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Tag Archives: movement

Ido Portal – keep moving

Movement nutrition: you get good at what you do, and what you don’t do

IdoHuman evolution has, and will always be, about movement. Evolution requires complexity, and complexity requires movement. Those that don’t move, tend not to evolve as well. They shit the bed. Avoiding the approach of the poop-man, we were constantly reminded, requires nurturing the freedom providing our amazing capacity to move well. Few people however, seek to move, both figuratively and literally, outside their limited zones of comfort. Ido Portal is certainly an exception. Having spent the past years travelling far and wide seeking out knowledge from some of the world’s leading trainers, in order to improve my own game as both an athlete and teacher, the chance to work under the guidance of Portal and his assistants was one I had long awaited.

In short, Ido Portal has devoted his life to exploring movement. With a background in traditional martial arts, he moved about trying to find teachers of movement, but only came across specialists, who, despite imparting knowledge, failed to solve the myriad of elements that comprise movement education – scientific, nutritional, artistic, mental, biomechanical and so on. Portal now travels the world expanding upon a culture of movement. Some short clips of the complexities explored can be found here. I joined a group in Copenhagen who, in Portal’s words, were interested in this “bigger picture”.

Joined by his 2 pupils John Sapinoso and Odelia Goldschmidt, an eager group of mainly athletes, teachers, coaches and therapists experienced first-hand the ‘Ido Portal Method’. This post won’t detail this method, but will provide an insight into the philosophy of movement. We were reminded at the start, that the weekend would provide more questions than answers. I’ve gone away from courses with this feeling before, but not in the sense Portal meant. His teachings were complex, but this is a guy who has spent his entire adult life researching, and practicing, the intricacies of human movement. Being able to perform a strict one-arm chin up is not in any sense ‘easy’. His methods were challenging, but only in the respect that he never once led anyone to believe that beautiful capacities of strength and graceful movement came without years of hard work. Processes were broken down, from the preparation of joints, to the basic building blocks of hanging and pulling, to moving on all fours – in order to convey the process and complexity of movement freedom, and, if performing a one-arm chin/handstand, of bodily super strength. Throughout the demanding series of practical segments, Portal oozed his passion for perfecting form and not allowing us to move on too fast.

A large part of the weekend was as much a lesson is how to dig deep physically to unleash the creativity and complexity of the human body through natural movement patterns, yet I found myself intrigued by the philosophical insights provided into the way freedom might be approached in these hypermodern times. A slight interlude first. I’ve spent much of the past year reading the contrasting works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard alongside the more contemporary neorealist approaches espoused by Sloterdijk and Latour. Part of this deeper introspection has to do with long-standing questions relating to the reevaluation and questioning of the meaning and purposes of ‘being human’. Whilst travelling to Copenhagen for the course, I was reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra, my alternative to a Lonely Planet city guide. This masterpiece, however challenging it is to read, is a vision of what we all have within us to define, create, and become the masters of our own existence. Through a highly metaphorical and parabolic style, Nietzsche asks why an encroaching spirit of nihilism has led the world into a state of crisis, an emptying of human meaning, purpose and essential value? The ‘free spirit’ or the Übermensch is a vision of overcoming the passive nature of an unreflective humanity – decomposing (as today) in a blur of YouTube, androgyny and high fructose corn syrup. This free spirit, and will to cross the bridges retaining the anthropos in this hot-tub of sugar-laced apathy, need not dwell in the mind but ought to resonate within the physical being.

For most philosophers, and indeed I must delegate this lack of motion to fellow anthropologists, the investigation into (post) humanism, past and present, has lacked any sense of an active, performative oomph. But, perhaps my diligent return to German thought (a mere aside I thought from the French poststructuralist hold upon my weary reading eyes of recent years) was meant to direct me to Peter Sloterdijk. Very briefly, this brilliant mind, in all his roguishness (Socrates was right – ‘wisdom-roughlook’ – ‘cheese&ham’) sees this transcendence of man Nietzsche prophetically called for, as taking place through training, work, physicality and performance. In other words, practice becomes the ‘athleticism of the incredible’ a repetition of exercises that shape a world in which we take responsibility for self-actualizing our potentials and freedoms, away from the temptations to continue to base life on a Facebook ‘like’ or a belly full of frozen spam (and the $19.99 solution). My reading may have a slight bias, but essentially, philosophers who remind us that we are products of what we do, and don’t do, are welcome downloads to this movers’ library.

