Evolutionary Fitness
MovNat is a physical education system for developing real world capability (fitness) through the full range of motor skills that the human body has developed through natural environmental pressures. Natural Movement constitutes those physical adaptations that we have gone through in order to survive over the course of our evolutionary history. The range of these skills can be as simple as sitting on the ground and getting back up to standing, or more challenging and complex such as climbing over tall obstacles, and running on rugged terrain. Many of these skills have all but been lost to our rapid industrialization, and the changes to the way we live are happening at a rate that our bodies cannot adapt.
 
To live healthy human lives, we need to reconnect with these evolutionary movement patterns. Practical physical performance takes place in the context dictated by environmental and situational demands. Adaptation to any situation or environment is the ultimate goal. This might the situations of your daily life in the environment of your household and society, or hiking trail, or sport.
Real World Capability
"Real world" capability means the ability to perform the full spectrum of natural tasks from both evolutionary and modern perspectives. This involves training to be physically competent (skilled) and well-conditioned (fit) in both wild environments, or urban environment and society in general. The goal of the MovNat system is to develop physical capability for practical performance in every context you may face in life.
To build effectiveness efficiency, and adaptability in your movement you must have the right mindset, physical capability (movement skills), and conditioning (fitness). MovNat aims to develop these three elements through mindful practice of Natural Movement and a continuous progression from the simple and fundamental skills, to the more complex. A balance between skill development training, conditioning, and mindfulness is taught.
The overarching philosophy of MovNat is not just about moving, but about escaping the pitfalls of a sedentary life and reconnecting to living life as close to how nature intended as possible. Approached as an overall lifestyle, MovNat inclusively addresses exercises, nutrition, breathing, sleep, and the other essential biological functions required to develop and maintain health, well-being, longevity, fitness an happiness.
Movement Skills & Conditioning
We firmly believe that everyone needs physical competence in their life to be able to effectively handle situations that require a physical response. Whether this required physical response involves how you move through your environment in every day life, or how you respond to an emergency to help yourself and others. The way we define and approach fitness is focused on this practical physical competence. From our perspective, practicing the natural movement aptitudes that we have developed through evolution is the most practically and biologically relevant ways to exercise.
We classify natural human movement aptitudes into 3 domains:
Locomotive
Manipulative
Combative
Each movement domain includes a number of movement skills, or aptitudes. An aptitude is an ability that can be done natural, whereas a skill is a refined ability and expertise in doing something. The initial goal of MovNat training is to transform our natural aptitudes into finely developed skills through mindful and technical practice. Another important goal is to strive for equalization of the full scope of our available natural human movement skills. Finally, finding variations to these skills, and conditioning our responses builds adaptability; the ability to use these skills in any context.
Locomotive
Ground Movement
Ground movement involves crawling, rolling, falling safely, getting up from the ground, etc.. Anything that involves moving with the center of gravity below waist-height and be categorized here.
Balance & Gait
Gait involves analysis of walking patterns, balancing, running, and sprinting; some of the most common movements for our species​.
Jumping & Vaulting

Vaulting is a skill to traverse an obstacle between knee height and chest height using the hands for support. We also explore a number of methods of jumping for getting over or on top of a high object, down from a height, and across a longer distance.

Hanging & Climbing

We practice techniques of hanging, swinging (like monkey bars), as well as climbing up and over walls, bars and branches.

Swimming

How to swim efficiently and make the most of each breath is covered in specialty courses.

Manipulative
Lifting & Carrying
We learn techniques to lift heavy objects in various ways that use the whole body instead of isolating muscle groups. We also practice various methods of carrying heavy objects as well.
Throwing & Catching
Throwing and catching involve a number of cooperative techniques for passing a heavy object from one person to another. Throwing also involves projecting smaller objects toward a specific target.
Combative
Striking & Grappling
The combative skills of striking & grappling involves the exploration of joint controls, projections, chokes, pins, punching, kicking, and more. Combatives are taught through special courses, not regular classes.
 
