Allow us to introduce you to Katharina Havlicek, who is a Level 3 MovNat Certified Trainer, Team Instructor, and MNOC Coach who works at Sporthalle Wien, a MovNat Licensed Facility in Vienna, Austria. Kathi has an extensive background in both martial arts and fitness, and she found in MovNat a method that “connected the dots” between many other training and movement disciplines she had experienced. In this interview, you’ll learn how she uses MovNat herself and with her clients, how to manage stress, and many practical tips for implementing Natural Movement® into everyday life. Enjoy!
MovNat: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My path so far was imprinted by various interests and incredible people, who inspired me. I used to spend my childhood holidays in nature. I also started Judo when I was 6. Ever since, these young age movement practices have accompanied me throughout my whole life. Be it Japanese Martial Arts, which I studied various for over 20 years. Or, Parkour, which I started in my late twenties, Weightlifting, Handstands, you name it.
My education path was equally varied as my movement practices, but as the latter always moved around certain pillars. In this case: analytical thinking, music and human interactions with other humans and their own body. I focused on music during high school, studied Japanology for two years until I switched to Medical Biotechnology, which I finished and moved on to work in the fields of basic research and medication development for 5 years. At this time, I already taught Judo “as a hobby” for over 10 years, Crossfit for a year, and I had finished some trainer education courses.
In 2016, I then made a huge step from being employed in Science to being a self-employed trainer. Since then, I’ve deepened my knowledge about training science, different training methods, and personal practice by various education courses and workshops. In 2019, besides accomplishing the MovNat Level 3 certification, I finished the Austrian trainer certification for athletics-fitness and coordination.
Since 2016, I’ve been a full-time trainer in better physical shape than I was 10 years ago; and I still prefer to say “I am going to coach” instead of “I am going to work”. What makes my day is to see how people’s lives change for the better by them integrating sensible movement & training practices back into their lives. I am blessed that I crossed paths with so many different and great people; that I can support them on their way to become better movers and increase their understanding about their own bodies.
MovNat coincidentally came into my life in 2016, when Sporthalle Wien – a wonderful MovNat licensed facility in the heart of Europe was founded and kicked off with a MovNat Trainer Certification. When I first visited Sporthalle Wien couple of weeks prior to this Certification, my initial thought was “that is one amazing playground for grown-ups, I want to coach here!” So, there I was, thrilled to be part of Sporthalle Wien’s great trainer staff, attending the Certification and receiving my first introduction into MovNat.
It immediately resonated with me. Coming from a long martial arts background and having practised Parkour, Crossfit/Weightlifting, the movement pattern were familiar. New and highly appreciated was the method and background information taught. It seemed like suddenly all the loose ends came together and it just made sense to me, that having a basic physical level in all Natural Movement® patterns, would help avoid modern life’s induced physical degradation and indeed increase the number of “strong to be helpful” human beings.
Can you tell us about any other health and fitness approaches you tried in the past and the kind of results you had in the past? What’s different about MovNat?
When I started to educate myself more about holistic health methods, when MovNat crossed my path, it became a big part of my personal approach. There are other fitness concepts I came in touch with, which in my opinion, have their own value for very specific circumstances. But in terms of health fostering fitness concepts for everybody, no matter their fitness history or level, which can be done nearly everywhere, I so far haven’t found anything comparable to MovNat.
How do you, personally, use MovNat? What does your training look like in day to day life?
Since being introduced to MovNat, I integrated higher volume and more diverse natural movements into my everyday life. I did the occasional balancing / climbing before, and preferred sitting on the floor rather than on chairs, but nowadays, I spend time on the floor every day. When I walk, it became a habit to do more than walking directly from A to B. I balance on whatever passes my way, step under and over obstacles that I find, and when there is a suitable tree, I at least hang on the lower branches or climb up when I have the time.
During the lock-down periods, MovNat was the basis and often sole influence for my own home training programs. I have about 1.5 meters squared of space available in my apartment and no fancy equipment. Given that the lock-down periods so far lasted for couple of weeks in total, I am delighted how many different setups and programs I was able to create for Natural Movement practice with just a 2×4, two stable chairs, and some weights.
