The Path To Primal

I asked myself, how did I end up on this primal thing? So I drew a map of the journey so far…

Early appreciation - It starts with a childhood (Thanks Mum) rich in “outdoorness”– mine was about pets, biking, long bush and beach walks, exploring farms, kids play fights and war games with mates.

A fairly standard kiwi childhood in the 80’s…?

"The Hull"

My early teenage years were pretty awesome too; I lived in a house by the beach down at Motueka which had a ship wreck down one end and a concrete sea pool down the other end. The top of the South Island was a good spot to grow up in – bushwalks, sea, fresh water swimming holes and rapids, it all got under my skin.

Crystal Pool at the Source of Riwaka


 I got into Seido Karate when we moved to Nelson when I was 14-16 years old. This was a key moment for me, learning about discipline and tough workouts, plus I had a great mentor in Sensei (now Hanshi) Andy Barber. These were the  “wax on, wax off” years - I even ended up doing a Buddhist meditation/karate camp up in the blue lakes in the mountains. That’s a very clear memory that seems pretty primal to me now.
Spooky native forest in the walk to Harwoods Hole

Then the road took a very non primal turn – my family moved up in Auckland and I ended up into bands, booze and bedlam in my University years. Good fun but not good health –typical city slicker!

I was roped into a corporate triathlon at work –and got hooked! Somehow the guy at the bike shop convinced me to ramp it up to Ironman level, and bang, suddenly I am making random decisions to cycle with a mate from Auckland to Hamilton, raid my auntie’s fridge, then cycle back to Auckland ( a lazy 270kms…). I generally steer away from ‘chronic cardio” these days, but I have to say that that was still an amazing time of my life with some fantastic training sessions. If only I had known that I was mostly enjoying the outdoorness of it all, I could have skipped the long stuff and just gone for a hike!
Near the end of my first marathon
Papakura half marathon

My first Ironman finish 
My best marathon run

After a few years I moved on from Iron Man to pure road running. I got caught up in the whole monotony of doing race after race trying to improve my times, it wasn’t fun anymore and I moved off-road with Total Sport just starting up their trail running events. Much better man!
Going off road - Whatipu half marathon
Mountain running in the Kepler Challenge

Keplers Challenge - a blissful finish
Total Sports' Coastal Challenge in Auckland

But chronic cardio was still there, eating away at me. All the long distance running volume and frequency was constantly eroding my immune system, giving me hacking coughs, chest infections and variable health through the year.

I tried naturopathic remedies, saw several general practice doctors, all no good. Then I turned to nutrition and the internet and in my search I found Marks Daily Apple and the Primal Blueprint. This stuff was the answer. CrossFit was also on my radar at about the same time – looking for bodyweight circuits to strengthen me for running. Slowly I started to assimilate the concepts into my lifestyle. First I cleaned up my lunches at work – goodbye sandwiches, hello big ass salads, and CrossFit workouts in the park. Looking back it was all pretty naïve and novice like, but that’s called a start.

Luckily in 2009 a work mate convinced me to try out CrossFit New Zealand
to see what the real thing was like. That was a turning point, and I improved my background and understanding of real nutrition and movement principles. You can’t really do it without an evolutionary context, both of which CrossFit and Primal are plugged into.  For a little while there I felt like superman and I did more events in a year than I had done in the last 10. Better results too. And great community spirit and coaching/mentoring that reminded me of my karate days.

Running the CrossFit way
CrossFit in Nature

CrossFit engaging natural movement

Still, I wasn’t sure I could do CrossFit all my life. Sparked off by the Parkour “Gauntlet” concept, I started experimenting with outdoor workouts that were a hybrid of natural movement, crossfit and boot camp style. Then snap! Erwan LeCorre’s MovNat got onto my radar and my appreciation of the natural movement truly began.

By this stage I was running around city parks doing strange activities such as climbing, jumping, lifting rocks and logs, chasing rabbits and all that stuff, and soon I started up my Unzoo blog after a friend suggested it might be a good idea. But what started out as a primal fitness blog has begun to develop into something more…

Chronology of Athletic Activity
1967-1980 - classic kiwi kid activity
1981 - 1983 – Seido karate up to 2nd Kyu Karate
1985-1989 – University, bands & booze!
1990 – First real job, first triathlon
1992 – Rothmans Duathlon series. Hyatt half marathon. Fay Richwhite Corporate Tri. Huntly half marathon (PB 1.25). Papakura half marathon. Auckland Marathon. Rotorua Marathon.
1993 – Ironman. Smokefree Duathlon. Auckland Marathon – PB 2.55
1994 – Ironman. Novice 8 Rowing.
1995-1996 ? Rotorua Marathon.
1997 – Auckland Marathon
1998-2000 – Melbourne, got fat on restaurant food
2001 – Melbourne half marathon
2004 – Auckland marathon. Kepler Challenge (67km).
2006 – Auckland marathon
2003- 2008 – Total Sport Coastal Challenge and off road running
2009 – CrossFit. The Duel (last half marathon on Rangitoto). Auckland Tough guy (4th on 6k course). Xterra off road Series (2nd in 6k course)
2010 – Tough guy
2011 – Tough guy, Auckland half marathon 
2012 – Unzoo…
2013 - MovNat!
2014 onwards  - Unzoo Movement...