I recently attended the Level 1 and Level 2 MovNat Trainer Certification courses in Houston, Texas, and what follows are my thoughts, now that I’ve had a few weeks of integration. If you are new to the concept, “MovNat is a physical education and fitness system based on the full range of natural human movement abilities”. It was created my Erwan Le Corre, and is taught by himself and master instructor Vic Verdier.
There are a great many things that we do in this highly specialized and standardized civilization that require proper training first. These tasks — driving a vehicle comes to mind — have no correlate in the natural world, and so are not instinctive, and do not ‘come naturally’ to us. Instead, we require education, training, and practice before we become proficient in them. No one expects that they will be able to operate a motor vehicle safely or efficiently simply “giving it a try”. Driving a car isn’t intuitive, but what about the way we move our bodies? Does something as basic and natural as moving require specialized training?
It is easy to assume that the operation of our physical body is something that comes naturally to us all, that it instinctive. Certainly, most of us have effectively made it through our world up until today with very little training or ‘practice’ in the art and science of natural human movement. Our motility, however, is most often simply a set of patterns that we have fallen into over time as we have negotiated — ‘bumbled’ might be a more apt term for some of us — through this life.
In our wild and natural habitat, our movement would be modeled after individuals whose motility and movement competency was developed from living in, and flowing across, natural landscapes in the pursuit of a hunting and gathering lifeway. Most of us however have modeled our own movements on those of our highly domesticated parents, friends, teachers, and coaches, as well as the role models we have chosen from pop culture. Without conscious intention, our movement mentors have simply passed on the baggage of their own domesticated somatic patterning, and we have — unwittingly — made it our own. We, in turn, pass this on to those who are modeling — at least in part — on us. Our mobility and locomotive patterns have been shaped (restricted would be more accurate) by social taboos and cultural customs, clothing and furniture, by the layout of buildings and sidewalks, and the countless other trappings of civilized living — or what I think of as modern human factory farming.
When we decide to shed some of our domestication, to embrace a feral lifestyle, many of us quickly realize that we are lacking highly developed movement literacy. We step outside, unshod and pale-bodied, to discover a world without straight lines, flat floors, perfect hand holds, or smoothed and softened edges. We enter the natural world — what was once our native habitat — with all the movement efficiency of the Tin Man on an obstacle course. Perhaps once, prior to our domestication, efficient movement was instinctive, but for modern humans, it seems, this is no longer the case.
MovNat is more than a system of natural movements, it is a training platform for enhancing the efficiency of your motility — walking, running, climbing, crawling, bounding and vaulting, lifting and carrying. It is a ReWilding approach to movement, placing its emphasis on retraining the brain and reprogramming our movement software. This approach takes into account that we are still the pilots of — although a somewhat more gracile version — paleolithic bodies, and it is our minds that have been led astray, not our musculoskeletal systems. MovNat teaches that most body issues are software problems, not hardware problems. Train the brain, and the body follows.
Mobility and movement have been keystone concepts throughout much of my adult life. I have always sought to improve the way I move, and the efficiency with which I do so — all the while making sure that my focus is on what is natural versus what is civilized. While I have made tremendous progress over the years, my movement style still had holes in it, and lacked the systematic and well structured approach that I craved. It was kind of a hodgepodge of skills that I intuited, deconstructed, or picked up from others along the way. There were many movements with which I was skillful, but a good many others that — while still effective — were anything but efficient.
MovNat provided exactly the kind of systemic, one is almost tempted to say ‘scientific’ — if it weren’t so nature based — approach to movement that I had always wanted. And while I was absorbing the course curriculum like a parched landscape drinks in the rain, it was becoming painfully obvious to me just how thirsty others are for this libation as well. It would be very difficult to go through a MovNat Trainer Certification without constantly being reminded of just how powerful an impact this curriculum could have on children if it were implemented early in their lives. It took me 36 years to arrive at movement as effortless and efficient as this. While I am grateful that I will be able to utilize it for the next 36 and beyond, I do lament the many years of repetitious-but-poorly executed technique with which I have — prior to this immersive training — moved through life. The techniques and mindset that I developed over the course of my MovNat Level 1 and Level 2 Trainer Certification will inform my approach to movement for the rest of my time on earth.
To certify or not to certify?
While my own career in the field of health and personal development is firmly established, I constantly talk with people who are looking for some way to break into this field. I think MovNat’s Trainer Certification provides a wonderfully simple and effective platform for doing just this. Becoming established as a MovNat Trainer is a quick and efficient way to immediately add value to the lives of those you work with, and provides a business model to immediately get started doing just that. This is not an approach for someone who is new to movement, but rather requires that you bring a significant amount of pre-existing movement competency and proficiency along with you. That said, if you have a background in something like sports, yoga, or martial arts — and are reasonably well conditioned — this is a class that you can participate in, and a final exam which you can likely pass. Doing so gives you the ability to train others in MovNat, and can allow you to develop a career sharing this quickly up and coming movement system with others. If you are looking to get started in the health and wellness field, are already teaching movement, or would like to get started, consider attending a MovNat Trainer Certification course. I predict MovNat trainers will be in high demand as more and more people learn about this wonderfully integrated and holistic approach to lifelong movement.
Both Vic and Erwan are masters of their craft, understanding movement at its subtlest level, and it quickly becomes obvious that they have shared this curriculum many times before, long since having worked out the kinks of their instruction method. It was impressive just how easily we, as a class, cohered under their guidance, soon performing movements that only days before would have seemed advanced — maybe even too advanced — for many of us. As instructors they have a keen eye for how they can help a student arrive at the solution to their unique movement challenge, and a natural sense of what to say (and when to say it) to get a student over a challenge that is holding back their mobility or motility.
I can wholeheartedly recommend that you attend a MovNat workshop, whether at an introductory level, or if you are ready for it, a trainer certification. This is a wonderful — even vital — step in your overall approach to a ReWilding lifestyle.