The other weekend, I had the privilege to attend the first women’s only MovNat certification course. I came home with my Level 1 certification and a new passion.
It might be curious to some as to why someone with a doctoral degree would spend the time and money to get a little training certificate. The fact is, as a chiropractor, I’ve been passionate about natural human movements for quite some time. I think it’s bound to happen when you realize you are seeing the same common themes in people over and over again: tight hamstrings, lazy glutes and cranky psoas muscles from a lifetime of chronic sitting leading to poor mobility and increased compensation by the lumbar spine. I have glibly proclaimed in my office many times before that if it weren’t for people sitting all day, I probably wouldn’t have a job.
It doesn’t seem like it would be a smart idea to work one’s self out of a job, but given our gross de-conditioning as a culture, as well as our predilection for a sedentary lifestyle because of the structure of our economy, I don’t feel insecure. Rather, I feel it my duty as a HEALTHcare practitioner to do the best that I can to educate people on how to take care of themselves. This sense of fiduciary responsibility is what eventually lead me to MovNat.
How do you begin to teach people to move again? How do you do so in a balanced, thoughtful, personal and most importantly, effective, way? How do you take weakened, de-conditioned bodies and make them whole again, at any age?
The cultivation of the body, when done in a continuous and progressive manner, constitutes physical education. It can be done entirely with natural movement patterns, without order or methodology, the same as in people living outside of civilized areas.
So said George Hébert, who wrote his book, The Natural Method, in the early 20th century. Hébert was adamant that incredible fitness was the birthright of all human beings, not just the genetically gifted. In fact, he even went so far as to suggest it was a moral imperative for all humans to be fit. He was known for saying “be strong to be useful” to describe what was really at stake. Be fit not because you want to look good at the beach, but be fit because you never know when you might need to rescue your child from a mountain lion/alligator/gorilla (all recent news headlines).
The other thing that Hébert was adamant about was that this training regime needed to be systemized. In this way, a coach or trainer could ensure that a person developed evenly a whole host of natural movement skills that led to adaptability in novel situations. For instance, it’s not useful to have gigantic muscles and 450# deadlift if you can’t swim and potentially rescue someone from drowning. Swimming was one of the core skills The Natural Method taught.
Unfortunately, the system that Hébert created and successful implemented with the French Navy, as well as French school children, was pretty much decimated by the outbreak of WWI. (Those he had trained were so useful, they were often sent to the front lines of combat & other suicide missions.) His brilliant system of teaching everyday people how to regain their innate fitness as human animals was relegated to dusty bookshelves until Erwan Le Corre happened upon his book decades later. Inspired by Hébert ideas & system, Le Corre began training this way himself and created ‘The Natural Method 2.0’, known as MovNat.
When I first heard of MovNat, it must have been from one of Robb Wolf’s podcasts. Instantly, it made sense to me and I was intrigued enough to look it up immediately. At the time, Erwan was teaching most workshops himself and there were only a few each year. I had my eye on going to Summersville, WV to take one ‘someday.’ Luckily for me, Erwan & his team have been very busy int he intervening years educating other instructors and attracting some seriously talented trainers.
As I watched the growth of MovNat from afar and looked at what movement skills my patients were deficient in, I began to see the puzzle pieces fitting together. Here was the balanced, individualized, effective system I was looking for to begin to teach people how to move again. The only question left was- did I have what it takes to demonstrate enough physical competency in the basic skills to earn my certification?
Just. I came home from that certification grateful for the education I received on how to coach others as well as personal weaknesses and deficiencies that I need address. The certification weekend was just the beginning of my journey and I look forward to practicing, exploring and learning more.
Moreover, many of the skills I learned were immediately relevant. Monday morning in the office, I was using a regression of what I had learned to teach an elderly patient how to breathe fully and start building the strength to be able to get off the floor with minimal assistance.
In short, I got certified to be a better doctor for my patients. I want to have the tools to teach them how to maximize their health and maintain their fitness and vitality long into their golden years. To that end, I am currently working on offering movement-based group classes as ‘rehab’ for my patients. Stay tuned for details!!!