MovNat in Brazil
The benefits of proper coaching By Greg Carver
Just how much can you improve your skills with proper MovNat training? Whether it’s in the confines of an urban gym, or in a tropical rainforest, Erwan Le Corre’s coaching undeniably demonstrates exactly what is possible. His workshops focus on movement fundamentals and technique development, and I’ve been witness to some amazing personal results. His recent retreat in Brazil proved to be no exception.
I had the privilege to join him there in Itacaré, a tiny coastal destination on the Bahia coast, where I was more than thrilled to act as an assistant. The chance to work with Erwan was a great opportunity, and I was truly honored by his trust in my coaching abilities.
While I am no stranger to MovNat (having trained with him in West Virginia and in Toronto), the majority of my background lay in the realm of traditional strength and conditioning. The Brazil retreat offered me a chance to work with clients using natural human movement as the sole training methodology, and to get a better perspective on MovNat coaching from the founder himself.
The retreat was quite the adventure! The participants not only came from diverse countries, but also represented a wide range of physical abilities and experience. Erwan wasted no time in assessing his flock, as I helped him record their performance in specific moves on video for later analysis. From log shouldering to balancing, each person demonstrated their aptness at a series of natural movement skills, all of which were repeated on the last day.
The differences in performance from the start of the course to the end were dramatic. It was a great demonstration of the power of coaching. While MovNat may be primal and intuitive, technique plays an enormous role in performance. We saw huge improvements in running styles, squatting abilities, balancing, jumping, and even strength – all in a very short period of time. Erwan emphasized the fundamentals when teaching, and even the simplest concepts like breathing and using body-weight transfer made huge differences when it came to properly executing the moves.
A lot of time was devoted to teaching individual skills. Le Corre emphasized safety; scaling movements in a controlled environment and adding context gradually. As a coach, it was great to see this system in practice. Nature is unforgiving. You can’t scale it (you can’t just move a tree branch to a different height), the context is very real, and there are consequences to failing (if you miss a jump, you will face a real danger). Erwan taught moves prudently and progressively, and I began to understand the real value of his MovNat training system.
We trained for quite a few hours each day, adding intensity only for short periods (as it should be!). And we had a ton of fun. From waterfall climbing and canoe paddling to barefoot running and swimming in the surf, many activities hardly seemed like work. For me, it reinforced my belief that life should feel good, even when training.
On one particular afternoon, I found myself standing under a large tree with Erwan as we waited for our trainees to return from the beach. Never one to be idle, he studied the tree for a minute, then quickly dropped down on the ground in a kind of push-up like sprawl before leaping up to grab an inclined branch, pulling himself up and wrapping his legs around the thick tree limb. He quickly locked his legs around the branch and released his hands, letting his upper body hang completely upside down before grabbing the limb again and jumping gracefully down to return to the sprawl, only to repeat the same sequence several times in a row with a similar ease.
Wanting to join in, I moved to the next tree and started to hammer out a few repetitions myself, only mine were more reminiscent of traditional burpee-pullups. While wondering how many I could do given the heat of the afternoon, Erwan suddenly stopped me and said: “Greg, you’re not being mindful”. It was then that I realized again the real difference in the MovNat approach. In my quest to be intense, I had forgotten all about skill! I was landing quite choppy, and not absorbing the impact properly, hardly movements that would be described as relaxed or fluid.
Erwan also challenged me to be more creative. I was using the tree simply as a pull-up bar substitute and not taking advantage of specific natural details to optimize the training. He demonstrated for instance how I could have pulled myself up, letting go with one hand at the top to reach for another branch high above the first one. Obviously, I was going to have to change my tactics to be i) more aware of how I moved, and ii) more creative in the use of context. My mind started thinking about my own coaching style and how I could encourage my clients to become more mindful in their own workouts.
Throughout the nine days, I also came to understand the infinite variety of training possibilities that nature can provide. The context is always different, and thus, so is the training potential. I literally couldn’t wait to see how I could apply more of the MovNat philosophy back home in Toronto.
The Brazil experience has reinforced my intention to get officially MovNat certified. Specialty cert programs have exploded over the past few years (I know, I have collected a number of them!), so I’m careful to choose those that I think will ultimately benefit my clients. I’m a passionate believer in evolutionary fitness and nutrition, and MovNat seems to fit the bill in terms of philosophy and function. My eventual hope is to affiliate StrengthBox (my box-style gym in Toronto, Canada) as a MovNat training facility. We are already training natural movement, but our programming will evolve much further as I become more associated with MovNat in the future.
As a coach, I highly recommend MovNat as a training system. Perhaps I’ll see you at a future workshop or certification event!
Certified CrossFit Instructor
AKC Kettlebell Coach
Also certified in Running/Endurance, Barbell, Olympic Lifting, CPR / First Aid