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Level 3 and my MovNat journey

I’ve been practicing and coaching Natural Movement for a few years now and I recently earned my Level 3 certification. Knowing that more and more people getting familiar with MovNat, I thought I’ll share a few words about my personal journey hoping to inspire others.

Before I came across MovNat, I was very focused on sport-specific gains. Besides pursuing climbing and long distance running with an insatiable appetite, I’ve been repeating the same handful of drills and exercises countless times hoping to see progress. Overdoing this wasn’t difficult as I have seen many injuries and setbacks along the way. It worked for a while, but the aches and pains were a clear signal from my body that this is not sustainable. I haven't considered the body as a whole, but rather as muscles and tendons that needed to get stronger and joints that needed more range of motion. I was just stuck in the realm of endless grinding, hoping to see constant improvement. Something needed to change. My MovNat journey started with simple ground movements. At that time I was looking into ground-based practices, something that was accessible and helped balancing out my training. Probably it was yoga that opened my eyes in the first place and taught me to respect my body, but eventually, I found it too dogmatic and static for me. I also experimented with Animal Flow, which revealed a new perspective on how free, playful and organic movement can be. Although, I was still seeking something more complete (and less gimmicky). MovNat seemed way too broad at first glance and I was a bit hesitant, but it appealed to my utilitarian mindset. MovNat ground positions are nothing flashy, very well structured, easy to get into, and offer endless progression and variations. The more I practiced the more sense it made, and after I laid my hands on Erwan’s book and got a glimpse into the depth and philosophy of Natural Movement, it was a straight path to the first trainer certification. I’m not saying MovNat offers a silver bullet, but I find it to be the most complete physical practice to this day. It changed the way I look at fitness, and it steered me toward a more conscious and sustainable physical practice. I’m still pushing my limits but managed to stay injury-free the past years. No doubt I became stronger and more resilient, but my mindset about movement has also changed. People often ask me how often do I work out. I rarely do in the traditional sense, but I move every day – I sit on the ground, I hang, I balance, I move around heavy weights, I go for a run, or I climb. For me the most important aspect of fitness is the freedom and the physical capacity that enables that. Natural Movement became the glue that binds all my activities together and the method that turned movement into a lifestyle rather than a hobby. I also learned that physical exercise can not only come from a place of an ego-driven pursuit for constant improvement, but it can also be playful and nurturing. This humble and conscious approach towards physical practice became the central message in my coaching as well.

The preparation for the Level 3 certification and the event itself was definitely a milestone on my MovNat journey. I pretty much knew right after my Level 2 certification that next year I wanted to make it to Level 3 in Europe. It just felt like an obvious step. There was a lot of mystery around the event, and I heard about the low pass rate, which further increased my curiosity and determination. My motivation probably had a lot to do with my character too, and the way I set challenges for myself. My goal was to nail everything on the first go. Prior to the event, I asked one of our instructors, Jerome Rattoni if he got any tips for preparation. His reply was “be adaptable”. Back then it didn’t, but now it makes complete sense. One thing that probably everyone agrees with is that Level 3 is quite a jump from Level 2. The added intensity and complexity requires solid preparedness in all aspects of human movement. Having almost a year to prepare I made myself a list of skills that I needed to master or refine and I put together a plan with a structured weekly emphasis. I practiced diligently and gained more and more confidence in my abilities as I crossed off skill after skill on my list, but still couldn’t imagine what to expect.

With all the preparation and expectation leading up to it, the first day started with tense curiosity. After a quick round of introduction, we covered a few skills indoor and received a vague briefing on what's ahead. We drove up into the Austrian mountains, where we got hosted in the perfect location to get immersed in nature and leave the human zoo behind for a few days. Our evening ritual led us through pathless woods to a high meadow looking over the landscape painted by the setting sun. In the coming days, we constantly encountered spontaneous tests and tasks, which added to the unique atmosphere of the event. The instructors Kathi, Bernd, and Jerome did a great job in helping us to hone our skills. The coaching was coming from a place of true expertise, and we all had many “aha” moments getting detailed breakdowns of techniques and individual feedbacks. At times, I felt like I was on a savage boot camp, and sometimes it was more like a cosy movement retreat. The foreign feeling and the judgemental first impressions quickly dissolved in a growing sense of camaraderie and friendship. As we spent almost all our time together we quickly grew into a little tribe.

I was among the first to fail one of the numerous tasks we had to complete individually. It took me a while to swallow it, given my intention to pass everything first try, but it also gave me a sense of relief, that I needed in order to ease into the days ahead. We all got the chance to challenge ourselves and to get a glimpse into the true depth of Natural Movement. The variety of natural environment and the unpredictability we encountered just proved the initial advice true: “be adaptable”. True mastery of a movement skill lies in contextual application, and simply repeating a technique over and over again will never get you there.

Different individuals, different strengths and weaknesses, but everyone got their lessons. My personal challenge was certainly the cold. It was an incredibly humbling experience to spend time in the mountains, crawling around in pouring rain, only wearing swimming shorts. When you are so exposed to the elements and you are required to perform, your senses get sharper and your focus shrinks to the present moment. This state of mind was familiar from climbing, but I wasn’t prepared for the cold and for trying to gain control over my shivering while holding my breath under water. Those who took the Level 1 and Level 2 certificates combined, know that physical and mental fatigue accumulates over days, adding another layer of difficulty. This was especially true here. Keeping the morale high was essential for mustering the strength to push through the last day, and the encouraging words and strong companionship played a huge role in this. After the 4th day, we were all sitting in silence, covered in bruises with a satisfied and proud grin on our faces. Four days ago we were in the same room as strangers, and now it felt like my tribe of crazy

barefoot movement nerds. While we were saying goodbye and exchanging contacts I was hoping to see these faces again someday. I can’t think of a single most important takeaway to highlight, but we have been told frequently “set your intention”, and that particular phrase echoed a lot in my head, and even changed the way I practice and teach today. Putting your mind into your practice makes a huge difference, and the more present you are, the more it reflects on the quality of your movements and your ability to learn. Although, setting an intention not only entails heightened awareness, but also provides a purpose and an external goal to direct the movement. Having both sides in place, helps you to own the movement, and perform with grace and efficiency.

Four days felt like a week, with little time to contemplate and process the experience. The journey certainly doesn’t end here. There’s so much to refine and integrate, and if anything this was just one of many milestones. I’m endlessly grateful for this experience. It helped me to gain insight into my strengths and weaknesses and to see beyond the physical aspect of Natural Movement. MovNat stands for a philosophy, a lifestyle, and a community that I’m proud to be part of.

link to the published version:

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