Eating healthy food is just one aspect of healthy living. The true paleo lifestyle includes a number of other things: getting enough sleep, doing plenty of exercise, and drinking lots of water.
Just as it can be difficult to work out which diet works best for you, there are plenty of exercise options to choose from. We’ve already discussed CrossFit as a fairly paleo way of working out, and in this article we consider another form of exercise which focuses on natural movement, MovNat.
Interview with Founder of MovNat, Erwan Le Corre
What is MovNat?
MovNat is a coaching and training method for the practice of Natural Movement*. It is a health and fitness discipline based on the full range of evolutionary movement skills. It is way of mindful exercise, practical fitness, functional rehabilitation, and physical education.
What does MovNat involve?
The practice of MovNat encompasses breathing, walking, running, balancing, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, and self-defense skills such as striking and grappling. The foundation of the practice is the training of movement skills with a focus on effective and efficient physical performance. Strength and conditioning are equally emphasized, because they are required as well for high levels of performance. So MovNat is not just about the movement skills, or just about general physical preparedness, but enables the symbiotic development of both.
Why is natural movement important?
The general physical, health and fitness state of modern populations is quite alarming, despite advanced medical technologies, or sports and exercise science. So the problem is not that we lack information, or methods and programs, or equipment, but that our lifestyle is unhealthy, including altered food, water and air, sleep deprivation, stress, physical inactivity, lack of nature etc…
The primary benefit of Natural Movement is to reset people in their original – i.e evolutionary and biological movement behavior – in order to foster, restore and/or maintain health, fitness, well-being, happiness, and even a sense of freedom.
Natural Movement is also a mindful practice emphasizing awareness, body-mind connection, as well as a connection with Nature, and the respect of it.
There is also the necessity to equip people with the movement skills, overall physical competency required for practical situations of the real-life that demand a physical response. Such competency is timeless, and the individuals who possess it are confident and strong in a way that is useful to themselves, others and the community.
In a nutshell, I like to say that the concept of Natural Movement contributes to the self-actualization of people so they can enjoy a greater quality of life.
Can you explain why you started MovNat?
Ha, good question, are you ready for a lengthy answer?
First, I have been training this way for many years, starting in childhood in the woods with my dad, and in my early adult life in urban environments as well. I have also trained several specialized sports and learned valuable lessons from them, but I could never limit myself to training one sport or discipline only. I have also always felt that, while every sport or movement discipline had a place in society, the idea of “Natural Movement”, i.e the general practice of fundamental human movement skills altogether, was a concept foreign to most. If I was training in a park with some people around, they wouldn’t pay attention to the jogger, or the person doing pushups and sit-ups, or stretching; but they sure would be amused to see me combining crawl, jump, balance, sprint etc… While children do it all the time, it is as if these movements are not supposed to be done by adults, or would have to be done in a particular, indoors setting, or in isolation as part of a specific sports.
So I told to myself, this practice is valuable, meaningful, and effective, and could benefit so many people; it needs to be given a form of recognition in today’s world, to be valued, and to be taught, and learned. From there, I studied the old European physical education systems that were used a 100, 200 years ago, and realized that before modern fitness, people used to mostly exercise in similar manners. I have then synthesized what I have learned from these ancient methods, modern sports, and my own practice into a modern system (MovNat).
Last but not least, I realized that I had always been in search of practical preparedness my whole life, even through the specialized sports I have practiced, they ALL had practical value: running and swimming (trail running, triathlon), lifting (Olympic lifting), climbing (rock climbing), self-defense (karate, judo, jiujitsu, Thai boxing). I have always had the feeling that physical competency for the real world did matter, and that it gave me a greater sense of self-worth and self-confidence in life. In fact, I remember that as a kid between 6 and 18, so-called physical education programs in school never convinced me because they were all based on games and rules and nothing practical. I knew that I was learning much more while running, jumping, and climbing in nature. That’s where the fun was to me, but also where the real, primary value of physical action lied. So I’d say that in a sense, MovNat represents the physical education system and program that I dreamed of as a kid, and never found in school. You don’t want to learn how to operate your body in practical ways when you’re a grown up, this is a potential that should be developed, and a competency that should be acquired, during childhood, ideally.
Who is MovNat for and is there anyone that MovNat is not for?
In term of practice, MovNat is really for everyone, since it is a coaching method emphasizing scalability, progressions, and safety.
A good, concrete example could be the broad jump. You will not be encouraged to “try” to jump over a difficult or wide obstacle, but instead will first learn the fundamental technique, starting with proper landing mechanics at ground/floor level, and improve the efficiency of your movement pattern. Then you will progressively increase volume (number of repetitions), intensity (distance jumped) or complexity (type of obstacle, including height, surface, or other variables). It means that you will never be pushed to do anything you are not physically ready for.
In term of type of fitness, let’s say that MovNat is not for people who don’t enjoy movement or who don’t see the value in the practicality of the skills trained, and those who are solely looking for the appearance of fitness, not the actual fitness competence.
Where can you do MovNat?
Everywhere, why? More seriously… practically anywhere indeed. I am not saying that no equipment is needed for MovNat, for instance we have affiliates which provide a customized, scalable and safe environment with beams, bars etc… But when you’ve learned the techniques and principles, you start to see opportunities for movement practice everywhere, at the park, in nature of course, in your own backyard maybe. The method itself is adaptable. If a venue is adapted for MovNat training, then the indoors provide a controlled environment that presents many advantages such as easier access (great for people who live in town away from nature), scalability and safety, variety within a relatively small area, or the measurement of performance. Of course, nothing beats nature for the energy, health benefits and sense of freedom that she provides, but MovNat is not necessarily done in nature. You can learn and hone your movement skills and conditioning indoors for instance, in a progressive and safe manner, and sometimes move in natural environments for a “pure” experience.
