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How The Flow State Can Turn You Into A Superhuman

Ever experienced the feeling where you can do no wrong, where every action you take is perfect, where time slows down or speeds up and you’re totally in the moment undistracted by what’s going on around you or by the voice in your head? If you answered Yes you’ve experienced The Flow State. The Flow State is the ultimate human performance state, it’s often referred to in layman’s terms as “the Zone.” It’s that time when you perform perfectly. Where everything is effortless, time dilates and you are often left with a huge buzz and a sense of well being. Repeated entry into The Flow State is associated with higher levels of happiness, longer lifespans, higher levels of wealth and more career success. It’s also been calculated that you perform up to 350% better when you are in a flow state. No wonder companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are spending millions on projects to implement more of it the workplace. No wonder professional athletes including kitesurfers are on a quest to get more flow into their performance, imagine how superhuman you’d be if you could perform 350% better every day!  But how do we, who don’t have the budget of these mega corporations get more Flow in our lives and into our sports? Well, the first step is to understand how it works. Before we get anywhere near the flow state we have to go through a series of steps, the first is… The  Struggle Phase. The is, as the name would suggest, the unpleasant (but absolutely necessary) part. It’s also where we’ll spend most of our time. We research, we experiment, we fail…over and over again, but each time we fail a little less. This is the time we’re practicing that new trick and wiping out every time, when we’re desperately trying to work out how the hell to master the waterstart, when we’re pissed off and disillusioned and tempted just to sack it all off and go to the pub. During this stage cortisol levels rise and our brain is emitting beta waves, the type of waves often related to problem solving. It’s frustrating, stressful and is the very reason most of us don’t really have much experience of Flow, because we give up long before we get there. Those who don’t give up come up against another problem.  You see we have been conditioned since a very early age to believe old sayings such as “try, try and try again” or “if you work hard enough you can achieve anything.” And so we do, we struggle harder and harder, getting more and more frustrated, more and more stressed. We literally try to bludgeon our way into a flow state, reasoning if we just keep banging our head against that brick wall long enough we’ll break through… Unfortunately… This doesn’t work. Why? Because Flow is an intensely focused but intensely RELAXED state. The key here is the word “relaxed.” With all that frustration and stress generated through the struggle phase there is…

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Tantrum Kitesurf Is Dead…Long Live Tantrum

Now a lot of you have noticed I’ve been going in a different direction recently, one not quite so related to the technical aspects of kitesurfing. Many of you have asked me what’s happening…so I wanted to take some time to explain. In March, 2020 I was ready to start a new season, bookings were rolling in and everything was looking great. Then a certain “virus related incident” happened, all our bookings were cancelled and I realised Tantrum Kitesurf had to shift fast or we were finished. To be honest it actually came as something of a relief.  You see for a few years I’ve been noticing something… Something we were missing in our teaching, something everyone who came to us to kitesurf was missing, something which was way more important than how good our instructors were or how much the wind blew. When your computer starts to slow down you have 2 options to make it run faster.  You can upgrade the software. Re-write all the code so it’s more efficient, less memory intensive and so takes less juice to run. The problem with this? It’s expensive, it takes ages and costs a hell of a lot.  Alternatively you can just stick in a better processor, add some extra memory and the thing runs like grease lightning again. It was this which all of us were missing… We ran Unlimited Hours Courses and had people at the beach for up to 9 hours a day. For a long time we gave them no advice before hand to prepare them and were then disappointed when they couldn’t keep up with the pace.We’d get people come who were totally out of shape and after 2 days they were smoked and couldn’t do anymore.People who hadn’t learnt a new skill in 20 years and then took ages to progress or learn a new technique.People who hadn’t looked after themselves in years and were broken the morning after a long day on the water having to literally drag themselves to the beach despite the fact they’d saved up for ages and paid a lot to come on this holiday… We were all missing the fundamental, absolute basic, #1 step…and it’s something I see repeated across all industries, all walks of life… No matter what you are doing, what you are trying to learn or improve you MUST start with the hardware… YOUR Hardware! If you are fitter and stronger, if your brain learns more quickly, if you can recover faster in between sessions, if you get injured less, if your body and brain are more agile…  In short, if your hardware is working optimally…  Installing new software (such as that required to learn to kitesurf) is easy, as the hardware can train harder, learns faster, recovers much quicker and so can practice for many more hours while enjoying the whole process a lot more. So back in March I made a decision… Combining my experience teaching extreme sports with my work as a peak performance coach…and teaming up with experts in several other human performance related fields. (who I’ll introduce you to over the coming…

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Why You’re (Probably) Going To Get Injured [And How Not To]