General Physical Preparedness (GPP) vs. Physical Competence
 
Being fit is a very positive thing, but are you skilled? The fitness industry tends to dissociate skill from conditioning, often discarding the skill, or rendering it an accessory to the conditioning. This can help build a strong and healthy body, but does all that training translate into real-world skills? Surely conditioning exercises help to increase our capability to perform our movement aptitudes, but they don't do much to refine those aptitudes into finely crafted skills.
Skill is about effectiveness, efficiency, and adaptability. Effectiveness is the ability to perform an aptitude successfully; efficiency is the enhancement of performance, conservation of energy, and increase in safety resulting from refinement of technique; and adaptability is the capability to respond to a wider variety of environmental and situational demands.
Conditioning is about developing flexibility, agility, powerful, coordination, strength, speed, balance, recovery, cardio-respiratory and muscular endurance, etc... From a MovNat perspective, skill and conditioning are intimately connected.
Physical Competence is about training with a balance of conditioning and skill development whereas GPP (the basis of most fitness approaches) only deals with conditioning. It's only our habit of dissecting everything that we have come to separate the two, in real life, skills and conditioning are inseparable.
 
Formation of Technique
The mindful application of movement efficiency principles, such as the shifting and transferring of body weight, or moving from the center of gravity is what generates efficiency in movement.
What we call a technique is a movement pattern that is effective in performance,  while efficiently conserving energy, ensuring safety, and avoiding wasteful inefficiencies in it's execution.
The development of good technique requires proper position, breathing, sequence & timing, As well as appropriate tension & relaxation.
Position & Breathing
Position is about analyzing the form of each skill, learning how to eliminate unnecessary movements and compensations. Breathing is about making sure that your breathing is full and properly synchronized with your movement. Proper breathing can stabilize your core when lifting, or help reduce the impact when rolling, for example.
Sequence & Timing
The cue for sequence is to ensure that your body parts are moving in concert with one another, and that the whole body is moving together as one to assist each movement. Timing is how you take advantage of the natural forces that assist each movement, in order to create flow and grace in movement.
Tension & Relaxation
The appropriate use of tension and relaxation is about engaging the right muscles at the right time, and allowing muscles that are not part of the movement relax. To tense up the whole body during a movement creates stiffness, rigidity and countless compensatory mechanisms. This is all about using the bare minimum effort to create the maximum effect.
Training Progressions
When it comes to conditioning, that is the direct outcome of practicing the skills that you have grow comfortable with at a varied and progressively deeper level of intensity, complexity, and volume without compromising the quality of movement. This means making things more difficult, perhaps faster, and more intense, but without letting the execution get sloppier.
 
