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About Mark

I’m not your stereotypical ‘did it tough’ and ‘life has dealt me a bad hand’ kind of guy. It’s fair to say that I had a wonderful start in life, my parents, environment and family were all great, loving and encouraging. I grew up in Midlands, UK and was exposed to that water, and more specifically sailing almost from birth. At the age of 10, our family moved to the east coast to the Norfolk Broads. 

As a family, my parents were keen sailors and from the age of three, they couldn’t keep me off the water sailing; by age 11 I had my first yacht. Soon after, I lost the sailing bug and gained an even bigger one for windsurfing.

The Rebellious stage started

My parents were supportive and while they had their own challenges, I enjoyed the early years of my second decade. By age 14 I’d hit a rebellious stage and my relationship with my father declined which, in part, led to me leaving home at 15. At 17 while windsurfing, I took a hold-down from a wave and in short, I drowned. Luckily, I was revived and had no long-term physical affects, except a healthy appreciation for how short life can be.

I Made the Choice to Truly Live

Over the next decade I managed to establish myself in the world although lacked a real direction or purpose in life; I felt like I didn’t fit in to what society offered. Nevertheless, I stuck with it and at the time, this didn’t seem relevant – as I was happy enough.

During these years, I lost a friend to cancer and another to suicide, I lived in four countries, went back to Uni, emigrated to Australia and recently rebuilt the bridges with my father. From 30-40 I started several businesses in a number of different arenas, some worked, some didn’t, one devastated me financially and took 7 years to claw my way back to where I was before. I got married and divorced.

The business and the marriage break up, while not simultaneous, shattered me emotionally and physically. I was desperate, had suicidal thoughts but was too proud (and scared) to talk about it. While I managed to get through it, I was unknowingly scared and never dealt with the emotional issues that tortured me for so long.

Over the next ten years, I built two new small businesses and then married the person I considered my soul-mate; I had never been happier. During this time, I discovered free-diving and while no depth expert, I found great enjoyment and passion for the breath-hold work and benefits outside of diving. It helped with realising what my body could accomplish; usually so greatly held back by the mind. I started teaching breath-hold techniques to build confidence in the water, both for adults and kids, which continues today.

While the businesses continue to do well, without realising the ‘signs’, my marriage ended abruptly and uncontrollably. This took me to a whole new level of pain and despair. With the loss of my marriage I knew that I was unlikely to have a family of my own, whatever that might look like and I had no vision or sense of purpose. I’d hit rock bottom. I lived in my car for a period as I didn’t want to be around people and didn’t speak to a soul.

In this anguish and the darkest of thoughts, I made a decision. I was either going down a very bad path which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come back from, or I was going to evaluate all aspects of my life, how I viewed the world and where I belonged in it; I made the choice to truly live.

We All Need a Lighthouse to Guide Us

I realised there were so many aspects of my life, communication, self-worth, intrinsic negative thought patterns and behaviours that ‘controlled’ how I lived, my relationships and how I valued myself. I always considered myself open-minded and easy going, but I saw that in reality, I was far from this. Ironically, these were all things my wife understood and tried to help me with but in hindsight, I just wasn’t ready to learn; I wish I had.

I made a decision from that day forward to immerse myself in talking or listening to people who inspired change, my holistic counsellor, delved into the neuroscience behind behavioural change and human behaviour and looked internally at who I wanted to become and how I saw my purpose in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Tony Robins nor am I in anyway an expert – that takes a lifetime of work. But it has changed my life in momentous ways. Cliché as it sounds, this is just the start of a wonderful new journey. I still run my businesses and have the same hobbies and sports; I haven’t changed my name, given up wine and coffee, burnt my possessions or moved into a tent in the hills. As my wife, who remains close to me, says, we all need a lighthouse to guide us, but it’s not the destination. Life is about finding out who we are, how we can evolve and how we can give back. We all need momentum and purpose, otherwise we’re simply drifting through time.

I find myself thankful of the time I’ve had because without the challenges and heartbreak, I wouldn’t have been able to see myself and the world I live in so differently. To have a purpose, true understanding of one’s self and the skills to not get lost in the dogma of society and ego, is enlightening. I hope that some of what I’ve learnt and my experiences, can help others navigate the challenging times and show them there is a path to grow from the darkness.

Breathwork

As I’ve developed my interest in free-diving and breathwork generally, I’ve come to use the breath-hold and relaxation techniques in my everyday life.

I’m a trained XPT Performance Breathing Coach, and have completed the Wim Hof fundamentals course which I integrate into many of my coaching practices. I’m a qualified Breath-hold for Survival coach through Apnea International and teach adults and kids, breath-hold for surfers and water users keen to learn ways of relaxing in high-stress situations; ostensibly learning to deal with holding the breath and relaxing with little or no air in the lungs and a high metabolism.

This has led to a more holistic approach to breathwork generally and has strong similarities to the techniques used in yoga and meditation. Part of breathwork is to understand the effect the mind has on the body, how our bio-chemistry can alter in an instant and how we can very quickly push ourselves past what we thought possible with a change in mindset and attitude. The breathing practices will equip you with a number of short and long-term exercises that help reduce stress and anxiety but also form daily practices and a more mindful way of breathing.

Performance Breathing Coach

Breath-hold for Survival Coach

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