner was considerably taller than me, so naturally, I was a bit scared, but I was able to (kind of) carry her. He then had us walk around as much as we could. I didn’t get very far due to my persisting knee problem, but I was surprised at myself, that I could even hold her for the time that I did.
Primitive movements. When we got into the real swing of things, he had us doing this bear walk. You would get down on all fours and walk forward, trying to move as softly and gracefully and quickly as possible – much like a bear. You were to be very light on your feet and not stomping here and there at all.
This was actually harder than it sounds. You have to put your whole body, and much mindfulness, into moving with such grace, and the effects were definitely felt later.
He then had us do this strange exercise where we were to sit down, then jolt immediately back up as though we had just sat on a searing, hot plate – like our butts were on fire. Sounds easy enough right? Well, he had us do this twenty-five times in a row in quick succession. I thought it’d be a cakewalk but, lo and behold, it wasn’t. I was already knackered by the twentieth and barely found the strength to press on. It was my shame that the two other girls were plowing through them with less struggle that kept me pressing forward.
The very last exercise he had us do was more traditional as opposed to these very paleo-themed ones. We were to get down, do five pushups, jump up, crawl forward until our arms were in pushup stance, and do five more. He had us do this ten times. And, as you already might have guessed with how out of shape I am, this finished me off.
Takeaway points. After asking Edwards why this was the fitness workout of choice, he talked about how it’s all about practicality and getting as healthy as possible. It’s not about the physical appearance necessarily, or getting strong and bulky – those will come with time if the program is done well. It’s about being able to survive, and being able to do everyday tasks such as walking up the stairs or carrying the groceries home with complete ease. It’s about being able to react in an emergency, and being physically capable to do as the situation calls for – such as sprinting away if you have to, or carrying an injured friend.
The paleo workout is also meant to be social, to eliminate the boredom factor, and get one interested and more motivated. As you saw, I had many partner exercises. Helping each other get to where we needed to be, and adapting to other peoples’ literal strengths and weaknesses causes you to be mindful, and put your own physical fitness to the test. For example, Edwards spoke about how he was much stronger than obviously say, me or the other girls, but he still had to adapt how he did the partner exercise in order for them to be effective. When we were doing the palm exercises, he actively resisted overpowering his partner, which also in itself contributes to a type of workout.
Paleo Fitness definitely sparked my interest, as it’s a fitness regimen with a very practical cause. And, it’s not just a bunch of hippy hogwash either – after that one session, just standing there for ten minutes talking more about it, I could already feel the effects (meaning, my muscles were already so tenderized that I limped to the tube). While the animal exercises seemed like mere child’s play, oh boy did they do a number on me.
If you’re looking to spice up your workout regimen and are tired of lifting weights and running on the treadmill alone, I would definitely look into paleo fitness. It’s always more fun to get your butt kicked physically alongside others for that community feel.
Darryl Edwards is the author of Paleo Fitness, available on Amazon for £10.99. Grab the book if you want to try out the workouts before joining in on the classes. You can also find out more about about Paleo Fitness at http://www.thefitnessexplorer.com/.
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