At 58 years old, most people would be thinking about their retirement plans. For Laird Hamilton, there is no other way to live than to continue dabbling with the edge. Mention his name to anyone in the world of surfing, action water sports and training and there’s sure to be a smile that comes across their faces, followed by words such as pioneer, legend, innovator, and occasionally insane — but the good kind.
He will be the first to let you know the results of pushing his body to its limits throughout his life hasn’t come without bumps and bruises along the way. “I’ve been hurt since I was a kid, so I’m used to being banged up and performing without being 100 percent,” Hamilton said. “I haven’t been 100 percent since I came out of my mom and I took my first breath of air that these guys have been polluting here (laughs).”
Even with managing soreness and approaching 60, a scroll through Laird Hamilton and wife Gabby Reese’s Instagram account is as motivating a factor as ever on why age should never be an excuse for taking care of yourself. Muscle and Fitness caught up with the big-wave legend 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 toward trying to do everything you can to maintain your lifestyle. My love for surfing, riding waves, and feeling good is still there. Some people actually never get to a point where they actually know what feeling good feels like, so it’s hard to have a comparison. If you’re living with not feeling good, you won’t know the difference. You can always find a reason not to do something. Every day is a battle to get things done. I think sleeping good, eating good, taking care of yourself, and making sure your training doesn’t completely destroy you are big.
Sometimes people misinterpret being fit, to aesthetically fit to actually fit. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been in the water most of my life, but I also have a lot of injuries from repetitive stuff and it’s an ongoing thing to find out how to reverse the things you’ve done. There’s heat, ice, cardio, lifting, and breath work. I also think a big piece of it is retaining your enthusiasm about being driven to do something. I’m driven by my mission, the ocean, the waves, and being around younger people. When you hang out with young people or your kids, you try to keep up with them. There’s a whole bunch of pieces to it, but you have to believe you can first and foremost.
I can see how it happens especially if you’ve been an athlete and training for decades. But, you don’t really have a choice. When you park the car for too long, it will not run. I’ve never felt worse than when I do 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 any other way to really retain my sanity. As hurt as I feel at times, I just don’t know any way to feel better than to keep moving.
Laird Hamilton is Still Training with an Edge
I dabble with the edge. It’s a little more seasonal now. In the summer, I know I can work myself until I can be sore for days, and with it being out of season, I don’t have to worry about what I’m doing the next few days. In the winter, that’s when the surf is going to demand the most out of us. I’ll lift and do some crazy strongman lifts. My pool training is the most unusual training that I have. I have standup bikes, heat, and ice, but I call the pool training my intellectual property because I hadn’t seen that being done before. When you add gym training and weightlifting to swimming, then you create a unique environment where you have to deal with your breath in conjunction with your movement, which really benefits you outside of the water. The pool is the thing that I always go back to because there’s no gravity and you can do a lot of work without getting beat up as much.
We do different types of things in the water like mobility stuff, cardio training, and explosive exercises. Depending on what our needs are, we can adjust the training around that. I get bored easily, so the monotony of a standard workout isn’t for me. If you run a mile every single day, pretty soon, you have to run a mile and a half just to get the same effects. I like to play with my workouts and add an element of learning to it because it makes it more enticing. For my short attention span, I like that, and adding something that you’re not a master at challenges you neurologically. We train pretty much every day. Part of the load is how you’re feeling. I’ll take a Sunday or a day where I’ll just do contrast, heat, and ice. We’ll ride and paddle and If I’m surfing, that will take up an entire day. I have a cardio run that I do up a hill on a standing bike at least five times a week. I’m also always listening for new things.
Get in Tune with Nature
First of all, we’re made of water. To not have a relationship with water is like not having a relationship with yourself. There’s so much information that we don’t know about what it does for us and there is what we know. There’s a grounding effect, the static electricity, the negative ions, and the minerals we’re absorbing. The ocean itself is filled with salt and salt is a preservative. There’s something about the air you breathe when you’re in the water, where you’re at in the environment, and how the water affects your mind. There’s a therapy and meditation to it. 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 all that it does for us. In a way, it’s one of the most active nature relationships you can have because it’s alive. There’s a physical, spiritual aspect to it. I just look at the ocean as the most dynamic of all the relationships you can have in nature. When you stop fearing it, that changes everything. We have people come through that haven’t swam ever and we change that quickly. It’s amazing how that fear changes once they can swim like we’re supposed to. Humans are the only mammals that can’t swim untaught. Every other mammal knows how to swim. Given the fact that there’s so much water around, it’s important that we continue that relationship because it’s the most conductive substance on earth.
Laird Hamilton is Mindful of His Fuel
There are a lot of ways to eat, but it’s hard to get to how we’ve eaten in nature. I grew up in Hawaii, so I grew up farming and fishing. The neighbors I grew up next to were living off of the land and the difference between the food that comes from the land, water, and the mountains as opposed to a bowl of Captain Crunch is the energy feels like fuel. Paul Chek had a really great quote and I use it as the foundation for what I do. He said: “If it wasn’t here 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 plants that are living, you get the living part of it. If you’re eating something that has been processed multiple times, it’s so far away from it having actual nutrients. The truth is we eat too much. Part of the reason we’re eating 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 things that have a lot of nutrients, you’re satiated.
We have something called the Daily Rituals. We have a daily activate which is water, lemon, cayenne, lacuna, and some of these other things you start your morning with before you have your coffee. After that, I feel like I can work physically for eight hours straight before I would even need to eat. I have younger guys that come in and try that process, they benefit and so do all of the people that use the superfoods. Gabby always laughs because I can eat some things that taste really bad if I knew they were good for me. We’ve been bombarded by these incredible flavors that have made our pallets adjust to a level of taste that almost doesn’t exist in nature without some real concocting.
Laird Hamilton Shares The Science Behind Laird Superfood
The truth is it came out of a recipe that I was making. Part of it is my love for coffee and I was making this concoction and it was for performance. It was about how can I take this habit I have for coffee and make it something that could help me perform better. I would share it with my friends to see if they would have the same reaction I had to it. I shared it with a buddy of mine from Oregon and after trying it, he wanted to make something out of it. We were already in another business venture with him but he loved the coffee. We made a couple of powder prototypes and the fourth one was our original creamer. We started selling it online to see what people’s responses were and they were fanatical about it. Pretty soon, we’re growing and people are interested in being in the business. We made this from a product that we loved and that’s the origin of it.
I went to Europe in my late teens and was exposed to espresso, which is the way you make that coffee, and the quality of the coffee over there is heads and shoulders above what we’re drinking here at the time. After that, I developed a love for it and I would search for beans all across 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 elevation and the quality of the growing environment.
Cream is always used in coffee. There is a time-released aspect of caffeine when you join it with good fat and when you have good fats, that needs your brain. Coconut oil is an amazing fat. I have a theory and my wife laughs at it. Things you do every day are accumulative. A little bit of poison over a long period of time ends up being a lot of poison. I look at it as a little bit of good stuff over time, you really benefit from it. I was taking this coffee ritual and you’re adding the minerals you need. I put calcified sea algae in there, so you’re getting the good fat and the time-released caffeine. I also put turmeric and cacao in there. Everything has to taste good, but there also has to be a function to it. That’s how we start with the products. I know how much energy output I can have throughout the day when I start with this beverage, and it’s amazing.