And so my journey towards becoming a certified MovNat trainer has begun. Today was a great start. Colin and I spent quite a bit of time in July and early August meeting to discuss the content in the certification manual as well as to practice the required elements for the physical skill test component. Today reaffirmed that I had really gotten something out of that early review as well as cementing concepts I was exposed to during the 2 X 2 day workshops + the 5 day West Virginia course. It was mentally reawakening. Instead of re-capping what we did today, I really want to discuss the revelations I had about why I am attracted to MovNat which I am going to try to explain.
The other day I was messaging with an old and dear friend of mine from high school who I have recently found because of Facebook. She said to me “What do you do when you’re off for the summer other then working out? My god you’re driven!!” And the more I thought about this the more I thought that I was just living the way that I wish I lived all of the time if there was completely no stress in my life…although I am a fairly active person even when it is not the summer. Still, I understood where she was coming from because every status update, photo or post on my Facebook wall is somehow related to health and fitness. It definitely shows what I prioritize. But I honestly didn’t/don’t think there is anything unique or special about that. In fact, I feel as though she has way more drive, patience and energy being a mom!!! For me, movement is a necessity – like air or water. I swear (based on my years of teaching and becoming VERY familiar with ADHD diagnosis) I fall somewhere in the spectrum of ADD and ADHD. It’s amazing I can thread together thoughts on a blog! Haha! Sport and exercise has been my Ritalin for years. What I realized today was that I really wish the way I had become involved in sports had been very different, and that a physical education system like Movnat had existed, and been the standard when I was a child.
Pedagogically Perfect – The principles, or art to teaching MovNat is unique, inspiring and reminded me of why I wanted to become an elementary school teacher. I always feel an excitement at finding new and innovative ways of helping students improve their learning/school experience and I have a principled code for never faltering from that core belief. MovNat is similar. It is rooted in a deep and principled belief in movement as one of the primary forms of not only freedom but also personal expression. We have evolved with so many skills and capabilities that become so innate and fine-tuned as children and then become completely extinct once we reach adulthood. Society and technological advancements and modern conveniences have made these movements become unnecessary – to the point that most humans either don’t recognize them, or give you bizarre stares when they see you doing them…we’ve lost touch with our ancestry and true function and ability that is within all of us. Having reached the awesome age of 40, it has had me thinking about this more and more. How do I want to move when I am 50, 60, 70, 80….? Is the way I am moving (or not moving) now positively or negatively impacting my ability to be independent and live the way I want to in the future? I know that a sedentary lifestyle is not the answer! I want to be physically active and independent for as long as I possibly can, and am prepared and willing to work at it every day. As much as I hate to admit it, I do feel that my age has impacted my mental and physical ability to compete in competitive sports the way that I am used to, and have limited enjoyment in these activities the way I used to as a result. Given that it has been my primary mode of fitness for most of my life, I was dying to find something new that could still challenge me and keep me at the “top of my game” …. but more importantly, the game of life. MovNat has turned out to be the perfect answer.
Competition Sucks – Probably everyone I know will be shocked to hear me say that. I am the MOST competitive person ever. I HATE losing. Ask my husband – I’m only happy win or sometimes tie…but even then… I just look like this until my next victory:
So yeah….I’m usually the one who is win-at-all-costs, nice people finish last…I could go ononononon…. 🙂 Anyway, I’ve always been this way as it definitely runs in my family and I’ve had excellent role models (like my older brother Howard – two world championships one olympics , NFL, CFL, Pro Basketball, not to mention decathlon to name just a few of his accomplishments – and I’m not bullshitting when I say this is a few!). Despite my attraction to competitive sports, and the love of winning, I will admit it came with an emotional toll – I remember having private nervous breakdowns before track races where I would literally throw-up before every race. Then there was the premier soccer team I played for where I worked for 2 years to make the starting line up. Not even a week after earning the spot – the best friend of the teammate I replaced broke my ankle in practice. I’ve played on other teams where other players or myself experienced bullshit bullying reminiscent of middle school girls. Of course there have been amazing teams that have changed my life (BMF, PPF, BCP) where I met some of the best people I know. These experiences kept me in competitive sports longer then they should have, and sometimes give me twinges to go back and try again. However, in some ways I feel a bit damaged – mentally drained and physically broken down.
