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The Gift


Cat FitzgeralsdMarch 2. 2012

The Gift

by Cat Fitzgerald

We all train, yet, most of us miss its hidden gifts. We tend to look at training as the gift and other things, such as a better body and less stress, as nice, secondary benefits. Training with only these goals is Sisyphean, a dead end. Inherent in any training is a deeper level of work at whichpoint, while we work to grow and evolve into that next physical level, we are actually train for life.

Freediving is a great example of just that. To get better, it is not enough to simply be good at CO2 resistance, be hydrodynamic, or equalize well. All of that is important, true, but, as a reader of this column, it is safe to assume that these are things you are already good at and know to work on – though being a first-timer does not preclude you from the following. Here is the gift, the key to the next progression of excellence:


I’ll leave the touchy-feely for your private time; what I am referring to is the ability to deal with primal, basic, hard-wired emotions. In the work that I do, we face a lot of Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Frustration, and the list goes on. However, for the purpose of our discussion, I will only use Fear, Happiness, and Shame. Fear is future-based. Shame stems from the past and Happiness, while it transcends both, is the only emotion that can live in the immediate, in the here and now.

What happens when you are at 60’ and even the slightest bit of anxiety enters your thoughts? Your heart rate shoots up, there’s a release of adrenaline into the system, O2 metabolization becomes less efficient. It all equals less down time. Now, before you start sending me hate mail, I love Yoga, Meditation, and other contemplative practices, but I bring up Yoga and Meditation specifically because they have long been the loudest promoters of the “Here and Now” existence, of “Be.” Here’s the rub: Anyone can learn to be still on a mountain or at a spa retreat. It is easy to not honk your horn at the car in front of you if you are driving through Yosemite. It is a piece of cake to relax, breathe, let go and “Be” while on a massage table – though it sometimes seems less so in a Yoga studio with the instructor turning you into Gumby’s whining little bitch. And that’s the gift: the opportunity to not hide from or ignore discomfort, pain, loss, or pretend these feelings do not exist, but to process these emotions in a process them in a productive, positive way.

We learn how to process emotions and how to actually be in the Here and Now versus being in the past or the future or elsewhere altogether. We learn how to be aware of our goal during the dive without the future-reaching Fear and Anxiety of expectation and then we get to take that trained skill into our lives and relationships. The very training we used to create a new competitive edge in our sport, or to reach a new personal best, translates to development of the person we are at home, on the road, when we are full of Joy or in a Panic.

Keeping this in mind, let’s get ready to stretch. The Bladder Stretch – Lateral Hamstring, works on Bladder health, bone strength and density, improves balance, and helps to eliminate back pain. As we go deeper into the rabbit hole, this stretch can help you feel more hopeful and results oriented, while helping you increase your Self-Esteem and decreasing narcissistic behaviors. Deeper still and we discover that this stretch helps us to resolve Fear. Not Fear of [Fill in the Blank], but the pure, abject emotion of Fear. It helps to dismantle the negative processes we can fall prey to when we feel Fearful, and helps to create a positive processing MO.

Start lifting your spine from the sacrum up, one vertebra at a time

Bring Abdominals toward spine, rather than pushing them out (as show on the picture)

Start lifting your spine from the sacrum up, one vertebra at a time

Start lifting your spine from the sacrum up, one vertebra at a time.

Keep your thighs relaxed as you lift and lift until you are resting on your upper back. Keep your Abs sucked in toward your spine.

Keep your thighs relaxed as you lift and lift until you are resting on your upper back. Keep your Abs sucked in toward your spine.

Lower yourself, again, one vertebra at a time, keeping your thighs relaxed and abs sucked into your spine, until you reach your starting position. Be sure to go through your lower back before you reach the top of your glutes.

Lower yourself, again, one vertebra at a time, keeping your thighs relaxed and abs sucked into your spine, until you reach your starting position.

Be sure to go through your lower back before you reach the top of your glutes.

Take today’s stretch and feel it. Train yourself to know the difference between productive discomfort and counterproductive suffering. Add in breathing, centering. This is your first step to real cross training: Physiologic, Psychologic, Emotional, and Spiritual. Methodological Integration.


