Are you primordially fit?

Why looking back to our ancient ancestral past can provide us with information on the best ways to get fit.

✔️ We all know that taking the stairs is better than the elevator…. ✔️ We all know that walking to work is better than taking the car…. ✔️ We all know that taking movement breaks whilst sitting at a computer is better than being stationary for long periods…….

We often justify our laziness (me included), by promising to ourselves that we will hit the gym after work, tomorrow, or next week. This ‘exercise’ mindset has become the new collective consciousness, and our culture promotes it, whether it be the self-closing car boot or the escalator in the supermarket. We have become like animals in a zoo, experiencing a comfortable and non-risky life, yet not fulfilling our stimulatory, social, or movement needs. It becomes a life of captivity, so to speak. Our cages are the modern conveniences of life - the chairs, beds, cars, shopping trolleys, couches, elevators, refrigerators, strollers, and various electronic devices that outsource any physical activity. We push buttons rather than running errands or physically moving things from A to B. Our bodily cells have morphed to accommodate the movement that these modern conveniences call for. This means that our bodies are now equipped to move very minimal parts of us. This chronic “movement drought,” as Katy Bowman from Nutritious Movement terms it, affects our whole body, and can lead to everything from cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, deteriorating joints, and diabetes.

“Not only are we unprecedentedly undermoved in terms of quantity, the variety and variability of our movement is minuscule compared to the movement of our ancestors—from our grandparents too, especially, our distant hunter-gatherer foreparents. Imagine not only the amount of movement required to harvest and prepare food from scratch; gather materials to create weapons with which to hunt animals on foot; clean them; turn their bones into tools and their hide into clothing - but the actual variety of moves themselves. Each of those tasks - repeated over and over throughout a lifetime, a little differently every time - involves thousands of movements that each bend the cells of the body uniquely.” Katy Bowman

And you can’t just fix the biological repercussions of a life in captivity by going to the gym for an hour three to four times a week.

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Frank Forencich from Exuberant Animal feels that the consequences of living in a modern, technologically enhanced world are undermining not only our bodies, but also our minds.

“In our ongoing effort to make ourselves more comfortable, we’ve lost out on two of the most essential components of health and happiness: direct interaction with nature and with other people.” Frank Forencich

Many of us no longer:

  • play

  • do meaningful small-group activities of any kind

  • go to bed with the sunset

  • go barefoot

  • get natural light first thing in the morning

  • feel grass or soil between our toes

  • move together in a group

  • find joy in movement

Instead, we are mostly

  • moving in limited ranges

  • moving in fixed unnatural ways

  • moving in prescribed repetitive routines

  • moving in isolation from our family or friends (think an hour at the gym)

  • outsourcing movement to our modern-day convenience

  • moving for aesthetical pleasing bodies

In the last few years, movement trailblazers such as Erwan Le Corre from Movnat, Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement, Frank Forencich from Exuberant Animal and Ido Portal of Movement Culture amongst many others have been trying to address this narcissistic model of movement by instilling a sense of functional realism as well as innate contentment and joy back to exercise. They’re turning away from limiting equipment and regimented training programmes and returning to natural spaces and primordial natural movement.

A six-pack and rippling biceps can still be had, but perhaps more importantly so can

  • full-body coordination

  • keeping pace with your kids in football

  • excellent balance

  • improved brain function (because the more complex the environment your movement must adapt to, the greater the neurological challenge for your brain)

  • fresh air

  • fun and variety

  • the ability to carry a tired child

  • improved proprioception

  • dynamic body and environment awareness

  • natural light

  • adaptability versus capability (A good example from Erwan Le Corre is the following: You run on a treadmill. Remove the treadmill and take a run through the forest, with holes, hills, mud, stones, and fallen trees, not as easy right?! What might running in a forest tell you about the real state of your running capability?

  • an enhanced sense of connection - to our bodies, to nature, and to other people (community) because as Erwan Le Coree puts it very well - nature is where we all come from, and participating in a community is essential for any human group on the planet.

We are nature. This is not a romantic notion; this is a fact. The more divorced our lifestyles are from nature, the more we suffer. Contact with nature is inherently healing. This doesn’t mean we have to live exclusively in the wilderness and go back to huts or caves. It just means that we definitely need regular contact with nature — much, much more than most people get in today’s world. Erwan Le Corre

So what were the movement activities and movement patterns of our ancient ancestors?