Step up Ido Portal.

Ido2Marketing yourself as a proponent of ‘movement culture’ takes some follow up. Not like one who espouses his/her skills as a specialist (Yoga, Zumba, aqua-jogging, Nordic walking etc). Portal had clearly gone beyond the ‘course handbook, monthly newsletter and periodic group class’ mandate of many of today’s ‘trainers’ in the world of ‘fitness’. In fact, the detail and variety of insight into the body he provided, was beyond what I had expected. Again, I’m not sure some trainers dumb down their schpeel for ease of flow, or out of pure necessity. I found the anatomy and physiology detail extremely useful, not only in a practical sense, but in the way cognitive processes rely on various ques that one may or may not be aware of. I for one, like to know what’s happening (or not) with my body beyond feeling ‘ok’ or ‘crap’ and small details to concentrate on when standing upside down, or up on the rings are crucial to the process of mastering certain movements. Many fallacies were put to the test, in straightforward, no bullshit ways. Ideas about stretching, nutrition, deloading, programming, safety, intensity to name but a few were presented in ways that I’m sure the majority of the participants wouldn’t have come across before. I certainly found it refreshing to hear a coach talking about the resilience and creativity of both the body and mind, in regards to injuries, complexity and intelligence. Anecdotes were given from athletes and trainers to accentuate ideas, refute others. I appreciated hearing, as an undercurrent to most of the instruction, that it was our own responsibility to find out what works for us as individuals, as opposed to the constant ‘one size fits all’ approach commonly force fed in the boxed-in commercially-driven ‘fitness world’. These ideas were for people who wanted to train, not exercise. I’m just glad nobody asked the fateful question relating to ‘but is it still ok if we eat shit and don’t train much on weekends’? I can only imagine what the response would have been.

For those who have followed Portal on the interweb over the years, you can’t help but notice the air of confidence/arrogance in the way he responds to (mostly) cyberwarrior comments and questions. This could just be an Israeli thing I thought. On the contrary, I found Portal affable, humorous and fully geared to imparting understanding built up over years of research and practice.  To justify the fees and the almost ‘exclusivity’ of his services would require this, but like few others I’ve had the pleasure to work with (Steve Cotter immediately springs to mind) the level of professionalism and the take-out for me personally entirely justifies Portal as being someone you ought to seek out if you’re interested in the ‘bigger picture’ relating to movement. Like a number of the philosophers, stretching as far back at the Stoics through the Renaissance, the revolutionary 19th century, Enlightenment’s secularism and through to the critics of modernity today, Ido Portal seeks to confront the fear of possible freedom, and the instinct for growth, independence and durability. His movement culture, or ‘method’ may be seen as a new realm of physical perspectivism, one seeking to overcome the limits of dualistic thought between the mind and body. We may not all have the desire to move as beautifully as the human is capable of, or even reflect upon the destructive forces of inactivity and acquiescence to external forces. Yet, the perspective Portal gives is based upon movement, and the creativity and joy it can bring. The world is knowable, but conditional to certain interests – if we can place movement at the forefront of a new set of values for the human being, then Portal, like Nietzsche and his prophet Zarathustra before him, will have played his part in the creation of what we might become.

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MovNat Trainer Certification London 2012

Ask most people what their main association with “training” is and you’ll get a variety of answers. Some will refer to fitness, conditioning or strength gain. Others for goal-oriented performance or weight loss/gain. Most will compartmentalize their associations with physical fitness to “the gym” 3x per week, or a run on sunday, or maybe a course learning about a new product that “best” achieves one or more of their goals. Few, if not any, will tell you their “training” is about optimizing movement patterns for the contextual demands of their environment. Enter MovNat.

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Philosophy

I’d been following this fledgling physical education system from its initial beginnings a few years ago, impressed by the way it represented so much of what was missing from the increasingly specialized (and confused/unhealthy) element of modern day training methodologies. MovNat was not representing anything new, it was merely establishing a framework for focussing training as a way of being, or as a condition that has always allowed our bodies and minds to thrive through an evolved sense of adaptability. This non-specialized physical sense of being, through natural movement, allows for an optimized condition for whatever task we may encounter, rather than focussing on specific targets of weight loss or strength, for example. But what is natural, as opposed to unnatural?

