The Problem With Modern Fitness and FOUR Things Smart Trainers Are Doing About It
By Danny Clark, MovNat Performance Director & Master Instructor
Find a trainer, or any health and fitness professional, and pay them for a one on one session. Then ask them to teach you how to move the way a human should be able to move. More than likely, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. This is a major problem, rooted in the growing disconnection from our physicality.
Sure, we’ve got tons of experts who can dissect the squat, deadlift, and bench press exercises in excruciating detail, but these same professionals don’t know how to crawl, jump, or balance with skill and efficiency – let alone teach these rudimentary skills. We’ve got coaches with spreadsheets chock-full of stats labeled RHR, VO2 MAX, and RPE, but they don’t account for developmental progression, adaptability, environmental complexity, or neuroplasticity, among other key variables.
Plus, we’ve got fitness celebrities who can do 50 pull-ups, but can’t climb a real world obstacle, such as a tree or wall safely. Then there’s all the weightlifters and other strength athletes who can’t run, and all the runners who can’t lift, among other groups of highly specialized athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
And unfortunately, if you ask for help getting “fit for the real world,” the traditional experts usually prescribe the same old stuff – more reps, more muscle, more endurance, more cross training. Basically, more of the same.
The good news is that MovNat is changing this, and people are finally waking up to the power of natural movement fitness.
Yes, most fitness and strength & conditioning programs are really good at what they do (e.g. improving strength, conditioning, body composition, and other attributes). But most fitness and S&C programs share a major weakness: they lack a foundation of progressive, scalable, and universal natural movement training.
Sure, some of the better programs by savvy coaches do incorporate bits and pieces of natural movement. For instance, some programs will include exercises like crawls, get-ups, and box jumps, which are all great exercises that are rooted in fundamental movement skills. But this is just the tip of the iceberg! And unfortunately, most programs are greatly lacking when it comes to both movement training and the greater perspective of how training intersects life.
Plus, most trainers and coaches have never been educated on how to teach the full spectrum of natural human movement skills, or even why it’s critically important for the athlete, fitness enthusiast, children, and soccer mom, alike.
And when they become aware of this gap in their training arsenal and finally learn how to fill it (e.g. at a MovNat event), it’s a game changer for them. There is a fundamental shift that takes place – both on a personal level for the practitioner, and on a professional level for the instructor – when natural movement training is properly integrated into one’s training program.
That’s when it all “clicks,” and everything changes as a new paradigm for health, fitness, and movement comes into view.
4 WAYS To Improve Your Movement and Fitness Training Today
Here at MovNat, we believe that the future of fitness will involve a greater focus on practicality, adaptability, efficiency, and holistic training.
With that in mind, here are four things that MovNat does differently from the norm; and why, with a few examples of each to get you thinking about how to apply these principles to your own training.
So, whenever you evaluate your training programs, you can ask yourself the following questions…
1. Is Your Training Practical?
Practical training is about bridging the gap between the gym and real world movement patterns – from both evolutionary and modern contexts.
- Getting up and down from the ground in multiple ways without using your hands for support
- Sitting or kneeling on the ground for long amounts of time, without your back or feet cramping up after a few minutes
- Balancing with load on a narrow surface
- Climbing up and over anything (e.g. a pull up is only half of the movement!)
The point is that a large portion of your training should serve a clear, practical purpose.
2. Is Your Training Efficient?
We don’t just DO movement, we refine it to the highest level – because we want you to fall in love with movement itself, not just grinding away in the gym. Through the mindful application of technique we rapidly increase not only the strength and conditioning of a given movement pattern, but the underlying foundation of overall movement competence. Which means, chiefly, less injuries and higher performance of any given task with less effort.
- Relaxed, diaphragmatic breathing during increasingly complex movement skills (not just while meditating)
- The optimal balance of relaxation and tension while lifting and carrying (more isn’t better with sub-maximal loads)
- Subtle refinements in body position during crawling to ensure optimal scapular rhythm and torso stability, which means easier crawling AND a better feeling back
The days of mindlessly “repping out” to just “feel the burn” with no thought given to one’s form are coming to an end. People are waking up to the truth that efficiency is a necessity for longevity. So, whenever training, strive to make the hard things look easy because you’re moving with efficiency.
3. Is Your Training Adaptive?
It’s one thing to be able to do something successfully, such as carry a heavy object a half mile. That’s what we call “effective.” Effective is a good starting point. It’s another to do the same task with efficiency, meaning at the highest level of performance, with the lowest energy expenditure, and with safety. But the highest level of a given movement isn’t about load or even efficiency; its about performing a given task with efficiency in complex environments. That’s what we call “adaptability” and its the apex of human movement. And, like anything else, it has to be trained to be earned.
- Being able to carry a child across a slippery boulder field
- Being able to walk on ice and not fall
- Being able to run (and walk) barefoot across mountainous terrain
- Balancing on a muddy log during a river crossing, while carrying an injured friend
- And my favorite: Not hurting yourself when picking up an awkward object at a weird angle (i.e. a common injury among super strong lifters)
You see, if you only ever train in a perfectly controlled environment (e.g. most gyms), where everything is flat and smooth and dry and well-lit and air conditioned among other modern day conveniences, then you’ll be missing out on one of the most valuable aspects of training – adaptability. Of course, you’ll want to be wise in your application of this principle, for your safety and others, always making sure to train within your limits, minimize danger, and progressing gradually to greater challenges. Speaking of which…
4. Is Your Training Holistic?
The human body requires stimulative stress through the full spectrum of natural movement patterns to stay healthy over the long haul. True holistic training factors in the importance of progression, dose, movement variety, and environmental variety, as well as the gradual process of mastery.
- Competence in crawling should precede advanced or even intermediate climbing drills such as pull ups.
- Deconditioned trainees shouldn’t be confined to only lifting and PT-inspired remedial drills. They should be working on the fundamentals of all 8 movement domains in a progressive, safe way.
- Random acts of fun variety, such as swinging a heavy object like a mace, should come after fundamental and general movement competence.
Perspective, perspective, perspective! What you do in the gym should be easily visualized in your real life – or the more engaging life you are working toward.
And if there are major gaps in your fitness or movement training, such as the absence of entire movements domains (e.g. no running or no lifting), then you’re probably going to run into problems eventually – and the more specialized you are, the greater the risks.
So, don’t make the mistake of leaving these things to chance and just “winging it” on your own.
Now, if you find yourself answering “no” to some or all of the four questions above, or if you see some room for growth, here’s what you can do.
It’s true that MovNat is practical, efficient, adaptive, and universal. But it’s also so much more. We’ve come a long way over the years – with thousands of certified trainers, dozens of licensed facilities, and a well-respected and growing curriculum, among many other very exciting developments. We’re helping more and more people, from all walks of life (and not just “natural” movers), with our well-designed and rapidly evolving system for natural movement fitness.
So, if you’d like to be a part of a community that’s on the cutting-edge of movement-based fitness, please join us today.
A good first step would be to sign up for our MovNat newsletter and download your FREE starter kit. Also, please look into our MovNat Workshops, where we’ll teach you how to deepen your movement practice and learn what “real world fitness” is all about. And if you’re a current MovNat Certified Trainer, take the initiative and upgrade your certification so you can benefit from the latest updates to our programs.
We believe that natural movement fitness can change your life and even change the world, and we look forward to helping you reach your full potential as we take this “movement” to the world.