For you, is MovNat merely a method of physical training? Or, are there other lifestyle implications, too?
For me, there are several areas connected with each other, which are all built around the pair of natural vs. modern-life stress. While most of us associate stress negatively (too little time, much work, little sleep, etc.), there are also good stressors, which our body needs to be able to function properly. Interestingly, off the top of my head, I can think about more positive stressors on the natural side than on the “modern-life” habit side!
Movement is only one of those connected fields. Additional ones would be nutrition, mindset, and exposure to nature itself. Most people who start this journey of getting into one of the above mentioned areas viewed from the “natural” side, touch all those areas sooner or later. MovNat, especially my MovNat Level 3 experience, has reconnected and imprinted me to “exposure to nature” on a level going far beyond moving.
Why do you think so many people struggle with movement, and fitness, in general?
Because of modern-life. Our bodies are programmed to conserve energy for when it is needed. Which we used to do in order to get enough food to survive. So, there was a natural reason for us to move with high volume / intensity regularly, which is not the case for many of us nowadays. Instead, getting sustenance is connected with a few steps into the kitchen, or high chronic stress in order to get enough money to buy food.
The direct connection of getting enough to eat with high intensity / endurance movement got lost. Along with this also the memory of positive reinforcement connected with movement beside having something to eat. So, it is really hard to bring yourself to move when there is no immediate need and you don´t know / can´t remember how good it feels when you move in diverse patterns and intensity throughout everyday life. The good thing is: the more often we get moving and receive our natural positive response, the easier it gets to kick oneself into moving-mode.
What are some lies you think too many people believe when it comes to health and fitness?
I think the biggest lie and the strongest beliefs, as they are convenient, are: movement is optional, not a necessity & gift. And also that there is a shortcut to health. I can say this much: there isn’t. At least not a long lasting one. Sure, a surgery can fix an injury to a certain extent. But if you don´t fix the cause of this injury, you will just get another. It’s the same with many diseases. Yes, there are pills one can take, which might help, but if you don´t take care of your immune system, you will keep becoming sick or get so severely sick, that you can´t recover.
We have this one body, this one mind, and people forget how to connect with either and just notice when it’s too late – like when we get severely sick due to a down-regulated immune system or chronically high modern-life stress; when we injure ourselves, because we lacked the physical capability to avoid or break a fall or bring ourselves into safety from an external threat.
It requires a certain mindset to be able to push oneself in the right direction, to inform oneself, to motivate oneself and keep going. To be honest: it is a ton of work and effort. But after a while, when one notices the positive effects that following healthy habits (regular movement, healthy nutrition, high quality sleep, etc.), those habits start to make sense and become part of us again.
For example: usually people know they need to eat, sleep, and drink. Once healthy patterns are established, one also knows that they have to go outside and that they feel great when they consume only certain foods. And with “great” I don´t mean the satisfaction after an emotional food attack, but that you eat something that tastes good, and you feel more energized and focused after eating than before. When was the last time you had that?
What are some of the most common mistakes you see from new students of MovNat?
One common mistake is to neglect the foundation and jump right into the more fancy movements even though ones body isn’t ready for that yet. It is important to develop an open mindset, educate oneself and practice patience. Nowadays, many things happen really fast. We can travel many km/miles in a couple of minutes, order something we want and have it delivered the next day. It’s easy to lose the revelation of how long our body needs to reverse processes we teach them for years.
If you are mainly sitting for hours on end and do as little steps as possible during most of your days, how can you expect your body to be ready to jump because you saw somebody else doing it, who might have been doing it several times a week for years and much more movement besides that?
Note: A perfect place to start your Natural Movement® Fitness journey is with the MovNat Level 1 Fundamentals course.
How do you help someone who is not a naturally gifted athlete get started and succeed over the long term?
