By Pierre-Alexandre Mercier, MovNat Expert Trainer

I had the privilege of attending the Level 3 certification in Vienna (July 6-9, 2023), it was a transformative experience, and I hope that sharing it can inspire those who are still on the fence about signing up.

Let me start with answering 3 questions, that many MovNat Certified Trainers may have:

Is the Level 3 certification for everyone? Or in other words, is it only suitable for accomplished athletes?

To answer, let me simply introduce myself. I’m a 45-year-old man, happily married with 3 children, including twins who will turn 3 in a couple of months. I work as an employee in a large reinsurance company. Certainly not the typical profile of an athlete, right?

Is the Level 3 certification right for Me?

When I attended my Level 1 and Level 2 certifications in Lyon back in 2020, my first contact ever with MovNat, Jerome Rattoni did such a fantastic job that I knew I would pursue Level 3 someday. So, if you feel that call too and think that the next level is a natural step in your progression, then the answer is yes, no matter your internal barriers.

Considering this question is already having the answer.

Am I ready?

As often, you’ll never be ready if you wait to be ready. The best way to get ready is to sign up. That way you don’t have a choice – you must train in order to arrive at the event as prepared as possible.

Typically, you’ll have between 9 and 12 months between signing up and the certification, which should provide enough time as long as you have the motivation. When I signed up, my twins were still very young, and due ton the lack of sleep and time for training, I was not in the best shape of my life. But from that day, I started planning my workouts and getting back into a routine.

The beauty of the Level 3 certification is that you don’t know exactly what to expect, except that it won’t be a walk in the park. The number of techniques covered requires so many different skills that the preparation can only be specific to the individual depending on their own capabilities.

Personally, my training combined conditioning (running, HIIT, KB training), with dedicated sessions, often directly inspired from the weekly MovNat Training Sessions, playing with Volume, Intensity and Complexity to adapt them to my objectives. Additionally, I did specific training for particular skills like the Power Up, which requires significant time and effort (at least for me!) and can’t be unlocked during the certification, unless you’re already really close.

As with Level 1 and Level 2, don’t expect to learn a lot of techniques from scratch during Level 3. You’ll get feedback on your inefficiencies, so that you can immediately improve a skill that you’ve already trained on your own.

The main risk during the preparation period is getting injured – avoiding crazy combos in the weeks leading up to the event is probably a good idea. Injuries are difficult to avoid, but they shouldn’t deter you. If you break a toe (which happened to me) you can continue to work on your climbing skills. I am convinced that gentle MovNat training will anyway speed up any recovery.

What sets Level 3 apart is having the luxury of being coached by 3 team instructors, which means 3 pairs of eyes to watch you but also 3 brains to bring creativity to exercises and combos! Here I must commend Bernd, Kathi and Peri, who guided us over these 4 days. They managed our energy (you always have more than you think!) and our safety while pushing our performance, to lead each of us to a maximal efficiency. Big thank you to the 3 of you!

Level 3 is the highest certification within MovNat curriculum, and if I should make an analogy, I would take the tree. 

Level 1 would be the roots of the practice, Level 2 the trunk, symbol of a solid education, and Level 3 would represent the branches, as many techniques are directly derived from the 2 previous levels by adding complexity and variations to meet a wider range of contextual demands.

Level 3 could even be renamed Level tree: either we performed known techniques at tree height, including balancing and jumps, or we learned new skills that involve a tree, such as log carrying or vertical foot pinch. But the event goes beyond mastering new skills. It immerses you in the essence of MovNat. You’ll live out the images associated to MovNat, from a full nature immersion to iconic tasks, like throwing and catching stones, carrying a tree, walking barefoot in the forest, and confronting incredible challenges which force you to go beyond your own limits. 

A unique and unforgettable experience!

Going through all of this wouldn’t be possible without the support of your fellow participants. After a day of practicing, eating, and sleeping MovNat together, it feels like I had known everyone forever. Camaraderie is a vital component of this event. Receiving encouragement throughout the day, witnessing others overcome their limitations and draw on their resources, are fabulous mental boosters. As a result, although the tests are individual, they become a collective trial. We wanted so much each of us to succeed that we felt a real tension during the attempts of others. I may have even broken my personal record of breath-holding.

I won’t reveal more details about the tests because discovering them on the spot is part of the experience. Just remember that each technique covered during the event might be incorporated into a test, so it’s crucial to practice when the instructors give you the opportunity, even if your body only aspires to rest.

There’s one experience I’d like to share though: the running test. Running is not my favourite discipline. After a difficult start due to the steepness of the trail I was able to progress at the required pace, meaning that I could not see Peri and the leading group but was ahead of Bernd, a.k.a. the sweeper car. Halfway through the run, I was feeling surprisingly well until I reached a crossroad where I couldn’t remember if I should go left or right. I hesitated for long seconds and finally took the left trail. A few hundred meters further, I suddenly caught sight of Bernd…running on the other one. Going back was not an option so I quickly decided to sprint downhill across the meadow separating the 2 trails, stepped over the fence at the bottom, continued my effort until I could catch up to Bernd and finally pass the finish line before him.

The least I can say is that It didn’t go exactly as expected and I ended up exhausted but relieved to have been able to adjust to the situational demands.

Most of the tests are concentrated on the last day and I can see 3 main reasons for that. First, it gives you time to practice and improve your skills. Then it aligns with MovNat’s philosophy of real-world scenarios – they want you to demonstrate your abilities while you are experiencing fatigue. And believe me, all your muscles will be sore after 3 days! The last reason is maybe the less obvious but certainly the more powerful and I only realized it after the event. 

From day one as you go along with the challenges and perform things you had never done before (and thought you weren’t capable of) you are building up on your achievements, increasing your confidence, and developing an incredibly strong mindset. As you can imagine, the tests reach a crescendo but this shift in mindset makes you approach them differently. You’re no longer trying a technique, you’re doing it without thinking, believing in your body’s ability to adapt. When I was asked to execute a target landing on a beam, I knew by experience that I had a clear preference for the left foot in front of the right foot, but my legs did exactly the opposite during the test, simply because it was the best thing to do at that moment.

In the end, what helped me the most was to be extremely focused and to fully live the moment without anticipating the outcome. During the last test, which is a combo combining multiple skills, I reached a near state of flow and it was only after completing it that I realized I had done it.

Before heading to Vienna, my wife gave me 2 instructions. Don’t come back injured and bring the certificate back home. A delicate balance between pressure and motivation.

The first one was almost a condition to let me go there. We had planned a family holiday trip right after the event and jeopardizing our summer break was not an option. I must say that it didn’t start so well as during the first afternoon I hit a bench with my left foot while practicing the inverted vault. The inner side of my foot swelled immediately but fortunately I could still put weight on it. Some essential oils and a few grimaces were enough to let me continue, and even forced me to put more awareness into each of my actions.

Of course, like everyone, my body was covered in scratches and bruises, but this doesn’t count. We are no longer used to this in the modern world but I just needed to look at my children to remind me that it’s part of the game.

The second instruction was always in the back of my mind during those 4 days, but I tried deliberately to take one thing after the other and to focus on each step leading to the objective rather than on the final goal itself. And because I didn’t want to disappoint my wife, I returned home with a big smile and the precious certificate.

A few of months after the event, it’s still sinking in.

I feel like a baby Level 3, with a long way ahead in order to master all these skills. But I’m full of enthusiasm and confidence in my new capabilities, which makes the upcoming journey very exciting.

Feeling Inspired?

Treat yourself to the ultimate test of human potential.

The MovNat Level 3 Certification is an epic master class in Natural Movement.
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July 11 – July 14

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