fitness for men

“Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun ‘n’ games.”

Wonder if Axl Rose had the same kind of fun’n’games in mind that Erwan Le Core or Greg Glassman had in mind when they designed their respective fitness concepts?

I dare to call myself fit. Spent my late teens in the gym, Muscle & Fitness was my bible and Arnold Schwarzenegger my God. My early twenties was all about martial arts, mixing Jiu-jitsu with western boxing and thai-boxing. The last ten years has seen my fitness level decline radically but I have tried to keep a decent level by periodically running, swimming, boxing and lifting weights.

The thing is, since I no longer have an ambition to become the next Schwarzenegger or Bruce Lee and I only exercise to feel good and to be able  to manage daily activities without being limited by my level of fitness, I can’t push myself to give 100% in any specific sport. I want to have fun through-out the session and I do that by keeping a high level of variation.

In addition, back in the gym-rat days I found that although I could bench-press or squat heavy weights there was little use of this strength outside of the gym. It wasn’t easier for me to carry two heavy bags of groceries to the 5th floor than for the next guy. For this reason I loved martial arts, a lot more functional use of my fitness.

Over the last few years the concept of functional training has gone from rough military fitness training to branded mainstream movements.

I find CrossFit and MovNat to be the two most exciting concepts in this area.

CrossFit was founded by former gymnast Greg Glassman in the 1980s and is based on the concept of functional training, fitness training with the objective of improving your overall ability to deal with the unknowable physical challenge and excel in every-day life movements.

The CrossFit concept has gained popularity in law enforcement and military training in particular and has been formally adopted by both police departments and military units, particularly around North America. According to Business News Network it’s “one of the fastest growing fitness movements on the planet”.

The essence of Crossfit is variation. By combining elements from different disciplines in one workout CrossFit aims at creating athletes that are equally fit gymnasts, weight-lifters and sprinters giving the individual a less specialized and therefore higher level of broad fitness than a gymnast, weight-lifter or sprinter.

CrossFit works with ten elements of fitness (cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, stamina, strength, speed, power, coordination, balance, accuracy, agility) and aim at incorporating multiple elements in each work-out.

The workout sessions are typically very intense without rest between the sets and incorporate a wide variety of equipment, ranging from body-weight to traditional gym equipment, car tyres, ropes, kettlebells, etc. The list of workouts is long and varied.

One core feature of the CrossFit concept is the WoD, Workout of the Day. A daily exercise routine posted on the CrossFit homepage and the members post their results to inspire and show-off.  Check-out some WoD’s here.

MovNat is an abbreviation of the French “Mouvement Naturel” and is created by Erwan Le Corre. It’s an evolution form Erwan’s studies of French Naval officer Georges Hébert’s “Methode Naturalle” combined with his own studies  of sports (karate, brazilian jiu-jitsu and weight-lifting to name a few) and outdoor activities.

George Hébert’s story is very interesting in itself. Before and inbetween the two world wars he devised a training philosophy after studying the athleticism of the indigenous people of Africa of which he wrote “Their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, resistant and yet they had no other tutor in Gymnastics but their lives in Nature.”

Hébert’s training philosophy, “Metode Naturalle”, was based on the ten fundamental groups of movement: walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, equilibrium (balancing), throwing, lifting and defending and swimming. His idea was to combine each of these 10 elements in every training session of 20-60 min to achieve a varied and complete physical development.

The modern military obstacle course is a direct legacy of Hébert and the modern sport Parkour (“the art of movement”) acknowledges Hébert as pioneering the sport.

Erwin Le Corre talks about “zoo humans” to describe our modern life. Our social conventions, technological environment and commercial pressure leaves us disconnected from the natural world and ourselves. We suffer physically, mentally and spiritually and become numb, we become “zoo humans”.

MovNat is based on three pillars: Nature – Respecting the laws of nature, Evolutionary – Trusting our primal heritage and, Situational – Satisfying real world demands.

The Brazilian jungle is the current training ground for Le Corre. Here he found the fighters to help him develop his fighting skills and in them also eager companions in developing MovNat. The training sessions make use of what nature has to offer,  from passing big rocks between each other, to racing in the sand with a friend on your back, to climbing trees and swimming the rivers up-stream.

Just open your door and the world is gym. If the Brazilian jungle is too far away check out some of the urban gym / ghetto gym videos on YouTube to be inspired.

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