At age 58, most people would be thinking about their retirement plans. For Laird Hamilton, there is no other way to live than to keep playing with the edge. Mention his name to anyone in the world of surfing, action water sports and training and there is sure to be a smile on their faces, followed by words such as pioneer, legend, innovator and sometimes crazy – but of the good kind.
He’ll be the first to let you know that the results of pushing his body to its limits throughout his life didn’t come without bumps and bruises along the way. “I’ve been injured since I was a kid, so I’m used to getting hit and playing around not being 100 per cent,” Hamilton said. “I haven’t been 100% since I got out of my mum and took my first breath of air that these guys polluted here (laughs).”
Even with pain management and approaching 60, a scroll through Laird Hamilton and his wife Gabby Reese’s Instagram Account is more motivational than ever about why age should never be an excuse to take care of yourself. Bodybuilding and fitness caught up with the legend of the great wave on the keys to his longevity, how Laird Superfood stemmed from his love of coffee, and why everyone should have a relationship with the ocean.
I think there has to be a real conscious effort to try and do whatever you can to maintain your lifestyle. My love for surfing, waves and wellness is still there. Some people never get to a point where they actually know what a sense of well-being is, so it’s hard to have a comparison. If you don’t feel well, you won’t notice the difference. You can always find a reason not to do something. Every day is a battle to get things done. I think sleeping well, eating well, taking care of yourself and making sure your training doesn’t completely destroy you is great.
Sometimes people misinterpret being fit, fitting aesthetically to actually fitting. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the water most of my life but I also have a lot of injuries from repetitive things and it’s an ongoing job of figuring out how to reverse the things you have done. There’s heat, ice, cardio, strength training, and breathing. I also think a big part of it is maintaining your excitement about being pushed to do something. I am motivated by my mission, the ocean, the waves and being surrounded by young people. When you date young people or your children, you try to keep up with them. There’s a whole bunch of parts, but first and foremost you have to believe you can.
I can see how it goes, especially if you’re an athlete and have been training for decades. But, you don’t really have a choice. When you park the car for too long, it will not work. I have never felt worse than when I am doing nothing. Inspiration is a big part of that – who are you around, where are you in life? Gabby trains hard and her disciplines are endless. I have an environment where people want to work. I don’t know of any other way to really maintain my sanity. As hurt as I feel sometimes, I just don’t know of any way to feel better than to keep moving.
Laird Hamilton always trains with an advantage
I touch the edge. It’s a bit more seasonal now. In the summer, I know I can work until I might be in pain for days, and since it’s off season, I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing the next few days. In winter, that’s when surfing is going to demand the most of us. I will lift and do crazy strongman lifts. My pool workout is the most unusual workout I have. I have upright bikes, heat and ice, but I call pool training my intellectual property because I’ve never seen it done before. When you add gym training and weightlifting to swimming, you create a unique environment where you have to manage your breathing in conjunction with your movement, which really benefits you out of the water. The pool is the thing I always come back to because there is no gravity and you can get a lot of work done without getting beaten up so much.
We do different types of things in the water like mobility stuff, cardio workouts and explosive exercises. Depending on our needs, we can adjust the training accordingly. I get bored easily, so the monotony of a standard workout is not for me. If you run a mile every day, very soon you will have to run a mile and a half just to get the same effects. I like to play around with my workouts and add a learning element to them because it makes them more engaging. For my short attention span, I like that, and adding something you’re not a master at neurologically challenges you. We train almost every day. Part of charging is how you feel. I’ll take a Sunday or a day where I’m just doing contrast, heat and ice cream. We will be riding and paddling and if I am surfing it will take a whole day. I have a cardio run that I do up hill on an upright bike at least five times a week. I’m also always on the lookout for new stuff.
Come into harmony with nature
First of all, we are made of water. Not having a relationship with water is like not having a relationship with yourself. There is so much information that we don’t know what it does for us and there is what we know. There is a grounding effect, static electricity, negative ions and minerals that we absorb. The ocean itself is full of salt and salt is a preservative. There’s something about the air you breathe when you’re in the water, your position in the environment, and how water affects your mind. There is therapy and meditation. Without ocean, there is neither land nor air.
I just heard somewhere that sharks are older than trees. My friend calls the ocean the soup of life. There is something in everything he does for us. In a way, it is one of the most active relationships with nature you can have because it is alive. There is a physical, spiritual aspect. I simply view the ocean as the most dynamic of all the relationships you can have in nature. When you stop being afraid of it, it changes everything. We have people who have never swum and we are changing that 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 without learning. All other mammals can swim. Since there is so much water around, it is important that we continue this relationship because it is the most conductive substance on earth.
Laird Hamilton is aware of his fuel
There are many ways to eat, but it is difficult to understand how we ate in nature. I grew up in Hawaii, so I grew up farming and fishing. The neighbors I grew up with lived off the land and the difference between food that comes from the land, water and mountains versus a bowl of Captain Crunch is that energy feels like fuel. Paul Chek had a great quote and I use that as the basis for what I do. He said, “If it wasn’t there 10,000 years ago, don’t eat. 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 fruits, vegetables, and living plants, you get the living part of them. If you’re eating something that’s been processed multiple times, it’s so far from having actual nutrients. The truth is that we eat too much. 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 it wants more. When you eat nutrient-dense foods, you are full.
We have something called daily rituals. We have a daily activation which is water, lemon, cayenne, lacuna, and some of those other things that you start your morning with before you have your coffee. After that, I feel like I could physically work for eight hours straight before I even needed to eat. I have younger guys who come to try this process, they enjoy it, and so does everyone who uses superfoods. Gabby always laughs because I can eat things that taste really bad if I knew they were good for me. We were bombarded with these incredible flavors that allowed our palettes to adapt to a level of taste that almost does not exist in nature without proper preparation.
Laird Hamilton shares the science behind Laird Superfood
The truth is that it came out of a recipe I was making. Part of that is my love for coffee and I was making this concoction and it was for the performance. It was about how can I take this habit I have for coffee and turn it 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. I shared it with a friend of mine from Oregon and after trying it he wanted to do something with it. We were already in another company with him but he loved coffee. We made a few powder prototypes and the fourth was our original creamer. We started selling it online to see what people’s reactions were and they were raving about it. Soon we are growing and people are interested in being part of the company. We made it from a product we loved and where it came from.
I went to Europe in my late teens and was exposed to espresso, which is how you make this coffee, and the quality of coffee there is far superior to what we drink here in the time. After that I developed a love for it and was looking for beans all over the world. In Hawaii we have good beans, but not quite to the level you get in Colombia, Peru and some of those places because of the altitude and the quality of the growing environment.
Cream is always used in coffee. There is a time-release aspect of caffeine when you associate it with good fats and when you have good fats, it requires your brain. Coconut oil is an amazing fat. I have a theory and my wife laughs about it. The things you do each day are cumulative. A little poison over a long period ends up being a lot of poison. I consider it a bit of a good thing over time you really benefit from it. I was taking this coffee ritual and you add the minerals you need. I put Calcified Seaweed in it, so you get the good fat and time-release caffeine. I also put turmeric and cocoa in it. Everything should taste good, but there should also be a function. This is how we start with the products. I know how much energy I can have throughout the day when I start with this drink, and it’s amazing.