Frank Forencich invites his clients to take a look at an African landscape - the kind of habitat from which humanity originated and ask yourself the question - “What kinds of skills and abilities might be necessary to survive in an environment like this?” Walking, squatting, and climbing to gather food; carrying and lifting to build a shelter; or to carry a child, balancing, throwing, leaping, and running to avoid predators and hunt for prey - are the most instinctive answers, and these form the foundation of ancestral-style workouts. So we know our ancient ancestors:

  • crawled

  • squatted

  • walked

  • lifted

  • balanced

  • carried

  • climbed

  • threw

  • balanced

  • jumped

  • ran

  • reached

Does your gym workout include a litany of movements like this, in different ways, situations, terrains, temperatures, times of the day? And with different people? The exercise programme of our ancient ancestors was not an exercise program, it was simply movement by living - which was uniquely playful, unscripted, kinetic, social, and never the same from one day to the next. And from an evolutionary perspective, its what we in the modern day are designed for biologically. “Ancient people didn’t exercise in any formal way,” Forencich explains. They were what could be called movement generalists - good at many different kinds of movement, but never doing one thing too much or too long.

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Many Personal Trainers and Coaches are beginning to incorporate these foundational movements into their programs, recognizing the incredible benefits to fitness and health. whilst other schools are dedicated to instructing others in fundamental functional ancestral movements. Most of these exercises can be done in any open space with no equipment at all; the rest can be done either with objects you can find outside such as stones and logs. The truth is that we’re neurologically and viscerally wired for this kind of movement. Primitive movement programmes stand in sharp contrast to gym workouts designed around isolating specific muscle groups on certain days of the week. While advantageous in many ways, such workouts are severely lacking on many fronts merely due to the fact that they tend to treat the body as a series of disconnected parts - the biceps, the legs, the heart, and lungs - as opposed to a whole body, working co-operatively to produce movement for a variety of health and fitness gains. Fitness motivation can be found in far more practical concerns such as being able to catch that bus, being able to carry a tired 5-year old on your back, having stamina in sex, and other vital life functions for thriving humans. And for those still seeking a flatter stomach and perky behind, Le Corre states that “the way you look is a direct reflection of the quality of your movement. Learn to move well, and your body will look good,” says Le Corre. And in fairness… Erwan doesn’t look too bad for a middle-aged man, does he!

And then there is the fun aspect. Let’s face it, if exercise isn’t fun, we struggle to keep it up. For many, a gym is a place that signifies ‘me-time’ or is part of a ‘self-care’ ritual, but many fitness coaches believe that the social connections one can make and the fun times and laughter had during communal exercise and play are perhaps even more vital to health and happiness.

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Primal functional movement fitness classes build strength, mobility, cardiovascular conditioning, and coordination through a wide variety of full-body challenges. In group settings, they emphasize a whole-person experience which can serve as a powerful remedy to isolation - both for the muscles and for the individual. In our disordered and stressful modern-day lives, feeling a sense of connection - to our environment, our community, and to ourselves is a rare jewel that we don’t often touch. Laughter and fun completes the whole-person experience. Natural movement offers a starting point, and primitive-fitness style workouts are a good place to begin. I invite you to take a look at some of them (listed below) and perhaps take advantage of the amazing FREE resources and trial periods to get a feel for this type of non-exercise! Many have gone online since COVID 19, so great resources for your family at home.

Movnat

“MovNat is a school of physical competence for the real-world. Our goal is to equip people with the movement skills, physiological preparedness (strength & conditioning), and mindset necessary for practical, adaptable performance - both fundamental and high level.

As a physical education system and fitness method, MovNat is entirely based on the practice of Natural Movement skills, i.e. movements that the human body was designed or “selected” to perform. These skills can be divided into three categories: Locomotive, Manipulative.

Locomotive skills include ground movements (crawling, get-ups), balancing, walking, running, jumping, climbing, and aquatic skills. Manipulative skills include lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching. Combative skills include grappling and striking.

MovNat’s method symbiotically develops positional and breath control, spatial awareness, coordination, balance, mobility, stability, strength, power, endurance, adaptability, and resiliency, as well as focus/mindfulness and mental fortitude.”

Exuberant Animal

“Exuberant Animal offers a uniquely integrative perspective on the human predicament, a new-old living in the modern world. Firmly grounded in biology and evolutionary science, we offer a powerful experiential approach that helps people improve their health, their performance, and the quality of their lives. Our training extends well beyond the scope of conventional fitness practice; our focus is on the complete human being.

Author and creator Frank Forencich will guide you through a training experience that’s transformational, inspirational, and intensely meaningful. You’ll learn how to improve your health, navigate the challenges of our alien environment, and make peace with the modern world.”