If something is unnatural, does that make it less effective in our daily lives? Of course not. Modern humans are continually evolving in so many ways, but more often than not, in specialized ways. We seek a career, a hobby, maybe a partner and routines that give our lives a structure that allows us to forge our own path. But do we do things efficiently? Is being “fit”, “healthy” or “successful” etc a sign of our effectiveness in achieving certain goals? Maybe we can learn how to be more efficient with our lives, understanding at the same time the factors that make things less efficient or effective. Maybe we need ques to help us become more aware of how much potential we have.

MovNat explores these, and numerous related questions by providing ideas for expanding our enormous potentials, primarily through the teaching of ‘evolutionary natural movement aptitudes’ that are imprinted within us. These principles that include various locomotive, manipulative and combative skills based upon balance, posture, timing, relaxation, tension etc are often lost upon our newly adaptive physical condition that requires far less natural movement than we need as functioning animals. We sleep, we sit, we drive, we sit, we lie down, we eat poorly, we slouch and in between we make the odd effort to physically exert ourselves thinking we are making a huge difference. Our lack of quality movement is interconnected with other realms of life such as the way we nourish our bodies through food, through friendships, connections and visions of an integrated human nature.

MovNat has not reinvented the wheel. MovNat does not ask for 3 easy payments of $19.99 for the ultimate answer to be send to your postbox. Ideas of efficiency and adaptability have slowly become eroded by the rapid onset of commercial, complex and specialized life pathways so many of us are drawn into. Our bodies often respond in ways we are visibly aware of, but often in elusive ways; stress, discomfort, fatigue, sadness and so on. Does MovNat suggest that we all turn the clock and drop all our modern ways for a return to small foraging bands in sparcely populated areas? Of course not! This will never be the reality, so why live with such romanticism?

The teaching of natural movement is intended to give us all the competency to perform a whole lot better in practical life situations. Not just in our living room or in a hot and crowded gym, but outside in our natural environment. We need to run, to carry things, to jump, to throw, and in some cases maybe even to climb and defend ourselves if faced with danger. Why not learn how to do these things efficiently, and become aware of non-physical aspects of our lives (nutrition, mindfulness, kinship etc) that can be improved at the same time? MovNat is not competing against any system, other than our inability to seek an awareness of our deeper human potentials.

London MovNat certification

So, as a lifelong practitioner of a multitude of physical pursuits and nature lover, the chance to learn the MovNat system and incorporate it into my own life, but also teach it was always appealing. The London trainer certification lasted almost 3 full days. Candidates from all over Europe were in attendance, mostly with a trainers background in various sports, some already incorporating natural movement training. Vic Verdier and Joseph Bartz were the instructors and provided a wealth of knowledge and experience in an organized, relaxed, and at times amusing way. Joseph has a background in parkour training, and provided numerous examples of incredible body control, strength and grace of movement that left us amazed. His teaching was clear, methodical and humble. You could tell he was about natural movement, and both he and Vic were the kind of guys you would want to have on the sinking ship.

Without giving away too many of the “secrets” (hey, it’s more than $19.99 you know!) the days were spend inside the East London Gymnastics arena in Beckton and at the local park beside. We went through the skills and techniques that are encapsulated in the foundations of movement, including running, climbing, lifting, crawling, balancing and carrying. Days were indispersed with some of the more theoretical and philosophical aspects of MovNat that taught us the essential nature of adapting our movement to the environment we encounter.

Basic skills were shown in their stripped down version (something that is seemingly lost in most modern training settings and among most trainers) and more complex and challenging variations. Vic gave very interesting short lectures about lifestyle elements that most of us were familiar with, but somehow felt happy hearing reinforced once again. What stressors you place upon your body, and you abilities to recover have enormous consequence. Practical application of movement skills was always reinforced. Why do something? What use is this type of movement? People need to be told over and over again why they are training a certain movement. And it shouldn’t be about being “cool” or not, it should be practical.

