When I first heard the concept of the practice of “Natural Movement” as a training program, I was intrigued because I’ve always been a bit of a wild child. What Navy SEAL isn’t? And it’s true that I am basically a product of the forest of Upstate New York. I spent much of my youth and young adulthood off in the woods and on the rivers of the Adirondack Mountains, generally disinterested in the angsty song-and-dance of my typically sociable adolescent peers. And add to that the fact that Rob DuBois loosely translates as Rob “…of the woods.”
I happened to have the great fortune of meeting and becoming friends with MovNat founder Erwan Le Corre and his lovely wife, Jessika. That led to my registering for a long weekend of learning and certifying to instruct this total-lifestyle approach to being fit in body and mind. (By the way, I was taught by Erwan’s master instructor, who is now my new friend and fellow former Navy SEAL, Eric Brown…noticing a trend here?) Today, several weeks after that introductory experience, I find myself “doing” MovNat constantly. I apply the principles when I’m walking down the street, hopping down off that final stair, or just rising out of my seat.
You may wonder, like I did: how can I possibly need to “study” what’s supposed to come naturally? The answer is simple: today’s movement, by most adults, is not natural at all. We first begin to move unnaturally as soon as the cool kids demonstrate how to slouch to be especially cool, or the sergeant tells us to stick out that chest, or we first become self-conscious about how the newly-appealing opposite sex will admire our manly (or girly) walk.
The average U.S. citizen retains only a fraction of his potential mobility, strength and elasticity, because we simply don’t use it like we ought to. You know what they say happens when you don’t “use it,” right? We sit in our desks on our perpendicular chairs, we never flex to the floor, we rarely jump, and the list goes on. Climb trees? One in a hundred “grownups” will do that this year.
And those restricted or misaligned (or restricted and misaligned!) habitual activities in daily life have creeping consequences, too. Most people understand that if a part of your body hurts, you will unconsciously adapt throughout your frame and create another problem point to hurt later on.
But understanding something, and doing something about it, are two different things.
Ordinary exercise routines tend to be overly focused on isolated movement for a particular effect. It may be that singular contraction of the biceps in pull-ups to build strength. But what if you instead invested the same energy as part of a flow of natural movement, and developed balance, grace, and life-changing skills and confidence along with your strength? Jumping to a branch, pulling up and over, and flowing into a climb adds real benefit to the old up-and-down. Don’t believe me? You will the next time a big angry dog appears out of nowhere.
Because I’m so accustomed to that traditional style of hyper-focused exercises, I’ll admit that those four days with Eric and the class kicked my tail. I’m in pretty good shape and very strong, but I seemed to discover at least two underdeveloped muscle groups for every one I felt comfortable with!
In the SEAL Teams we say that “pain is weakness leaving your body.” Apparently a lot of weakness left my body that weekend.
If you maintain an exercise regimen in which you focus on some muscle groups and inadvertently neglect others, you can end up pretty fit for ordinary purposes. But changing the emphasis to naturally aligned, whole-body movement has unique long-term benefits. To use the whole thing is to simultaneously benefit your whole body, connective tissues, joints, and all. And that is the very spirit of preventive living. Take heed, fellow over-50’s.
And here’s the best part of the whole thing, for me: MovNat is a worldwide playground. We just don’t play enough. Some of us don’t play at all. Running, jumping, climbing, crawling, throwing—these things tend to occur in the lives of average adults as infrequent inconveniences when the bus is leaving early or we unexpectedly encounter a missing manhole cover. What if you could play on purpose as a regular part of your lifestyle, have fun with interesting people, and get crazy fit in the process?