A Farmer’s MovNat Journey

By Craig Kapernick, Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer

Among my earliest memories is our family’s Massey Ferguson 65 tractor. I believe it arrived on the farm some time before I did, and it was second hand then. Given that I’m on the high side of 50, it’s safe to say Gertie (all good tractors need a name) has earned her keep over the years. While once bright Massy Ferguson red, she is now a very faded pink, if any paint remains at all.

My father has generally had the attitude that it’s not worth spending much effort or money on her, given her age, but in recent years we have helped her out with a new seat, steering wheel, canopy, brakes and even have new headlights waiting for a chance to put them on.

So, before you the reader get too confused thinking you have stumbled across a vintage machinery chat page, I’ll make my point.

Imagine you were given a vehicle at the start of your life and told that’s the only one you’ll ever get. Would you look after it a little differently knowing that an upgrade isn’t an option? This is the view that I have developed about our own bodies. We can’t trade them in, and new parts are never as good as the genuine ones we started with. So, how do we go about ensuring that we stay in the best condition we can in order to keep functioning as well as we’d like to? I’ve found my answer in MovNat.

When I’m asked to explain what MovNat is all about, I invariably give people the kitten story. Watch a kitten at play and we’ll see him stalk, pounce, swat, climb, wrestle, run and so on. It doesn’t take much insight to recognize that they are practicing their natural cat skills which we then see in grown up cats at a much higher level. The strength, power and sheer athleticism of a lion is awesome, yet the skills are the same. The ball of wool becomes the antelope.

So, it follows that if we watch a 4-year-old at play, we’ll get some insight into our natural human skills: run, jump, climb, wrestle, throw, tumble, roll, balance. The only problem is, as adults, we should be awesome at these skills by now. If acting like a cat actually keeps cats in shape, it doesn’t take much to see how we should naturally keep in shape.

I see MovNat as a curriculum for “lions” who have possibly forgotten or ignored some of the skills that should be making them awesome.

MovNat has done a superb job of outlining the range of progressions within a skillset so that everyone, regardless of ability, can find a way into these skills and almost no one can feel like they have advanced so far that they have nothing left to learn or improve.

Pulling yourself up out of a chair would be a climbing skill at one end of the spectrum, while a flat grip Power Up would be near the other end, but it’s still climbing.

So, where do I fit in?

As a self-employed family farmer, I am all too aware that my superannuation plan involves my being able to do the tasks that I have to do. Farm life offers a never-ending opportunity to pick up heavy and awkward things and generally carry them along with crawling under, climbing over, jumping off and chasing after. It rarely asks me to lie on my back and bench press anything.

I love the MovNat philosophy of “be strong to be helpful”. Instead of wasting time developing circus tricks or working on one’s appearance, I’m encouraged to get good at the skills that a human needs to thrive.

Before MovNat, I didn’t know the difference between a squat and a hip hinge; and in my 30’s, a series of back injuries demonstrated that. I am amused when I read that our physical strength and abilities decline as we age. Maybe it’s because I started with a low bar, but at 51, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I feel capable of much more than I ever have.

If there is a downside to studying MovNat, it’s that I can’t help but watch and analyze people to see how well they move. It amazes me how many people I encounter with a bad back that I end up explaining the hip hinge to, and I seem to talk about glutes a lot these days.

Interestingly, while social media often gets a bad rap, this is how I came across MovNat. When a chance encounter and a positive reply from Erwan @naturalmovement on Instagram can bring a farmer in rural Queensland, Australia, into the world of Natural Movement, it can’t be all bad.

A few years down the track and with thanks to (former) Australian MovNat team instructor, Matt Rutley, himself a Queensland farm boy, I’m a Level 2 MovNat certified trainer. Farm life doesn’t free up much time for teaching, but you can rest assured that if we meet in the street one day, the conversation will somehow turn towards movement; and we’ll find ourselves crawling along the sidewalk or jumping off the curb, and at the very least, discussing our glutes.

Craig Kapernick
Instagram: @craigkapernick

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