Our Journal

5 Natural Movement Fitness Mistakes That Are Holding You Back

 By John Sifferman

We asked some of our top MovNat Professionals:

What is the biggest mistake natural movers and/or movement-minded fitness enthusiasts make?

Kimberly Alexander – Level 3 MCT

Natural Movement is sweeping through the fitness industry world-wide as people search for more purpose as it relates to their training. The focus of fitness over the decades has mainly been on the physical aesthetics of the body; generally speaking, this meant that men should lift heavy weights to be large and muscular and women should run or do step class (aka “cardio”) to be small and thin. In these modern times when so many of our day-to-day physical tasks have been outsourced to technology, people are craving ways to feel physically useful. We want to be empowered to know that our bodies are capable of doing work, even if we don’t “have” to.

Natural Movement is the antidote to this. The issue is that many fitness professionals and participants are trying to fit it into the old framework. They are using it for output and aesthetics rather than as an intelligent system to build efficient strength and competency from the ground up. An example of this would be when I see people simply substituting logs and boulders for traditional training tools, such as barbells and dumbbells. The objects might be different but they are using them in the same way. Using novel training tools or different movements than you are used to will ultimately lead to the same dissatisfaction people find with traditional training if you try to fit it into the existing framework.

I can understand why this mistake is so commonly made. It is challenging to flip the status quo and cultural tradition on its head. In the age of social media, people want to see and post what is traditionally considered to be super-sexy… according to the status quo and cultural tradition this is typically men with big muscles and women with tiny ones. Slowly the culture is changing and people are waking up to the fact that how we feel and what we can do with our body’s over the course of our lifetime is more important than how we look. My belief is that people develop self-confidence through physical competence.

I would love to see the MovNat community be a force of change in this way. We can challenge the status quo. If you are a coach, do not give in to your student’s desire to go fast and heavy all the time. Post photos and videos on social media showing you doing all the foundational moves in addition to the “sexier” ones. If you are a student of Natural Movement, be patient and trust the process… and your coaches. Developing mobility, strength, efficiency, power… and yes, even a physical aesthetic you are comfortable with… takes time. Ultimately, reflecting on WHY you devote any time to your movement practice will help guide your training and give you the purpose you seek to make it meaningful, rewarding… and useful! – Kimberly Alexander

Danny Clark – MovNat Master Instructor

Either (a) being too intimidated to start or (b) assuming they are more advanced than they are.  That’s where the fundamentals come in for both these groups. All of us can stand to benefit from re-establishing our movement journey “from the ground up” and deconstructing the process of forming efficient technique. This path is gentle enough for someone totally deconditioned, yet also extremely useful for people who practice very dynamic movement arts – from dancing to fighting and everything in between. I’m proud to have introduced the concept of “developmental progression” to the curriculum, as it forces our students to approach movement capability in a systematic, safe way without skipping essential steps.

For example, from the developmental progression lens we refine sitting before crawling; crawling before walking and running; walking before lifting and jumping. We make the observation that real world capability accumulates more rapidly and more safely when we loosely reverse engineer the developmental process.

The second most common mistake is assuming the emotional “high” of learning something new will lead to an actual practice.  Without structure and commitment, nothing happens in our high paced, hyper-distracted lives. With MovNat, we not only teach you the movements, but also the structure that bridges you into a meaningful, deliberate, easy to follow practice. – Danny Clark

Matt Rutley – MovNat Team Instructor

I think a mistake that’s easy to make as a movement enthusiast is to fall a little too deeply down the rabbit hole and forget the reason why we move in the first place. Movement is the only way we have to actually affect the world around us. It’s a language of sorts that we use to converse with our environment. The more fluent you become in this language the more effective and efficient you become in the way you affect the world around you.

Many people within the movement community seem to be on a quest to apply some deeper esoteric meaning and importance to what they do and thus many have lost sight of what being a “good mover” is meant to be about; being a useful, capable, resilient and adaptable human in your day to day life. Be it indoors or outdoors, training, doing the housework etc, everything we do is an opportunity to move better.

Too many “movers” are only focused on movement when they’re actually training and they seem to be more interested in developing specialized skills as opposed to developing a deeper understanding of what good movement is. Individual skills get you likes on Instagram, but understanding movement gets you seeing everything as green writing scrolling down the screen à la Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix”.