We emphasize quality execution of techniques even with high intensity workouts to avoid wasting energy, risking injury, and improving performance. Getting carried away and becoming sloppy with the execution of skills does not improve the way you move, it rather reinforces inefficiencies and the compensatory mechanisms (that lead to abnormal tension and chronic pain) that come with that. So when increasing intensity, complexity, and volume, we are still emphasizing the development of efficiency in our practical skills. We can increase just one of these characteristics, or all of them to increase the challenge of a developed skill.
Volume
Increasing volume can mean adding to the amount of repetitions for a lift, increasing the distance for your balancing walk, or jumping more times in a row for example. This way we can "add more" to increase the difficulty of skills in different ways depending on the skill.
Intensity
Intensity is about making it more challenging by running faster, jumping farther, or doing your pull ups more slowly for example. Increasing intensity allows us to simply increase the required energy output of a basic skill to increase the challenge.
Complexity
Increasing complexity can mean sprinting on sand, jumping to land on a specified target, or climbing a bouncy tree branch instead of a sturdy bar to name a few examples. It's essentially about taking your environment and switching things up to make it a little different than you're accustomed to. This is what really builds the quality of adaptability when it comes to movement, especially in the realm of environmental demands.
Physical Re-education
Deconditioning Cycle
MovNat represents a reclamation of our authentic human movement, and a departure from how sedentary culture has been degrading us. While most fitness methods are often viewed as optional, moving naturally in humans is, and always will be, a biological necessity. When this necessity is neglected, we suffer from the symptoms of disuse. Disuse happens when we fail to stimulate certain patterns of movement over a long period of time. The body begins adapting to the sedentary demands you are placing on it. If you sit all the time, your body will adapt to be better at sitting all the time. That is simply not what nature has designed us for. This state of disuse will ultimately manifest as chronic pain and abnormal tension, a deconditioned body, and fear of movement resulting from the misuse of the body in a deconditioned state. MovNat is a system that build physical competence, restores natural human movement capabilities and addresses the root cause of sedentary self-destruction.
Path to Unconscious Competence
We start off being unaware of our lack of ability or efficiency in movement. Once we become aware of our ineptitude, we are conscious of our incompetence. Once we learn how to move efficiently, we can execute a skill properly, but it requires a lot of conscious effort. After enough practice and deliberate mindful training, we can perform the skill properly without thinking about it. This is unconscious competence.
Programming
You may think: "If it's natural movement, why bother with a training structure when I can just go outside and start climbing trees?" and you can most certainly do that. However, the purpose of programming is to develop a plan of progression to one's training, keep track of progress, and maintain a practice that includes the full spectrum of movement aptitudes. Beginning your natural movement training journey with a good program will help with retention and building the habit of consistent practice. There are surely movements that are unavailable to you that you would like to reclaim, and a good program helps best organize the time you spend training and the exercises you choose to build up to it.
Goals & Weaknesses
We aim to develop our movement skills (lifting, running, climbing, jumping, etc...) and conditioning (strength, flexibility, power, balance, etc...) through increasing efficiency and adaptability. Programs can be tailored to suit general fitness goals, or identified goals ranging from specific athletic performance, to injury prevention and rehabilitation support. MovNat as a program can be tailored to support any specifications regarding movement.
We want to develop, improve, or restore, then maintain all of our general capabilities, but the idea is to work with specific goals. This may be to get stronger, get in shape, develop an ability, like the deep squat, muscle up, or to improve performance of a sport or hobby you enjoy. Goals are often determined by the various demands in your life. Weaknesses are determined through a screen and through the observation of your performance and patterns of inefficiency. Often the weaknesses and goals are linked, but sometimes the connection is not so obvious.
How we Train
We train to improve overall physical competence through the practice of movement skills. If your goal was to be able to climb up on top of a branch or bar, we may start with some exercises like a pull up. We are seeing that exercise as a small part of the movement of getting on top of the bar. There are many additional exercises that can be performed to develop the ability to get up there and we use these exercises to create the program. Similarly, if you had trouble with one of the exercises, like the pull up, we can break it down to find numerous exercises that  will help strengthen the ability to do the pull up.
How this is unique is that we are working on developing a skill while building strength, power, mobility, speed, and other characteristics of conditioning. Instead of doing exercises to build strength that do not carry over to daily life, you can be building strength through the development of your skills.
What does a typical MovNat session look like?
In each session, we usually start with a warm up that involves some general low intensity mobility work, like a ground movement sequence, or some joint mobilizations, breathing exercise, and movement exploration. The warm up will also include a few warm ups specific to the skills we will train during the rest of the session. After this brief warm up, we work on the emphasis of the session, which usually consists on 3 or so exercises performed with varying levels of volume, intensity, and complexity. The refinement of technique is what is prioritized during this portion of the session. This is where aptitudes transform into skills. After the emphasis portion of the session, we do what we call a combo, which is a circuit of 3-5 skills performed in succession a few times in a row. This portion of the session is where conditioning is emphasized. Without sacrificing efficiency, we are focusing on the development of strength, agility, speed, power, endurance, and all the other characteristics that are the result of conditioning. Finally we cool down with some low intensity mobility work.
 
MovNat Principles
10 Essential MovNat Principles:
Evolutionary
The movement aptitudes that constitute the practice are natural human evolvements.
Universal
These movements belong to every human being, no matter what age, gender, or part of the planet their genealogy developed.
Vital
The skills we develop are useful in times of emergency and contribute to safety, injury prevention, and wellness.
Instinctual
The movements involved come to us instinctively. We use training and education to learn better ways to refine them, but they are all inborn skills that we all naturally possess on some level as humans, and you can feel it..
Practical
The movement skills being developed are useful in real life situations that demand a physical response. Not just in emergencies, but also in regular daily life.
Unspecialized
None of the movement aptitudes are ignored. They are practiced with the intention of near equalization, to build a well-rounded skill set and matching conditioning level.
Adaptive
Contextual demands, such as those that various environment or situation may require must be adaptable by the movement aptitudes we practice.
Cooperative
'Be strong to be useful' is our mantra. Many of the movements can be performed with the help of a partner, and some cannot be done with only one person. Even when practiced individually, these are all skills that can be used to support others.
Efficient
An emphasis on building efficiency in our technique, to result in the conservation of energy, the improvement of performance, and injury prevention.
Environmental
Although we may do a lot of training indoors in some cases, we make a point to get out and move within nature, take our practice outdoors for the benefits of our well-being and deepening our connection to nature.
 

© Natural Mobility 2019

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