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Monday, April 30th

The 8th MovNat Principle: Adaptive

The 8th MovNat Principle is: Adaptive.

Contextual demands

Adaptability is the essence of evolution, or, if you prefer, of natural life.  Biologically, you have a brain –  primarily, in order to produce adaptable, complex movement.  So, not surprisingly, movement adaptability is at the very core of the MovNat practice.  When you move or train a la MovNat, you must first and foremost move and perform adaptively.

‘So, you may ask, adaptability to what?’

‘Adaptability to context, of course!’

By context, we mean the combination of two things: the environment and the situation.   Environmental and situational demands together form what we call “contextual demands.”  From an evolutionary perspective, you are moving naturally, first of all, when your body must navigate adaptively through a complex and unpredictable environment; and secondly, when you are responding to practical physical demands of life.  In other words, it is not theories, conventions, or random creativity that dictate how you perform, but the surroundings and the circumstances you find yourself in.


Environmental demands

The primary reason we need to be able to move adaptively is so that we can be responsive to the variables imposed by our direct environment in a manner that supports our daily and long-term survival. Those environmental demands stem from the terrains, the surfaces, the vegetation, the weather, etc., that you encounter as you move.  This is the form of adaptability we emphasize the most in MovNat.

Why is that so important?  After all, we are not living a ‘primal’ lifestyle anymore. And, in fact, given our modern sedentary, indoor-based lifestyle, why run, climb, or jump? Why move at all?

You need first understand that while most modern fitness methods are optional, moving naturally is a biological necessity. Responding adaptively to environmental demands is a biological necessity. You are moving naturally when there is an adaptive interaction of your movements with the environment.  It is that simple. Yet, certainly, the most challenging aspect of the practice.

Let’s say you are a runner and can run many miles on a flat, smooth, and predictable concrete surface.  Obviously, you possess a certain capacity in running, so it can be said that you are a good runner.  At least, apparently so.

But how adaptive is your running?  If you suddenly encounter trouble that  forces you to run into the woods where you have to navigate hilly trails, potholes, bumps, mud, stones, and various obstacles like roots and fallen trees, what might you learn about your level of running competence?  You may find out that it is restricted to the specific parameters you are used to, and that you have limited adaptability to new or varied environmental demands.  As a runner, you are already a specialized athlete, and:

‘If you are specializing in a particular type of running, you are now a specialized specialist.’

Adaptive runner

Specialized runner

Challenging situational demands

Situational demands

Adaptability also involves your ability to respond physically to circumstantial demands placed upon you.

Here, we are talking about the practical and vital reasons for physical action, such as finding food, building shelter, exploring a new territory, avoiding dangers, helping or rescuing others etc… (see the 4th and 5th MovNat principles, Practical and Vital).

Muscle-isolation workouts?  Anti-adaptive fitness

With all of this in mind, it is not hard to understand why conventional fitness programs (i.e., working out in seated positions using fixed weight machines that limit full range of motion, while imposing specific, segmental and bio-mechanically questionable movement patterns) represent the opposite of moving “naturally.”  The body is not a machine,  and its ‘parts’ do not work in isolation from each other or from the whole.

‘The body is organic and should function organically.’

Too often, the conventional, modern fitness approach is shaping movement artificially with predetermined patterns.  The various training apparatus and gyms are not just dictating your physical expression in terms of scope and variety, they are shrinking it and falsifying it. A relatively large percentage of the fitness industry follows the path of misleading already misinformed people, throwing them on the same old programs without ever assessing the person’s movement capacity baselines.  Do those fitness experts know anything about human natural movement needs and potential?

Where’s the interaction with nature?

There are benefits, lessons, and value in any mindful physical practice.  All movement practices contribute to a greater movement culture, while offering undeniable health benefits to the otherwise sedentary and depressed modern human.  But, often, movement disciplines based on postures or fixed movement routines are shaping movement with conventions.  In most cases, they do not embrace the environment and need a flat, even, and clean environment that will not disturb your practice.  This is an excellent way to nurture mindful movement, as removing external sensory input will help lessen distraction and help you focus on cultivating internal awareness. However, when you must adapt your movements to the complexities of the environment efficiently and safely, you nurture mindfulness, as well, and potentially, even more so.

‘How natural are movements when they do not need to interact and adapt to nature in any way?’

MovNat can perfectly complement the practice of such disciplines. In addition to having achieved a certain ability for “mind-body” connection, you will become also able to develop a mind-body-environment connection and harmony, and an even greater level of movement adaptability.

Reclaim your freedom of movement

Movement adapting to the environment

Adapting to the environment

‘Moving naturally means adapting movement to the environment.’

Conformism and adaptability are very different notions.  The former does not breed adaptability, and may actually compromise it.  The outcome of conventions is that you become adapted to them, but not necessarily adaptable.  And there is a significant difference between the two conditions. To us,

‘Movement adaptability is the real measure of movement competency.’

So start thinking outside of the box when you think about fitness and movement.  You are a wonderful, adaptable human animal.  Move mindfully first,  and then move in environments that encourage you to engage complex and adaptive motor skills.  Moving naturally requires intelligence and grace, which flows from the connection that happens between the mind and the body, and between the mind-body and the environment.

Movement adaptability is both the greatest demand and the greatest reward.  We believe a fitness model based on movement efficiency and adaptability is one of the most effective ways to unlock natural human fitness.
So don’t miss out on the experience of your body’s wonderful and evolutionary faculty to adapt, to access its spontaneous, multi-sensory  intelligence!  Come train with us !

Erwan Le Corre
Founder of MovNat and Master Instructor

How adaptive is your physical activity?  Does your training help you adapt to limited variables or to many? Share your thoughts!

Copyright © 2012 MovNat

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