Primal Play

Darryl Edwards developed the PRIMAL PLAY METHOD™ to inspire children and adults to make activity fun while getting healthier, fitter and stronger in the process. 

Primal Play™ is many things. It’s a feeling about how we live our lives. It’s a way of orienting yourself in the world. It’s a super creative and always­ evolving exercise and movement program. It’s a social and community­ creating experience. It’s a way of rediscovering something deep and essential and exhilarating about ourselves as human beings. And it’s Darryl Edward’s life passion.

That’s a lot. And the coolest thing about all of it? It’s all FUN.

Everything about Primal Play ­­from the interesting, even outlandish movements (carry your friend, anyone?), to the academic theory, the people involved in it, and the many health benefits you get from doing it­­ all centres around this powerful idea that humans benefit most from activities that are pure, raw, all-out, rewarding fun. We move, we laugh, we explore what our bodies can do in the world around us.

When we have fun we get the same endorphin kick people get from long endurance exercise, except we get that kick instantly, constantly, and much more intensely. When we have fun it feeds our brains and our emotions. When we play we kick our minds into imagination mode, and we tap into that powerful charge we get from positive experiences with other happy people.

Primal Play movement gives us the benefits of functional fitness training but doesn’t stop there. It takes us beyond exercise. It takes us into fun.

What other health programs can say that?”

Animal Flow

“Animal Flow is ground-based movement, made fun, challenging, and effective. This system is designed to improve strength power, flexibility, mobility, and coordination for all levels of fitness enthusiasts. Whether you want to work out on your own, train with a professional, or take part in group classes, Animal Flow has something for everybody! Animal Flow includes a range of movements and combinations that are grouped into categories we call the “Six Components.” Each Component is designed to elicit specific results. The Six Components can be mixed and matched in many ways, allowing you to incorporate one, some, or all of them in your workouts.”

Nutritious Movement

“Expanding Your Movement with Nature & Community…..At Nutritious Movement, our broader mission is pretty basic: We teach movement.

It’s the details that get more complicated. The first thing you need in order to move more is to move your own body, and your own body parts, more. So we have a ton of exercise instruction here.

But movement between one’s own feet and fingertips isn’t the body’s full movement potential. There are some movements you can only get from certain environments - meaning both where you’re moving and who you’re moving with. That’s why, to help you move as much as you can, a full movement program needs to include nature and community.

Just like prairie grasses, wolves, birds, and mice all keep each other in check, your movement keeps someone else moving or prevents them from moving. Your movement dictates how much stuff you consume. Your movement is part of an ecological system.”

(Note: Included above is my referral link)

Ido Portal Movement Culture

“What is the goal behind Movement Culture? First and foremost to create a dialogue and a cross-disciplinary exchange of information between various types of movers. Information that was isolated in specific isolated practices can be extremely useful for other types of movers, but in the past this information was not shared. Second, the intention is to provide tools and support the development of Movers and specialists - practitioners of both isolated movement practices as well as wider spectrum ones. What is a mover? Someone who sees beyond the technicalities of each movement pursuit or discipline. Someone who finds interest and wishes to understand the body, health, performance, and physical artistic expression.”

ZUU Fit

“For 10 years, ZUU has been enriching the lives of individuals & communities – physically, mentally & socially. We are the World’s leader in High Intensity, Low Impact Bodyweight Training.

The World’s most respected educator in Human Movement, ZUU is a registered bodyweight training modality created by Nathan Helberg that started in elite sports and armed forces. Over the years, ZUU has become an integral part of these sectors being used for pre-season training, game-specific conditioning, rehabilitation, confined space training, remote location training, and frontline troop training where equipment is unavailable or inaccessible.

Besides being available for ALL sporting code coaches and military PTI’s, ZUU has become available to the commercial world of fitness. With our heritage in the elite world where ALL training is scrutinized, we pride ourselves on increasing performance across the board.
Through our education platform, we are teaching PT’s all over the world, either face to face or online, the value add of movements and programming found inside the space of ZUU.”

Ben Medder

“My approach is to connect people with what it feels like to move like a human again, to rediscover one's innate play drive we had as children, to rekindle a connection with nature to give this movement and play context, and develop a movement practice that ultimately gives a meaningful experience. Rebuild the prerequisites (joint mobility, strength & body control) for the many variables and chaos we encounter, leading us to reclaim the basics of natural human movement and ultimately aspiring to freedom in movement and true engagement/fun.