That’s why I tell people at MovNat events that the actual movements and techniques that we teach aren’t worth anywhere near as much as the philosophy. If you can’t physically perform even the most basic of MovNat skills but you can change your mindset to focus on moving in a way that honors your body’s design and realigns your focus towards things that are practically applicable, the movement skills will follow.

Mind you, I can’t even do a Stalder Press so what would I know anyway, right? [rolls eyes] – Matt Rutley

Melissa Sher – Level 3 MCT

Whether through team sports or professionally, I’ve been affiliated with the fitness industry since I was four, when I first was told “how to move” in my toddler tumbling class. Ever since, I have had a variety of coaches and worked alongside a variety of professionals and there seems to be one commonality between them no matter their title, be them Natural Movers, coaches, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, etc. The commonality is that they generally think their way is THE WAY and we have become a society obsessed with finding THE WAY to achieve an aesthetic result that society has told us we want and need rather than a result within our bodies that makes us feel good and become more capable.

These societal pressures have turned plain old fashioned movement and fitness into movement and fitness “industries,” each obsessed with claiming their way is the only right way to move and, generally, for this one “right” result. In my opinion, this is stripping people of the joy of movement; making moving a chore that we try and fit into one hour boxes, three times a week.

But the truth is, there exist many reasons and ways a person might seek movement in their life: Olympic pole vaulter, marathoner, keeping up with grandkids, feeling confident, toddler tumbling, and the list goes on and on. The nuances of the pole vaulter’s routine will inevitably look different than the toddler, though there could be overlap pertinent to both, like MovNat. The point is, Natural Movers, coaches, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, whatever a person wants to call themselves all have another commonality: we crave, love, and want movement. So rather than shame someone for their way of moving we must embrace the fact that humans naturally will crave movement once they find a type that works for them.

During my time as a mover/fitness professional/athlete I make it my goal to help people seek the deeper reason to why movement is important to them: What do you want to DO? How do you want to FEEL? Your answers to these questions will give you the real motivation to find a type of movement that keeps you moving for life. – Melissa Sher

Eric Brown – MovNat Team Instructor

“And the number one mistake IS…”

Thinking that Natural Movement is the end-all-be-all, when it comes to health and fitness.

It will not instantly heal you. Not through osmosis or short-term practice. You won’t be able to dodge colds or the flu. It will not guarantee that your mind will always be calm. And that your judgment will be sound. It will not keep you from over-spending or do your taxes for you.

It’s a practice. And during your long-term practice, you will have soreness. You may sustain injuries. You will feel, “under the weather.” You will experience all of the things that a non-superhuman experiences. And you will love it!

You’ll love it because you know that you can still move – in whatever shape or form is accessible to you. You’ll love it because you’ll see new options for movement, with your body and with your mind. You love it because challenges have become surmountable. In your practice, you’ve been able to use variations to make things work for you and your abilities. And you’ve taken that mindset into your everyday life and have used it well.

Through the practice of Natural Movement, you’ve realized that there’s always a way to get to where you want to be. That it’s just a matter of walking through the possibilities and choosing the option that resonates with YOU. It’s your intrinsic insight that now determines how you live and breathe. And you know that, because you’ve chosen the path of Natural Movement, you unleashed the power and natural ability that is you.

It’s you.

It’s always been you.

And you’re the key to your natural movement.

-Eric Brown

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Ready to Deepen Your Natural Movement Practice?

If you’d like to learn more about Natural Movement Fitness to deepen your movement practice, join us for a MovNat Level 1 Certification or a MovNat Workshop. We hold events all around the world. Or, find a MovNat Certified Trainer or Gym in your area. We also offer MovNat Online Coaching as an alternative to live instruction.

Most people know that they should be more physically active. Some even recognize the incredible value in a system like MovNat. But they struggle with actually implementing natural movement into their daily lives. That’s why we work closely with people from all walks of life to help them move better, get healthier and stronger, and discover their true potential with natural movement fitness. It’s also why we work extensively with health and fitness professionals who understand the value of this new paradigm and are eager to start implementing it with their clients.

So, if you’re ready to take your movement practice to the next level, this is your chance. Please join our community and check out an event near you soon.

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    • Danny Clark says:

      Hi Eliza. Our 1 day Elements courses (found in the “workshop” section of this site) is perfect for seniors. Ive personally taught many of these and have worked with dozens of people over 60. They love it!

      MovNat Online coaching is another great option!

      We always looking to expand and serve our audience better. Let us know if you have any ideas!

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