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Thursday, September 27th

MovNat & NEMO-RAAWKS: Transforming Health, One Community at a Time, Pt 2

Welcome to Part 2 of our 2-part post on the new partnership between MovNat & NEMO-RAWWKS to support healthy children and advance scientific research on the benefits of health & movement programming for kids. The following is an interview with Dr. John Rickelman, Medical Director of the non-for-profit NEMO Hearth Health Corporation and Co-Founder of NEMO-RAAWKs.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a 41-year-old internal medicine physician, who practices hospital and critical care medicine in a hospital in a  small town in northeast Missouri. I am originally from Winter Park, Florida. I moved to Kirksville, Missouri in 1995 to go to medical school at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. I met my wife while we were both in medical school. She went on to become an anesthesiologist, and I specialized in  internal medicine and eventually, critical care. We have two daughters, ages 8 and 5. We moved back to Kirksville in 2005 after being away for two years and are making our life here.

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to fitness. I have always been interested in physical fitness, but only recently in the past two years really found a passion for it. I dabbled in running, triathlons, and fitness cycling, but really found a love in barbell training in my basement having built my “man cave,” including a squat rack.


What is NEMO RAAWKS, how did it get started, and how are you involved in it?

NEMO- RAAWKs is a second initiative from a non-for-profit organization that I am medical director of named, NEMO Heart Health Corporation. It was founded with the intent of improving cardiovascular health in northeast Missouri (NEMO).  In our first three years, we facilitated and completed the placement of over 50 automated external defibrillators(AEDs), in order to combat sudden cardiac death in our community and improve public access to AEDs in areas of the community felt to be at either the greatest risk or the most frequented by the population.

NEMO RAAWKs( Raising Active AWesome Kids) comes from a desire to attack cardiovascular health from the other part of the spectrum, namely prevention. It came from a conversation I had with Krista Jacques, a family nurse practitioner, here locally.

What had originally started as just a general conversation about pulling local resources together blossomed into an initiative about children and their need for good nutrition and increased physical activity.

She and I began meeting with interested parties in town to discuss what we could do regarding the health of our children, targeting the 3-12 year age group, to start.

How did you hear about MovNat and what led you to contact us about participating in your program?

Interestingly, I originally read the article about Mr. Le Corre in Men’s Health a while back and remember finding it interesting, but at the time wasn’t ready for what it might mean. I subsequently came across MovNat in an article by a weightlifter on the website for EliteFTS, a primarily powerlifting site. I was intrigued by the concept and followed the link to the website.

It was around this time that Ms. Jasques and I had been discussing children. Given my own children, I had originally proposed to our group somehow incorporating Parkour as a way to keep physical activity fun for kids while still trying to develop them physically. I had read several article about how Parkour had been used and formally instructed in Great Britain with some success in children, but was unable to find anything locally. I then came across MovNat and was intrigued how both it and Parkour had originated from Georges Hebert’s work – not to mention learning of the origins of the obstacle course.

It was with this interest, along with seeing the training videos and conceiving how simple it would be to translate such training into a playful fun format for kids, that I wrote to MovNat Trainer, Amy Heibreder, who happened to reside in  Saint Louis, Missouri at the time and began discussing possibilities.

Being an internal medicine or adult physician, I had no personal knowledge at the time about what worked or didn’t work in childhood development. As I have researched the topic, I was and am astounded at how much scientific literature is present on the topic of fundamental movement skill development and at how globally affective it is.

The more I have read the more I am convinced about the methodology of MovNat and the power it has to help all children maximize their potential while developing fundamental skills.

What’s your vision of how MovNat can support NEMO RAAWKS?

My ideal vision for MovNat and NEMO RAAWKs is a partnership. I believe in leveraging situations to benefit all involved. In this challenging economy, I have become a firm believer in the Bartering system.

My vision is multifold. For NEMO RAAWKs, we need a system to train all kids, athletic and non-athletic, alike. We need something proven scientifically, yet filled with immense potential for fun.

I have an 8-year-old daughter who looks like a baby giraffe when she moves. She is tall and lean and still very much learning how to move her body, while other kids are running hard and fast. She has lost interest in the typical activities of organized sports. She will be lost to physical activity and movement, because to her – she isn’t fast enough. She does, however, love to have fun. She will go for hours outside even when the weather’s hot,  climbing on the playground. I can get her to do almost anything if she feels she is having fun. MovNat is for her and every kid like her,  and I believe this is the vast majority of them.

For MovNat, I want NEMO RAAKWKs to be your shining example of why it works.

We offer MovNat an opportunity to show the world through practice and research just how powerful something so simple as walking on all fours can be. How training movements taken for granted can develop strong, powerful, flexible, and adaptable children, who will not only benefit on the playing field, but also in the classroom while also showing what the epitome of cooperative training can mean when a community pulls together with the help of others to care for their own.

I heard you just attended your first MovNat workshop. How did it go?

First impression is that I suck!!! Walking on all fours about did me in in the first hour. But seriously, I loved it. Despite being tired and cranky with my own lack of ability, I couldn’t help but marvel at the potential both for myself and for the project I am proposing. Such simple things as kneeling and squatting, which I know are important, were only reenforced through the course of the weekend.

What also amazed me was how truly trainable all these skills can be. I am envious of my daughters and how “MovNattable” they could be come without the relearning I am having to go through.

I will admit that the weekend left me a little resentful. I was at my 5-year-old’s soccer game, and I found myself rather envious of the goalie( also 5 and not my daughter), and how he would grab onto the top of the goal and dead hang for like 45 seconds at least at a time. I was ticked to realize he beat

The Rickelman Family

my best time by 30 seconds, the little bugger. And yes,  Kellen,  if you are reading this, I still have me “MovNat tattoos” from trying to do elbow pull ups. They do make for a good conversation piece around the hospital.

Dr. John Rickelman, Medical Director of NEMO Heart Health Corporation, Co-Founder of NEMO-RAAWKS, & Budding Movnatter

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