What can a twenty-something fitness expert learn at one of the prominent anti-aging seminars in the country? You’ll be surprised.
By Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes
I’m in West Palm beach, Florida, attending the first seminar of S.O.A.R. (Serious Optimal Anti-Aging Regimen). I quickly realize this is more than about “fitness,” as the presentation I’m listening to goes far beyond lifting, diet, or any other stereotypical associations with modern gym culture.
"Comparison is the thief of all joy. And asking ‘why?’ gets you nowhere. You have to live your life based on what you can do, and do it. If you can, then it can be done. Arguments against this are excuses, not reasons,” Monica Diaz says.
Diaz is a founding member and speaker for S.O.A.R., which is comprised of a unique group of health and lifestyle enhancement specialists. Co-creator Dr. Brett Osborn is a highly-accomplished neurosurgeon. His presence gives S.O.A.R. its medically backed credibility. Jay Campbell, who helped create of S.O.A.R. along with Osborn, is an author, testosterone replacement expert, and creator of Fabulously Fit Over 40. His wife, Diaz, is a successful real estate professional and physique competitor. A decorated Navy SEAL veteran, Ray “Cash” Care, teaches the warrior mindset. The team is rounded out with Jim Brown, a longtime bodybuilder and veteran personal trainer and health consultant, and former elite track and field athlete Melissa Hankins.
Together, they present a comprehensive strategy on the maintenance and revitalization of the body, mind, and spirit. The weekend moves between informational presentations, to hands-on training in the weight room, to individual medical consultations with Dr. Osborn. The depth and breadth of the knowledge and experience in the room is so far beyond “bro-style” fitness, it’s like comparing tic-tac-toe to sudoku.
So why am I at S.O.A.R.? I’m 26 years old, and the people around me, who are almost exclusively Dr. Osborn’s patients, average 40 years of age. But considering the current state of society, how can I not care about aging? The estimated life span for millennials is lower than Generation X, the first time in over a century that a generation is predicted to die sooner than the prior one. Testosterone levels in men have been dropping for 40 years. Estrogen has risen, alongside depression, anxiety, and the prescribing of psychiatric drugs. Obesity and diabetes are national health epidemics.
By societal standards, though, I’m in excellent health. I lift weights and do cardio seven days a week. I eat lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. My bloodwork shows that my hormones, cholesterol, inflammation, and insulin sensitivity are all within the high-optimal range. I’m not at S.O.A.R. to learn how to eat and lift weights; I’m here to gain perspective on how to live so that aging is simply a passage of time, not a decline of life.
You Become What You Believe Yourself to Be
From the current generation of millennials to aging baby boomers, society is as unhealthy as it’s ever been. Clearly “diet and exercise” is not the answer to such a complex problem, although it is part of the equation.
Ray Cash talks of Warrior Mindset, a way to control your emotions and performance during stressful situations. He speaks of setting obtainable goals, of facing fears, of thinking on target. His presentation is all action, all practicality, how to optimize your thinking to be the most effective version of yourself. Is this anti-aging? Considering the physical health Ray is in, how his mentality has shaped his physicality—he is combat-ready at any given moment and has trained himself mentally and physically to a razor’s edge—this is, without question, about anti-aging.
As I listen to another presentation, this one on mobility and joint health, presented by Jim Brown, the common theme continues. S.O.A.R. is not a seminar about sets and reps and the externals of “health,” although that is part of it. S.O.A.R. embodies a far larger, more intricate concept. Dr. Osborn is as lean as any physique model, and his movement and demeanor speak volumes. He's a neurosurgeon and an author, and his "get serious" mentality (also the title of his book) is pervasive in everything he does—from the way he shakes my hand to how he addresses his patients.
S.O.A.R. is unique in that it presents a convergence approach to aging. It’s the mentality, combined with the physical. The team doesn’t talk about their muscles or their abs. They don’t talk diet or food. Rather, all of their concerns center upon one central theme:
“How can I improve my quality of living? And how do I need to think to do that?”
In the fitness industry, mindset is rarely addressed as something that can be shaped or trained. Mindset is defined as the established attitudes and belief you hold. But in practice, it is the paradigm in which you make all of your decisions, from the internal emotions you feel to the external actions you take. How does one change their mindset then? From the S.O.A.R. experience, I took four foundational principles that can be applied.
1. Mindset Is Awareness
Your perspective on your current life, abilities, job, and relationships is the true director of your life. If you desire change, if you want to improve, your perspective must shift first. You must be self-aware, for you cannot improve or take action on something that you are not aware of in the first place. Learning must be objective and constant for your mindset to always be evolving
2. Everything Is Your Fault
All of it. Everything in your life is because of you. This is not punitive, this is empowering. If your life is amazing, you get the credit. If it sucks, it’s your responsibility. But that means you can change it. To disavow anything is to be powerless and to have no control. If you believe that your life is an outcome of everything that you’ve ever done, then it can be anything you want.
3. You Have All The Power You Need
The time you have on Earth will not be lived for you by someone else. It is yours, and yours alone. For your life to have value, you must believe unquestionably that that value is self-created. Your existence, your life, it will never be held in higher regard by anyone other than yourself. If you believe that your power over your life is complete, then there is only one thing left to do.
4. Action Over Everything Else
Desire doesn’t mean anything if its never fulfilled. Motivation is useless if unused. The shape of your life is created by what you do and have done, nothing else. Life, legacy, and the living of it thereof is grounded in action. Without action, nothing exists but “I wish.” And “I wish” will be forgotten. What you do in reality, though, that is everlasting.
If you apply these principles, what is the outcome? Your time, your life, will always be valuable. Aging, then, will not just be a process of mitigating breakdown, but rather a constructive experience of always becoming more than who you were prior. And it’s never too soon, nor too late, to start applying these lessons. Time is going to pass by anyway. The choice is yours. IM