Why Movnat Matters

23 Comments

Outside Magazine names evolutionary fitness the trend of the year.

Paris Match, a huge French weekly, covers Erwan Le Corre’s Thailand workshops for a week for a European exclusive.

Movnat begins working with NASA scientists and hires trainers for Thailand and the United States.

Greg Carver opens a whole gym in Toronto dedicated to evolutionary fitness.

Something is happening here, and you’re seeing the beginnings of it.

I am not a fitness guy– just a writer who cares about how long, and how well, he lives. But I work on the web, so I try hard to understand trends and why certain ideas live and die.

This idea is alive.

It feels like, everywhere you see him, Erwan is being followed by journalists and photographers who want to show their audience and/or take credit for finding this “new” method. But he was there before they were, and he’ll be there after all the journalists and photographers have left, too.

And that is why people care.

Movnat feels like a secret– a private thing that you understand and are a part of once you’ve left. Because Le Corre is about philosphy as well as fitness, you leave a workshop with different ideas as well as a better grasp of fitness.

You can not only balance better, jump further, and climb with more confidence– you also understand why it is important that you do.

This means that the movement (in both senses of the word) becomes internalized, and you take it with you. You see the world differently, the same way parkour practitioners see buildings and fences differently. It becomes a part of your identity, like a paleo diet can.

This is why Erwan Le Corre makes it work.

Not everyone could do this– instill people with a feeling that they, themselves, can move like he can. But seeing progress within a week means that you feel you can move that well too, with enough practice. And the practice can be fun, and it can make you more resistant to injury and disease.

My theory is that this is what happened to Nassim Taleb, and this is one reason his next book is about Anti-Fragility. He met Erwan, and seems to have been influenced by his thinking, including how well the body resists, and even becomes stronger, through basic hormetic processes such as fasting and cold showers.

Taleb caught it early, but many of us are seeing it now too.

Even better is that Erwan is improving.

He understands better how his own body works, and how to teach his amazing prowess to others. I saw progress in him with only six months difference, from West Virginia to Thailand. I saw him being able to explain things that were previously just in his own body, that we had to deduce.

He is seeing himself more clearly, which makes learning easier, and helps us progress faster.

I don’t like to make predictions– and I’ve been wrong before. But with a book, a certification system and more, this is going somewhere. And since you’re reading this, you’re seeing the beginnings of it.

This is going to be big. When you finally encounter it yourself, I think you’ll agree.

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  1. ebo
    February 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I’ve heard rumors of a book and maybe a DVD due out in about a year and a half. . . Please tell me this is true.

  2. Andy
    February 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Robb and Andy –

    Please consider doing a podcast with Todd Becker, the gettingstronger.org blogger, and hormesis enthusiast! His blog is linked in this post. I heard his interview on the livin la vida low carb show and it was fascinating!

    Thanks!
    Andy

  3. darius sohei
    February 24, 2011 at 11:19 am

    this movement seems quite similar to, and an extension of, the method of training monkey bar gym uses. disregarding that they promote veganism, the whole natural bodyweight movement seems obvious, yet here we go trademarking it.

    • Dave
      February 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

      I totally agree. I think it’s good stuff, and I’m sure the seminar is a fun learning experience, but I haven’t seen anything in any of it–the videos, the seminar reports, etc.– that wasn’t present in the original Georges Hebert books about Methode Naturelle. It’s being repackaged is all. Personally, it seems crazy that the “10 skills,” basic movement patterns of a human being, are only possible to train in some expensive seminar setting. These movements are known from childhood; one only needs to practice them to get better at them.

      As for the philosophy, it’s simple and it’s true but it’s nothing very deep or difficult to think out for oneself. Yes, modern people have become rather tame and to go back to being happy and vibrant, they should return to natural movement and eating. This too was in Hebert’s books, as were the things about tolerating heat, cold, and hunger. It’s also a common sentiment that you find scattered throughout the literature of the last couple centuries.

      That said, it’s very cool and useful and there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. There’s just a kind of weird exclusiveness to it that seems uncalled for.