How do paleo and MovNat go together?
Perfectly? Biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky once said that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” It means that what is natural is evolutionary, and reciprocally. In that sense, MovNat and Natural Movement are 100% Paleo. While we advocate a Paleo type of diet, diet is ultimately a personal choice of course. You do not have to be on a Paleo diet to do MovNat, obviously, but many of our practitioners and followers are part of the Paleo community.
Regarding fitness, we pride ourselves for being the program that is the most relevant to a Paleo approach, precisely because of the naturalness of our practice, the fact that it is so practical and adaptable. We don’t recycle conventional fitness drills with a Paleo “package”, we move the way nature and evolution intend us to, but with an emphasis on efficiency.
Why should someone do MovNat rather than (or as well as) any other form of exercise?
Because it makes you sexier? More seriously, people don’t naturally stick to something they don’t truly enjoy doing. It is important to realize that the number one reason why people don’t subscribe or renew their membership at conventional gyms is that they get immensely bored with machine-based fitness. They have the feeling that they must impose such mechanistic and repetitive programs to themselves as a form of chore or punishment for being out of shape. So where’s the enjoyment, and where is the meaningful purpose to be found?
If what you are looking for is the freedom and joy of movement, as well as a type of fitness that is 100% transferable and applicable to the real-world, then MovNat is the best choice possible because this is exactly what we are all about. And it WILL make you look better, feel better, and perform better, including in other areas of life.
How can MovNat complement any other activities that I’m involved with?
Many of our certified trainers blend MovNat exercise with their regular training classes, with great results, as it brings novelty, variety, new challenges, and playfulness to sometimes overly conventional or restrictive programs. Many MovNat practitioners come from a specific fitness modality background, be it kettlebells, other types of strength training, running or athletics, etc… Because of the varied and inclusive aspect of Natural Movement, specific disciplines often feel at home with MovNat, for instance kettlebell training becomes part of the manipulative aspect of MovNat training. Therefore, it is possible to maintain separate sessions, or to blend pre-existing trainings into an overall MovNat practice.
MovNat can also help you with your particular sport, especially if it is highly specialized. The greater the level of specialization in a sport, the greater the potential for particular physical deficiencies and imbalances (including but not restricted to lack of coordination, mobility, stability, strength etc…) pre-existing to training for the sport, or caused by it, leading to greater risk of injury. The variety of MovNat movements helps the body become overall skilled, strong, and more resilient. This is a great advantage especially when overly specific demands of a given sports create chronic stress in particular body parts, as it will reinforce the whole body, reduce physical imbalances, and help prevent injuries.
Last but not least, the practice of a single physical activity can be mentally straining, and lead to lack of motivation. MovNat makes physical activity varied and enjoyable again, which in return lead to an improved appreciation for the practice of specialty activities.
What results do people get with MovNat? Do you have any “success” stories?
We have countless of success stories indeed, which include people who had completely lost faith that they would ever become physically active again, and who have found in MovNat a practice that is meaningful, effective, and enjoyable.
We have so many testimonies of people who once had to deal with nagging injuries, or lack of mobility, and who have resolved their issues simply by resetting their body on their natural movement mode. As a matter of fact, we have more and more chiropractors, physiotherapists of occupational therapists who are using MovNat with their patients and get great results as a complement to treatment and therapy.
Not all valuable transformation is dramatic, for instance a person losing a lot of weight and getting lean. What about greater sense of self-esteem and self-confidence? What about greater energy and resilience? What about greater mental focus and improved brain function? What about a greater ability to interact with others, a sense of community? These aspects, and many others, are positive outcomes of MovNat that makes it a success story for everyone who gets started with Natural Movement practice.
If you had the chance to tell thousands of people one thing about MovNat, what would you tell them?
I would ask them what is the best fitness training program for a tiger? Machines for strength, elliptical for cardio, plus daily stretching? That would be hilarious, since, of course, tigers, along with all other animals, just need to move naturally. Why would it be any different in humans? We just need a method for doing what’s natural more efficient.
How can readers get involved in MovNat?
A simple way is to explore your natural movement potential on your own is to check out the “MODs” (Movement Of the Day) we are posting 5 days a week on movnat.com. MODs include warm-up and mobility moves, as wells as “combos” (circuits) one can do to get started with our program.
But exploration alone is limited, and isn’t a substitute for direct coaching. You can learn techniques and make your movement effective and efficient, ensure safe progressions and boost your progress by learning from one of our certified trainer (a locator cab be found of movnat.com). They are professionals trained in our method and will provide expert guidance.
MovNat also holds 2 day training workshop worldwide, dates and locations can be found on the website as well. Last, people who are serious about MovNat can pass one of our 3 level certification programs, which will allow them to teach and bring the Natural Movement experience to their local community.
Where can readers find out more about MovNat?
Go to www.movnat.com or google MovNat to find countless media articles and reviews on blogs. Our certification manual is also a GREAT read.
*Natural Movement is a term I have defined, popularized and used as a simple way to explain MovNat since 2007.
Photo credit: JustTooLazy
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