FreeForm Festival 2015: camp application submitted

This Wednesday, we submitted our theme-camp application for FreeForm Festival (which, in case you haven’t seen my previous post about it, is North-Eastern version of Burning Man, on a smaller scale and with grass). We’ll be a camp of a dozen people, many of whom will go to Burning Man as well, so it will be our chance to try some ideas regarding  our theme – Gymnasium.

Our camp is themed around gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning: a place for physical training, socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. Nowadays, physical and intellectual activities are usually seen to belong to separate domains. We want to bring back the idea that they mix well together, and our activities will include both physical exercise and philosophical discussions.

The word ‘gymnasium’ comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”, and our activities will be held in the nude. We believe that nudity will make physical activities more fun and at the same time will be important to bring across our message about body acceptance. We hope that all our participants will only feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin after our events.

FreeForm Festival will last 5 days this year (4-8 June), but we’ll probably just go for the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday night. Our program, as submitted, will include the following:

piggy back race (Sat, noon): an alternative to equestrian races in the original Olympics

street style dance workshop (Sat, 3pm): Urban dance workshop with a new twist – in the buff! Now you can’t cheat your moves 😉

yoga followed by some wine-drinking (Sat, 6pm): Ancient Greeks sometimes drank wine in acrobatic poses at their symposiums ;-)) Nude yoga – for a better flow 🙂 Free your body, free your mind! We’ll end the session with drinking wine in your favorite yoga poses.

… followed by  discussion on body image and body acceptance across cultures and history

capoeira workshop (Sun, noon): Capoeira is a unique martial art with elements of dance and is usually accompanied by music. Come to hear about its history, try some kicks and defense moves, and learn a capoeira song! To comply with our camp’s theme of body acceptance and make sure you do all the moves correctly, this workshop will be done in the nude 🙂

wrestling match (Sun, 3pm): Let’s wrestle like in the original Olympics – nude! Do you have any body image fears? It’s time to fight it too 😉

The most active participants and winners will be served Greek-style food and given massage!

Contact via e-mail or leave a comment here if you want to join us for FreeForm Festival or just share an idea for our activities.

Gymnasium camp for Burning Man 2015: first ticketed participants!

The first update on our theme camp for Burning Man 2015:

We now have 8 confirmed ticketed participants, despite getting tickets was a sort of painful race against time. Somehow it worked out for many of us with a little bit of luck, but almost as many, if not more are still desperate to find tickets. As the official website says, you do “have a number of other opportunities to get tickets, including through the Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP), the OMG Sale in August and the Low Income Ticket Program (which is reserved for those who are in, and can demonstrate, actual financial need).” But probably the best way to find a ticket is to ask around among your burner friends.  A few of our campmates will apply for Low Income Program – let’s wish them best of luck!

If you are going this year and are interested in our theme – Gymnasium – please contact via e-mail or leave a comment here! I was happy to get a couple of requests already. I hope you have tickets though, as we don’t have any spare ones so far. And if you have a spare ticket that you’d like to sell to one of our eager campmates, please let us know too!

More details about our camp ideas and development will follow, and we’ll also be able to polish our program at Free Form Festival on the first weekend of June in Pennsylvania. Their 2015 website is not up yet, but you can read my report from last year. Some general info is available on their ticket sale webpage, and by the way tickets go on sale tomorrow! There won’t be as much craze as with Burning Man tickets, but the price goes up by a lot as the sale progresses – no reason to wait, if you know you want to be there. I highly recommend this festival for anyone who wants to explore their creative side!

Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! Camp announced

Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! More details to be released soon – you’ll hear about our camp via this blog. But if, by having read this blog for a while, you already know you’d like to join the camp, please e-mail or leave a comment here!

You only have time until THIS Saturday to create a Burner Profile AND register for ticket sale.

Only then, you’ll be able to buy tickets, which go on sale in one week! (If you think you may be eligible for low income tickets, check the website for more info on that). Ideally, you should aim at buying tickets asap. 40,000 tickets at $390 each, and they got sold out in 45min last year! You may be able to find tickets later in season, but don’t rely on it.

Our camp’s theme will be Gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning, so you can go through ‘How it used to be’ sections of this website to get some inspiration for our camp, be it athletic activities 

or simply fun!

And let’s just reiterate this quote from Wikipedia:

“The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”.