Brave New World


Alexandra Freeman - Freediving Girl - FII Blog - www.freedivinginstructors.comFebruary 21. 2012

Brave New World

By Alexandra Freeman

Certified FII Level 1 & Level 2 Freediver

My entire life has revolved around the pursuit of an art form that requires strength, determination, discipline, technique, artistry, and equal parts vanity and humility. I am a ballerina.I am a Las Vegas showgirl. And now I am a freediver.

Alexandra Freeman | Dancer | Girl Freediver | Freediving courses with FII (Freediving Instructors International) www.freedivinginstructors.comI fell in love with the sport six months ago after watching the documentary “Freediver” with Tanya Streeter. Having grown up on the California coast, the ocean was dear to me; watching her dive with sea lions, dolphins, sharks, blue whales, so far beneath the surface, so at home in this aquatic world, I was enraptured at the thought. It was so amazing to see this tall, blonde, eloquent female setting world records in a male-dominated sport. I was inspired. Enamored. Obsessed. I wanted to know what it was like to be fearless at depth, to explore a world that was not my own. Girl freediving with dolphins | Alexandra Freeman || FII www.freedivinginstructors.comNot only were the romantic notions of being some kind of mermaid appealing to me, but the athletic side of the dive was alluring as well. Being a classically trained dancer I have trained my body to ignore discomfort, set new goals, push myself to my limit and beyond... all things that are imperative to progressing in the dive. I’m only four months in, but I feel I have the heart, the mind, and the body for the sport. I can’t wait to see what this new world has in store for me. 


Alexandra Freeman

Freediving Secret - The Silver Bullet


Errol PutignaJanuary 23. 2012

Freediving Secret - The Silver Bullet

by Errol Putigna

We hear and read about these freedivers diving incredible depths and having spectacular breath-holds. We often ask ourselves, “How do they do it?” “Are they super-human?” Some “perhaps” are but the majorities are normal human beings with an innate aquatic ability that can be easily tapped into by proper instruction and guidance.

We often look for the “silver bullet”, the “secret” on how we can improve our diving ability. I recently gave my brother a FII Level 1 class for Christmas and got him to take the class. He is an emergency medicine doctor, practicing in Orlando, has 5 kids and a real knack for learning, especially when it comes to the human body. He has dabbled in freediving since he was a kid, just like me. We would go with our father spear fishing and plenty of diving to the bottom of the pool to fetch keys. He enjoys the water very much so. When I took my first FII class, he was the first one I called and told about my 5:00 breath-hold. I was super excited and he was in disbelief. To be honest, I couldn’t believe it myself.

Freediving CourseHe has been tormented with a problem in one of his ears and has complained about having trouble equalizing for quite some time. He was very skeptical that he would do well in the class but I assured him it was not about doing “well” in the class or chasing numbers. It was about learning to freedive safely and putting it all together.

He took the weekend off and came down to Jupiter, FL to take the class. He seemed pretty attentive and obviously knew the science behind what we were teaching. I love teaching physicians and/or anyone in the medical profession because they know the science but never put two and two together to see that it really can be done. After the academic portion of the class, we headed to the pool, did our safety and freediving skills and proceeded to the static apnea portion of the class. He did his series of breath ups and finished with a 3:00 breath-hold (the limit of the Level 1 class). He was fired up, but his real concern was the open-water portion and his equalization. I told him not to worry, just do as he had been taught and everything should work out.

Freediving SpringsWe got to the ocean and it was a bit bumpy. We started with all the skills taught in the academic and confined water portion and started reaching deeper depths. Most of the students were blowing past the personal bests, including my brother. He ended up reaching 66ft 3 times (depth limit of the class). For the next 3 days, he was calling me super excited about his accomplishments. He said, “I don’t know what I did different from before”. I told him, “There is no silver bullet or one thing you did differently. It’s all the little things you did and put together that allowed you do to what you did”.

I often get asked advice about freediving. It’s not about the one thing that makes it work. It’s about putting the puzzle together and making all the pieces fit to make it all work. Perhaps this is what we could call the “Silver Bullet”. That’s what freediving is about. Dive safe!

Errol Putigna


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