Taking inspiration from my teachers Rafe Kelley, Jozef Frucek & Linda Kapetana, Joseph Bartz, Tom Weksler, and others, and following and applying the work of Ido Portal, I continue my tutelage from the people that inspire me. I am Rafe Kelly's first and only Evolve Move Play coach and a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms).

I run quarterly workshops, mentorships, intensives, several weekly classes exploring a variety of movement influences - natural movement / Evolve Move Play method, Fighting Monkey Practice, parkour in natural environments and tree climbing, gymnastic strength, FRC mobility development, rough and tumble/roughhousing, group/partner games and play, and also offer private sessions/programmes in the form of 1to1 movement training and online coaching.”

Evolve Move Play

“Learn to move like a human, to reclaim your capacity to move with the flow over grass, rocks, and trees, play with sticks and stones, and learn to develop yourself through contact, roughhousing dance, and combatives. Reconnect with nature and develop your aliveness in movement to become more resilient embodied human. What is the purpose? Ok so humans evolved to do specific movements, who cares if we don’t need to do them today. Why do we train these things if we don’t need to chase down mammoths and fight off invading tribes?

At Evolve Move Play we believe the highest purpose of movement practice is to create deeper aliveness, deeper embodiment, and deeper engagement with the world.

We believe that movement in nature where we evolved, engages us and develops us on far more levels then movement in the gym, we believe that in fact, natural movement is a physical form of nutrition that when missing from a person’s life leads to Ill health the same way that not eating a whole food diet is bad for your health.

We believe that the fundamental natural movements are whole foods for physical development and exercises are supplements.

When we have to live an unnatural life, then we do need exercises to help us compensate for what is missing but we have made the mistake of focusing too much the supplements in our research and practice of physical education.

Our approach to physical education has tended to look at the human in a reductionist way, a set of parts to be improved, but the potential of movement training goes far deeper than better abs or a tighter butt. We are not a body and mind we are a body-mind and every aspect of us cognitive, emotional, and physical is affected by how we move.

The way we move and the environments we move through, impact our moods, our alertness, awareness, and focus, they can make us strong and robust not just for lifting weight but for dealing with cold and heat, for the deal with abrasions and bruise, even the way our mind handles pain both emotional and physical is deeply affected by our movement practice.

We believe to develop the strongest, most adaptable most resilient, and happiest human beings you need to give them movement and it needs to be rooted in the movements we evolved for.. Move Like a Human to live and feel alive as human truly should.”

Athletic Playground

At Athletic Playground, we see dynamic movement as an essential part of the human experience. Our ancestors evolved in a complex environment where they were required to navigate a variety of ever-changing physical demands. Moving a lot wasn't optional; it was a requirement for survival.

Today, technology has mechanized this survival necessity out of our lives, but we believe that we as humans still maintain a hunger for a steady diet of movement. Fulfilling this primal criterion for happiness in today's sedentary world means giving ourselves a reason to move since our environment no longer does that for us.

Most mainstream incentives to move boil down to one basic idea: “Move because you should,” which is true, but not necessarily motivating. At Athletic Playground, the impetus is very different: “Move because it's fun.” At AP, we believe that satisfying the evolutionary desire for movement and play is inherently rewarding. There's a lot of intrinsic pleasure to be found in movement. Running, jumping, reaching, balancing, throwing, crawling, climbing, tumbling, vaulting, leaping, landing, flipping, and turning - our bodies like to do to these things. Everything offered here at AP is designed to help you discover the innate joy of moving your body.

Here, playful activity can become a lifestyle. The physical, social, and psychological benefits of play are not only self-evident; scientific research is beginning to take notice of and study them in earnest. So far, the research confirms what the monkeys at Athletic Playground already know: play is good!

A HOME FOR YOUR MOVEMENT PRACTICE!
PLAYFUL MOVEMENT TRAINING!
ACCESSIBLE TO ANYONE!
Come learn new skills, get stronger, more flexible, and add PLAY to your day!
We have beginner-friendly and online classes!
Classes offered: Parkour, Aerial, AcroYoga, Monkey Conditioning, Handstands, Acrobatics, AcroBalance, Hooping, Flexibility, Tango, Mobility, and more!”

MovEvo

“Movement in the sense of evolution means versatility. MovEvo is a self-reinforcing and interconnected approach to movement.

The MovEvo web portal is the ideal companion on your individual way to a painless and moving everyday life full of energy and joie de vivre. Adapted to your needs, goals, and your unique life situation, you will receive a customized training program. You train independent of time and place. Whether on a business trip, in the office, at home or outdoors. Exercise doesn't just take place in the gym. The whole life is movement.

You already have everything you need - your body!”


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