By age 58, most people are thinking about their retirement plans. For Laird Hamilton, there's no other way to live than to keep delving into the fringe. Mention his name in the world of surfing, action watersports and training and smiles are sure to appear on their faces, followed by words like pioneer, legend, innovator and the occasional madman - but of the good kind.
He'll be the first to let you know that it hasn't been without bumps and bruises when he's been pushing his limits his whole life. "I've been hurt since I was a kid, so I'm used to being beaten up and performing without being 100 percent," Hamilton said. "I haven't been at 100 percent since I got out of my mom and took my first breath of air that these guys polluted (laughs)."
Even as you deal with sore muscles and approach 60, scrolling through the Instagram account of Laird Hamilton and his wife Gabby Reese is as motivating a factor as ever as to why age should never be an excuse for looking at yourself to take care of yourself. Muscle and Fitness spoke to the big wave legend about the keys to his longevity, how his love of coffee spawned Laird Superfood and why everyone should have a relationship with the sea.
I think you have to really consciously try to do whatever it takes to maintain your lifestyle. My love for surfing, surfing and feeling good is still there. Some people actually never get to a point where they really know what feeling good feels like, so it's difficult to make a comparison. If you live with not feeling good, you won't know the difference. You can always find a reason not to do something. Every day is a struggle to get things done. I think sleeping well, eating well, taking care of yourself and making sure the workout doesn't completely destroy you is great.
Sometimes people misinterpret being fit to be aesthetically fit to actually fit. I've been fortunate to have been in the water most of my life, but I also have a lot of injuries from repetitive things, and figuring out how to undo the things you've done is a constant thing. There's heat, ice, cardio, lifting, and breathwork. I also think a big part of that is maintaining your enthusiasm about being driven to do something. I am driven by my mission, the sea, the waves and being with younger people. When you hang out with young people or your kids, you try to keep up with them. There are quite a few parts, but first of all you have to believe that you can.
I can see it happening, especially if you're an athlete and have been training for decades. But you don't really have a choice. If you park the car for too long, it won't run. I've never felt worse than doing nothing. Inspiration is a big part of that – who are you with, where are you in life? Gabby trains hard and her disciplines are endless. I have an environment in which people want to work. I don't know of any other way to really stay sane. As hurt as I feel sometimes, I just don't know how to make myself feel any better than keeping moving.
Laird Hamilton is still training with an advantage
I'm experimenting with the edge. w it's a little more seasonal. In summer I know I can work myself until my muscles are sore for days and since it's off season I don't have to worry about what I'm doing for the next few days. In winter, the surf will demand the most from us. I lift and do some crazy strongman lifts. My pool workout is the most unusual workout I have. I have stand up bikes, heat and ice, but I call pool training my intellectual property because I've never seen it. When you add fitness training and weightlifting to swimming, you create a unique environment in which you need to engage with your breathing in conjunction with your movement, which really benefits you out of the water. The pool is the thing I keep coming back to because there is no gravity and you can work a lot without getting banged up as much.
We do different things in the water like mobility stuff, cardio training and explosive exercises. Depending on what our needs are, we can adjust the training accordingly. I get bored easily, so the monotony of a standard workout isn't for me. If you run a mile every day, you'll soon need to run a mile and a half to get the same effects. I like to play around with my workouts and add an element of learning because it makes it more enticing. For my short attention span, I like that, and adding something you're not a master at challenges you neurologically. We train almost every day. Part of the burden is how you feel. I take a Sunday or a day where I just do contrast, heat and ice. We ride and paddle and when I surf it takes a whole day. I have a cardio run up a hill on a stationary bike at least five times a week. I'm always listening for new things too.
Get in tune with nature
First, we are made of water. t relating to water is like not relating to yourself. There's so much information out there that we don't know what it's doing for us and there's what we know. There's a grounding effect, the static electricity, the negative ions and the minerals we absorb. The ocean itself is filled with salt, and salt is a preservative. It has to do with the air you breathe when you are in the water, where you are in the environment and how the water affects your mind. There is therapy and meditation for this. Without the ocean there is no earth, no air.
I just heard somewhere that sharks are older than trees. My friend calls the ocean the soup of life. There's something about everything it does for us. In a way, it's one of the most active relationships with nature you can have because it's alive. There is a physical, spiritual aspect. I simply consider the ocean to be the most dynamic of all relationships one can have in nature. When you stop fearing it, it changes everything. We have people who have never swum and we are changing quickly. It's amazing how that fear changes once they can swim like we're supposed to. Humans are the only mammals that cannot swim untrained. Any other mammal can swim. Given that there is so much water, it is important that we continue this relationship because it is the most conductive substance on earth.
Courtesy of Laird Superfood
Laird Hamilton is conscious of his fuel
There are many ways to eat but it is difficult to achieve as we ate in nature. I grew up in Hawaii, so I grew up farming and fishing. The neighbors I grew up next to lived off the land, and the difference between eating land, water and mountain food versus a bowl of Captain Crunch is that the energy feels like fuel. Paul Chek had a really great quote and I use that as a basis for what I do. He said, "If it wasn't here 10,000 years ago, don't eat it. If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it. The three bad things are white flour, white sugar and white milk.”
When you eat live fruits, vegetables, and plants, you get the live part of it. When you eat something that's been processed multiple times, it's that far from actually containing any nutrients. The truth is we overeat. Part of the reason we eat so much is that we don't have enough nutrients, so the body doesn't get what it needs and wants more. When you eat things that are high in nutrients, you are full.
We have something called the daily rituals. We have a daily activation consisting of water, lemon, cayenne pepper, lakuna and some of those other things that you start your morning with before you have your coffee. Afterward, I feel like I could physically work for eight hours straight before I even need to eat anything. I've got younger people coming in and trying this process, they benefit, as does all the people who use superfoods. Gabby always laughs because I can eat some things that would taste really bad if I knew they were good for me. We have been bombarded by these incredible flavors which have caused our palettes to adapt to a level of flavor that is almost non-existent in nature without actual preparation.
Courtesy of Laird Superfood
Laird Hamilton shares the science behind Laird Superfood
The truth is it came from a recipe I made. Part of that is my love of coffee and I made this brew and it was for performance. It was about how I can turn this habit I have for coffee into something that could help me perform better. I would share it with my friends to see if they would have the same reaction as me to it. I shared this with a buddy of mine from Oregon and after he tried it he wanted to make something out of it. We've been to another shop with him before but he loved the coffee. We made a few powder prototypes and the fourth was our original milk jug. We started selling it online to see how people reacted to it and they loved it. Pretty soon we're growing and people are interested in getting involved in this business. We made this out of a product we loved and this is the origin of it.
I went to Europe in my late teens and was introduced to espresso, the way that coffee is made, and the quality of the coffee over there is way better than what we're drinking here at the time. After that I developed a love for it and I searched for beans all over the world. In Hawaii we have good beans, but not quite the level that you get in Colombia, Peru and some of those places due to the altitude and quality of the growing environment.
Cream is always used in coffee. There's a time-release aspect of caffeine when you pair it with good fat, and when you have good fats your brain needs that. Coconut oil is an amazing fat. I have a theory and my wife laughs at it. Things you do every day are cumulative. A little poison over a long period of time is a lot of poison in the end. I consider it a bit of good stuff over time, you really benefit from it. I made this coffee ritual and you add the minerals you need. I put in calcified seaweed so you get the good fat and caffeine released over time. I also added turmeric and cocoa. Everything has to taste good, but it also has to work. So let's start with the products. I know how much energy I can have throughout the day just by starting this drink and it's amazing.