If you’ve been reading this blog, you know by now that I’m a huge fan of natural movement expert Erwan Le Corre. His inspiring YouTube Video “The Workout the World Forgot” and the Men’s Health article “A Wild Workout for the Real World” clearly demonstrate his primal philosophy and love of training in nature.
My recent trip to Brazil was the third occasion I had to train with Le Corre; the first two times were in West Virginia and right here in Toronto. It was in Brazil, however, that I had the pleasure of working with him as a coach, assisting him as he introduced a small group of international participants to the concepts of MovNat.
My thoughts on MovNat from a coaching perspective are documented on the MovNat website (thanks Erwan, for giving me the exposure!). Rather than repeat that content here, I’ll post some of my reflections on the trip as a whole.
From a personal perspective, the trip represented a chance to re-connect my somewhat stressed-out self with nature. The course took place near Itacaré in the cocoa state of Bahai. Beaches, tropical forests, mangroves, trails and waterfalls were in abundance, and the coastline area seemed to attract surfers and capoeira practitioners alike. The MovNat group was hosted by Art Jungle, an amazing location set in a protected environment where electricity and hot water were produced with solar power and where the fruits and vegetables were local and organic. Our bungalows were thatch-roof huts, some actual tree-houses with names such as Tarzan and Robinson. What an incredible setting.
We stuck to a strict paleo diet throughout, meaning that we ate lots of fish, quality meats, vegetables (including many raw foods), tropical fruits and nuts. We also enjoyed an array of fresh juices, including açaí-banana and an incredible pineapple juice that was blended with plenty of fresh mint. Fresh coco verde (coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk) was particularly refreshing when we were thirsty and hot. It’s full of electrolytes and minerals and has a very mild taste.
The retreat was a real opportunity to recover from ‘nature deficit disorder’. There were no cell phones ringing and I managed without my computer the whole time. I did manage to read “The Lost City of Z”, by David Grann (highly recommended), an appropriate book for my jungle trip. But it was our visits to several waterfalls, our hikes to the tropical beaches, our barefoot trail running and our general exploring that I found the most enjoyable. One of the highlights of the trip was a paddle up the River Contas in a dug-out canoe, which brought back memories of many a canoe trip with my father when I was a boy.
Most of the day was spent covering specific MovNat training techniques: walking, running, jumping, balancing, moving on all fours, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, defending and swimming (although our swimming experiences were purely recreational). I came to really appreciate the freedom that MovNat gives you in terms of training options when you start to combine movements together as combinations. Transitioning from one movement to another is a skill in itself, and learning how to move fluidly, like a human animal, is the ultimate goal.
Itacaré is a place I’d like to visit again. I feel there is so much there that I have yet to experience. Hmmm, I’m suddenly picturing a surf vacation in my future…