The word gymnasium is the latinisation of the Greek noun γυμνάσιον (gymnasion), “gymnastic school”, in pl. “bodily exercises” and generally “school” which in turn is derived from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning “naked”, by way of the related verb γυμνάζω (gymnazo), whose meaning is “to train naked”, “train in gymnastic exercise”, generally “to train, to exercise”. The verb had this meaning because one undressed for exercise. Historically, the gymnasium was used for exercise, communal bathing, and scholarly and philosophical pursuits. The English noun gymnast, first recorded in 1594, is formed from the Greek γυμναστής (gymnastēs), but in Greek this word means “trainer” not “gymnast”. The palaistra was the part of the gymnasium devoted to wrestling, boxing and ball games.”

wandering at Ostia Antica, inspired by Ancient Greek statues

Happy Nude Year! Here is a treat for you, and hopefully some inspiration for the New Year! It would probably be more appropriate to post something winter-themed, like my Russian banya with an ice hole experience, but hey, it’s summer in Southern Hemisphere, and then there are parts of the world where it’s summer all the time, so here is something neutral, another collection of autumn photos. This one has been waiting to be published for a few years now, but it’s well worth a wait. Special thanks to Joe for photography.

naturist 0002 Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy

Ancient Greece, with its deep traditions of nudity in sports and other activities, has been an obvious inspiration for this website (look at out Gymnasion section), just like it was many ways inspirational to Romans. So, when we visited Ostia Antica, a large archeological site, which was the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, we were tempted to do some nude photography with such a beautiful background and mild sunlight of late October.

naturist 0000 Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy

I rarely pose in front of sites of interest, unless I want to send a picture to my relatives and friends, or if it is for my blog 😉

naturist 0001 Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy

As there weren’t many other visitors, we seized the chance and took quite a lot of nude photos, I was pretending to be a statue that became alive…

naturist 0005 Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy

Only other statues could see us.

naturist 0003 Ostia Antica, Rome, Italy

We’ll have only more stories to share in the New Year, a couple of adventure trips are already in the pipeline. Have a great 2014 too!

running barefoot and Vibram “Barefoot” shoes review

In continuation of my post about running, I would like to add my thoughts on running barefoot, which is an increasingly popular trend now. I definitely support the movement, especially if you run bare, why not run barefoot as well?

In my childhood, I was encouraged to walk barefoot by family during summers; they didn’t put much explanation to it, just said it was healthy. I didn’t really practice it seriously, and got interested in the idea again after I broke my foot almost 3 years ago. I quickly came to a webpage of a group from Harvard University that had been doing extensive studies on running. One of the conclusions of their work published in the most respected scientific journal Nature was that barefoot running style may actually “protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact-related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners”.  I would suggest you to go to the website of the Harvard Uni group for more details and videos explaining the benefits of barefoot running, and if that doesn’t convince you, there is a more graphic and visually pleasing website of a minimalist shoes producer Vibram, which is, I must add, also naturist-friendly 😉 The take-home message is that while running barefoot, you use all those muscles and tendons that are otherwise left untrained if you only walk and run in traditional shoes, AND the pattern of the foot strike changes from heel-strike to shock-absorbing and collision-reducing fore-foot strike. In other words, you make your feet and calves stronger and learn how to step more cautiously (without actually thinking about it).

When I did my search now before writing this post, I found several articles claiming the opposite, for example that ‘Doctors see uptick in foot injuries from barefoot running shoes‘ (also see this one). However, none of those articles has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and their claims that the new industry of the so-called minimalist shoes is nothing more but fashion do not have much base in my opinion, as the industry producing [currently] traditional running shoes is much bigger and has much higher capacities for advertisement. They acknowledge, however, that those injuries may be related to too sudden a transition from running in thick-sole to shoes to running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.

That’s where I totally agree with these articles: before running your first marathon barefoot, get some experience by first walking barefoot and only then running, slowly increasing the speed. I think the ultimate goal should be being able to run totally barefoot (if not totally bare ;-)), but you could use minimalist shoes as intermediate stage. That was why I wore them for my first trail race.

While I am now totally comfortable with hiking barefoot, I am not sure I could really run fast on a rough terrain like a forest trail with pebbles. That’s why I opted to stay in my Vibram Sprint shoes for the race, and I felt it gave advantage over runners in regular shoes.

First of all, such minimalist shoes are much lighter, and you do feel it! Every step you take just feels lighter. Second, having flexibility in your feet and toes being able to move, even though slightly, helps with the grip, which is especially helpful on an uneven terrain. Third, this flexibility allows you to use only fore-feet, which I found very helpful when running uphill.

