I always hated team sports growing up because I was never good at them and usually was asked to leave the team for skipping practice or quit because I was horrible.  When my friend and fellow Crossfitter, Lisa, suggested that we get together and play Hooverball I decided it was time to turn over a new leaf and try a team sport.  Hooverball is fantastic because it incorporates Natural Movements, throwing and catching.  Hooverball is basically like Volleyball but with a medicine ball that you throw and catch.  The regulation (yes, there are regulations) size ball is 6lbs.  You can read all the rules and history of the game here.  

During our first attempt at the game we only had access to a rubber 3kg medicine ball – bad idea! NEVER try that at home kids! Not only did I jam 2 of my fingers and bruise my foot, but i probably dropped a bra size from all the impact – and I don’t have room to spare.  Fast forward 1 week….we have a Dynamex ball!!  Soft, yet still regulation size…this ball was my best friend.  I also went out and got a pair of durable gloves enabling my fingers to stay warm and in tact.  I was so pumped playing this week that I busted out my rendition of MC Hammer dancing to the tune of “Stop…Hoover Time” (copyright Lisa).  I’m excited to continue playing Hooverball and hope that we can someday compete in a championship with a trophy or belt.   We’ve even got a Facebook group – that is how serious we are.

Note that during both matches it was -10 degree weather.  yay Canada!

My friend Greg sent me an email telling me that Erwan Le Corre was coming to Oakville to do a MovNat training course – Greg had been to a week training-cation with Erwan and raved about it, so I decided to sign up.  MovNat is the practice of Natural Movement and Erwan is the founder of MovNat – it focuses on training using walking, running, jumping, balancing, moving on all fours, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, catching, swimming and defending.  All movements that our hunter-gatherer ancestors used for survival and that most modern folk take for granted.  You can read all about him and MovNat via his website. My initial interpretation of MovNat (from watching videos and reading the website) was that it is like the training scene in Rocky IV when Sly is outside in the snow training with his environment vs the Russian guy who is training with crazy scientific machines.  Rocky wins in the end and this is a testament to the power of training with your environment.  I highly recommend you watch this training scene as it’s one of the best moments in 80’s cinema.  Aside from the scene in Kirate Kid when Daniel-son says, “Relax Mr Miyagi, it’s the 80’s” or when Mr Miyagi says, “Miyagi drunk”.  Moving on…

What I learned at the seminar was how to properly train and practice the 12 MovNat techniques, but what really made me love this training was hearing the philosophies that Erwan believes and are the fundamentals of MovNat.  Here are a few that really resonated with me:

  1. Learn better perception, awareness and control of your body.  I realized that I’m very tense and I’m exerting unnecessary energy.  By focusing on what muscles I’m using and how I’m feeling, my performance will benefit because I will be stronger when I need to use strength.  
  2. Use your imagination to put context into your training.  Moving on all fours is more fun when you’re imaging that there is a cave you are trying to crawl into.  Kids do this everyday and we could benefit from re-learning this practice.
  3. Don’t let your perceptions of what people think of you control your actions.  If you want to run barefoot through the woods, then just do it.  Your own personal barriers are what will get in the way of reaching your full potential.
  4. Competition and elitism discourage people (especially children) from being strong and active.  Specifically children because if they don’t make a sport’s team or are not the best at certain specialized skills then they are more likely to turn to an inactive lifestyle.  I can relate to this completely.  As a kid I was horrible at sports and it made me never want to try anything or be active because I didn’t think I was good.  Sure, I was the master at Street Fighter 2, but my fitness level was horrible.  We could all benefit from more play and cooperation with each other.
  5. Explore your true nature in order to live your life to be Strong, Happy, Healthy and Free

I can’t write this post and not mention a few funny moments that happened to me:

  • When I first signed up for the training and showed my Semi-Primal Husband the video of Erwan training, he laughed and thought I was a bit crazy.  You have to watch the video and then picture me (the cosmopolitan side of me) replicating this – imagine Carrie Bradshaw running through the jungle.  But the training was not like that at all.  It was mostly indoors and in a controlled environment.  You don’t put yourself at risk until you have mastered all of the techniques.
  • I walked into the training and it was all guys.  Erwan comes over to me and says, “I think you want the class next door”.  The Pilates/Aerobics Class!!  Yes, I look like a yoga chick decked out in my lulu’s and wearing a modest amount of eye makeup, but I am certainly not one.  In fact, I hate yoga (no offense to all my yoga-loving friends).  
  • The look on bystander’s faces when Erwan was running through downtown Oakville barefoot wearing only shorts and a hoodie (it was -10 outside).  This goes back to his philosophy on letting your perceptions of what people think of you control your actions.  He could not care less and I loved that.  But the look on people’s faces was priceless.
  • We had to do a MovNat workout indoors to learn how you can adapt the skills and training to an indoor studio if that’s what you’re accessible to.  Part of the workout required us to crawl on our backs across the floor.  I could handle the pull-ups, jumping 24″ and hoisting myself on top of a bar, but for the life of me I could not grasp the crawling.  As I’m doing this portion of the workout Erwan says, “you look like you’re mopping the floor!” and then used me as a demonstration for what not to do.  Who knew Crawling would be my weakness??  
  • We were down by the lake and Erwan was looking for a log to do a demonstration on how to pick it up.  I suggested a small log (it was actually an abandoned 2 x 4) and he laughed and replied, “too small” and proceeded to find a log that was about 15 feet long.  It put my poor log to shame. 

I would highly recommend this practice of training to anyone.  It’s scalable to any age or skill level, can be done anywhere and is fun.  I learned so much and feel like I have a much greater appreciation for what our bodies were meant to do and I will not take this for granted anymore.  I am going to start building these skills into my training in order to become stronger, happier, healthier and free.