As an active Navy SEAL, my daily rhythm used to be dictated by the mission my team was preparing for or conducting. But no matter the mission, one thing that was always part of our morning routine was team physical training, or PT. That training, an invigorating (to say the least!) combination of full-body calisthenics, running, swimming and an obstacle course, provided a power-packed morning ritual for myself and my team as a whole.
Starting my day with an intense functional-fitness workout, just like I did when I was in the SEALs, is a routine that I have carried into my professional life after military service. But the way I do that routine is somewhat uncommon, as I have a different view on physical training than most.
My experience in the SEALs taught me that how you train is equally important to whether you train. Many people struggle daily with “whether” to train. As a SEAL, I have that covered—it’s on autopilot. Rather, I spend considerable time experimenting with “how” to train, to use that time not only to strengthen my body, but also strengthen my mind and emotional resiliency—all within one session.
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In the SEALs, character development—both as a team and as individuals—was conducted through a fierce and relentless exercise regimen. I continue to strive to develop my character through my training, cultivating traits such as:
- Competitiveness in a cooperative way
- Mental agility, focus and accuracy of thought
- Emotional resiliency and confidence
- Durability and a warrior’s non-quitting spirit
My daily training is conducted in what I call my morning routine. I would characterize this routine as “integrated warrior development.” Though it changes a bit daily, for variety and to meet my objectives for the day, the basic building blocks remain the same.
Here is a typical routine:
- Wake at dawn and before even opening my eyes, I begin my positivity process
- I then get out of bed to drink a glass of fresh water and do some forward bends with deep, diaphragmatic breathing
- Next, I review my personal ethos to ground my inner domain in the important things and box breathe for five to 20 minutes (a core practice I teach my students).
- To cap off this stage of the morning routine, I visualize my day to set things on the right path. I also picture a “future version” of myself to sow the SEALFIT goal-actualization process.
- Then, I have a cup of coffee with coconut oil and butter and head into my workplace, where I crank out my 90-minute SEALFIT Operator Workout of the Day, either alone or with my teammates.
This routine may sound extensive to you, but it has led me to an incredible level of integrative health and functional fitness at the age of 52 (I can routinely outperform men half my age!). Another exciting outcome is that the time I spend each morning working on my “inner domain” has resulted in much greater success in the “outer world.” As a result, over the past few years, I have written several best-selling books, built six multi-million dollar businesses and am able to be fully present with my family.
Read more: ‘How I Became a Morning Person’
In fact, this routine has actually saved me enormous time and energy by providing me the clarity and confidence to say no to the wrong things in service to the bigger yes! It has also delivered astonishing levels of focus and energy and ensures that I am growing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually every day.
And to that, as we used to say in the SEALs, I give a big Hooyah!
Mark Divine is a retired SEAL Commander, the founder of SEALFIT and author of 8 Weeks to SEALFIT.