Photo by Sincerely Gone Photography

At 60 years old, Larry Hartfield has been doing martial arts for over half of his life. Through training and teaching for 35 years, Larry has learned just how important regularly challenging your body is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 How do you live a 360life?

Like everything, it is all about balance. I really believe the secret is to keep the important aspects of life properly portioned out. The big ones for me are my family, my health, my career and time for laughter. Getting laughter in is important to me. I think of it like taking a mini vacation because you cannot be stressed and laugh at the same time.

What is your wellness mantra?

Be grateful for what you have, and strive for improvement every day. Even a little bit of steady improvement will get you “there,” whatever “there” might be. At the end of the day, I want to be grateful for the day and know that I learned from the day.

How long have you been active?

I have been regularly active since the age of 25. As a youth, I was not a very good athlete, but I played some Little League Baseball and basketball in grade school and I even attempted football and water polo in high school. I finally found my “thing” with the martial arts when I was introduced to karate.

Tell us how you got started?

Long story short, I got the opportunity to train one-on-one with a very experienced karate black belt that I was in no position to turn down (why is another story!). It was very difficult and I thought about quitting often, but I hung in there and eventually it became my thing. After 35 years of training and teaching, it is just a huge part of who I am. I really love and feel honored teaching people the martial arts I am good at and helping them with their self-defense. Many years ago, when I was first starting out as an insurance agent, my friend and mentor Joe Cirulli, the owner of Gainesville Health and Fitness, observed that I had been teaching and helping people learn martial arts and self-defense for such a long time that it was time to help with their financial self-defense.

Please share your favorite competition and what it meant to you

The competition that most stands out was attending the Hayashi-Ha WorLd Karate Championship as a third-degree black belt in 1997. This was a great experience because it was my first international black belt competition. I had the opportunity to meet and compete with some very talented black belt competitors from all over the world. I did not place in the top three, but I did fairly well.

What keeps you motivated?

A couple things — I learned a lot about exercise and fitness the years I worked at Gainesville Health and Fitness. I learned that the body is an amazing machine; I used to tell people to think of their body like a lawnmower, if you leave your lawnmower in your garage and only rarely take it out to use, it probably won’t run so well. It is the same with your body. If you do not use it and challenge it regularly, not only will you lose what progress you may have made, but your body also will not perform well for you and may even become more prone to an injury. My martial arts training has helped me very much in my career as an insurance agent as well. I will never know everything or be perfect, so for me it is important to keep learning and improving.  A little improvement for that day is still an improvement. 

Do you have any martial arts goals you would like to achieve?

I just want to continue to broadening and deepening my knowledge of the Arts. I never want dust to collect on my black belt; I want it to fall apart.

What’s your go-to diet?

I like the philosophy of Eat the 80. I eat sensible, well-balanced meals 80 percent of the time and I am much less strict the other 20 percent. And I do enjoy a good pizza and my Ben & Jerry’s.

How would you encourage others to start living a 360 life?

Find a healthy activity you feel you would enjoy. There are so many, almost too many, to choose from, so enjoy the process and try a few different things. To make the search easier, try making a list of the things you enjoy and the goals you want to accomplish. Group classes at a fitness center can be fun or you can try getting a personal trainer to get started with a routine. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged, do your research and be patient. Reward yourself for each small step you take toward working your way into a routine. No matter what you decide to do, give it a true, sincere effort.

What is your daily workout routine?

Most mornings I will get up and do some morning stretching and some tai chi. During the week, I will do a couple days of strength training at GHF, two to three days of tai chi and a couple days of karate. I don’t really feel the need to do something every day, but most days I do stay active.

What is the most important lesson being active has taught you?

Being consistent is very important. My first karate Instructor told me that once you break the chain it is very tough to get back on track. I have learned that my martial arts training is so helpful to my body, mind and spirit. It has taught me a number of ways to handle what life throws at you, whether in your personal or professional life. Helping others over the many years to learn what self-defense is and to acquire those tools has been wonderful.

What is one thing you wouldn’t do martial arts without?

I think one of the cool things about martial arts is that you really do not need anything to do it, just a little bit of floor space either indoors or outdoors.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

There are so many ways of giving yourself the gift of wellness and there is something out there for everyone. Sometimes the search might be a little overwhelming, but it can be fun. Keep in mind that you will feel a sense of accomplishment no matter what you choose. Just taking on a challenge and rising to the occasion is good for the soul.

Favorite way to wind down from a busy week

Tai chi is very helpful at the end of the day. I do like going home and zoning out while watching TV with my wife. I really like comedy — I like to laugh. It is like a mini vacation. “Modern Family” is one of the shows my wife and I like to watch together and laugh.

Favorite book

My favorite novel is “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. I often read books on traditional karate and classical architecture. It really helps me to fall asleep.

Favorite way to relax

Aside from martial arts and meditation, I like reading anything that distracts me, watching TV or going out to dinner with my wife.

Go-to meal/restaurant in Gainesville

I been going to Leonardo’s 706 for a very long time — it is like a home away from home. I also have been enjoying Root and Pecker quite a bit and go to New Deal Café often with family. They all have really quality food and service.