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STEVE ILG PERFORMS A yoga pose on the deck of his Cheshire home. Ilg is a world renown fitness expert and author specializing in Yoga. Photo: Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun

Sun Sports Staff
Wednesday, April 4, 2007 7:56 AM MST

Flagstaff-based best-selling health and fitness author and yoga instructor shares his gift with others

The principals in Steve Ilg’s favorite game growing up were his jet-black pet wolf hybrid and good ol’ Mother Nature.

“We’d wake up in the morning, look out the window and pretty much just take off,” said Ilg, who spent countless hours with Apache in the creeks and canyons in and around Durango, Colo. throughout the 1970s. “(I’d have my) bow and arrow and I’d climb up (on a bluff), shoot the arrow high into air and try to see where it landed. Then I’d time myself on how long it would take us to find it.

“That was a classic game that we would play. We would just explore. We would have a great time.”

The object of the exercise was clear enough, but Ilg came away with so much more than just a knack for tracking down some lousy stick.

He entered adulthood with his love of the outdoors even stronger, but more importantly, with a firmer understanding of his place in it.

“What Apache did for me was really to invite me to learn how to move through (the world),” the world-class outdoor athlete said. “And my personal upbringing dovetailed perfectly into my professional calling.”

More than three decades later, the Flagstaff-based best-selling health and fitness author and yoga instructor has done his darndest to pass that gift along to others.

“It’s not enough to be supple or agile, you have to have endurance. And then it’s not enough to have (those things), you also have to have the strength component –a foundation of overcoming sleep, appetite, food, all of that,” he said. “That all falls into the ancient art of yoga. If you read one of my books or surf the web, you’ll find a common undercurrent is the liaison with the natural world.”

Professional mountain biker Timari Pruis has trained under Ilg for the last several years and she credits his guidance in her rise through the ranks.
“When I started working with Steve, part of the requirement to have him as my (mountain bike) coach was that I take up yoga. And that has been the best thing for my cycling by far,” she said. “It’s helped mentally. …the whole meditational aspect of everything.”

Pruis said the meditation exercises she’s learned from Ilg have paid off big time because she’s more able to visualize her plan of attack long before race day.

“That’s been hugely important because you essentially ride the course through your mind beforehand,” she added. “That way you can prepare yourself for what you have ahead of you.”


Ilg, a student of both western and eastern contemplative and physiologic sciences, believes one of the biggest barriers to a person’s ability to maximize his or her physical endeavors comes with a pair of headphones.

“The first sport I did competitively was peak running and it really helped nurture a humbleness and a respect for the outdoors,” he said. “If you fast forward to now, it’s like (things) can’t happen (unless people are) plugged in.

“Everyone is so plugged in with this music and just divorced from the beautiful religion of silence. It’s really quite dangerous.”

Ilg, the overall winner of this year’s Flagstaff Winter Triathlon, moved north to Boulder, Colo. after high school where he lived the life of a self-proclaimed rock-climbing bum in the summer and a ski bum in the winter before his life changed forever.

“My spiritual teacher sent me on a mission to go to L.A. and attempt to bring this mountain sacredness to the big city,” Ilg said. “So I did my best. I built my own yoga studio there, had my name in neon lights on Ventura Boulevard.”

It was there where he met his partner Joy Kilpatrick. They worked together and eventually paired off.

“I trained movie stars and celebrities, blah, blah, blah, then was given permission to come back to the mountain.”

So Ilg and Kilpatrick packed up and headed east two years ago.

Ilg would have been more than happy to return to Colorado, but he wanted to make sure both he and Kilpatrick were close enough to make regular return visits to their studio in SoCal without too much hassle so they settled on Flagstaff.

“You know how some people get the southwest, while other people are like, ‘Why do you like it there? It’s just a bunch of dirt.’ Well, she got it,” Ilg said of Kilpatrick. “The move to Flagstaff has been auspicious. .. a beautiful alignment with friends and the outdoors.”

For more information on Ilg, go online at www.wholisticfitness.com.

Keith Jiron can be reached at kjiron@azdailysun.com or 556-2260.

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