Reclaiming Usefulness

 In Blog, Uncategorized

Georges Hébert (considered the father of Parkour and the “Natural Method” – the philosophy behind the current MovNat) was a young officer in the French Navy and stationed in Martinique when the local volcano catastrophically blew in 1902. Hébert coordinated the escape and rescue of almost seven hundred people. Thirty thousand people, however, died. The US President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, lamented the tragedy as “one of history’s greatest calamities.”

Though Hébert was hailed a hero when he returned to France, he found it incredibly problematic — and puzzling — that an overwhelming amount of people had died out of an inability to save themselves. There was warning that the volcano was erupting, but Hérbert witnessed that most people froze out of uncertainty when they could have been running, crawling, jumping, and swimming for their lives.

Hébert thought: when had we stopped relying on our adaptable bodies? In developed cities such as Paris where he lived, he wondered how many adults could pull themselves onto a ledge, or jump across a three-foot gap, or carry anyone to safety? He set out to create a training method that addressed our stray from our original instincts. He came up with the motto: “Être fort pour être utile” Be fit/strong to be useful. 

“If one exercises only with the intention to carry out a physical gain or to triumph over competitors,” Hébert believed,”it’s brutally egoistic.” And brutal egoism, he believed, goes against human nature. To our core, we are a sharing, communicative, helpful species. Our fitness, Hébert believed, should be no different. His philosophy was inclusive of race, gender, and age. “No matter who you are, no matter what you’re seeking or hope to leave behind after your time on the planet, is there any better approach than simply to be useful?”1

The Méthode Naturelle was born. The outdoors and the city became his gym and training grounds. And how Hérbert and the method’s followers trained was categorized like so:

Pursuit – walk, run, crawl
Escape – climb, balance, jump, swim
Attack/Defend – throw, lift, fight

MovNat is a modern version of this training, and CFLA is basing much of our new balance, body weight, crawling, 2×4, and jumping work from MovNat techniques. These simple movements are proving to be hard! But I’m finding that they are exposing our middle-line and balance weaknesses – and our possible lack of real, practical usefulness. It is functional fitness at its most basic –and we lack it. I personally am excited to train this way. I find it very exciting to redefine what “useful fitness” means to me beyond (but not disregarding) the scope of competition. With the above, more in-depth history, I hope you are opening up to it, too.

Friday’s Workout
Recovery Practice Week

1: 4-6 Burpee broad jumps
2: 20-30s Paralette hold
3: 6-8 Handstand pushups
4: 6-12cal Row
–40sec Cap each min-

Saturday’s Workout

3 RFQ, 1min at each station
Sledgehammer swings
Air bike
Butterfly Abmat situps
KB Swings
–1min Rest between rounds–

Sunday’s Workout

1250m run
20 Spider crab spider
100m Front rack carry
20 V ups
800m Run
30 Jumping lunges
100m Front rack carry
30 V ups
400m Run
40 Spider crab spider
100m Front rack carry
40 V ups

Monday’s Workout

4 RFQR (10s:20s)
Clapping pushups

8 Single-leg DB RDLs (25% BW / 17% BW)
8 Single-arm DB Snatches
8 Single- arm DB Thrusters
–1DB, Switch arms after each round–

3 RFQT on the 6:00
500m Row



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