Expanding boundaries with power couple Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton.
Many people revolve their vacation plans around pool-side set-ups that allow for as little movement as possible. Some, on the other hand, elect to spend days “off” pushing their bodies (and minds) beyond limits they ever thought possible.
For more than 10 years, Gabby Reece, former pro-volleyball player and fitness icon, and her husband Laird Hamilton, big-wave surfer and elite athlete, have been doing XPT (Extreme Performance Training) workouts at their Malibu home. For the past year and a half, they’ve been running sessions that others can attend too. When the idea was initially proposed, Reece admits that her reaction was, “There’s no way… It’s a little daunting at first,” she explains.
Yet the group experiences have proven wildly successful—with events selling out and feedback being overwhelmingly positive. Now anyone can spend three days living the extreme performance training lifestyle with the XPT founders (for a price tag of around $5,500). These multi-day, all-inclusive itineraries include an action-packed program of revolutionary pool training, functional sand training, high-intensity circuit training and stand up paddling. Participants learn how to integrate XPT Performance Breathing™ techniques as well as health recovery methods (involving food, sleep habits, ice dunks and sauna time), used by the pros to help heal, balance and rejuvenate one’s system.
Participants have ranged from those in their late 20s to their mid-60s—and from being hyper-fit to working professionals who’ve simply drifted away from their “North Star.” Reece insists that anyone is capable and the program is “scalable;” it’s never about creating things people can’t do. “It’s getting you to work at your level and a little beyond,” she explains, whether that means expanding each day while there or taking the tools home with you to continue your journey.
“It’s never about the movement,” Reece adds, emphasizing that these sessions are anchored by the personal connections made along the way. It’s also not a competition, but a chance to bond with partners in the pool or to commiserate about that afternoon’s eye-opening ice bath. Reece repeatedly observes the powerful impact of folks “connecting around doing something that’s good for them.” She also sees that once participants get familiarized with what they’re being asked to do, they always try to go “harder and deeper.”
When asked some of the best compliments she might receive, Reece gives examples like, “It was way better than we thought it would be,” or ,”You were there much more than we expected.” The couple fully grasps the importance of being more than just talking heads. “We’re out there doing it, too.”
In fact, the California-based sessions take place at the couple’s home, meaning they’re offering a purely authentic scene by inviting everyone into their world. (Their kids are often there in the mix, quickly finding their favorites among the group.) “You can’t be afraid of a certain amount of intimacy,” Reece explains. The couple feels fortunate to already have their own community and support group; now they want others to have that gift, too.
They will likely offer six to eight experiences in 2018, like the Kaua’i-based gathering taking place from February 7 though 9. Reece calls the island a “special place” that provides a “magical environment” in which to train, eat and connect. They gather on the island’s North Shore, and the Westin Princeville is the host hotel.
In the future, they’d like to also look at less-costly options (perhaps a one-day workshop, for example). She’s quite aware of the price point and aims to make these experiences both comprehensive and accessible. “The goal,” Reece comments, “is to get exclusive information presented in an inclusive way.”
If someone feels on the fence about joining, Reece simply reiterates the importance of taking time for oneself. “And if they need to do something drastic like sign up for one of these,” she adds, “it’s worth it.” The proof is in the pudding, though, with many customers booking return trips. This is helpful, she says, “We know where they left off last time, and now we can ramp it up.”
“People don’t realize that it’s an equal exchange,” Reece says, describing the inspiration she and her husband find while watching others push themselves and excel. At the end of the day, these experiences are simply a reminder to keep trying new things. “Laird is really good at that,” she comments, “I’m always being reminded.”
Reece also observes that, fundamentally, everyone seems to be looking for the same—a sense of balance, peace, happiness, learning how to be a better partner, a better parent and so on. She adds that movement, eating well and lowering one’s body fat ratio are merely pillars used to support the much larger things at work. All of these physical feats remind people to stay curious and to continue to ask questions beyond the mat, the pool or the sand. Reece concludes, “I’m constantly amazed at how brave people are.