“Be strong to be useful.” Georges Hebert, Creator of the French physical fitness system called “Natural Method”
Once again, we are reminded through the Nice, France tragedy of what skills are “required” during an emergency. One’s ability to physically move quickly can make a huge difference—if there is a chance at all for evasive actions. Hundreds of people running the other night to avoid being killed…some having to leap over bodies…a horrific scene…
Historically, the best physical education and fitness programs in the world emphasized certain movement skills over and over again. Whether you examine the French system called “Natural Method” by Georges Hebert, German, Swedish, Czech Sokol, or the top American programs—they put these skills foremost for survival. While described differently at times—here’s what history says you need in your fitness program.
· Restorative/Corrective Movements
There are no ball sports on the list. No body building. No power lifting. No yoga or Pilates. No Spin classes. The list above were the fundamentals used for generations along with a strong emphasis upon “mental stability.”
It’s hard to use survival skills without proper joint mobility, so back in 2004, I looked over a number of sources many historical and “reused” some basic movements in a Dynamic Warm-Up routine for corporate clients. The DWU was designed to help people be able to reach over their head so they could begin to hang, access hip and spinal mobility so they could drop and roll if needed, move more freely just in case they had to defend themselves or family. The “cross-body” movements in the DWU also sharpen the cognitive skills while helping people relax. ALL of these can factor into being able to survive in the moment of truth.
My circuit classes for corporate clients in 2016 have “routinely” seen survival skills in the programming. Participants can drop, roll, get off the floor “without” their hands assisting, jump and land safely, move explosively, perform running drills, push and pull many unstable objects while controlling the loads and intensity—all while learning to manage exertion for over 30 minutes. While we have fun doing these—there is a deeper purpose…just in case…they are preparing.
Does your fitness program factor survival skills? History says they are important…think about it.
Stay alert. Be aware. Pay attention.
Ron Jones, MS
To learn more about the history of French Fitness and the Natural Method, please visit my friend and French native Philippe Til who recently transcribed the original texts of Hebert into the English language.