To be honest, I am not sure if there is something like a “naturally gifted athlete”. There are so many components responsible if somebody can move well besides their predisposition. But to come back to the actual question: Once I can interact with a person on how to help them, there was already one huge step taken: the decision to change something & start moving. Then it is all about finding the right way for this person to get and keep going individually. There are many factors to consider: current physical condition, personal goals, motivational factors (does a person prefer to train on their own or in groups, and if the latter is there a possibility?), environment (equipment, space, feasible outdoor possibilities, etc.) and so forth. Depending on these factors, I then advise what I think would be a good way to go ahead.
There are so many possibilities out there, and none of them works for everybody. It’s the trainer-art of supporting people to find a good way for them.
How do you evaluate movement quality and progress in Natural Movement?
Some aspects to evaluate movement quality: can one perform the movement continuously, slowly, and without excessive noise?
One kind of progress I see in people I am working with, beside the obvious when they manage to perform a new skill or manage more weight, is when they keep breathing evenly throughout their movement sequences.
What are some accomplishments or milestones you use or recommend to new students? And what is a realistic time frame for achieving them?
As I work with various levels, from people who never used to train to highly skilled movers, I simply can´t give a generalized answer here. What I often see, though, is that many people struggle with the Deep Squat Position, getting off the floor without using their hands, and holding/supporting their own bodyweight with their upper body. Those give already quite a bit of information about mobility and the strength & conditioning of diverse body areas.
Concerning a realistic time frame for achieving them, that really depends individually, but it is rarely within weeks. As mentioned before: there are no shortcuts. And the saying “use it or lose it” applies to range of motion and strength in many people. The good news is: we can start using it step by step again and acquire certain capabilities back.
What are some simple and practical changes someone could make to their training or daily life to begin exploring MovNat?
I like to give two basic tasks: when you go for a walk in nature, build in three different movement patterns. Look for opportunities you feel comfortable with. For example, climb over a rock, balance on a tree trunk, Step or Crawl under low hanging branches without touching them, etc. Once people get started with this, their view for possibilities change, and they can find new movement opportunities and patterns by themselves. That is one of the great things about MovNat: it’s intuitive. Or, at least it is for kids and some grown-ups. But the good news is: even people who lost it, can reconnect to this intuition to some extent.
The second task is especially for parents of young kids (prior to school): follow your kid´s movement for 5 minutes. That can be a high intensity workout and eye opener for many. The great thing is: you spend time with your kid, and do yourself good by aiming to keep up with their transitions from one position to the next.
What are some of the most helpful resources you’ve discovered in your own Natural Movement journey?
The MovNat Adaptive Practice Sessions (MAPS) are also a great resource for people who want to start. These are weekly MovNat programs including videos sent out via email.
For me, the most powerful resource is usually interacting with other people. Learning from a trainer and your own pupils, teaching and training together.
About the Author
Katharina Havlicek is a MovNat Team Instructor, MNOC Coach, and Level 3 MovNat Certified Trainer at Sporthalle Wien, one of MovNat’s licensed gyms located in Vienna, Austria.
Kathi carries our MovNat fitness concept in her heart and knows playful and creative training elements lure even adults into practice. She relies on coffee, but even without a caffeine kick, she’s always full of energy. You can follow her on Instagram at @KatharinaHavlicek.
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The MovNat Level 1 Certification is your entry point into the world’s official Natural Movement Fitness program. It equips you with the knowledge, skills, and methods you need to transform your movement & fitness and build real world capability from the ground up. You’ll learn not only the movements in the official MovNat curriculum, but also the methods to apply those movements to your unique needs, goals, and circumstances.
Over the last ten years, MovNat has helped thousands of people from all walks of life restore their natural abilities and lay a foundation for a deeper, lifelong movement practice. We are the original, official, and only Natural Movement Fitness certification, with thousands of certified professionals and dozens of MovNat Licensed Facilities all around the world.
Whether you’re completely new to Natural Movement Fitness, or a seasoned veteran looking to expand your skillset, the MovNat Level 1 Certification is your launchpad to a deep understanding of natural human movement, how to integrate it into your training and lifestyle, and help others do the same.
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