Of particular value was the testing day where we were put through various skills tests, as well as placed in a teaching situation where we were tested on our abilities to impart knowledge. This is an element missing from many training camps I have been to – what use is the knowledge if you cannot simply and effectively relay your underatandings to clients? None. We spoke about methodologies, class structures, and the inevitable questions about how to cope with “that annoying student who wants to get wiped out at each training”. We know that our weaknesses first must be assessed, then efficiently transformed through proper programming and implimentation. Many of the participants were highly skilled individuals, but we all had our shortcomings. As a trainer, we need to be made aware of this. Through my kettlebell training, I know how important breathing, tension, balance and relaxation becomes when working longer sets with heavier loads. Again, I struggled with the almost instinctive use of strength to overcome these deficiencies I have in my own game. But I am aware, and was made more aware during the course, and will continue my path towards efficient movement.

The way ahead

Our bodies are not designed NOT to move. We can all improve through an awareness of how our cognition is embodied within us and is stimulated in so many positive ways through healthy movement. Our bodily kinetic intelligence is slowly being eroded by technology, convinience, disease, laziness and a general confusion as to how we can optimize our health. In all but extreme cases, the answer lies not in medical intervention, but in a sense of awareness and willingness to get outside and move to the beat of nature. We must move away from a reliance on the logical and rational side of our being, towards experimenting with the unconscious and intuitive. We have the choice to adapt to our office chair or tv-stare, or to extend our incredible potentials to see things differently. Natural movement is a great start, MovNat is waiting for you.

Special thanks to all the great course participants who, despite different backgrounds, shared an obvious passion for natural movement. Humans are social animals, and you all showed how this is such an integral component of enjoying the benefits of sharing knowledge in a training environment.

For more information on MovNat training in Bergen or elswhere in Norway for your business, family or training facility, please leave a message and I’ll get back in touch.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Thinking

 

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Contrasting measures of movement and performance

I often wonder what the point is of aiming to quantify athletic performance through sole adherence to numbers/time, if you are totally unaware of how your movement patterns and technique are progressing. It makes little sense, for the 99.9% of the population not involved in elite-level performance, to quantify performance in a numerical fashion, if the qualitative indicators of what drives mobility, strength and overall movement health are left to somehow take care of themselves. I´ll explain further what I mean, not so much as a criticism to people going hard with their training, or setting high benchmarks in their performance, but for people to think about performance and health longevity and how this relates to much of the totally wasted and often dangerous activity I see in the gym these days.

For gymnasts, martial artists, olympic weight lifters and those of us involved with girevoy sport – technique comes first. It´s mastery takes up the majority of training time, and attention to detail can seem hard to grasp for most not so well versed in the respective disciplines. The attention on harnessing tension and relaxation requires a complex combination of speed, power, timing and extraordinary mobility. Those who achieve greatness in these disciplines have a unique ability to control muscle tension through strength and power and to relax sufficiently (in the case of girevoy sport in particular) to allow speed, flexibility and endurance to be sustained whilst competing. None of this is achieved without proper training and understanding of fundamental movement patterns.

Movement however, in this modern world of instant gratification and impatience for change-driven objective results, is not a quantifiable measure of performance, as we see with time and numbers. Movement is a qualitative measure of health which cannot be reduced to a competitive exercise. Herein lies the challenge for fitness professionals working with the mainstream or in rehabilitation:

How to teach quality of movement as a performative aspiration before quantifying results through numerical benchmarks?

You see it everyday at training facilities, on the boards, on the web forums; ways to achieve quantifiable results in the quickest possible time: “My goal is a 400lb deadlift”, “I wish to run a sub-3hr marathon”, “I want to complete FRAN in under 4 minutes” etc etc. Most would not care so much how they got there, however ugly it looked. They would simply take the time and add the weight. Professional athletes are usually exceptions to this rule, as their livelihood is based around clearcut objective results. But then again, at the elite level, movement is usually of the highest level as well. But does less that 1% of the population really want to achieve  certain objective standards of performance to the detriment of movement quality or efficiency?. Do we actually think in these terms and concepts when training?. Probably not.

This is where trainers and fitness professionals (or whatever the name you choose to use) need to step up the mark and wise up. Most average people exercising for enjoyment and other health benefits it provides should be encouraged to work within parameters of proven programs that gradually increase performance through smart periodization and measurable feedback. It is simply too much to ask the amateur gym-goer to be able to adjust their training each day based on multiple variables affecting daily performance. But it must be the prerogative of trainers and gym owners to ensure a baseline of movement quality is instilled into members before starting on with pushing rep counts, loading the bar or holding the clock in your face.

