MovNat, Unleashing Natural Movements
Over the past weekend I was invited to step out of my day-to-day training and attend a one-day MovNat workshop in East Boston. This one-day workshop was a good introduction and overview of the MovNat system over the seven-hour workshop. What is MovNat?
“MovNat is a fitness concept and physical education system based entirely on using the full range of our natural human movement abilities, such as walking, running, balancing, jumping, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, and self-defense. MovNat is for everyone. It is progressive and safe, and supports physical competency and conditioning in any area of your life.”
As an obstacle racer many, wait all of those things we encounter in a single race, I was intrigued. So much of our races incorporate all of these elements whether it be a 5k distance or a 24-hour race. I was interested in learning more about ways to efficiently navigate through the barbed wire and over those walls!
I left my godfathers house in the North End and made what should have been a six minute drive into over twenty minutes due to my outstandingly horrid sense of direction in cities. I arrived at Constitution Beach feeling a little rushed and looked around for the group of adults gathered for the class. This is where I met Kellen, our instructor for the day he welcomed me with a warm smile as I apologized for barely arriving on-time.
As the group came together we went through introductions, our group consisted of everyone from IT professionals to personal trainers and other fitness professionals. However, the majority of the group were just your average everyday people looking for a step outside of the proverbial and literal box. For me I was just stoked to maybe take in a few tips for my next race. The first part of the day consisted of Kellen introducing us to the MovNat system, the 10 MovNat principles, 3 MovNat Movement Skills Categories, and 13 MovNat Skills. This part of the course would lay the foundation for the rest of the day. Two themes that we consistently touched on all day were efficiency in movement and mindfulness. Two things I definitely can work on.
We started off the morning sitting and just starting to move. We took some time to contract and relax muscles independently in our body. I can tell you through this exercise you start to realize all the places you contract without knowing. Check right now while reading this, bet at least half are tensing their shoulders. Kellen took us through a few movements to the on-looker we looked like a bunch of crazies. We went through a free-form movement section in which we were encouraged to awaken body-weight shifting and movements. It was around this point I took of my shoes and I would remain barefoot for the rest of the day, which is probably one of my favorite ways to be. Hell I walk around the woods in my backyard barefoot, sometimes stalking weird animals with iPhone in hand.
As we got further into the morning the park started to fill with people looking to enjoy a nice Sunday on the beach, instead we got a lot of onlookers throughout the day. This is something I am all too familiar with and have learned to embrace this. Once we had started to feel our body and done what we use to call dead bug rolls around the grass we moved onto walking and running.
Much of this section of the workshop mimics many of the tenets of pose running. We started off walking and different variations of walking. We imagined walking under and over objects, all I had to do was close my eyes and imagine on talk in my backyard. We worked on efficient technique moving under and over these imaginary objects then moved onto running. We went through the techniques and skills and got some hands on experience. Probably the funniest part of this section was when we over exaggerated the bad ways of running. If the general public hadn’t questioned our intentions before we truly had their attention now!
Once the foundation of walking and running was set we moved onto balance. First we walked on the curb so those not as balance inclined didn’t fall very far. We worked on walking forward, backward, sideways, and crouching down, pivoting and standing back up. These are the moments in life I am grateful for my six years of gymnastics and ballet as a young child. Somethings stay with you forever. I love playing with balance and this was one of my favorite parts of the day. We would later move onto a railing in the park and practice many of the same movements only this time the ground was further below. All of this might have looked crazy to the onlooker but it each action had intention and Kellen our instructor was always surveying the area to ensure safety.
We took a break for lunch then was back at it again after a quick break. We moved onto crawling. It is funny as an adult you often have to relearn to crawl. This was the part of the day I was looking most forward to. I am always looking for ways to increase my efficiency in the barbed wire and the under, over and throughs. The one thing I learned in this section was that my crawling has improved over the last two years. Still learned the best way to get good at the movement is practice and I have a lot more to do. We did crawls on our knees, bear crawls, and army crawls. MovNat has other names but those are the most common to us all.
We did a brief combo training taking into account a few of the elements from the running, crawling and movement into a circuit. It was short and sweet but accomplished the goals. Definitely one to put into some of my training especially on backyard days.
Then we moved onto my weakness; climbing. Yes, I train for climbing all the time but it’s only because it’s my weakness that I train it so much. Up until this point in the workshop I was feeling like a hero, then we moved to the playground. Yes, we moved to the playground of the park and were surrounded by kids. We first worked on our hanging skills which I am happy to report have drastically improved. Then a hang and a swing, remember my failed attempt at kipping. Still have the timing off for the swing. We then did some side-to-side swinging and I was a bit better at this.
We then moved onto climbing over bars, in the woods think trees. Here I know how to do one thing, muscle through. This is not the MovNat way. It is funny how when you breakdown the movement you learn how much you are inefficient in the movement. They advocate the leg swing technique. The verdict is still out exactly how I will transition this skill into a solid wall, but still some great tips. My personal wall should be up in my backyard in the next two weeks.
After some other play in the playground we moved onto the end of our day rolling and jumping. We worked on landing softly and again efficiently. Some of the movements transition well into the moments where I find myself in a tumble on the trail. Finally, we ended with a few lifting and carrying techniques and a recap of the day.
Overall, it was a fun experience and I gleamed some tips to transition in my training. It also reenforced many of the principles I already train under and have learned on my own. One of the biggest things I took away from the course was how lucky I am to be able to train outside each day and use many of these principles already unknowingly.
If you are use to the gym and looking for something new MovNat is a great introduction into some outside the box training techniques. It will also help any new obstacle racer with proper crawling, rolling, and carrying techniques. It is amazing how much gets condensed into one day!
After the program was over you are invited into the MovNat Alumni Facebook page in which you can connect with other MovNat’ers as well as share photos and ideas. Finally, and the thing that helped me most write this post is they send you a recap of the whole program for future reference. Thanks to Kellen and the entire MovNat crew for the opportunity. Would love to do one of the five- or seven-day programs in the future and be fully immersed in the world. A day was a great introduction and definitely leaves you wanting more.