To start your natural movement practice, you first need to find an area that intrigues you — whether it’s a group of fallen logs, the sprawling branches of a tree, or a series of boulders.
The first goal is exploration. Before you worry about perfecting a specific vault or finding a large jump, remember the mind of a child and simply explore the area.
You carry a map in your head of the area you are moving in, the more refined that map the greater the confidence with which you can move through that area. Move slowly and find as many ways to move through the environment as possible. Develop a feeling for the textures, stability and robustness of the features in the environment. Do your feet grip well on the bark of the trees, or the texture of the stones? is the ground in between objects wet and muddy and likely to interfere with your grip, or are their potholes and small rocks to turn an ankle on?
Exploration allows you to recognize the risks and opportunities in the environment. It is also deeply enjoyable. Effectively exploring the environment was a core need written right into our neurology for tens of millions of years.
Here are a few different basic games you can explore to start your movement practice:
Look for branches close enough to the ground to grab and start hanging on. Practice swinging your body side to side and forward & back. See if you can hang and place your feet on the tree then explore climbing and shimmy around the tree using your hands on the branches and feet on the tree.
Find ways to climb into the tree using your feet, your knees, your elbows, armpits, and any branches or footholds on the tree that are necessary; just start finding ways into the tree.
Once you can make it into the tree, practice circling in the lowest limbs of the tree, see if you can find different ways to move through the tree.
Find a series of objects between knee and belly button height and simple practice moving over them. Don’t worry about specific techniques at first; focus instead on whether the movements feel connected. Which ways of moving feel better, feel more fluid and connected?
Look for places you can connect going over an object with going under. Over-unders are a classic gymnastics warm-up. Then develop explosive leg strength and mobility at the same time. Over-unders work for our context too, as they develop core skills for movement as well as developing our ability to transition and flow between movements.
Find some precise landing surfaces near the ground and begin explore different jumping variations on to them, working to land precisely on the ball of your foot.
Practice moving up down and around the area using all fours.
Find rocks with ledges or hand-holds you can hang from and repeat the basic steps to beginning tree climbing described above.
Practice jumping from rock to rock, fallen logs and low branches, or just go for a run over the rocks, making sure to go slow enough to feel safe and keep your feet under you.
Learn your different environments and the opportunities they hold. Your skills will start growing just through this process and you will set the stage for more specific and targeted skill development practices.
For more advanced programming and strength training assistance attend a seminar, inquire about online personal training and look out for our upcoming online natural flow and elastic strength programs.
Register for our Intro to Natural Parkour online course to train you in the fundamentals you need to build your overall fitness with natural parkour.