There are several companies and numerous models of such minimalist shoes. I used to have Vibram FiveFingers Classic, probably the most minimalistic of all minimalist shoes.

I really liked them and they served fine for jogging and travel, but after I lost them in a trip, I decided to try another model and went for Vibram FiveFingers Sprint. They turned out to be much more flexible, and they have three velcro straps that allow very fine adjustment, so they fit the feet just perfectly.

In any case, I would strongly recommend to try those first, even if you find better deals online.

There are many other models that look more elaborate, but I think that makes them less minimalist, which defeats their purpose. In my last hike, I kept my Vibram shoes on for the first couple of hours, and after I took them off I actually felt a relief – compared to walking even in these light and flexible shoes, walking barefoot feels even lighter, not to mention that you feet don’t get sweaty. That’s why I consider minimalist shoes just an intermediate stage. Of course, all of this implies walking at warm temperatures. Also, I would rather wear such shoes in the city than walk totally barefoot; there’s just too much spit, chewing gums, and occasional dog poo or even broken glass (at least in New York City).

So, once you get used to walk barefoot or in minimalist shoes, learn about differences in running barefoot and shod. Maybe you will be able to break old habits and will re-learn how to run naturally, but I found it helpful to get some guidance from my friend Pétur who is an instructor of MovNat system. One of the techniques is basically seeing running as continuous fall forward with lifting your feet to prevent the actual fall; this technique is supposed to save a lot of energy. Perhaps following this technique was what helped me to run 7k trail race pretty fast without much previous training. Another reason could be that I got some natural ‘doping’ for breakfast: I ate some red beets, because I read they boosted stamina :p

running nude: the most human form of exercise

I have written many times that I like running naked, but after I came in third in my first ever naked race, it is a good time to tell why I think running naked is not only fun, but actually is the most natural activity for a human being. We just need to let the International Olympic Committee know. Actually, the Ancient Olympic committee must have known it.

Current evidence suggests that long-distance running was crucial in human evolution. Did you know that humans are the best long-distance runners among all animals? We can outrun even a horse! And one of the keys in our success as long distance runners has been our nakedness. Here are the links to a scientific peer-reviewed article on endurance running and the evolution of Homo [a genus to which our species, Homo sapiens, as well our ancestor and cousin species belong], as well as a short summary in the same journal, Nature, and another one from BBC.

Selection towards endurance running apparently shaped our body from bones to skin. It made us essentially two-legged and our legs longer than in any other ape. Not only skeleton changed, so did musculature, thanks to which we have prominent buttocks: we barely use gluteus maximus muscle for walking, but it is very active during running. Finally, our bare skin, as opposed to fur or feathers in other famous runners among animals, such as cheetahs, horses or ostriches, is an adaptation to prevent our body from overheating during running, as it allows us to sweat effectively with the whole surface of our body. So even though we are poor sprinters compared to many other animals, in the long run – quite literally – we could beat any of them! This ability was and still is used for hunting animals by exhausting them, the so-called persistence hunting.

Thus, people running in clothes, even light ‘professional running’ clothes, is evolutionary nonsense, a totally backward idea so to say. Sometimes you get questions how it feels with ‘things’ swaying and flopping. I’ve never had any issues or discomfort with that, and, at least from a male perspective when you think of it seriously, it’s difficult to see it as a real problem (you may get some insight on this issue from a female prospective from a blogpost on Young Naturists America). In the Bouncing Buns race almost all men ran totally bare, and most women without bras, so I assume most of the participants felt fine running naked. I could imagine it might be an issue for men who always wear tight underwear and for women always wearing bras, if their scrotum and breast are not used to supporting themselves, but that actually doesn’t sound healthy. On the other hand, when I told a friend about me participating in the naked race, he suggested that additional “pendulum” might be actually advantageous if you synchronise the swing with the forward move 😀

I suggest you to test this hypothesis on your own. Go for a good long run, naked run, like a real human 😉

Naturist campsite in Western Peloponnese, Greece

ελληνικά

Kaiafas (or Kayafas) is an immensely long beach with very pleasant soft sand, which makes it perfect for jogging at the waterfront,
beach sports, capoeira or whatever you can think of is good on sand.
Proximity to ancient Olympia (Ολύμπια) probably may give some additional inspiration for practicing sports in the nude and combining it with some music and dancing, as ancient Greek athletes did. There is also a lake and nice pine forest, 
and enough space for camping.