Allow us to introduce you to Dr. Jon Morey, who is a Level 3 MovNat Certified Trainer & Team Instructor. In addition to being a 5th degree black belt who prides himself in being “hard to kill”, Dr. Morey is also a Chiropractic Physician, University Professor, and the owner of Great Lakes Chiropractic & Movement Center, a MovNat Licensed Facility in Flint, Michigan.
In this interview, you’ll learn why he abandoned his fitness program of 12 years to adopt MovNat, how he uses it himself and with his patients, his views and “best practices” on healthy aging and maximizing longevity, and about his personal philosophy of being “hard to kill.” Enjoy!
MovNat: Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background, and what you do today?
Dr. Morey: I am a Chiropractic Physician and run a practice in Flint, Michigan. I also teach Gross Anatomy (Cadaver Labs), Neuro-anatomy, Sports Medicine, etc. at the University of Michigan – Flint. I have practiced and trained Martial Arts continuously since the late 1980’s and still provide classes and private lessons on a semi-regular basis. I’ve been married for about 20 years, and my wife, Kerry Ann, and I have four boys ranging in age from 12 to 20.
I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning Autism wherein the general focus is narrowed to a few subjects of “special interest” (AKA Obsessions). My special interest has always been the human body; how it works, how it moves, how it comes apart. My academic degrees all reflect this interest. I have Degrees in Anthropology, Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, and Chiropractic Medicine. My other special interests are reading and camping.
I run a Health and well-being business that I founded in 2003 called Uncivilized Vitality™ that involves broad and specific lessons from the lifestyles of Pre-agricultural Hunter-Gatherers. Our tagline is a “Program of Health & Happiness Optimization©; Looking Back to Move Forward©!” One of the five main areas of advice is Movement. I had developed a pattern of fitness based on natural movements and martial arts, as well as my background with a CSCS, Crossfit, Yoga, Olympic lifting, and other fitness “styles” that certainly mimicked the patterns of pre-ag Hunter-Gatherer’s lifestyles. But it was overly complicated and cumbersome to explain. Then I came across Erwan’s material! I was familiar with Georges Hebert’s work, but the modernized version that Erwan developed was just what I was looking for. I set pride aside for a better way and scrapped my fitness program of twelve years and replaced it with MovNat. Now, Uncivilized Vitality™ teaches Movement skills with Erwan’s Le Corre’s method nearly exclusively.
How do you, personally, use MovNat? What does your training look like in day to day life?
My daily personal training is usually just sneaking in a few “Movement Snacks” (Shout out to Katy!) between patients or on campus between classes. I plan two or three sessions a week to work on skills and/or conditioning, too, but my main practice is just being outdoors and moving around. And trying to keep up with my teenage sons; all the boxing and roughhousing.
For you, is MovNat merely a method of physical training? Or, are there other lifestyle implications, too?
I use MovNat mainly as a method of instructing physical competency in my patients, students, and clients. Movement forms the basis for nearly everything we do in life. So, in that sense, MovNat could be thought of as a part of everything. We lead many excursions and hold “Gatherings” year round in Northern Michigan as part of the Uncivilized Vitality™ practice and it can get kind of challenging to be out in the elements for days on end with only minimal gear or creature comforts (like a tent!). That means proper conditioning and the confidence of knowing you’re able to handle the adversity of the great outdoors are a necessity. We use MovNat to help prepare people for these events.
Can you tell us about how you use MovNat in your professional practice?
As I mentioned above, MovNat is a great way to help people prepare, physically and mentally, for upcoming outdoor challenges but it also helps me with the rehabilitation of patients who have injuries or are recovering from a surgery or accident.
I employ about twelve Michigan MovNat Certified Trainers (MCT) on a part-time basis to come to the Center and work with patients or clients one-on-one in ways that help meet the goals of those clients. I employ a few MCT’s on a full-time basis to oversee and work with the rehabilitating patients or special populations such as the “over 65” crowd.
I myself have been working with a man in his 80’s once a week doing stick fighting drills (called Sinawali) to slow the progress of his dementia. This same patient trains at the Center with one of my Movement Coaches three times per week. Over the last few years Bill, and his wife Joyce, have MovNatted their way back to health through a stroke, several broken bones (including a vertebral fracture from a slip and fall) and over-all improved their general well-being and fitness.
We have many success stories at the Center from the use of MovNat.
Why do you think so many people struggle with movement, and fitness, in general?
People mainly struggle with fitness because the definition of such has been deliberately kept ambiguous and hard to define by the “fitness Industry”. Too many conflicting points of view on what “being Fit” actually means. The development of ‘physical competency to meet contextual demands’ that MovNat uses is great; it is easily understood and resonates well with patients and beginners.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see from new students of MovNat?