“Arrrgghhhh,” I screamed…my heart sank, I punched the water in frustration. I instantly thought of all the weeks ahead of me when I’d be stuck immobile unable to kite, to surf, to run. I knew I’d done some serious damage… I had felt the muscle tear and now faced the long road back to recovery and the constant worrying as to if I would actually recover properly ever again, or if this would be the one which slowly stopped me doing the things I loved. Conventional wisdom tells us, when you pull or tear a muscle that the muscle was too weak and the solution therefore is to build it up stronger. Rehab thus focusses on making that individual muscle stronger so it is able to withstand greater forces in the future and so not get injured… Sounds about right… Right? Wrong… What if we’ve been looking at it all wrong and this is why re-injury, painfully slow recovery and very often less than full recovery is so common.. What if by focussing on strengthening the muscle which got injured we’re actually making it MORE likely it’ll tear again in the future?  Sounds crazy right, but this is exactly what I’ve found working with clients. When you focus on making one muscle strong unless you do it a very specific way you also make it dense. This muscle is now so dense that it has very little give, very little flex (or suspension as I like to think of it) so it pulls any muscles which attach to it towards it.  Now, the body is an interconnected system where each action has a reaction across the entire system. So as that one muscle gets stronger and denser and pulls the connective muscles towards it. Which takes any redundancy out of the system, it makes the suspension much tighter with much less give.  So when you suffer a knock or apply a lot of force to that muscle it has no ability to absorb and distribute that force across the system. It must take the entire impact on that one dense, strong muscle…which then inevitably tears. What if instead we focussed on making that muscle longer and softer as we make it stronger, whilst also doing the same for the muscles upstream and downstream of it? We now have a muscular system with in built redundancy, with its own suspension. So when it suffers an impact the force is spread across several muscles all of which have the ability to lengthen and flex.  Now that same force can be absorbed without causing injury. So am I saying you shouldn’t be strengthening muscles?  Not at all, but as you are working on making muscles stronger you MUST also be making sure they are soft and long, with a lot of redundancy built in.  This is exactly how your muscles are when you are young. Which is why young people never seem to get injured. As we age we get knots and lesions in the muscles which cause them to bunch and tighten up. So we need to encourage our muscles to…

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Stuck Indoors & Worried About Snacking Too Much?

At the moment I know a lot of people are pretty worried about the effect being stuck indoors is going to have on their waistline. Let’s face it all this sitting around and boredom snacking isn’t going to make us any slimmer. There is however a more insidious threat to our waistlines which no one’s really talking about… This is, for many of us, one of the most stressful times of our lives. You may or may not be working, but you’ll certainly be worried about loved ones and what the future holds in general. Now stress itself is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain there is. On a simple (and slightly oversimplified) biological level, stress raises cortisol levels, which raises blood sugar which causes you to store more food as fat. So we want to avoid it as much as possible if we are to stay trim. Now, most of us, when we think of stress in this time will think about the financial stress, the psychological stress caused by the uncertainty of our situation… But stress comes in many forms. Being indoors itself is stressful to our system. Wifi, lack of sunlight, lack of contact with the earth, lack of nature, lack of forced temperature adaption, mould in our houses, social isolation, loneliness, lack of laughter and too much screen time all contribute to the underlying stress levels felt in the body, even if they are only subconsciously felt… And the body only has one response to stress: Dump cortisol, raise blood sugar and store fat… So anything we can do to lower stress levels in this time is going to do both our mental health and our waistlines the world of good. Luckily for us there are some things you can do right now, really simple things which will help you to control stress levels, feel better and have a positive impact on your waistline. SHOWERS Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that your not maintaining your daily hygiene but there is one thing you can do when you’re in the shower which can really help you reduce stress and boost your immune system at the same time (get your minds out of the gutter gents!). The benefits of cold water have been known for a while now. Cold water exposure leads to the creation of an increased amount of white blood cells, those internal warriors who protect you from viruses. But it also has a up regulating effect on our parasympathetic nervous system…that part of the nervous system which (quite literally in this case) chills us out and de stresses us. So at the end of your shower just turn the temperate all the way down for 30 seconds before you hop out.  30 seconds is enough to reap the benefits and I guarantee you’ll feel amazing afterwards.  A word to the wise. The first few times you do this it may feel pretty unpleasant but the body reacts very quickly and within…

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Keep engaged, productive and healthy (after 40) whilst you’re working from home.

At this time you must be wondering how you can keep yourself productive, engaged and healthy when working from home (and most likely watching way too much Netflix 😉 ) The sad fact is that for many people these latest developments will lead to a downturn in their health and an increase in waist size as they move less, eat more and lack stimulation and social contact. But it doesn’t have to be that way. For some people these next few weeks will be the opportunity they need to turn their life around. No where else could this be truer than the area of sleep. In the Western world we are chronically sleep deprived and it has a HUGE impact on our daily performance, our health and how much juice we get out of life. Now suddenly removed from the distractions of late nights at the office or later nights at the bar we finally have the chance to get our heads down and catch up on our full quota of sleep we’ve been missing for so long, BUT… Many people will emerge from this period actually sleeping worse… Will develop insomnia or some other awful sleep disorder, which may well impact their lives negatively for many years to come. Why? Our circadian rhythm, the natural cycle or internal clock within our bodies which tells us when to wake up and be energised and when to be tired and go to sleep is irrevocably linked to sunlight and the day night cycle.  Being as we are now stuck indoors for most of the day with even less exposure to sunlight than usual the natural receptors which signal our bodies which hormones to release at what time to either wake up us or slow us down are going to struggle to realise when it is day and when it’s night. This will be compounded by the fact that most peoples natural daily rhythms will shift. A lot of us will lie in bed longer in the morning simply because we’re bored and have very little motivation to get up and get going. Wake up (and get up) time are huge signallers to our internal clock of what time it is and adjusting it further wrecks our circadian rhythm as another of the largest signallers governing our internal clock is thrown into chaos. So what can you do? 1) First thing in the morning open your door and just stand in the sunlight (preferably getting some on your skin) for 5 – 15 mins, with your eyes open, without sunglasses or sun cream. That will be enough to set the bodies internal clock and get the right hormones moving at the right time. 2) Make sure you get up at the same time every day. Wake up time is even more important that the time we go to bed. No matter what time you hit the hay, if you keep your wake up time consistent your internal clock will stick more tightly…

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