      • Whit Matthews
        February 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

        To that point, much of what MovNat teaches can be learned on one’s own. MovNat, both in movements and philosophy, is essentially the same as parkour (no, not freerunning..parkour), the difference being the environments. However, the roots of parkour are in the woods of France as much as they are in the streets of France. If someone wanted to try out some MovNat but didn’t have the opportunity to attend a session, a lot of the basic information could be learned from any one of the many parkour instruction resources on the web. The movements and mentality are very much the same.

        I’ve been doing parkour and (without realizing it) “movnat” seriously for a couple years now, and I can attest that depending on the level of difficulty of what you’re doing, you can easily obtain and maintain a high level of fitness. I haven’t worked out in a gym in over a year, and I’ve found that I can apply all my gym knowledge to interacting with an outdoor environment, by applying and augmenting basic parkour techniques. It keeps me interested and in many ways has given me a much broader level of fitness than I ever got from a gym. Not to mention the most important aspect, IT’S FUN!

        It also taps into what Robb is constantly talking about in his podcasts for where to go when you’re getting bored, or you’ve reached your strength goals, or endurance goals: skills-based training. The potential for unlimited improvement is there with MovNat/Parkour. There will always be a bigger gap to jump, or a shakier branch to balance on, or a smaller surface to land on.

        That being said, I think it’s great what Erwan’s doing, and I look forward to hopefully attending one of his sessions in the future. For the time being, I strongly recommend anyone to not only check out the movnat resources, but also look at some of the many free online parkour instruction sites (like American Parkour) and learn some of the basic movements. Then take to the streets/woods/beach/what have you and have fun with it.

        • Alex H
          March 16, 2011 at 7:19 am

          Parkour and movnat are not the same. In movnat you may train many of the movements you practice in parkour and the two share many of the same approaches to movement, but in Movnat there is a far broader skill set and fundamentally it is a training system, whereas parkour is a way of moving.

  4. Marcus
    February 24, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Any suggestions on how to get started, or is the only practical option to visit a seminar? I see he has a book and DVD’s planned for the future.

  5. Chris Highcock
    February 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    That is a great post. I had the privilege of attending a Movnat clinic here in Scotland last December and it was fantastic.

    http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2010/12/one-day-movnat-fundamentals-clinic-in.html

    I also interviewed Erwan here: http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2009/01/erwan-le-corre.html

  6. Vergil Den
    February 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    darius, if it were obvious to all, there would be no need for it. Erwan would be the first to admit that. I suggest you learn more about Movnat before making generlizations.

    Vergil Den

  7. Greg Carver
    February 24, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Great post Julien; you’ve given us some new insight into the direction of MovNat training. It WILL be huge. Great work, as always.

  8. Rannoch Donald
    February 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Erwan joined us last year in Scotland for a couple of days. I can say, quite simple, he embodies what he espouses. There is no disconnect between the mind and the body. And like all good teachers, he makes the exacting look effortless. MovNat is something to be lived and breathed. There is no pill to swallow, just a commitment to nurture our true nature.

    Like so many things, words aren’t really useful here. Go experience it.

    http://simplestrength.com/2010/12/erwan-le-corre-talking-tigers/

  9. Steve Cork
    February 26, 2011 at 4:04 am

    The Movnat approach seems like a vital element and set of principles to apply to our way of living and teaching health and fitness. No doubt there is much that can be learned from a range of sources and from our own experimenting.

    A well thought out and more systemetized approach and philosophy can help make this more accessible and teachable i would think. I look forward to finding out by attending a course in the future. Wish i had managed to get up to the Scotland weekend!

    I think there are some interesting people around to help people to make similar connections – Exuberant Animal, Body Tribe, Monkey Bar Gym, Ido Portal, and no doubt many more that i haven’t come across or forgot about.

  10. Lloyd
    February 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Erwan is working with the same publisher Robb used for Paleo Solution. Last month he announced the target date for the book but I don’t remember it. These dates always seem to change, the important thing is that he has a schedule and people to collaborate on a book.

    Like Paleo, Movnat has the potential to become cultish but I don’t think any of the three trainers will let it go in that direction. Some people are bound to take an Aristotelian view like “These movements are what humans should do because they are what our bodies are designed for,” but Erwan is quick to point out that people have different training goals and his are no more legit than anyone else’s. He just wants to do a good job of training people that have the same goals he does.

