The New Yorker goes extreme underwater training with Laird Hamilton!
There is no other magazine that has the ability to spellbound a reader with even the world’s dullest subjects as The New Yorker.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve started a story about, I don’t know, a hospice nurse, or a mine in Peru or an obscure mathematician, and the 10,000 or so words have flown past.
A house style that allows only small variation means writers pour all their skills into the description of their subject, and to the build-up and release of tension. To compound the magazine’s superiority, there is little in the way of obvious political bias.
So what happens when a staff writer engages an already dazzling subject like Laird Hamilton and his wife Gabrielle Reece? Oh the sparks fly!
Her student complied, lugging the weights toward an underwater staircase, up which a man was sprinting with a huge dumbbell in each hand. The student, jumping, had the sensation of being a deranged pogo-stick rider, likely to drown.
In the September 5, 2016 issue, the writer examines Laird and Gabrielle’s XPT (Extreme Physical Training) that has lured celebrities to their pool for ice-baths, running with weights and soulful saunas.
“Hamilton, who is fifty-two and bearish, with a freckly tan, grew up on Kauai in a house with no indoor bathroom. At the local pool, he liked to squat down in the shallow end and then burst up through the water: the active boy’s version of an underwater tea party. To expand his lung capacity, he’d grab a rock and run along the ocean floor, holding his breath for as long as he could. Then he started exercising underwater, wearing a weight vest. One night a decade ago, he had a dream about jumping up and down in the water, breathing rhythmically, as he’d done in childhood. In the morning, he and Reece began to develop the routine, which they call X.P.T.—extreme physical training—and which, after years of testing on friends, they have begun to promote through retreats in Malibu and on Kauai, where they live during the big-wave season. Videos, apps, and books are in the works.”
“Gabrielle Reece snapped on a swim cap and held out a mask to an appropriately trepidatious visitor. “Take two twenty-pound weights and do some jumps,” she said, indicating a section of the pool floor that sloped downward. Her student complied, lugging the weights toward an underwater staircase, up which a man was sprinting with a huge dumbbell in each hand. The student, jumping, had the sensation of being a deranged pogo-stick rider, likely to drown. Piano music flowed through underwater speakers. A mermaid appeared out of the blue-green: Gabrielle Reece, with pointers. (“Try to go straight up and down.”)
In the sauna, which was heated to two hundred and twenty degrees, Randall Wallace (“Braveheart,” “Pearl Harbor”) chatted with Frankie Harrer, an eighteen-year-old professional surfer, about the state of her soul. (Solid.) Neil Strauss, the former rock critic and author of “The Game,” came in. He calls the sauna the “truth barrel”; he and Reece have used it as the location for a podcast about “life optimization.” More friends stopped by. John McEnroe, who had been cycling up the canyon, peeled off his shirt and made a beeline for the ice tub, where he lay palely for several minutes before bolting upright, re-dressing, and calling over his shoulder to Hamilton, “I want to talk to you about the breathing. I have a match next week.”