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.
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.