800.000 years ago in the African Savannah, a hominid shows his son how to use sharp stones as primitive tools to cut some pieces of meat and organs quickly from a dead animal they have found. 800 years ago, a farmer in France shows his son how to use a scythe to harvest their crops efficiently. 8 years ago, a New Yorker shows his son how to jump and slam-dunk his basketball.
‘Teaching and passing on knowledge continues to be one of our favourite activities since the dawn of time – from father to son, mother to daughter, mentor to apprentice, teacher to student.’
But learning something new is, perhaps, one of the most difficult things any living creature has to do. Any new movement, skill, technique, or knowledge that we have to understand, analyse, comprehend, and memorise is a new challenge. Whatever we decide to do, whether it be learning to speak Swahili, to pick a lock, drive a roadster, or tap dance, the process will always be more complex and difficult than we initially thought.
‘That’s where learning tools, training systems, and expert teachers come into play. They are all media we use to shorten the learning curve and master information faster and more easily.’
In this regard, learning to move naturally is not different from learning how to make your own tuxedo with a shower curtain or how to operate a hydraulic crane blindfolded and handcuffed. It involves processing a huge amount of information in a minimal amount of time, thanks to our brain and our very elaborate nervous system.
A few thousand people have now participated in MovNat workshops around the world, improving the way they move and learning techniques that are part of our human heritage.
‘Why have so many people participated in workshops that teach what seems as simple and straightforward as running, lifting, jumping and balancing? Because this is the most efficient way to acquire the necessary tools to process the huge amounts of information involved.’
A few months ago, during one of the 2-day workshops that took place in London, UK, a journalist from UK Men’s Fitness magazine came along to discover what MovNat is all about. While he was used to practicing what we could call “Conventional Fitness” training, he had the opportunity to discover that ‘simple’ and ‘easy’ are two very different things.
Walking, for instance, is simple and would not be considered the ultimate form of fitness training. We take it for granted, as we walk (albeit less and less) every day. But walking is not easy if we consider the many different ways to walk and adapt to our environment. Walking in nature, on different terrains, slippery surfaces, steep slopes, low cave ceilings, around, over or under obstacles such as branches, thorny bushes, dense vegetation or treacherous barbwires can be as challenging as the most difficult workout you’ve ever done. You end up drenched in sweat, panting and exhausted, asking: why is “just walking” so hard?
During any 1 or 2-day MovNat workshop, participants from any walk of life can have a taste of most of the movement capacities we teach during the longer workshops. They learn new techniques, improve their existing abilities, and re-discover some of the long-forgotten movements they used to do as kids. They realize that not everything is a matter of strength or flexibility, and that fitness comes in many different flavours.
‘They understand that efficient movements cannot be improvised or learned from a video on YouTube, but are the product of a conscious learning process.’
Using the knowledge and the experience of a MovNat Coach, they are able to make fast progress in a controlled environment, indoors or outdoors, helped and encouraged by other like-minded participants.
‘Have a look at this article about MovNat in UK Men’s Fitness, and watch this video by Julie Angel, from the same workshop in London, and you’ll have a better understanding about what can be learned and experienced in only one or two days.’
This year, MovNat workshops are taking place all over the world, with dates in Australia, Europe, South Africa, and Dubai.
Already been to a MovNat workshop? What did you learn that made a lasting impact on your fitness regimen or lifestyle? How did your body and brain respond? Were you surprised by how challenging ‘natural human movement’ can be?
By Vic Verdier, BExerSc, CSCS, C-ISSN & MovNat Master Instructor.
Copyright © 2012 MovNat