What is movement training?
The word movement covers so much that it can be confusing to define precisely in the context of training and exercise. It can vary from individual to individual and it can be customised to suit a particular goal or task. In this post we are going to define it from the all elements fitness perspective and talk about its benefits, history and why you should incorporate it into your workout schedule.
From our point of view, we define it as the practice of putting your body through it’s full range of movement on a regular basis with the goal of increasing strength, flexibility, mobility, mental cognizance and cardiovascular output. The motivation to do this comes from the desire to have a body that functions at its highest ability, for as long as possible. Much like a martial art, the pursuit of physical mastery often guides goal.
As we are all individuals with different bodies, different circumstances and different goals, movement training often becomes very much a personalised practice. Emphasis can be focused on flexibility and strength for some, dance and acrobatics for others…and the list goes on. Focus can be placed on elements that improve a specific sport performance such as shoulder mobility for a tennis player.
For some, incorporating breathwork, flowstate, mindfulness and meditation is all part of their practice too. At all elements fitness we believe that this is a highly beneficial aspect that many training and exercise methods lack.
On a personal level, it is the main way I train and exercise today. I became interested in movement training in order to break the monotony of sets and reps based exercise in the gym. There is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional weight training however as I began to shift my fitness philosophy into a more long life sustainable practice, I found traditional weight training lacked the enjoyment, freedom and personal expression that I discovered in movement.
Lifting heavy weights puts a lot of stress on joints and tendons and therefore it may not be the best long term exercise strategy. Let’s be honest, many people do not spend very much time stretching during or after exercise sessions. Not only does movement training incorporate strength training but it simultaneously incorporates flexibility. Rather than compartmentalising a workout into strength session followed by a stretch session, these factors are combined.
Every activity requires movement of some kind, but more often than not, we place rules and boundaries around the moves. For example when it comes to weight training there is often a lot of focus around alignment. This is perfectly reasonable and often necessary for safety (particularly when lifting heavy weights). However, movement practitioners may feel like exploring movement outside of alignment to build a wider range movement.
The environment we live in is not all perfect flat surfaces and straight lines. As we have to negotiate this imperfect physical environment we call the world, it’s also beneficial to explore movements from an awkward or uneven position.
The scope for expression and experimentation is very match a part of a movement practitioners exercise. This is often how new abilities are discovered and built upon. It’s also freeing and can allow the mind to go to work on problems. This is shown to be beneficial for brain activity and mental cognisense. When we stimulate the mind keeping it active and working on solving problems, the more benefits it is from a brain health perspective. Asking the body to position itself in a way that forces the brain to think and the mind to concentrate is in of itself a mental workout and very healthy for the brain.
Once a practitioner has built up a basic vocabulary of moves, they can begin combining and creating sequences transitioning from one move to another. one may go from a stretched into a squat into a handstand into a roll creating a full body workout, engaging the core and working the cardiovascular system. This free-flowing practice lends itself to breathing techniques. Meditation is often achieved through the practice of breathing. Therefore movement and meditation go hand-in-hand.
From a personal perspective, I had tried for many years to meditate unsuccessfully. I always believed it was something that would be beneficial but I never seem to be able to adopt the habit. This all changed for me one day when concentrating on maintaining deep diaphragmatic breathing as I performed my movement practice.
Somehow I lost sense of time and what had felt like five minutes of exercise was over an hour of continuous practice. This was the kind of experience I had heard yoga practitioners promoting and talking about. I realise that yoga was just another version of movement practice and what I was doing was clearly closely related.
Flow state mindfulness and meditation is a key element of fitness that many do not even consider. the ability to shut off the world be in the moment where there are no stresses and the mind can rest is a secret superpower in a world of hyperconnectivity, stress and pressure. A mini mind detox or reset can do wonders for mental well-being.
If you look at ancient martial arts, you can see that this is the true origin of exercise, physical mastery and mental well-being. You can see how people groups and individuals advanced branched off added there twist and influence into these practices. some focus more on the physical some focus more on the mental. some develop certain aspects because of the different environment day encountered. Combat, self defence and war played it’s part.
In today’s world where we have created the most comfortable environment for human to live in ever, our bodies are no longer forced to go through the physical rigours of survival in the ways that it did in the past. We must take charge of our physical well-being by exercising.
Considering the history of martial arts, it is fitting that it is a martial artist who is responsible for being the father of movement training. Rickson Gracie is a Grandmaster red belt Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner. He is undefeated in every fight he ever took on and is considered the Michael Jordan of Brazilian jiu-jitsu today.
Rickson Gracie combined his years of jiu jitsu drills, training and exercise with yoga practice and breathing technique. And I believe without him there would likely not be a modern day movement culture the way we see it today. However it is safe to say that ido portal is responsible for bringing movement practice to the mainstream.
Ido portal is a Movement master. Starting off in capoeira and martial arts, he’s pursuit of mastering his body lead him to break progress beyond exercise for a single sport discipline. His free flowing movement practice is nothing short of art and is the standard by which modern day movers measure themselves.
The idea is return to the primal or childlike movement in order to claim back and maintain the physical abilities we have lost. Lost because the modern for environment we have created for ourselves is very comfortable, compared to world of our primal ancestors survived daily. When was the last time you sat on the floor with your legs folded? When was the last time you rolled? When was the last time you crawled? If you have done none of these things lately, your body sees no need to maintain the strength and flexibility required to achieve these physical feats.
It is beautiful to see how training methods intertwine, relate and progress. Parkour could be classed as a form of movement training. The same goes for ballet, jiu jitsu, synchronised swimming, gymnastics..(the list goes on). Whichever way you choose to exercise the body, the mind, movement is a part of it. Whatever means you find to maintain a regular physical and mental practice, all elements fitness encourages you.
What Is Movement Training? Let us know your opinion in the comments