I’ve written several times regarding using one’s bodyweight and movement across obstacles. My friend Sean Rogers teaches Parkour out of North Carolina and emphasizes various aspects of whole body training. So does another friend, Erwan LeCorre of MovNat. In previous writings I’ve mentioned how our Paleo ancestors were able to traverse across obstacles with ease in order to catch prey or avoid being prey.
Getting fit in those days was a matter of survival in every sense. The most fit was able to survive the harshest of environments. It’s no different today. I’m not talking about the super-ripped fitness models either and nor am I talking about bodybuilders. Being able to climb up a tree and jump across a small ravine is about going beyond fitness. I had to engage many obstacles when I was in the Marines. I did the same in my LAPD days as well. I learned to climb walls with ease, jump through a window and run down a suspect. And I still had enough “juice” in me to easily take that suspect into custody.
Many first responders and military personnel should be able to use their bodies in ways that go beyond the gym. While it’s okay to train with weights, the static training doesn’t emulate the real world. In fact, most traditional gyms are worthless when it comes to functionality in natural environments. I realize that the great majority of people won’t be jumping, climbing and navigating over obstacles. Heck, the majority of people won’t even walk a mile a day.
For those people that want to experience fitness beyond the gym, then using obstacles and other real world objects will help build a body much better than the kind of training you’d get in a fitness center. Look at many of the competitors in the American Ninja Warrior competition. They train in ways that would put a gym buff in the dust. And they have the kind of bodies that are truly athletic. Even many professional athletes have had a hard time getting through the course that’s set up.
Most of those that have done well came from backgrounds that includes Parkour and rock climbing. Hence, the training has combined both and much more. In my Parkour training it’s really challenged me in so many ways. Soon I’ll be going through more training and this time with Erwan Le Corre. It’s all about the continued challenging, despite one’s age.
When you were a kid, you probably were able to do things that you may have a hard time doing now. Take monkey bars, for example, they take upper body strength to get to the end. And that’s pretty easy for even me. More so, doing a muscle up and climbing to the top of those monkey bars, then walking across them is another matter. That is what I’m talking about in truly building your body.
What if you had to hang from a high wall and navigate across to get to another point? Not only will you have use your upper body, you’re also going to need pinch grip strength and proper feet placement as you move side-to-side. I can tell you that it can become tiring if you have go for long.
If you were able to get to the top of the wall and then jump off the other side, would you be able to land properly? Would your legs be strong enough to handle it? There’s more to training your body than you’ve ever thought possible. Look around you. The outside environment offers so much in how you can train using your bodyweight. You’ll soon realize that the training in the indoor gym never prepared you for the outdoor gym.
It’s time to get into natural movement and the obstacles that you come across. I would suggest getting an expert/trainer that is experienced in the outdoor world, especially when it comes to obstacles. Once you do, you’ll discover a form of training that is fun and meditative. I would even call this mindful natural fitness. Now, do it!
Bob Choat, “Transformational Master Black Belt”
America’s #1 Mind-Body Transformation Expert and author of Mind Your Own Fitness