Zoo Humans, Revolt! (A MovNat Review)

Do you know how you have an awesome wife? When, on your birthday, she skips out on the lame things like ties and underwear. Heck she probably even skips out on the stuff you want, like a day off and a free pass to skip shaving. Not only does an awesome wife skip the gifts which are lame, mediocre, and otherwise normal, she really digs to the core of your being to give you something that will make you happy, develop you as a person, and enhance your life. In the case of my wife, she sent me to take a workshop. For this particular hubby, the gift that made me squeal was one which some of your have heard of, but many have not. It’s called MovNat, and it will change how you move.

MovNat is a comprehensive fitness and movement system which was founded by Erwan Le Corre. The premise is quite simple: to show people how they are suppose to move. On a very basic level, all humans should function in the same way. MovNat’s tagline is “Explore your true nature”, and they helped me do just that. Unlike most fitness systems, which tend to come with lots of abnormal movement and intentional inefficiency (think 5 minute AMRAP of burpees), MovNat operates on the evolutionary premise that the most well-adapted and most efficient creature survives…not the one who can bench press the most.

I quote this directly from the website: “You will rediscover all the movement skills that made our species one of the most adaptable on Earth!” Now doesn’t that sound like more fun than running a marathon (*barf*), watching TV on an elliptical (*gag*) or even doing 5 sets of 10 chinups (*vom*)?  Personally, I want to go outside and play. I want to explore. I want to move freely. I want to get in touch with my true nature.

MovNat

This is my playground (Okanagan, BC). Where is yours?

MovNat trainees have 10 principles which guide their fitness and their adaptability. Many of them sound like current fitness principles, but some of them are far away from the norm in the average musky gym setting. Here are the three that really jumped out at me as being intentionally and ingeniously abnormal:

Environmental: Honestly, when did we as “zoo humans” stop getting outside? As I have pointed out in previous posts, getting outside is a sure-fire way to increase your movement capabilities and healthfulness.

Efficient: What? We are not trying to drill ourselves into the ground? WHY NOT!? ME WANT HEART EXPLODEY! When you think of it, efficiency is how we survived as a species. We didn’t jump into a tree and do 10 reps on each branch on the way to the top. We moved up as quickly and efficiently as we could in order to get away from Yogi the bear. In survival scenarios, 10 reps = dead meat. You didn’t see Mogley or Tarzan doing AMRAP kipping pullups.

Practical: I have heard the argument from a buff gym-goer friend that he needs to strap hundreds of pounds around his waist and do pull-ups just in case some day he is in a situation where he is hanging off of the side of  a cliff with a friend hanging around his waist, hanging on for dear life. How about this, I will hang of your waist and I want you to hold on to a fat bar and then climb on top of it, not just pull your chin to it. Think you can do it then? I didn’t think so. I think we often fool ourselves into thinking that what we are doing in the gym is in some way functional or practical, whereas the fitness is the only practical part about it. The movements we perform are all out of whack compared to what we would do in the middle of the woods with no barbells in sight. MovNat, on the other hand, teaches people how to sprint to, crawl up, climb upon, and balance upon a variety objects. Even though I could once deadlift 400 lbs at a bodyweight of 155, I honestly think it is much cooler (and more practical) to be able to move through a natural environment with skill and efficiency.

Movnat Principles

MovNat uses these 10 principles to guide the human body through learning 13 basic Movement Competencies which, in my opinion and others’, are basic to life as we know it. These Movement Skills are:

Manipulative: Lifting, Carrying, Throwing, Catching

Combative: Striking & Grappling

Locomotive: Walking, Running, Balancing, Jumping, Crawling, Climbing, Swimming

MovNat Movement Skills

 

So what about my experience? In one word, I would call it “eye-opening”. There are basic human movements which I would have thought I would excel at, and I did! On the other hand, there were some skills that just plain astonished me. I couldn’t believe how horrible I was at some of the specific skills. Here is my amateur analysis of my MovNat movement skills:

  • Lifting? Check
  • Carrying? Check
  • Throwing? Didn’t try at the workshop, but I KNOW I throw like a girl (although I am abnormal in my ability to throw with both hands).
  • Catching? Mega Check (I played baseball and was an ice-hockey goalie)
  • Striking & Grappling? SUCK. Didnt do it at the workshop, but my short experience in Muay Thai, tells me that I should avoid back-alleys
  • Walking? Surprisingly, SUCK. Take my shoes off and make my try to change my gait, will you?
  • Running? Let’s just say that I am locomotively-challenged. I have never sprinted or chased anything in bare feet, and I thought I was going to snap an achilles any second. I am embarrassingly bad at this one, for a guy who is built like a gazelle.
  • Balancing? Check (that multi-year stint of breakdancing proved useful after all!)
  • Jumping? I would say “Check”, but apparently the landing aspect of this skill has become a little rusty. What’s the use of jumping if you can’t land?
  • Crawling? Check
  • Climbing? Sort of Check. I could do every one of the skills with ease…except one (which was supposedly the most basic). Hmmm, I think I’ll be fine as long as MovNat climbing does not become a competition sport anytime soon.
  • Swimming? Opposite of Check. If there is one sport I claim to suck at the most, it is swimming. I am willing to put money on a frigging donkey over Dr B in a 50 meter freestyle. I am inefficient, ugly, and suspiciously splashy (wow, did I just create my own tongue-twister!? Please “suspiciously splashy” 10 time fast.)

Alright, this rambling review has come to an end. I could write an entire book on the clinical and fitness implications from my trek into MovNatdom, but I will leave it at this: If you had the chance to move with finesse, develop your motor skills, become more fit, prevent injuries, AND run around outside in minimal clothing, wouldn’t you want to do it? I sure am glad that I did.

If you want to know more about MovNat, or you would like a demonstration of some of the basic skills, as taught by MovNat, come visit me in Kelowna, BC. Or, even better, if you have been trying this stuff out and want a partner in crime, let me know!

Until next time, take care.

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