Primal Movement With Evolve Move Play
What’s the best type of movement or exercise?
I can’t tell you the number of people that have asked me that.
The answer truly depends on your goals of your movement practice.
Why People Exercise
What are your training goals?
Here are some of the top reasons that people engage in exercise or movement:
- Professional Athlete
- Weight Loss
- Increase Muscle Mass
- Offset Sedentary Lifestyle
- Increase Flexibility
- Greater Mobility
- Be Harder to Kill
All of these reasons require you to look at you movement practice in a different sort of way.
Since there is so much info out there on things like losing weight, gaining muscle mass and many of the other things listed above, I want to concentrate on the last 3, but don’t worry if your goals include the others. The type of movement that this article discusses can give you great gains in all the other areas, even if you specialize in some sport.
Adaptive or Primal Movement
The primal or functional movement niche has really been exploding lately, and for good reason. People see a great value in moving in ways that humans are meant to move.
While I love that this type of movement is gaining traction, I think that some practitioners are still missing some critical components.
My goal with any practice, is to make me better at some aspect of life. The goals of my movement practice include making me stronger, more resilient and above all, the ability to adapt to any environment or situation I may find myself in to give myself the best chance of success. That includes the ability to perform physically and mentally intensive tasks while very hot, very cold and at altitude. This gives me the confidence that I could handle most situations to keep myself or family members safe.
This brings me to my next point. While having a six-pack and ripped muscles may be a goal for many people, that’s definitely not the goal of my movement and exercise routines anymore. My practice centers around functional strength and mobility along with martial arts training and I think it’s an important concept for everyone to look at.
That’s what I really loved about Rafe’s Evolve Move Play course. He takes many different disciplines and combines them to make a very adaptive form of movement. Plus all of his training occurs outside in nature! You get a killer workout while developing skills and techniques that everyone should be working on.
Evolve Move Play
Let me start off by saying that I COULD NOT believe that a workshop like this actually took place so close to my home. Living in southern Indiana, I usually have to travel quite a distance to attend any conference or workshop, so when I saw that Rafe was going to be just 30 minutes from my house, I signed up immediately. Big thanks to Matt Myers over at FreeFit Guy for hosting Rafe for this event. If you haven’t heard Matt’s podcast, The Human Animal Podcast, you should definitely check it out!
I have been following Rafe for a little over a year now, so even though I kind of knew what to expect, it didn’t prepare me for the experience itself.
The best way I can describe Rafe Kelley’s philosophy with Evolve Move Play is a mix of parkour, martial arts, dance, tree climbing and roughhousing. All of this is done outdoors, using the natural environment to provide the obstacles and challenges.
Here are a few of the things that we worked on during the two day workshop.
The day started off at McCormick’s Creek State Park’s basketball/tennis court. We started the workshop by getting into what was supposed to be a large circle, but since we were all obviously a little bad a geometry, it looked more like a crescent moon. Once we finally got into the circle, we all started to throw and bounce tennis balls to random people while shouting their name. This really helped us to learn each other’s names and become acquainted. It was actually pretty fun. Especially when three or four people would throw their ball at the same person at the same time.
After that we broke into partners and began tossing or bouncing 3 tennis balls back an forth. Not exactly how I thought the day would start, but it was definitely challenging.
After dropping over half the balls, I realized that it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
This exercise really helps to develop reaction time, peripheral vision and since we switched partners frequently, we quickly go to know one another in a fun environment.
After this we took turns squatting and having the balls tossed, bounced or rolled at us to help move out of a squat as quickly as possible.
There is some chance of falling every day of your life.
No matter what you are doing..
So learning how to fall as safe as possible is high on my list of adaptive training requirements.
We started by just falling backwards from a squat position and making sure that our arms and legs were in the correct position to absorb as much as the impact as possible. This was thankfully done in the grass and everyone really loved it.
After trying a few variations of that, we started rolling forwards and backwards. That wasn’t a big deal either until Rafe mentioned that we would be moving to the concrete and rolling some more.
Many of the people there were a little hesitant to actually get down and try it (myself included).
While it may sound a little scary, with people walking by looking at us like we were a little crazy, it was actually quite fun once you learn the fundamentals. While on the grass, we could make mistakes and not really even notice them because of the soft ground. On the concrete, you really feel when you make those mistakes, so the learning is much faster.
I have to say that the tree work was one of my favorite parts of this workshop. Just watching Rafe move through the trees like a monkey was enough make me feel like a kid again.
The tree climbing started out by just traversing the tree below the branches. After that we moved into climbing in to the first level of branches and then circling the tree again. The small group of guys that I was with really made a game out of it and tried to see who could find the quickest and easiest way around the tree.
On the second day we did some climbing of smaller diameter trees with no branches. This is done in a similar way that someone would climb a thick rope.
We finished off the workshop with just some free climbing in a HUGE beech tree. This tree was a great place to practice jumping from branch to branch and was big enough for quite a few of us to get in at the same time.
Check out the clips below to see some of the tree work in action.
Parkour is basically moving through simple and complex physical obstacles in the quickest and safest way possible. While I have seen quite a few parkour videos in urban environments, I haven’t seen as much out in the natural landscape.
Towards the end of the first day we went down to a creek bed and worked to jumping over, across and under many different obstacles. While I was a little warn out, I still really enjoyed exploring those concepts and seeing different ways that you can make use of the natural landscape as your personal playground.
Much of the work we did was with a partner and really allowed us to get to know the other people along with ourselves. Much of this involved, pushing, pulling and even picking up our partners and involved a great deal of trust in the other person.
Many of the activities are things that I have already introduced with my own kids and they absolutely love them.
The best way to describe this is a mix of dance, partner acrobatics and tai-chi. Most of the movements were kept slow and it allowed us to move ourselves and our partners in very fluid ways which required feeling what the other person was doing and making our bodies very soft.
The combative parts of the workshop were in some parts connected to the roughhousing and contact improv, but I though it was important to mention this aspect.
Using techniques like Zen Archer and Fighting Monkey can really improve you ability to deal with any situation and is just plain fun.
This article doesn’t even begin to give justice to all the things we did during this workshop. If you’re even remotely interested in natural movement, I highly recommend you check out Rafe’s work and sign up for one of his workshops.
Check him out at http://evolvemoveplay.com
Along with all the cool stuff that we learned, we also developed friendships that are sure to last. Thats the great thing about going to workshops like this. You always seem to find new members of your tribe.
Make sure to check out the video below with some clips of the workshop. I wish I could have gotten more video, but I didn’t have my phone handy most of the time. If I would have, it would have probably gotten broken.