Kruger National Park, South Africa

Kruger National Park, South Africa

sample curriculum and content

The typical Exuberant Animal event includes functional movement training, meditation, team-building games and presentations on the art and science of living in the modern age. Similar themes are covered in all workshops:

primate’s predicament, context and big pictures

Ancient bodies in an alien environment: where we are and how we got here

The nature of mismatch: the “evolutionary discordance hypothesis”

Consequences: lifestyle disease and public health crisis

culture and cognition

Blind men of Indostan: the need for a multi-disciplinary perspective on the body

Romantic and classical orientations

Reductionism: the good and the bad

Participating and non-participating consciousness

Fox v. hedgehog thinking


A biological context for health

Principles of natural selection

Human origins: East Side Story

Is it Paleo? A look at common exercises, sports and fitness programs

Romancing the Paleo, wishful thinking and reality

Realistic mergers of new and old

functional training

History and definitions of functional movement

The SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands

Kinetic chains: isolation v. integration

Stretching and warm ups

Core training, free weights v. machines

Proprioception, sensation and skill

Common areas of weakness

practical neuroscience

Neuroplasticity: the cellular basis of learning

LTP: long-term potentiation of the synapse

Myelination: insulation of axons

Neurogenesis: new nerve cells

Shadow side of neuroplasticity: pain facilitation

The paradox of plasticity: the good and bad of habit

Strategies for habit revision

Implications for living and learning

attention and meditation

The power of attention and neuroplasticity

Use and abuse of the simulator

Best practices


The principle of creative limitation: limits drive transformation

Bricolage and opportunism: use what you’ve got

Improv and database

Embodied cognition: using the whole body

beware false tigers (stress education)

The standard narrative: stress kills

The upbeat narrative: stress drives adaptation

Stress physiology and psychology

Complications: negativity bias

Yang arts: exercising control

Yin arts: relinquishing control

The role of massage and touch (theory and practice)

the long body: habitat

Origins of the “long body” orientation

The habitat-health connection

Wired for nature

The microbiome and its implications

Biophilia: origins and practice

Green exercise, green fitness

‘Never one thing”

the long body: tribe

Interpersonal neurobiology and social neuroscience

In non-human animals: Clever Hans and non-verbal communication

The status syndrome: health follows a social gradient

The resonance circuit: communicating with the body.

Networks aren’t tribes

Contagion: how far does it go?

The African social philosophy of ubuntu

life arts

High contrast living: v. flat-line living

Sleep hygiene

Food fundamentals

Sweet spots and inverse U curves

The as-if principle

Time: our relationship

Willpower: neurobiology, depletion hypothesis and practice

the power of story

Narrative medicine: the story-body connection

The “big bang” of storytelling

The growth mindset

Placebo effect aka the meaning effect

To us-by us; the power of agency

Free will v. determinism

The drama triangle and the victim orientation

integration and embodiment

wheel craft: a look at some holistic models

Understanding and integrating the kluge

Forces that lead to disintegration

Strategies for integration

leadership, teaching and education

Drama triangle: rescue v. support

Carrots and sticks: intrinsic v. extrinsic motivations

Rhythmic claims of freedom and discipline

Public speaking and presentation