We are all born with amazing flexibility and mobility, but reinforce bad habits and patterns of movement as we age. The common ankle, knee, hip and shoulder mobility issues are all too plain to see, as is poor core stability and spinal weakness. No one has a place, or will gain long term benefits by stacking plates on a bar until these essential areas of mobility are trained back to their intended function. To do this, especially if you have been hurt, poorly trained or very inactive, takes time for many, and to reinforce bad habits and certain asymmetries by loading weight only leads to certain unspecific injuries caused by inadequate foundational movement conditioning.

What happens when poor mobility is overlooked for objective gains in the weight room?. Compensatory form takes place, often unilaterally, which reinforces already bad mobility. Commonly seen in the squat, push up or press, shoulder and hip weakness makes for awful looking movement patterns, especially on those with heavily weighted bars on their backs. One overlooked solution is to teach control of movement through bodyweight training. Teach the integrative form of each movement and reinforce this until weaknesses are ironed out, strength is gained, and a platform is laid out for more specific functional progressions.

Instead of looking at your strengths, look at your weaknesses, and build upon them to integrate your body and mind into a strong unit. Isolating body parts or movements, because you are strong at them, is simply nonsensical. Kettlebells, in this regard, are outstanding aids not only for screening poor movement but for strengthening symmetrical and proprioceptive awareness throughout the entire body. Foundational movements such as the swing, Turkish get up, press and snatch cannot be performed without this “core” awareness, and balance, or you will simply fall over in a heap.

I firmly believe in the kettlebell being of huge benefit to the future of mobility awareness and injury rehabilitation for the huge proportion of the modern population who struggle to perform basic movements with ease and efficiency. Spinal shortening is all too common with the aging process and the cumulative effects of compensatory measures to counter back and hip immobility has disastrous consequences. Remember also, that our body works are an integrated unit, so structural and muscular pain, as well as a struggling metabolic state due to stress and poor nutrition has carry over effects to our mental health – an oft-overlooked causation.

The way we move and interact with our environment are fundamental parts of our integration into all forms human life. If we are forced to inhibit ourselves in any way from moving freely, it has a spinoff effect on our whole performative sense of wellbeing; physically, mentally and emotionally. Movement patterns were given to us at birth and are a primordial part of the cosmologies of us all. We owe it to ourselves to avoid dysfunctional limits that come about by lethargic modern lifestyles as well as looking too readily for quantifiable objective results that bypass fundamental movement patterns that are at the essence of true qualitative health and fitness and performance standards.

Some of the most progressive and open thinkers in the movement/health/performance industry:

www.maxwellsc.com 

www.rosstraining.com

www.8weeksout.com 

www.graycook.com

www.cathletics.com

www.ikff.com

www.mikemahler.com

www.movnat.com

 

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Movement patterns as qualitative performance indicators

For gymnasts, martial artists, olympic weightlifters and kettlebell lifters, technique and movement comes first. The mastery of which takes up the large majority of training time and attention to detail can seem hard to grasp for most not well versed in the respective disciplines. The attention on harnessing tension and relaxation requires a complex combination of speed, power, timing and extraordinary bodily awareness and mobility.

However, for most people looking at athletic performance, whether it be for competitive sports or general fitness, movement quality is overlooked in favour of quantifiable results adhering to numbers and time. This post is a reflection on the limitations of this approach to physical performance and the role fitness professionals have in insuring movement patterns are integrated back into training programmes.

Those who achieve greatness through physical performance more often than not have the ability to control muscle tension through strength and power and to relax sufficiently to allow speed, flexibility and endurance to be sustained whilst competing under pressure. None of this is achieved without proper training and understanding of fundamental movement patterns.

Movement however, in this modern world of instant gratification and impatience for change-driven objective results, is not a quantifiable measure of performance as time and numbers. Movement is a qualitative measure of health which cannot be reduced to a competitive exercise. Herein lies the challenge for fitness professionals working with the mainstream public or within the rehabilitation field: How to teach quality of movement as a performative aspiration before quantifying results through numerical benchmarks?.

