Soldier of fitness

Mark Divine Reserve Officer and Navy SEAL Trainer

Mark Divine ’85

When the U.S. military needs to do the impossible — from the targeted raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates — it calls on the Navy SEALs. When future Navy SEALs need to get in shape, they call on Mark Divine ’85.

A SEAL officer for 20 years, Divine retired as a commander in 2011, and is now dedicating himself to training others — both physically and mentally. His clients include military and prospective special ops warriors, endurance athletes, and professionals.

This new career began when, during the Iraq War, Divine was called up as a reserve officer to help design training programs for the SEALs and to help study a new special ops program for the Marine Corps. Since then, Divine has partnered with the Navy to create a nationwide mentoring program for Naval special ops candidates and launched SEALFIT, helping aspiring SEALs prepare for the rigors of official training.

In addition, he has authored two books to share his specialized regimen with the world. The New York Times bestseller 8 Weeks to SEALFIT takes readers through the intense physical and mental workouts necessary to become a SEAL. And last December, Divine released the companion volume: The Way of the SEAL, a Wall Street Journal bestseller that offers mental training and performance-thinking guidance for leaders.

The Way of the SEAL harkens back to a crucial period in Divine’s life: his mid-20s, when he was working at a CPA firm in New York City and was spending much of his time outside of the office training with martial arts grandmaster Tadashi Nakamura. With Nakamura’s help, Divine expanded his regimen beyond the physical training that he had mastered at Colgate through competitive swimming and rowing. Divine learned to meditate and control his mind, seeking to cultivate what he calls his “warrior spirit” (an ethic he now tries to instill in his clients).

“I started to really change as a human being,” he said. “That integration of physical, mental, and spiritual training was developing my deeper character; every day I was trying to be the best human being I could be.”

Wanting to devote his life to pursuits that would allow him to reach his maximum physical and mental potential, Divine decided to leave the New York finance world for SEAL training. He finished SEAL training first in his class (called “the Honor Man”) and was nicknamed “Cyborg” by his teammates for his inhuman endurance on difficult missions — perhaps ironically, because cultivating his mind and spirit was such an important part of Divine’s daily training routine.

Many of his missions as an active-duty SEAL remain classified. Divine’s training methods, however, are secret no more. This next chapter of his life is about sharing these methods with an ever-broader audience. In fact, he spoke at Colgate Memorial Chapel during Homecoming in September. His talk, focusing on leadership, integrated training, and the importance of building strong relationships, was sponsored by the Presidents’ Club.

“I eat my own dog food; I train this way every day,” he said. “Physically and mentally, I’m stronger now than I was in my 30s. I think I’ve tapped into a means for developing human potential that has always been around but has been obscured in the West, where we’re focused on material wealth and IQ, which is just a small percentage of true intelligence.”

— Mike Agresta