Primal Play on South Beach: Aaron Rentfrew Works Out Like a Caveman
Miami has lots of decadent gyms. South Beach's David Barton, for example, has valet parking, steam rooms, a pool, somewhere around 18 classes a day, and an interior that looks more like a nightclub than a sweat factory.
The city also has paradisaical weather. It's astounding how many people choose to take a 3-mile run on a treadmill instead of outside on the boardwalk, along a golf course, or over the Venetian Causeway. Maybe we like to pay over $100 a month. Perhaps it's habit, heat, or laziness. Regardless, The Primal Blueprint, the popular caveman-like diet and exercise book, advocates flipping the switch on this indoor workout style.
The basic premise is that modern living has caused us to live in unnatural ways: eating processed grains, sitting and staying indoors most of the time. This invites disease, obesity, and emotional problems, author Mark Sisson contends. Two essentials of the primal lifestyle, says Sisson, are to get plenty of exercise, and to get plenty of sunshine like our caveman ancestors did. (Tomorrow: A post on the Caveman diet.)
Miami resident Aaron Rentfrew, who works in hospitality in South Beach, has been living more and more "like a caveman" over the last eight months, and he's taken Sisson's orders to "play outside" very seriously.
"I started working out at the park," he says, referring to South Pointe. Rentfrew straps on a 25-pound weigh vest and runs up and down one of the few grassy hills in South Florida. Then he does it backwards. Then he leaps up each step of a flight of concrete stairs several times, followed by some push-ups on uneven ground. He sprints across the grass and then jumps some rope. He works out using lots of different muscle groups, in what Sisson refers to as a "generalist" workout style. This mimics the caveman lifestyle, where movement differed daily depending on what tasks needed to be performed. "I don't do too much weight training. Lots of sprints and stretching, as much in the sun as possible."
sun gives you lots of vitamin D. I don't drink milk [It's not
Primal-approved -- cavemen didn't milk cows!], but that's why they enrich
milk with vitamin D -- because people are inside so much they don't
get enough sunshine [which the body normally uses to produce its own
vitamin D]. And sunlight is a powerful mood enhancer. I'm not
recommending people get sunburned, but getting out in the sun helps with
interpersonal relationships. You look good,
you feel good. Having a tan makes you feel good. It
helps with depression."
Between the diet and exercise, Rentfrew has lost
about ten pounds and changed his body's muscle composition remarkably,
he says. "But the most specific benefit is a soundness of mind and
This is a snippet of what
his workout looks like:
recent post on his website, Sisson had this to say on the subject
of indoor vs. outdoor workouts:
"This is a huge aspect of
fitness (and health) that goes relatively unheeded. While you can still
get an extremely effective workout in a cloistered gym, outdoor workouts
provide added benefits. This isn't rocket science. I think most people
understand this intuitively. Which would you prefer: a 45 minute
treadmill run in a gray room with artificial light, or a game of
Ultimate Frisbee in a park on a sunny day? Or how about the choice
between yoga in a studio and yoga on a cliff overlooking the ocean? Time
spent in nature is undeniably good for our psychological and
physiological well-being. I still hit up the gym for certain routines
and for the camaraderie, but more and more I put an emphasis on getting
back to nature - to get my daily dose of rays and to recharge in a more
Sisson advocates is working out with a team or at least a partner
because, like the cavemen before us who performed strenuous tasks
together, "We're able to transfer the suffering, to spread it out across
the group and make the pain a bit more bearable."
does Rentfrew incorporate this idea into his regimen? By roping friends
into sweating it out with him at South Pointe and by playing league
softball with a local team.
"Once you start
working out outside, you don't want to work out inside anymore," he
For more on The Primal Blueprint,
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