You see it everyday at training facilities, on internet forums and magazines; ways to achieve quantifiable results in the shortest period of time. “My goal is to deadliftlift 400lb before Xmas”, or “I want to run a marathon under 3 hours”, or “Improve my FRAN time under 4 minutes”, and so on. Most would not care how they look getting to these results, as it´s all about the result which can be objectively stated. Professional athletes are usually exceptions to this rule, as they depend on results to make a living, but they have usually achieved a high level of movement competency along the way.

For 99% of the population however, the question could be whether achieving objective ´performance´ results in favour of long-term quality movement habits is really a question that arises on a day-to-day basis?. This is where the professionals need to step up to the mark. Most average people exercising for health benefits and enjoyment should be encouraged to work within the parameters of proven programmes that gradually increase performance through sensible periodization and measurable feedback. It is simply too much to ask the amateur gym-goer to be able to adjust their training each and every time they feel the effects of multiple variables effecting their daily performance. But it must be the prerogative of trainers and gym owners to ensure a baseline of movement quality is instilled into members before starting rep. counting, loading or time factors.

We are all born with amazing flexibility and mobility, but reinforce bad habits and patterns of movement as we age. The common ankle, knee, hip and shoulder mobility issues are all too plain to see, as is poor core stability and spinal weakness. No one has a place, or will gain any significant longterm benefits by stacking plates on barbells until these essential areas of mobility are trained back to their intended function. To do this takes time for most, and to reinforce bad habits by loading weight and forcing advanced movement patterns only leads to unspecific injury caused by inadequate foundational conditioning.

What happens when poor mobility is overlooked for objective gains in the weight room, or when exercise is turned into a competitive venture?. Compensatory form (as an adaptive function of our evolutionary makeup) takes place, often unilaterally, which reinforces already poor mobility. Commonly seen in the squat, push-up or shoulder press, hip weakness and shoulder collapse makes for awful looking movement.

The solution is to get back to basics and teach control of movement through bodyweight training and quadrupedal walking. Teach the integrative form of different fundamental movements and breathing techniques and reinforce this until weaknesses are ironed out, strength is gained, and a platform is laid out for more specific functional progress. Instead of looking at your strengths, look at your weaknesses, and build upon them to integrate your body and mind into a strong and stable performing unit. Isolating body parts or movements because you are strong at them, or forcing movements the body is not prepared for is simple nonsensical.

Kettlebells are one outstanding aid not only for screening poor movement but for strengthening symmetrical and proprioceptive awareness throughout the body. Foundational movements such as the swing, Turkish Get Up, press and snatch cannot be performed without this “core” awareness, or you will simply fall over. And maybe get a bell landing on your head. I firmly believe in the kettlebell being of huge benefit to the future of mobility training in the huge proportion of the modern population who struggle to perform basic movements such as the squat with ease and efficiency. Spinal shortening is all to common with the aging process, and the cumulative effects of compensatory measures to counter hip immobility has disastrous consequences.

The way we move and interact with our environment are fundamental parts of our integrative way of life. If we are forced to inhibit ourselves in any way from moving freely, it has a spinoff effect on our whole performative sense of being, both physically and emotionally.

Movement patterns were bestowed upon us at birth and are a primordial component of humanity. We owe it to ourselves to avoid dysfunctional limitations that come about by lethargic modern lifestyles as well as looking too readily for quantifiable objective results which bypass fundamental movement patterns that are at the essence of true qualitative fitness and performance standards.

For an immediate start on the road to proper mobility, I thoroughly recommend mobilitywod.com

 

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20 ways to train your primal instincts

Henri Rousseau "The Dream"

1. Read a book this summer about evolution.

Carl Zimmer´s “Evolution: The triumph of an idea” is a great starting point. Inspiring and fascinating. You will be a changed person with some evolutionary theory in you. Not just for the geeks, a must for the human species. It´s nice to have the science behind why we must fight, sleep, eat meat and have sex.

2. Sleep outside one night.

Use a net if you must. Drift off to the nocturnal sounds and rise naturally to the dawn. Leave your phone at home too. Get someone to join you if you´re afraid of bats.

3. Cook a bird, fish or animal whole on a fire you made.

Take the guts out, see how it all looks, season, cook and eat everything.

