If you thought fitness started in the 80’s with Jane Fonda and Jazzercise – think again. Explore your primal roots and learn the true meaning of locomotion, which has a lot more to do with navigating rocks and climbing trees than swinging hips…
Believe it or not, there was once a time when staying alive took precedence over brightly coloured activewear and building muscle. Centuries and millennia ago, they did not have all the gym paraphernalia we have today, yet they were in better shape than we are.
According to Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat: “We are not meant to live in a confined environment. We are not meant to be disconnected from the natural world and our own true nature. Chronic pain, immobility, depression and lack of vitality, these are the symptoms of the zoo human syndrome. Modern society conditions us to consider this as normal and unavoidable”.
In his article, The History of Physical Fitness, Le Corre says: “From the dawn of humankind to around 10,000 BC, men had a constant voice in the back of their head saying, “Run for your life!”
Physical development followed a natural path that was determined by the practical demands of life in a wild landscape as well as the vital need to avoid threats and seize opportunities for survival. One’s movement demands consisted of locomotion, the manipulation of tools and natural objects (rocks, tree limbs, etc.), and defense.
To survive in a harsh environment full of natural and human obstacles and enemies, early man had to know not only how to run, but also walk, balance, jump, crawl, climb, lift, carry, throw and catch things, and fight. We can also safely assume that playful or creative moves like early forms of dancing were performed when bellies were full and predators weren’t around.
The strength and mobility of early man was not developed through structured programs, methods, or schedules, but rather was forged by the daily, instinctive, necessity-driven practice of highly practical and adaptable movement skills.
Today, the few hunter-gatherer tribes which still exist around the world would have no idea what “primal fitness” or a “caveman workout” is, as this kind of “exercise” remains deeply ingrained in their everyday lives.”
But for many of us living in Westernised, urban environments, we’re having to find new, creative methods of bringing the outside world in.
BioFit is an organic gym and natural fitness method that offers a fresh, sustainable alternative to an uninspiring corporate space. Their basic premise is that modern day fitness as we know it has lost its way, resulting in a watered down, sanitized and merely skin-deep interpretation of what it means to be truly fit and healthy.
“Our bodies were made to move in a myriad of ways”, explains Matt Morley, founder of Biofit. “We thrive on variety, challenge and skill development, it’s literally written into our DNA, so linear movements on a spin bike or peck deck are a far cry from what we are really capable of.
That said, a shift is underway, led most obviously by the likes of Spartan Race, Mixed Martial Arts and CrossFit. Each makes its own unique contribution to the cause but all share a common belief system that flies in the face of the standard gym experience many of us grew up with in the West.”
For many of us, our fitness regimes are ruled by advanced machines that remove us from real life, nature, and what our bodies are naturally designed to do. But what damaging effect is this having on our health?
Morley sees it as a missed opportunity: “In an increasingly sedentary society in which we spend 80% of our time indoors and lack regular contact with mother nature, we should really be grabbing any opportunity to get outside, take our shoes off and move in ways that nature intended.
Most fitness facilities offer nothing of the sort yet time is a luxury for most modern urbanites. Perhaps gyms ought to offer something more natural and connected to the real world rather than an underground grey box or a nightclub-like experience?”
As for his views on fitness tech and self-quantification…
“Biofit’s approach to wellbeing is based on fundamental tenets informed by a wide-angle, evolutionary perspective; we’re looking for the basic building blocks of human health and physical excellence.
Commit to a regular movement practice, eat a whole food diet and get plenty of sleep each night and your body will reward you richly for your efforts.
Those that feel the need for collecting personal data along the way are welcome to use whatever tech is available, just keep an eye on the big picture and remember that true health is a lifelong journey, not a 4-week sprint to the finish”.
Basically the fitness industry will be better when… “We all stop believing in the next get-fit-quick fitness class and settle in for the long-haul. Learn to enjoy the ride by incorporating activities that get you outside, developing new movement skills and above all having fun!”
Speaking of fun… If you’re looking for a primal fitness style holiday in Zanzibar, Crete, Scotland, Berlin, Barcelona, Norfolk or New York… look no further than Wildfitness.
Experience a combination of wild eating (eating the real food that your body was designed to eat). Wild moving (moving with skill and playfulness to develop a lean, strong and injury-free body). And wild living (respecting your body’s natural rhythms of rest and recuperation). Or for something closer to home, try their Saturday sessions on Hampstead Heath.
For something to trial in your lunch hour, try Gymbox’ Caveman workout. A back to basics approach to exercise designed around functional human body movement and animalistic techniques to include explosive, plyometric, agility and speed training.
Or for the yogi’s among you, try Another Space’s Primal Vinyasa Yoga. A seamless blend of yoga, plymoetrics and animal movements. As well as the standard downward dog, you’ll find yourself crawling like a bear and balancing like a flamingo – just don’t feel obliged to make animal sounds. Perhaps a step to far…