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Skedge 11/18/18 (Don’t Mind the Sharks…)

By CEEJ | In St. Louis Fitness Bootcamp | on November 25, 2018

Good morning Bootcamperino!


Holiday Week Skedge:

Monday-Wednesday: All Class Times as Usual


Friday: 1 Class Time ONLY @ 7am

Saturday: 1 Class @ 7am


“Don’t Mind the Sharks…” 

Have you ever wanted to swim with the sharks?

I know… kinda sounds like my worst nightmare!

And yet, scary as it seems, you gotta figure you’d be pretty safe inside that little metal prison box they lower you down in. (Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times…)

[Note: Don’t watch “47 Meters Down” with Mandy Moore before absconding on your shark-capades. Just don’t.]

At least, that’s the scenario I envision when opting to swim with sharks.

Brian MacKenzie has another vision.

No cage. No protection. Just you… the open water… and a bevy of razor-jawed great white sharks.

Yup, I just peed a little bit…

But when someone does something like that (on multiple occasions) and lives to talk about it… you know my ears perk up to find out what makes this guy special and how I can apply his secrets into my own life.

Brian, ironically, uses the same adjective to describe himself that he uses to describe those massive underwater death-machines… “Curious.”

It’s that curious nature that has taken him from studying the connection of punk rock to classical music… led him down a path of optimizing human performance… and ultimately, yes, swimming with sharks.

Brian remarks that sharks are curious animals.

If you act like prey… you’ll get treated like prey.

If you keep your cool and stay casual like the Fonz… they’ll leave you alone.

Interviewer, Tom Bilyeu, presses him for some more details, “How do you stay calm in a situation like that?” 

The key is to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system.

Sympathetic = “Fight or Flight”

Which means you either are trying to run away from the shark (ill-advised) or freezing up or preparing for a fist fight with the shark (also ill-advised).


Parasympathetic = “Rest or Digest” or essentially un-stressed.

If you’re not worried, the shark’s not worried.

It sounds a little woo-woo, but consider if you’ve ever walked into a room and sensed a bad energy… that somebody’s angry or upset or ready to confront you for not cleaning up your dishes from the night before. (I’m sorry, Derek!… Don’t have a cow man!)

Animals sense these negative vibes just as we do.

Growing up my best friend had a dog named Pepper that I was absolutely terrified of.

Every time I came over she would jump on me and intimidate me into a panicked state of submission.

Pepper sensed my fear and it only made her more aggressive. She knew instinctively, based on the vibes I was putting out that we had beef for some reason and continued to torment me in response to my alerted sympathetic state.

I begged my buddy, Scott, “Please, lock her upstairs so we can play video games downstairs in peace.”

Scott explained that if I would remove my fear of Pepper, Pepper would calm down and fully accept me.

I thought he was full of sh*t… but I was determined to prove him wrong and show him that Pepper was indeed a demon dog sent from the depths of hell to torment me.

So I indulged his little experiment and firmly set my mind with the intention of showing Pepper no fear. Total monk mode. She could bark, she could bite, she could call me names… I didn’t care. I would play this game of chicken unflinchingly by zenning myself out momentarily and whatever was about to happen would happen.

When Scott released Pepper, she seemed confused for a moment.

It was like she recognized me on the outside, but that I’d become someone different on the inside. She sniffed, and circled like a shark, but finally let down her guard and started licking me playfully.

I was totally blown away!

While part of me hated that Scott was right… a much larger part of me loved the realization that I could change my relationship with a dog by simply changing my mind.  I’ve felt like a bit of a dog whisperer ever since.

I’ll admit, I’m not eager to test my luck with sharks, but the lessons about activating one’s parasympathetic nervous system apply outside of the animal kingdom as well.

You can use this in elite sports.

Georges St. Pierre, one of the greatest MMA fighters to ever live was once in his corner with his coach before the start of the final round. You can hear his coach coaxing him back into a state of calmed readiness, “Georges!… I need you to breathe through your nose.”

Not a technique tip… not a strategy tip…

Instead, a breathing tip.

Turns out, this is one of the keys for shifting your body into a parasympathetic state.

It’s funny how disconnected from functional breathing we’ve become in our everyday lives.

So many of us have become mouth-breathers (which is no bueno).

Because you can actually calm your body and your mind (and cleanse the air you’re taking in) when you shift into “nasal” breathing.

Let’s check in with the animal kingdom again.

A horse keeps its mouth closed even when it’s sprinting. A lion does the same when it’s chasing down a gazelle. Your dog may pant to release heat, but when she’s calm, her mouth stays closed.

And there’s plenty of rationale Brian discusses as to why we should do the same. And why a legendary fighter like GSP, is trying to recapture that state even when he’s feeling exhausted.

Breathe through your nose. When you walk, when you drive, when you sleep, when you workout… I played with it this morning while I was listening to this podcast before class and felt better almost instantly.

Breathe. Through.  Your. Nose. (On the inhale AND the exhale.)

Brian says this focus alone helps his top athletes improve performance. But even more noteworthy, he’s seen it help regular people combat anxiety, do away with their depression, and even solve allergies.

Why allergies??…

When you breathe through your mouth, there’s no filter like there is with your nose which has hairs and sinus cavities that are designed to filter out the air for you. Mouth-breathing has no such filter and thus bypasses your God-given anatomical system for processing oxygen and air particulates.

So, in closing, whether you want to befriend a shark or silence your inner critic… it will behoove you to tap into that all-important parasympathetic state by sniffing through your snout.

Swim safely. 😉

Blessings & much love!



P.S.– Here’s the “Impact Theory” podcast episode that inspired this post with Brian MacKenzie (Shark Whisperer):


This Week’s Podcast:

Episode 15: To Flu Shot… Or Not to Flu Shot??…


Upcoming “Skedge” Workouts (11/19/18-11/24/18)

MONDAY: Lower Body

TUESDAY: Upper Body


THURSDAY: Thanksgiving Day!… NO CLASS!!

FRIDAY: Black Friday!… 1 CLASS @ 7AM! (Cardio / Total Body)


CJ Thomas

Owner, Operator, “CeejEO”

St. Louis Fitness Bootcamp

ph: 314-266-9729

email: CJ@STLFitnessBootcamp.com

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