    My main Movnat take-away was that if you want to be healthy, have good balance, be able to jump, climb, throw, catch and crawl around on the ground, you can put together a great workout just doing those things instead of using weight lifting and metcon movements. The advantage of that workout (other than it’s a lot of fun) is that you get better at the things you actually want to do. If you want to win a pull-up contest you would be better off doing pull ups or weighted pull-ups, but that isn’t my goal. I want to be able to climb things and more pull ups isn’t going to get me there.

    • Robb Wolf
      February 27, 2011 at 10:31 pm

      MovNat (for me) is just damn fun. It really injected a new feel to my training and got me excited again. Just to balance things out though, I started doing a little more PL’ing and (gasp!) bodybuilding movements like curlz and tricep work.

      MN certainly has a philosophical underpinning, but I doubt you will see with a cult or hyperbolic claims of elite performance come from this camp.

      • Lloyd
        February 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

        Very fun. It was your keenness for Movnat that made give it a try. I owe you a load of thanks for that, and for everything else in the podcasts, and the book, and the information on this site. You’ve helped me enormously and I really appreciate it.

        The lifting sounds great, it must be fun to go back and do the body building workout after so long away. Who knows what you will discover! I’m sure at some point I will want to round out the MN with something else too, but for now I am focusing on the balance, climbing and quadrupedal motion. I lucked into a great balance beam setup nearby, and I don’t plan on coming off that any time soon.

        Thank you,
        Lloyd Seliber

  11. Chris
    February 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

    So, I’m looking at purchasing some meat from a local farm that says, “All of our beef cuts come from animals that have received only their mother’s milk and whole-plant grass forages for their entire life. We achieve this by producing our own quality pasture, hay, and fermented whole-plant forages. Additionally, we use a natural sea-kelp mineral source for flavor.” The farmer also told me that they use the corn plant, but not the husk.

    Is that problematic or still a good buy?

    • Robb Wolf
      March 1, 2011 at 9:56 am

      The “fermented whole plant forages” is slick wording for grains and potentially other items. It might still be good quality, but I suspect you will be paying a premium, and unless this is soem over-winter silage to get them through (The place is in indiana for example) it’s kinda shifty.

      • Chris
        March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

        Rob, thanks for the reply. I spoke with the farmer and he assured me that none of his cows receive any type of grains. The farm is slightly northwest of DC, so you hit the nail on the head with the silage being for sustainment through the winter. The price is right too: $3.60/lb. for a mixed quarter.

        Thanks for all the information you provide.

        • Derrick
          March 2, 2011 at 5:17 am

          i live in dc also. i’ve also been looking for a gf beef source for a good price. would u mind sharing the info?

  12. Carolyn
    March 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Hi,when I heard about following a dairy free and grain free diet I thought oh here we go again but the thing I notice is that if I avoid grains and dairy I lose weight.Now I see hear that there is someone talking about trying to ensure the cows eat differently or something,IS that important too.I thought that it was better to eat more fish than cows anyhow.Its all getting very confusing.Can you tell me does the paleo diet have any effects on reversing diabetes?CHeerio,Carolyn

    • Robb Wolf
      March 8, 2011 at 8:38 am

      CArolyn-
      Have you read my book? Paleo def helps with diabetes, ideally cows are grass fed, but don’t sweat the details. Look in my FAQ and use the guides found there.

  13. Todd
    March 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Julien and Robb,

    First off, thanks for the links to gettingstronger.org

    I thought you guys might be interested in another discipline of “natural movement” called Parkour. It’s big in Australia and was inspired by a technique called La méthode Naturelle, developed by Georges Hébert over a century ago.

    It’s kind of an “urban” version of Erwan Le Corre’s Movnat. If you liked Erwan’s videos, you must check out these ones:

    http://parkour.asn.au/parkour-videos.php

    There is a whole website that explains the movements:

    http://parkourpedia.com/

    Fascinating stuff!

    Todd

    • Tom Hofman
      December 8, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Thanks for the info Todd. Parkour is very popular in France too, it was originally invented there if I’m not mistaken.

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