Erwan Le Corre, a leading expert in historic fitness and founder of MovNat, pioneers a ‘natural movement’ fitness approach. He says “There is nothing wrong with training in a specific discipline or working on an isolated part of your body in the gym, however adding natural movement into your weekly regime will bring with it a host of benefits.
In a nutshell, these benefits are totally in line with what our ancestors had: real-world physical competency and preparedness. Natural movement is based on the full-range of human, evolutionarily natural movement skills that work your entire body as one cohesive unit.
Indoor gyms are flat, linear and predictable; all the natural variables have been removed, making it completely unnatural. Plus, where is the fresh, clean air, the dirt, the natural light and the horizon? Many people are currently training in a box ignoring a whole world outside.”
The mental benefits from working out in the great outdoors come from having to properly engage with your environment; analysing terrain, assessing where to step or hold on to immediately makes you more mindful and can help you switch off without shutting down. Trail runners report that being in the outdoors improves their mental wellbeing, helping them shed negative emotions and work through problems in a non-judgemental environment.
The challenges of mixing up your gym routine and getting outdoors has massive physical benefits too. Looking at fitness from Le Corre’s historical point of view, our ancestors could achieve incredible acts of physical strength. Having to survive in the relentless outdoor landscapes meant their overall fitness levels were incredible, including immense running, lifting and core strength abilities, all based around a ‘natural gym’ environment of uneven ground, trees, rock faces and rivers. Modern humans are nowhere near to matching up against the fitness levels of cavemen. A survey from Sportsshoes.com has shown that less than 10% of the nation can complete the following activities, all of which humans would have been able to achieve in a prehistoric age:
- Jump the same distance as your height from a standing position (only 7% said they could)
- Squatting for 30 minutes or more (1% of Brits could do this)
- Running 10 miles in under 80 minutes (5% of Brits could do this)
- To be able to hold a deep squat for 30 minutes (1% of Brits could do this)
- To lift an object half your body weight and carry it for a whole mile on uneven terrain (6% of Brits could do this)
To significantly enhance your workout routine, combine your gym work with more natural movement. As Le Corre explains “A gym-only workout is compartmentalised. When it comes to your machine based work-outs, you are working your muscles in isolation. The human body isn’t meant to work in isolation, it should be working as a complete unit. Machines dictate and shrink movement patterns, and could hold your body back from achieving a natural level of fitness. Whether it’s going for a run across uneven terrain, rock climbing or lifting objects that are of different shapes, sizes and weights, natural movement will help you physically perform with the effectiveness and efficiency that our ancestors did. These movement patterns and skills are universal to mankind’s survival strategies, and will never be a fad or go out of fashion.”
Natural Movement Exercises
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. To help break up your gym routine, Le Corre has provided three exercise examples to try outside, helping you to rediscover your natural movement and help you shape up: