Lexically, it doesn’t take a lot to go from ‘worrier’ to ‘warrior’, yet we know that the difference between the two, as states of minds, can be worlds apart. Living in today’s consumer-lead, frantic, stimulant-driven metropolises has unarguably resulted in a bunch of anxious, destructive, sick and fearful pseudo animals.
After eighteen years of studying the modern condition and working on ways to free us from its constraints to achieve total wellness, Tony Riddle devised his Worrier to Warrior retreat as a way to recharge, reboot and re-educate on the importance of re-aligning ourselves with Nature for emotional, spiritual and physical health. As a Natural Lifestyle Coach (or Life Stylist), Tony’s work and his retreats are based around the premise that if we can recognise where nature is missing from our lives we can reconnect with it and fall back in love with it, and in doing so can shake the angst-inducing monkey off our collective back.
Ironically, ridding ourselves of this proverbial monkey requires finding our inner chimps by tapping into our inherent ancestral knowledge – Tony is known as the Modern Tarzan for his focus on adapting his movement patterns to those of early, wild humans to bring us closer to the earth and awaken the body to how it was designed to move. This is part of his ‘rewilding’ concept, which aims to use nature as a conduit for transforming modern Western Worriers into autonomous, connected Warriors. Rather than seeking to remove man and woman from their modern, urban habitat, Tony’s practices teach how to take functional and healthy ancestral habits and unite them with the most progressive aspects of our existing daily lives.
In doing so, guests are forced to question whether the ‘norm’ has become normal because it’s best for us, or because it’s best for making commodities of us. Challenging these societal constructions can, not only save us money and energy, it’s also incredibly mentally and emotionally liberating – who decided we have to use furniture? Try squatting to rest instead – your posture and glutes will love you for it!
Somerset was the perfect base to realise Tony’s vision. Set in the resplendent 42 Acres in Somerset the sprawling abode is stuffed with dedicated reading material to devour during the ‘hormone balancing rest’ hours, cosy beanbags for all-important napping, WiFi free and flanked with greenery and peace – the house is a sanctum of calm. As a practitioner of minimalism, Tony’s own house is furniture-less – he and his family squat, lie or stand – and this transcends to 42 Acres. Expect to eat meals in the squat position and learn to find comfort on rugs. Not only is this an excellent way of reconditioning our bodies to natural posture, it also forces a reconnection with child-like lounging.
Rest time is taken seriously on the retreat, but it’s earned! Meditation, Sun-gazing and napping are sandwiched between bursts of daily outdoor adventurous activity and play to reconnect with truly human ways of movement. Tony re-educates on functional and fun movement as a counter to exercise for aesthetic’s sake so running with correct form and purpose, play time as a way of forming relationships with fellow humans, balancing, log-climbing, obstacle courses, chimp crawling, Movement Archery and logging characterise waking hours. There’s a dedicated obstacle course of balance beams to negotiate and even a calisthenics Jeep for practicing swinging and pull ups. Each form of movement immerses guests in the surrounding natural landscape, re-instigates childlike imagination and encourages and expects physical contact to meet our innate need for closeness with fellow humans.
And this is exactly why the methods work as a re-education. Tony is teaching us nothing which isn’t innate, what he does do is show us how to delve within to find our intuition where it’s been quashed by emotional blocks, convention, societal expectation and the weight of various forms of responsibility and self-flagellation.
As any good retreat that seeks to educate its guests on maintaining and nurturing their re-education once they’re back in normal life, the practical sides to the Worrier to Warrior retreat are supported with theory in the form of workshops. The retreat is based upon balancing the ‘fight or flight’ mode our modern stressors keep us perpetually in a state of, with the rest and recovery we need in order to develop and thrive. Tony teaches the repercussions of this lack of balance, how to recognise when we’re spending too much time in a stressed state, and how we can bring ourselves back into alignment – sometimes all it takes is a few minutes running around barefoot in the grass or a cartwheel or two!
The retreat runs on nutritional practices that align with how Tony believes, through extensive research, our ancestors ate. Feasting is preceded and followed by periods of daily fasting in line with circadian rhythms to optimise digestion and hormonal balance. Energy comes in the form of plant-based feasts of gut microbiome-friendly raw fruits and veggies, homemade fermented foods, seed crackers, sprouted porridge and occasional grass-fed meat to satisfy the five percent animal protein our systems were designed to consume — all eaten on the floor, of course.
Being mentored by a man, particularly the bearded, inked-up Tony Riddle, can initially seem a little unnatural but Tony’s objective standpoint as a male, combined with his endearingly overt awe, admiration and understanding he has for his wife and daughters (one of whom he delivered himself) make for a sanctuary of frank honesty and mutual respect that recognises gender differences without becoming preoccupied with them. Any initial inhibitions are dissolved the minute you arrive and are clasped in a fittingly bear-like, fatherly hug. Tony is a compelling example of the nurturing power of masculinity when it is aligned with sensitivity and emotion that allows female and male energies to co-exist, and thrive, as they did before gender constructions were introduced.
Tony is a mine of information and takes time to get to know each of his guests on an individual level, addressing their personal health and emotional struggles and offering well-researched advice on achieving Warrior status in the face of modern day struggles. He is able to recognise if somebody arrives in need of nothing but sleep, or if they may have issues such as adrenal fatigue getting in the way of their full potential. He then employs his knowledge and experience to tailor their stay to helping them combat their personal demons.
Ultimately, the retreat guides guests to finding their innate Warrior amid the epidemic of modern anxiety. Expect anabolic sleep, renewed confidence, creativity and direction, improved digestion, lots of laughter and applicable knowledge on exactly why each of these is pivotal in becoming a true Warrior, so that when you return to everyday life, there’s no way you can be anything but.
To find out more and register for the next Warrior to Worrier retreats in Ibiza and the UK and for information on Tony’s workshops in London follow @tonyriddle on Instagram and head to http://www.tonyriddle.com/