Our Journal

Sunday, June 14th

MovNat, the future of physical education?

So MovNat…is it Methode Naturelle with just a different name?

Not at all!

It would be a very simplistic shortcut to imagine that the sole change is found in the name. Despite being inspired by Methode Naturelle, MovNat is both a training system and an approach of its own, that remodels and renovates the former.

What happened?

In fact, Methode Naturelle itself was not a static concept…until it completely stopped evolving.  If you had a chance to study the various re-editions of Georges Hebert’s books throughout the first half of the 20th century, you would not only be able to notice an evolution and refinement of his own work over 4 decades, but would also distinguish what was ahead of time, what was missing, and what is now outdated.

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Archive photos of early Methode Naturelle. Three of the shots clearly display elements of the Swedish gymnastics by Ling that Hebert will later on completely exclude.

Hebert himself underlined several times in his own books that his method was based on observation and experiment and that therefore it could be perfected over time.

It just makes perfect sense to imagine that if he had been alive until now he would have kept his system continuously evolving and improving.  More than half a century after his death now, many positive changes would have undoubtedly taken place.  Oppositely, most of his last followers made it a golden rule to always go by the book with a very revering approach of the past,  never truly daring to attempt any significant change in the methodology, seemingly absorbed in some sort of cult of the founder.  The perfect recipe for stagnation.

Cult of the Past vs. Evolution

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Amoros 1770-1848

Every method has its own design…but it is the very intelligence of such a design to be able to evolve, to always improve or adapt.  If it doesn’t evolve…it is not alive anymore.  Just like a dead language, it has a past but holds no future. This is exactly what happened to Amoros’ system a century before Hebert, and then exactly what happened to Hebert’s method: by having totally ceased to evolve since the death of Georges Hebert in 1957, Methode Naturelle has become a brain-dead concept.

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Hebert 1875-1957

Unable to reform itself, to incorporate innovative ways or knowledge and adapt to new mindsets and expectations in order to propel itself in a modern era and to propagate within a contemporary culture and way of life, the old fashioned method has been stagnating for decades and seen its practice shrink to almost total extinction, despite the efforts of a handful of dedicated remaining practitioners.

The MovNat Training System®:  Ready for the future

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Wildfitness, an innovative fitness vacation company, has enthusiastically embraced the MovNat Training System®.

The MovNat Training System® is a real modernization of the former Methode Naturelle physical education program. The extent of this retooling can be compared to the level of improvement of the original Amoros method observed after Hebert, with the contribution of Demeny (see “The Roots of Methode Naturelle“), remodeled the former concept he based his own system on.

Here is a list of the most significant innovations or improvements that MovNat brings/provides:

  1. Movement efficiency principles and movement efficiency principles perception drills: a good perception of movement efficiency principles (laws of physics, human biomechanics) will significantly shorten the learning curve, boost progress and spares lots of trial and error.  But there is more: when movement efficiency principles are well understood, applying them makes physical action way more efficient, significantly increasing performance and savings lots of energy.   Such movement efficiency principles and drills didn’t exist in Hebert’s method.
  2. Conditioning and programming: Though scalability was one of the great innovations of Hebert’s method, progression was the outcome of “volume”, not sound programming.  The development of exercise science has shown us ways to program training individually in order to devise the most efficient training and to obtain the best conditi0ning in the fastest way.  By conditioning, we do not imply the separation of conditioning and skill practice, but the most effective ways to become optimally conditioned through the scalable and progressive practice of movement skills.
  3. Danger-risk ratio: it is an essential concept that is crucial in assessing as objectively as possible if a physical action should be attempted or not, and what is at stake, so that the preservation of physical integrity is ensured.   Though it is not the only parameter for injury-prevention, it is one of the most fundamental. The notion of danger-risk ratio helps assessing scalability and progression and the necessity of a balanced interaction between individual skill and conditioning level and increasingly difficult or complex environmental demands.
  4. A much greater emphasis on technique before increasing volume or intensity, since efficient technique ensures greater performance, reduction of metabolic cost and optimum preservation of energy, last but not least is key to injury prevention. Hebert expected technical improvement to naturally take place thanks to increased training volume and consequently technical instruction was made secondary. Experience and observation, so dear to Hebert, showed us that the process of learning and improvement must be based on optimum technique right from the start.  Technique is paramount, it is the very foundation onto which conditioning must be built.  The brain doesn’t automatically select the most efficient forms but prioritizes the ones the body performs most often.  Practice doesn’t make perfect at all if the practice is not efficient.  A lack of initial emphasis on proper techniques leads to future health issues, with the assimilation of inefficient movement patterns,  which in turn leads to both inefficient action and injury.  In MovNat, we focus on optimizing technique before adding volume or intensity. That approach is a significant improvement not just in coaching, but in getting results.
  5. Focusing on essential techniques first and on movement variations second. There are essential techniques in each movement skill that are fundamental to the beginner and from which many movement variations derive. When these essential techniques are well assimilated, they constitute what we could call a technical toolbox that easily adaptable to varied environmental demands.  Essential techniques greatly increase movement adaptability, by making the performing of about any movement variation much easier.  This is an improvement, as there was no hierarchy of technical learning in Methode Naturelle, and techniques we relatively randomly taught.
  6. Perception drills: they are drills that break down movements slice by slice and boost the learning process or allow to spot and solve technical blocks.  That is an innovation, as perception drills didn’t exist in Methode Naturelle.
  7. Emphasis on “combo” training: it is a MovNat training type that provide greater conditioning patterns, as well as more and faster transitions between different techniques or types of effort. It is an essential training typethat is extremely effective at ensuring effective individual programming, with greater and faster progress thanks to more specific physical, physiological and even mental adaptations.  From a coaching perspective, it also ensures a better visibility of the students by the trainer and a more efficient supervision of the class, an easier individualization of the training within a group, resulting also in greater injury prevention.  That is an innovation and improvement, as the core of the Methode Naturelle training was the course training or a “follow the leader” training type, which didn’t offer the same benefits.
  8. Specialization cycles: this occurs only at higher level of practice.  While a broad combination of skills during training is the most efficient way to make fast general progress in beginners and intermediate practitioners, this strategy looses efficiency at a higher of practice, as it doesn’t allow to get beyond thresholds.  Well-rounded practitioners that have already reached an advanced level of skills and conditioning must frequently arrange relatively specialized training cycles in order to break plateaus.  Of course maintaining combined skills training sessions regularly remains important, but such a strategy of specialized cycles of training is crucial to the advanced practitioner.  It did not exist in Methode Naturelle.
  9. General improvement of techniques: Old graphics and photographic records show that some Methode Naturelle techniques were sub-optimal or even dangerous.
  10. Use of video analysis: though it is a tool that is not necessarily used systematically, it allows practitioners to visualize and develop a better perception of their own movements, and the trainer to better analyze and pinpoint the particular details of technique that need improvement.  This is an innovation made possible of course by the evolution of technologies.

MovNat: empowering the human of today!

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'The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress'. Charles F. Kettering

MovNat goes beyond the past by revolutionizing the preceding method with significant innovations that our system tremendously more efficient and allowing practitioners to make broader, faster and safer progress.

Just like Hebert had understood the necessity of remodeling Amoros work and approach, I have, animated by a very similar spirit, implemented some concepts existing in the Methode Naturelle (but not limited to) in order to produce a modernized concept and system that is now reaching a

great number of people and help them develop their full natural human movement potential more efficiently.   That, I believe, has the potential to empower many people’s lives.  It is more than my belief and more than my dream: it is my vision, and visions are meant to be achieved.

Erwan Le Corre
Founder of MovNat and Master Instructor