“The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do.
If you don’t move, your body will make you better at not moving.
If you move, your body will allow more movement.”
— Ido Portal
Recently I have been contemplating heavily about my idea and philosophy of fitness and why humans feel so compelled to workout and ‘torture’ ourselves. Sometimes it just becomes an endless grind and cycle of hurt, especially under competitive circumstances such as Sport. Eventually, at some point, we end up succumbing to injuries due to overuse from repetitive motions, or burning out (physically or mentally) because of our lack of the ability to perceive the subtle whispers from our bodies telling us to give it a break from the recurring punishments.
On a recent cycling trip to Coney Island, I was fortunate enough to pass a wild boar and a stray dog. I noticed some similarities between the two. Their bodies were very well built, lean and muscular and fit and yet they don’t engage in daily WODs. They were extremely agile and moved ever so elegantly and efficiently. Quite a world apart from some household pets I’ve noticed at my local park whose movements I can only describe as sluggish and compromised.
What do the lions, elephants, fishes, birds, insects, reptiles, dinosaurs, cavemen, neanderthals and bushmen have in common? Not just that they do not suffer from the ravages of modern living like obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, heart disease and depression; They MOVE for a living!
They say a picture paints a thousand words. Then a video captures a million. This video succinctly encapsulates my new philosophy of fitness. As humans, we should be able to run naturally (barefoot), swim, climb, crawl, roll, balance, throw, lift, hang, jump and so much more. We should be able to move efficiently, free of pain or restrictions and enjoy every moment of it. We should move because we love it and need it to help us stay healthy and pursue a life worth living.
Movement is the key and the cure to some of the diseases of ‘modernization’ which mainly stem from the lack of the need to move. We no longer have to expand tremendous amounts of energy hunting or gathering meals day after day. Sometimes its just a phone call away and our ‘frankenfood’ is delivered right at our doorstep. People in less developed parts of the world walk miles just to fetch some water to drink or shower in while for us, the kitchen is just a few steps away.
Since coming to these realisations, my whole approach to fitness and training has changed as well. My training goals now is not to become fitter or achieve more muscles or a more efficient cardiovascular system. All those will come as a by-product of a well-rounded movement practice that includes a wide array of variations that not only train your body but more importantly, your mind and nervous system to become smarter and grow as you learn to move in new ways.
Instead, my main goal now is simply to move more. In ways that I enjoy and naturally. Also I intend to keep challenging my mind and body by constantly learning new skills and movements in the hopes of getting closer to ‘mastering’ my body, of which there is no such thing. The intent is longevity of movement, health and happiness. Not execellence or perfection.
How to get started?
Make it a habit to go outdoors and experience nature. Don’t stay in any stagnant position for too long – set a timer and try moving for 5 mins for every 25 mins of work. Try the Ido Portal’s 30/30 squat challenge and hanging challenge.
- Keep learning new skills that teach you how to move in new ways. Try parkour, gymnastics, dance, martial arts, yoga, kettlebell, sandbag or obstacle training.
- Start practicing more awareness of how you are moving. Which parts of your body is tight or lacking in range of motion. Are you moving efficiently and painlessly? Do you know how to recognize and feel the pain or ache in certain areas in your body from too much stagnant positiongs (sitting too long?).
- Improve your mobility. Without it and proper range of motion, you will be limited in your pursue of better movement.
“Stretch – all the time. Like a cat does.” – Ido Portal
Some additional links and inspiration:
“I don’t do fitness my friend. That’s not what I do. I talk about movement. Fitness is a small, small, small world, within the universe of movement. I view it as a limited world. A world with many problems. A polluted world…But actually people who practice movement never miss anything. It was always there. It’s movement that I’m passionate about.” — Ido Portal