Ya see… the physical reason is the main reason competition sucks. When you compete in a particular sport you just have to accept the fact that it comes at a physical cost. If you want to be even near the best of the best you have to live, eat and breathe your sport/discipline. Every training session focused on movements specific to the skills needed for that sport/discipline. You see the sports specific physical characteristics all the time – think of speedskaters or cyclists massive and powerful quads, or the broad muscular triangle backs of swimmers with their insanely strong lats…you can literally look at someone and guess – soccer player? gymnast? volleyball? That’s what sports-specific training will do. The beauty of being the best of the best at something? Injuries. Specificity comes with imbalances that ultimately the body can’t ignore and lead to problems that get worse before they get better. I remember reading Angela Issajenko’s (if you don’t know who she is – SHAME ON YOU, and go look her up on google right now!) biography, Running Risks in my young adulthood and being shocked at the life of a competitive sprinter. There was not one day she did not push herself to her limit or beyond, wasn’t nursing some injury or recovering from an injury, or looking to prevent the next injury. Looking back now I feel as though it was worth the cost. The thrill of competing (even with the throwing up) is addictive. Working together with a group of athletes to achieve a goal and then achieving, or even surpassing it is an incredible feeling.
However, at 40 years of age I’m dealing with severe osteo- arthritis and a tilted patella, and significantly degenerate meniscus due to strain put on my knee from years of playing competitive sports (unfortunately I blame soccer, running and ultimate) which put a lot of strain and tension on my iliotibial band. That’s what “stretching” gets you. I used to be able to sit “Japanese style” (see picture below), and now I can’t without using my hands for support, crying, or punching someone. My knee mobility is currently one of my main weaknesses that has been silent/dormant for a long time and is now screaming in my ear loud and clear. Years I had very experienced coaches and took care of my body in the what I thought was the best way possible. I had no idea what mobility was…in fact I’m not even sure I heard the term until perhaps the last 10 years. My knee situation unfortunately has been getting increasingly worse, but there are 2 main things that I have found to be most effective in making it feel better (besides my athletic therapist Paul Papoutsakis) – a more generalist/less competitive MovNat-style approach to my physical training, and clean paleo/whole food eating. In the last 2 years I’ve dropped close to 20lbs and I feel much younger than 40! Dropping some pounds has a funny way of making knee issues feel less crappy too… 😉
Skills and Conditioning Go Hand In Hand – I feel lucky to have never really been one of those globo-gym people who enjoyed getting a sweat on while watching t.v. in an over-priced, sterile facility, like gerbils running in their wheels inside tiny cages. Growing up and beyond, most of my free time was spent outdoors on soccer fields, or in gymnasiums practicing basketball, or outdoors running on trails, or on the track. I have very fond memories of hours spent outside training with my friends and teammates. I remember my parents getting upset at the hours I would dedicate to sports and athletics (sometimes at the expense of academics) asking what the point was if I was never going to qualify for the Olympics or play professionally. As if that should be the only point of physical training or playing sports. The majority of my training for these sports was actually skill based movement, and I derived a lot of conditioning from those skill sessions, so I’ve always been a believer in that regard.
I’m kinesthetic and I learn best by moving, and feeling as though I am doing something purposeful with that movement. I think that is one of the reasons I am so attracted to MovNat. There is purpose behind it. Conditioning and Skill development aren’t 2 seperate domains but they work hand in hand. It keeps you fresh and motivated because there is always something that can improved upon, and a way to make it more challenging or interesting. The benefit of MovNat is that you become adept at different skills that create a much more functional and well rounded human (I wanted to type athlete but stopped myself). It’s too bad the emphasis isn’t on exploring and developing the range of our human movements first before being exposed to competitive sports. As Eric Kelly so wisely said “Everything ain’t for everybody.” Competition might not be for me, but movement is not something optional that only a small elite should take part in. Movement is for everyone, and what allows us to be free.
Nobody’s Perfect – I am always the first to admit when I am a big fat hypocrite and here is one of those occasions. As many of you know I am currently addicted to GS Kettlebell (Thank you Boris!). I have become obsessed with the IKSFA ranking tables and have begun my ascent up the GS ladder which I’m hoping will end with the title of Master of Sport International Class. It seems almost every decade of my life I have been into new competitive shit and this is the latest crazy idea I’ve jumped into. I will say that despite the competition aspect, I am really only competing with myself to work my ass off to meet the IKSFA standards. I could give a shit how I do in relation to others. I recognize that this competing is going to come at a bit of a cost but I am smarter about working on my weaknesses – even if it means working on them to a point where it could jeopardize my kettlebell goals. It is more important for me to be well rounded and healthy – and I have made sure to keep kettlebell training “for fun” which keeps my perspective in check. I’d like to set out to prove that I can be a well-rounded human moving beast and still kill the IKSFA standards 🙂 But I am not going to give myself an endless amount of time to achieve that goal. I’m currently going to say no more than 3 years. We’ll see how that goes…. but after that I’m going to settle down and marry MovNat and dedicate the rest of my life to being the best generalist, functionally moving, awesomely skilled human being ever! 🙂