4. Go for a run in the woods without your shoes.

That´s right, barefoot. Feel the earth, stones, sticks whilst walking on the balls of your feet. Jump, hop, skip, crawl and roll. A great read too for the summer, is “Born to run” by Christopher McDougall. He tells the story about the legandary Tarahumara Indian barefoot runners of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. Gripping and interesting. Get a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers to ease your way into naked feet. We were not born with shoes, Nike knew this, but brainwashed us into believing the modern running shoe was doing us good…plahhhh. Check out barefootshoes.no for advice on barefoot movement.

5. Eat no sugar, no grains, nothing from a box or packet for 30 days.

Be strict, don´t cheat. I personally guarantee you´ll look, feel and perform better than ever before.

6. Have a day of critical examination.

If you read newspapers, watch tv or speak to a friend, decide that everything you read, see or hear for a day, may be wrong, misleading or simply an opinion. Make your own mind up, by examining options. Tell people about your critical day.

7. Spend an afternoon at a playground.

Think for a while of your childhood and the things you did on the bars, ropes, swings and logs. Practice those moves, barefoot.

8. Go to the forest and pick berries. Eat loads too.

9. Climb a tree. Spend an hour or more up there.

10. Have a clear out at home.

Think hard about all the stuff around you and how much it contributes to your happiness. Throw stuff or give it away. Have another rethink the following day, and repeat the process. Less in life, may just be more.

11. On a hot day, lie in some longish grass, naked.

Imagine you were living 20000 years ago, and all you thought about was food and sex. Empty your mind of all superficial clutter.

12. Find an old person to talk to.

Ask him/her to talk to you about their childhood and what they remember about family responsibility, play and work. Decide on living for a day or a week like they did, and let them know how you get on. Ask for advice.

13. Go for a bike ride into the countryside.

Stop when you find some farm animals. Talk to them, out loud if you want, explaining how you appreciate their part in evolution, and the respect you have for them every time you get to eat meat.

14. Watch some Chinese martial arts or Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Notice how they move their bodies and how sharp, strong and smooth they are. Practice some of the moves you saw over and over again.

15. Spend an hour each day meditating.

It doesn´t matter how you do it, just read up or ask someone some basic techniques, find solitude and try to empty all negative emotion. Think of breathing from the stomach upwards. Feel light. Think strength.

16. Spend a full 24hrs alone.

Surprisingly few people do this. We have become addicted to our mobile phones and Internet. We are available and use others as constant reference to our state of being. Bring a notebook; camp out, reflect yourself upon your thoughts in solitude. Like we used to do.

17. Have a week off training.

If you train 4 or more times per week, sleep is erratic, stomach bothers you, feel stiff and get headaches, have a week where you focus on walking, stretching like animals do, sleeping more, drinking lots of water, eating meat and fish plus vegetables. It´ll do you good.

18. Have a day eating coconut.

If you can get hold of fresh ones, great. If not, buy some canned coconut milk and some shredded coconut. Make a curry sauce with coconut. Just add some masala spice to some tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and coconut cream and simmer. Blend up and add to your favourite meat. Add some dark chocolate and butter to a pan, melt, add the grated coconut, some walnuts and dried berries. Stir well, add to ice cube trays and freeze. Enjoy with tea after your coconut curry. Coconut is amazing.

19. Make a commitment.

This is open, but make a deal with yourself to fulfil something you had planned to do but somehow found an “excuse” not to finish it. Stop doing something you told yourself you would stop doing, but made an “excuse” to keep doing it. Tell someone close that you have made a commitment, and ask for him or her to support you in your choice. Don´t make excuses. If you think you can or cannot do something, you are right both times.

20. “Be as you wish to seem”

Read some Socrates, or any philosophy. Try to apply some to your life. Learn about thought.

 

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MovNat – Future of training

Surely you have felt that rush of adrenalin followed by a sense of serenity whilst out in a natural environment having just crossed a swollen river or scrambled down a rocky bank. Your body and mind enters into a synergy that gives us a sense of what it is like to be detached from the modern world for a moment, and feel the power of nature and our mastery over movement.

 I recall a trip in New Zealand last year with a friend up a river which had recently been in flood. It was remote, narrow in places, exposed in others and full of massive rocks and organic debris. Parts were possible to negotiate by rock hopping, others only by swimming, clambering up banks and jumping back into the river. It was long and winding and totally beautiful. Time was no issue, soreness from scraped legs or sunburn placed behind the feeling of empowerment from being in such an environment.

We rested when we needed too, ate occasionally, listened to the native birds, and tried to improve performance with every jump and climb. This was no technical modality or max-rep workout, this was attending to the way we are formed to use our bodies and our minds to develop alongside, and within a natural setting.

Essentially, this was MovNat, and for me this is the future of mind/body fitness. Here are the pillars set out by Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat, philosopher and amazing athlete.

The Pillars

Natural

The most common deficiency in zoo humans is a total lack of understanding of their true nature and in most cases a chronic betrayal of it.

In our modern era most people now live in cities, spending most of their time indoors, being deprived of natural light, breathing air which is as polluted indoors as outdoors, eating huge quantities of unhealthy industrial food products and undergoing numerous sensory and psychological stresses while often lacking sleep.

The MovNat philosophy reminds us that like in any other animal, human biology is built upon natural laws that we cannot afford to overlook if we desire true and lasting health.

Among these laws, the necessity of regular movement activity remains a determining influence in our biological balance and therefore on our well-being and health.

In nature, any animal unable to move is condemned. As civilization leads us to increasing physical apathy, it is crucial to underline that constant physical idleness leads inevitably to loss of physical function and innumerable health problems.

If it goes without saying that there can be no real and lasting health and vitality without fulfilling the natural necessity of movement, same goes for other biological aspects of our lives, including nutrition, sleep and breathing, exposure to natural light and contact with nature.

MovNat educates on the fundamental laws of Nature and provides alternatives and solutions to apply in daily life, making it a powerfully life-affirming activity and philosophy.

Our natural perspective helps you realize that an increased respect of your biological needs and connectedness to the natural world will make you stronger and healthier than ever.

“Movement is our nature, Nature is our movement.”

MovNat is an environmental-oriented concept that provides a simple and accessible alternative to anyone interested in a physical activity that has minimal impact on nature.

Evolutionary

Trusting our primal heritage

Over the course of several million years, evolution has deeply shaped human physiology and biomechanics with a direct and profound implication for how we are able to move as a species. Our movement capacities as well as many subconscious behavioral patterns are inherited from this collective process of adaptation and natural selection.

Originally, long before the rise of highly specialized sports, we were movement generalists. The natural life our ancestors lived was one of varied movements and efforts, near-constant alertness and adaptive responsiveness to frequent and often unpredictable changes. These very diverse movement skills modern human beings have universally inherited played a major role in ensuring the survival of our species, allowing us to seize opportunities and escape threats. They used to be fundamental attributes of hunter-gatherers.

Still our bodies and minds are designed for the world of hundreds of thousands of years ago and both expect us to live like our ancestors!

They are structurally adapted to a wide range of movements and efforts, ranging from brief in duration but extreme in exertion to low intensity and prolonged.

MovNat is primarily based on rediscovering and optimizing instinctual movement patterns. It is in the first place about re-wiring the entire system of the human body back to its original mode and function. It focuses on unleashing the wild movement potential in us and on reviving skills that have been proving to be the most efficient and vital ones for millions of years.

The evolutionary philosophy of MovNat makes us understand how important it is to trust this universal and primal heritage.

Situational

How well do I want to perform in real-world situations that involve movement and action? This simple question might profoundly transform your perspective of what it means to be “in shape”.

Modern lifestyle has made natural movement skills become optional.

So why run? Why jump? Why climb? Why lift? Why…walk?

Because we believe that even a highly civilized world holds a multitude of situations where our evolutionary capacities remain indispensable.

Not only they are still useful in a potentially vital manner, but any specialized approach would inevitably lead to failure.

MovNat training emphasizes the body’s natural ability to move in an adaptive manner, i.e. in relation to a situation or context. Consequently, the movements trained can always be linked to a practical application that justifies them.

The situational philosophy of MovNat training is designed to expand your comfort zone in performing daily-life tasks as well as building your preparedness and situational intelligence in dealing with more challenging circumstances that could arise unexpectedly. It is an orientation that is simple, direct, practical and unspecialized.

MovNat trains you to become a well-rounded natural athlete, ready for a wide range of practical actions in various kinds of situations.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Mind/Body, Philosophy, Training

 

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