By Chris Redig
Are you comfortable in the water? Or does it leave you feeling sidelined?
If you’re like most people, some element of the water leaves you feeling uncomfortable. Complete confidence in the water is rare. Fear of the water is common.
I recently took the MovNat Aquatics Certification. I had a lot of questions going into it. You probably do, too. What’s it like? What should you expect? How should you prepare? Is it right for you?
I’d like to tell you a bit about why I signed up and what I learned. Along the way, you may find answers to your own questions.
Why did I sign up?
From the time I signed up for my first MovNat Level 1 Certification, I wanted to take the Aquatics Certification. I’m fortunate enough to have spent two and a half years living on a Caribbean island. I swam, enjoyed free diving and earned my PADI Dive Instructor Certification. In terms of moving through and communing with nature, there’s something magical about the ocean. I love everything about it. It’s peaceful, beautiful and free diving feels like you are flying among fish.
Despite that experience, I still felt sidelined at-times. I had no formal swim training, and therefore, little technique. I wanted efficiency and confidence. MovNat had already given me these things in land-based movement. I wanted to apply the same principles to the water. With these things in mind, I headed to the Aquatics Certification.
What will you learn?
First, you’re going to get comfortable — I mean really comfortable in the water. It’s going to happen gradually, and it’s going to start very easy. Our class had swimmers at every level, from novice to very skilled. Everyone reached high levels of comfort. It starts with things like holding your face in the water and getting used to the deep end. It ends with things like underwater pushing contests and rescuing Vic Verdier from the bottom of the pool. If you are looking for comfort and confidence in the water, this is it.
Second, after two long days in the water, you will learn more about swimming technique and theory than you thought possible. If you are a meticulous note taker (like me), you’ll end up with pages of notes.
The swimming portion starts simple. Components of the strokes are drilled individually. This part of the course takes time to develop, but by the end of day two, I was blown away. When we put everything together, I had dramatically improved my swim strokes.
In particular, I found the unique approach to freestyle was a huge help. It reminded me of barefoot running. We were shown how to “fall” forward through the water and let gravity do the work. Every part of the stroke was isolated, practiced and then integrated back into a whole. To provide counterweight to our legs, we were instructed to use a short stroke and keep our arms out ahead of us. We had one arm relaxed but stretched out ahead of us and the other positioned by our ear. This positioning shifted our center of gravity and improved each stroke’s efficiency. I had a hard time breaking my old habits. But by the time we had our tests, I found I could swim at a similar pace with less effort. And it continues to improve.
Third, you are going to learn how to free dive. Here again, the quantity and quality of techniques and drills is fantastic. Would you like to learn how to maximally fill your lungs? Or how about learn to manage your nervous system to maximize your breath hold? Did you know the current breath hold world record is twenty-four minutes and three seconds? You’ll learn the theory, you’ll learn to master your technique, and you’ll learn a pile of drills for in and out of the water. I think almost everyone in the course hit a new breath hold personal record. And I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned on a coral reef.
Fourth, the course is full of rescue techniques and drills. This is where things get very practical. The self-rescue portion covers everything from swimming with your clothes on to open ocean survival techniques. The drills are going to push your limits, but you’ll be ready for them by the time Vic introduces them.
The victim rescue portion is humbling. It is really hard to rescue someone in a pool without a rescue device. Going into the course, I had no confidence in my ability to do that. Towing an unresponsive victim in fresh water while keeping their head above water is tough work. Yet during a rescue drill, we all rescued a drowning and uncooperative instructor.
Note: This video is courtesy of Nathan Amado from Original Human Movement.
Fifth, this is a teaching certification. We spent time looking at the material from the point of view of trainers. And we practiced improving each other’s techniques. I don’t currently have an opportunity to coach Aquatics skills. But I love the water, I love SCUBA and I’m very glad to add this to my toolkit. There was enough here to constantly improve my own skills while also teaching family, friends and perhaps eventually clients.
Finally, as with all of the MovNat courses I’ve taken, the other participants were wonderful. We all loved to move. We were all eager to learn and help each other learn. I received a ton of useful feedback during the partnered drills. Everyone was curious and passionate about moving better and more efficiently in the water. And of course Vic does a great job presenting and pacing the material.
Who should take the course?
Anyone who wants to move better in the water. We had students of all ability levels. Skilled swimmers accustomed to grueling laps will broaden their aquatic skills and fine-tune their stroke. Average swimmers will find everything they need to build complete confidence in the water. It won’t happen in two days, but they’ll have the tools to get it done. Novice and struggling swimmers need to be highly motivated. It will push their limits. But we had struggling swimmers in the class, and they progressed beautifully. If you show up eager and ready, you’ll love every minute of it.
How should you prepare?
I spent lots of time in the pool and swam a lot of laps, and I’m glad I did. Just getting or staying comfortable in the water would be helpful. I’m not sure it’s necessary, but I got a lot out of being prepared.
So there you have it — my take on the MovNat Aquatics course. If and when the opportunity arises, I’d definitely take it again. If you want to improve your comfort in the water and learn to move with efficiency and ease, this is the course. It will get you off of the sidelines and into the water.
Ready for MovNat Aquatics?
About the Author:
Chris Redig is a health and fitness coach. He loves helping people move, look and feel their best by optimizing their nutrition, movement and lifestyle. He is a Movnat Certified Master Trainer (Levels 1, 2, 3, Combatives & Aquatics), Primal Certified Health Coach, and Certified Human Movement Specialist. He currently lives in Denmark to be near his wife’s family. He can be reached at www.chrisredig.com or on Instagram.