Movement, forgotten human nature
Movement is everywhere. Where there is life, there is movement. It is part of our DNA, as that of every species. It is a basic need we all feel, like the one for food, water and sleep. Movement training is a crucial part of health, right up there with food and rest. Yet, somehow, movement didn’t make into countless aspects of modern daily life, especially in the western world. Sitting in a chair, which is arguably the number one movement killing practice today, is an integral part of our societal lifestyle. People sit to eat, sit to go to work, sit to work, sit to unwind after work.
The failure of the modern fitness paradigm
As if it wasn’t hard enough to restore a movement practice in such a context, people have the wrong idea when it comes to moving their body. For most people, getting a move on means going to the gym and performing absurd, isolated exercises, often for the sole purpose of improving physical appearance.
Instead of resolving our innate quest for movement, the fitness industry has been tricking people into diet and exercise fads, yielding nothing but short-term mirages and long-term desperation.
Natural movement training
In response to this, a fast-growing wave of athletes, dancers, martial artists, yogi, of movers, have been cultivating movement practices that are voluntarily non-specific. The concept is elegant: the human body has evolved incredible capacities for moving. Unfortunately, for most people on the planet, these remained vastly unexplored. Sedentary lifestyles and isolated training regimes have but gnawed at the primal link to our ancestral abilities.
The good news is that humans are extremely resilient both ways, which makes it possible to reclaim these movement skills through repetition and practice over time.
To speed up your introduction to movement training, we’ve selected 3 movement teachers who stand out by their radical ideas, innovative and most importantly highly effective methods.
Ido Portal / Movement Culture
We are humans first, movers seconds and only then specialists.
Growing up in traditional martial arts, Ido Portal first discovered that movement was his true passion after meeting Afro-Brazilian Capoeira at the age of fifteen. He went on a quest to find the most pure movement teacher, only to come out dissatisfied. In response to this, he decided to create an all-encompassing movement program.
Portal began to travel and study from a variety of movement experts such as medical doctors, rock climbers, circus performers. He has taught in almost every continent holding workshops, as well as a week-long Movement Camps which, in Portal’s words, “enabled great cross information to flow between fighters, dancers, anatomists, rock climbers.”
Ido Portal’s method relies on moving away from the specialist mindset, which focuses on one application of movement skills, such as a single sport. Instead, Ido encourages people to stimulate their body in a general manner, recruiting the entire range of movements, angles and ranges of motion the human body evolved to withstand.
Some disciplines, such as dancing, capoeira, gymnastics and brazilian ju-jitsu, still offer a good foundation to branch out into general movement because they incorporate a lot of versatile, non-linear movements.
Get Started with Ido Portal’s method
There is a great deal of mysticism associated with Ido Portal’s method, which seems to be part of the marketing strategy. You may find it hard to find practical information on how to get started with his method without signing up for expensive online coaching or even more expensive movement camps and seminars.
Fortunately, Ido Portal’s old blog is a solid source of information. Here is a PDF file put together by Tom Merrick that sums up the Floreio floor routines available on the blog. This will get you right to the core of the method!
Below, you will also find notes taken during one of Ido Portal’s Movement X Seminar, complete with exercises and workouts:
Another great resource is Ido Portal’s YouTube channel, especially the older videos which demonstrate movement training for different levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced.
Antranik has done an amazing job organizing them all into categories for structured training:
These routines and workouts should keep you plenty busy, learning and progressing.
For more information on movement training, make sure to check out Ido Portal’s website and lastly but not least, join Movement Culture, the official Facebook group where students or all levels share inspirational, motivational and educational content.
Kelly Starrett / Mobility WOD
All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.
Kelly Starrett is a highly acclaimed coach, doctor of physical therapy, author, and speaker. He teaches a Crossfit Movement & Mobility Trainer course and has been a guest lecturer at the American Physical Therapy Association annual convention, Google, the Perform Better Summit, the Special Operations Medical Association annual conference, police departments, and elite military groups nationwide. His goal with movement is to return athletes to elite level sport and performance. Starrett’s Clients range from Olympic gold medalists, to ballet dancers, to military personnel.
Starrett created Mobility WOD (MWOD) to eliminate pain, prevent injury and optimise athletic performance. This is made possible by a system of techniques and exercises that allow you to reclaim your body’s healthy position and function. According to Kelly Starrett, movement correction should be done in the gym, maximising the health benefits of exercise and conditioning.
Get started with Mobility WOD
There are many free videos which virtually address the entire human body on Kelly Starrett’s YouTube channel.
Once again, Antranik has organized them by muscle, body part and exercise:
For even more content, hour-long mobility videos and daily movement training videos, check out the Mobility WOD website, which requires a monthly subscription:
Kelly Starrett has also authored 3 quality books which I highly recommend:
To stay tuned to the latest Mobility WOD updates, make sure to like the official Facebook page.
Erwan LeCorre / MovNat
Movement is instinctual, evolutionary and universal.
Born on September 10th, 1971 in France, Erwan LeCorre was an avid adventurer from the start. As a child he spent his time outside, exploring the natural environment as well as studying Judo. Then, he developed new passion for Karate at the age of fifteen. A few years later his passions shifted course to a broader and more intense training program called Combat Vital. In this LeCorre explored and challenged human movement doing everything from climbing bridges, to roof jumping, to swimming in frigid waters. By the age of thirty three he was on to creating his own philosophy and lifestyle of movement. After studying the history of physical education, he started MovNat in 2008 while living in Brazil.
Heavily rooted in French Georges Hébert’s Natural Method, MovNat focuses on reclaiming natural movement skills which were essential in human evolution as means to interact with our environment. Below are the the 3 key principles of the MovNat method:
1. Instinctual: movement is instinctual. Technique is not. While nobody starts from scratch, technique is learned to turn instinct into ability.
2. Evolutionary : the way humans move has not changed. Our health is tied to moving as we, the human species, always has.
3. Universal: movement belongs to every human being regardless of origin, gender or age. It is everyone’s universal and biological birthright to be strong, healthy, happy and free.
Get Started with the MovNat method
MovNat seems to focused on providing learning material through certifications and seminars, much like Ido Portal’s system. However, just like for Ido’s movement training, there is a wealth of free information online.
Here is great introductory PDF to MovNAt, which contains a lot of exercises and movements you can practice without any equipment:
The best free source of information to train with the method is probably the MovNat YouTube channel, where you can find dozens of videos with individual movement breakdowns and full workout sequences, ranging from beginner to advanced levels.
For more updates, inspiration and interaction with other practitioners of MovNat:
I wrote this article because the information on movement training, while available, is very fragmented and often occulted by expensive training programs and events. For that reason, it’s easy to forget that anyone can start movement training today without much more than a bit of inspiration and free content from experienced teachers.
Movement is free. All it takes is to start moving, and then move more, all day, everyday.
As Darren Hardy puts it,
Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE
Now go, get a move on.