Common mistakes for MovNat beginners is trying too much too soon. An unrealistic self-comparison with 20 and 30-something shirtless dudes on the MovNat social media also leads to a discouraging start for many clients. I recommend avoiding the comparisons by keeping the client focused on his or her own personal goals.
How is your training different now than it was in your 20s and 30s?
I turn fifty this April. I still train how I did in my 20’s and 30’s with the main difference being volume. It takes a little longer to recover from an intense session than it did three decades ago! I have found myself naturally focused on complexity with less emphasis on volume, and I keep my intensity on a regular schedule of variability. (Yes, I know how that sounded.)
Note: was that Pig Latin to you? Sign up for a MovNat Certification to learn the movements, programming, and language of Natural Movement Fitness.
To you, what does it mean to be “hard to kill” and how do you approach this goal?
I know I get laughs from this, but my personal “fitness” goal has always been to be harder to kill today than I was yesterday. I’ve never had much interest in sports, but once my obsession with the human body came to include combatives and the martial arts at around age 14, I made this my main goal. I’ve never been concerned with how I look in swim trunks or personal records and sporting benchmarks (although I did win several trophies and such during my tournament fighting days in my late teens and early 20’s).
I have made it a conscious focal point to be harder to kill each day; improve conditioning, learn a new weapon or tactic, read a new work on strategy or philosophy, improve an existing physical or mental skill, etc. I used to work in the Security industry and did Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics training for several departments for a few years in my 20’s. I learned very quickly the realities of violence and how it differs from the training hall and Media fantasies.
Being hard to kill is not about being the toughest physically (although a certain level of Durability must be attained) as much as it is about being the most aware. Developing mindfulness in conjunction with your physicality is crucial.
What do you think are some of the common myths associated with aging?
The most common myth is that it is too late to start. That one is pervasive in our culture. People believe they simply cannot do something because it is not as easy as it used to be or it seems too scary. I believe this is due to an inability to discern Risk from Danger. With proper mindset, all of the MovNat method’s skills can be learned and practiced at any age. A Power Up may not ever be attainable for a 90-year old grandmother, but there is no reason for her to NOT practice the components of the skill just because of her age. Give it a try; why not?
Do you have any “best practices” for older adults you would recommend?
Best practice for those starting MovNat after 50 is to have a goal. Set out with a tangible end game that can be incrementally implemented. The goal may not be specific either; have some fun is a very reasonable goal for an elderly MovNatter. Don’t take it so seriously either. MovNat (or any system of improving movement) has to be fun. Otherwise, it won’t work for you.
A carry-on bit of advice is to give yourself plenty of time. I have a patient who wanted to be able to get up from the floor in case of a fall. He is over 75 years of age and it took well over a year, but he can now get up from the floor using several different techniques. He is consequently less scared of falling and has improved his balance and gait as a result!
What are some of the most important keys to success for healthy aging?
Heathy aging? Simple: move around every day and learn something new every day. Read at least one new book per week… preferably while outside!
What are some of the main benefits of adopting a Natural Movement practice and integrating it into your lifestyle over the long term?
My program of Health & Happiness Optimization© includes Movement as one of the five main De-civilizing Paths. An all-around “Natural” lifestyle will have to include proper movement as an essential and necessary component. MovNat is a great way to introduce someone to healthy lifestyle habits and practices. It all starts with movement.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I am happy to finally get around to doing this interview for MovNat. Hopefully, I didn’t sound too off-topic as I sometimes do to Neurotypicals once I get going. One of the things I like most about what I do is the captive audience! I really only want to talk about the human body and how it moves, functions, etc. and students and patients actually come to me so I can talk about it! MovNat people are the same way as they never seem to tire of discussing the mechanics and applications of a Split-Jump to narrow surface. Good times.
Note: Jon Morey will be teaching a few MovNat 1-day Elements workshops at his facility in Flint, MI this year. He will also be leading some MovNat Certifications, including a special Level 1 Certification for ages 50+.
About the Author
Dr. Jon D. Morey is a licensed Chiropractic Physician, MovNat Team Instructor, 5th degree black belt, and a Biology professor at the University of Michigan Flint. Dr. Morey currently practices Chiropractic medicine and teaches MovNat at his clinic, Great Lakes Chiropractic and Movement Center, located in Flint, Michigan. He also runs his Uncivilized Vitality Life-Coaching business out of the same building. In addition, he teaches premedical and biology classes at the University of Michigan, Hurley Hospital, and at several local high schools.
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