Have questions about Evolve Move Play? We want to hear from you! Let us know how we can help you by addressing any and all questions about our programs, natural movement and parkour training in general, a personal challenge or goal you have, or whatever else is on your mind! Fill out our form below or browse through our FAQ for answers to your burning questions
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What is Evolve Move Play?
Evolve Move Play is distinctive because of our emphasis on understanding play as an evolved guide to the types of movement a human needs. Play is the best intrinsic motivator for a movement practice and the best way to optimize learning in movement.
At Evolve Move Play, we believe humans evolved to move, to move through the natural world, to move with a tribe with common purpose, and to develop movement primarily through play. We believe that the types of movement we find as part of the play of cultures worldwide are the best guide to what a human needs in movement.
Every species has a specific way of playing based on its niche, on what it evolved to be. Cats like to play games of stalking and pouncing because that is how cats catch their prey. Dogs like to play games of chase, to wrestle and tear things with their teeth because this is how the dog family evolved to catch prey.
Humans likewise have a species-specific play profile. As children, we all love to chase and wrestle because we are predatory animals too. We love to climb trees because we are primates, inheritors of 60 million years of arboreal evolution. We love to throw and swing around sticks and stones because these are the tools that made us successful predators. We love to build and manipulate objects. We love to jump and dance. These are the basics of the human movement niche.
What are the basics of natural movement?
How do I get started? How do we go about building a practice of movement that will bring us all the benefits that natural movement can provide?
First we need to define the fundamentals of movement basics; these are the key nutrients we need to have in our movement life to thrive and develop properly.
The basics of human movement are not squatting, lunging, pressing, and pulling, nor are they strength, speed, endurance, mobility, agility, and coordination. These are useful paradigms to understand pieces of movement, but they don’t show us the full thing.
Just as a whole-foods diet can never be broken down into the perfect balance of protein, carbs, fats, and vitamins, in the same way a human movement diet needs to be understood with a lens of the human as a holistics animal (not by trying to reengineer fitness).
When we climb a tree or roughhouse we will squat, lunge, press, and pull without even having to understand those concepts. Tree Climbing and Roughhousing are human movement fundamentals. The squat, the lunge, the press, the pull, those are the subcomponents: the pieces we need to understand only when they are underdeveloped.
What is the purpose of a natural movement practice?
OK, so humans evolved to do specific movements…Who cares if we don’t need to do them today? Why do we train these things if we don’t need to chase down mammoths and fight off invading tribes?
At Evolve Move Play, we believe the highest purpose of movement practice is to create deeper aliveness, deeper embodiment, and deeper engagement with the world.
We believe that movement in nature where we evolved engages us and develops us on far more levels then movement in the gym. We believe that natural movement is a physical form of nutrition that when missing from a person’s life, leads to poor health the same way that not eating a whole-food diet is bad for your wellbeing.
We believe that the fundamental natural movements are whole foods for physical development and exercises are supplements.
When we have to live an unnatural life, then we do need exercises to help us compensate for what is missing. But we have made the mistake of focusing too much on supplements in our research and practice of physical education.
Our approach to physical education has tended to look at the human in a reductionist way, a set of parts to be improved, but the potential of movement training goes far deeper than better abs or a tighter butt. We are not a body and mind; we are a body-mind, and every aspect of us— cognitive, emotional and physical— is affected by how we move.
The way we move and the environments we move through impact our moods, our alertness, awareness, and focus. They can make us strong and robust, not just for lifting weight but for dealing with cold and heat, abrasions and bruises. Even the way our mind handles both physical and emotional pain is deeply affected by our movement practice.
We believe to develop the strongest, most adaptable, most resilient and happiest human beings, you need to give them movement rooted in the movements humans evolved for… Move Like a Human to live and feel alive as humans truly should!
Why would I pay to learn tree climbing and roughhousing?
Let me ask you, why would you pay to learn how to bench press? To sprint or kickbox?
You can push things in a straight line without coaching, right? You can run in a straight line, and I am sure you have hit or kicked at things before. You do these things because you recognize that they benefit you, that there are many layers of complexity underneath the surface, and that experts can help you make progress safely and effectively.
We are the experts on tree climbing and roughhousing with years of teaching behind us. And these activities are just part of an overall paradigm on movement that has life-changing effects on the participants.
We focus on these areas of movement precisely because they are undervalued; people do not understand how powerfully developmental they are. By practicing the movements we evolved for, we create the broadest beneficial adaptation. When we climb trees, we push and pull with the upper body. We squat, hinge, and lunge with the legs. We experience any number of movement positions which nourish our bodies. When you climb trees, you’re developing a full-body integrated strength, mobility, and elasticity that nothing else can compare with. This is precisely because you evolved to climb trees for millions of years. Tree climbing is to isolated exercises like the bench press, as a nourishing whole-food meal is to protein powders— it’s nourishing on a far broader level.
The same goes for roughhousing, a universal form of play in our culture that has its roots in the rise of non-lethal dominance battles over the past 160 million years. Since then, roughhousing has become a primary means for the development of fully kinaesthetic awareness of the body, a means to practice the necessary combative skills of your species, and means to develop the ability to regulate aggression, develop empathy, and optimize communication.
Learning how to most effectively approach these types of training is the most beneficial place to start in developing your physical practice.
Why pay to learn from Evolve Move Play? Because nowhere else can you learn to move the way you evolved to and how to cultivate the most heroic version of yourself.
What are the influences behind the Evolve Move Play Method?
Evolve Move Play is deeply influenced by our experience studying:
- Martial Arts
- Contact Dance
- Strength and Conditioning
- Evolutionary biology, anthropology, ethnography, ethology
- Play studies
- Complex systems theory
Are kids good candidates for the Evolve Move Play Method?
The answer is a resounding YES! Children are naturally drawn to our training methods and are usually some of our most enthusiastic movers. Learn more about our uber-popular Kids Classes here.
Is it possible to practice natural movement safely during COVID?
The good news is that evidence keeps pointing to outdoor exercise as remarkably safer than the gym. Visit our COVID Page to see more on our response to the pandemic. Also, check out our Intro to Natural Parkour online course which was created with COVID in mind to help our worldwide tribe keep their movement practice alive.
get in touch with us
Our Home Base (Evolve Move Play HQ🏡)
The EMP Home Base is located in Seattle, where you can find us teaching, training, and climbing trees at:
- Volunteer Park
- Sandel Park
- Pt. Defiance Park (Tacoma)
- Larrabee State Park
- And throughout the metro area and beyond!
It’s in these enriching natural environments that we offer our local classes and some of our movement retreats. We invite you to come discover natural movement with us in these beautiful, health-giving settings!
Other Places We Roam 🌇 ⛰️
Mount Vernon, WA
Located in the lush forest of Mount Vernon, SunRay Shire is a beautiful, naturalistic homestead among the trees that’s been in Rafe’s family for generations. We frequently hold our EMP retreats on this property that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.
EMP holds workshops in San Francisco several times a year for a more immersive natural movement and parkour experience meant to vibrantly reconnect you with nature, self, and tribe.
We also hold movement training workshops in Los Angeles where our tribe takes the weekend off to develop their movement practice, from roughhousing and natural parkour, to mental exercises, breath work, and more!
Evolve Move Play is in Londontown! Rafe’s long-time student and EMP Coach Ben Medder offers our bonafide natural movement training in the evergreen parks of London.
GET STARTED WITH NATURAL PARKOUR ONLINE
Our COVID-adapted, Intro to Natural Parkour online course (INP) has everything you need to develop the skills you want—with the nature connection you need. ⛰🙌