On this blog, I talk a lot about eating and food…and very little about movement. And yet, along with food, movement is a pivotal part of supporting a healthy, happy body-mind.
So, in today’s post, I’m excited to share excerpts from my recent interview with Travis Lee, co-founder of APEX Movement – Fort Collins.
A “movement advocate,” Travis is working to create a catalyst for increased—and inspired—movement in the gym, workplace, school and home.
His co-founders at APEX, Jesse and Justin Clark, are original students of Ryan Ford, founder of APEX Movement and known internationally as a top parkour athlete and coach.
Here are some highlights from our conversation…
What’s “natural movement” all about?
The best way to describe natural moment is any way you move that provides function or happiness. I think when people hear “natural movement” what they’re really reaching for is: teach me to move in a way my body was intended to move or designed for so I can realize certain health or life benefits from it.
Natural movement, as we see it, is growing competence in fundamentally human ways of moving.
At the basic level, we’re talking about your ability to squat, crawl, run, jump, hang, brachiate (linking movements by swinging), and move in variety of environments without having your movement impeded.
Someone who doesn’t have natural movement in their life may require a very specific environment to even feel comfortable moving. [Unlike Travis, pictured below!]
Does play have a role here?
Absolutely. Play exists for most animals, including humans.
Play is a form of independent learning and the first independent study—a study in self.
How do we get back to moving the way our bodies are meant to move?
What we’re really pointing to is the general unrealized potential of what people can do—at any age—and the creative block that exists when it comes to movement.
It’s not uncommon for people to go to a creative writing class. It’s not uncommon for people to be asked to use critical thinking or complex problem solving at work. And if work doesn’t involve movement, which is increasingly the case, they’re missing the opportunity to bring that level of complexity into movement.
The reason it’s beneficial to bring movement back in is the effect on longevity, healthy hormones and brain chemistry. Kids are in touch with this. Kids at APEX will say to us: “This is what makes me happy—because if I’m not moving, I’m not happy.”
Moving is the advice I have. As much as a healthy diet, a dosage of movement matters. If you’re like, “What’s one thing I can do?” Just move.
Do you allow yourself to live in an environment where there are so many restrictions on your general movement that if you were put in a room and told “just move,” you wouldn’t be able to? You can do that exercise right now. Ask yourself: If I said, “Just move,” what would you do?
Most Americans in that situation (and perhaps people in the rest of the world) won’t know what to do. They’ll freeze. They won’t understand. They’ll ask for a chair. There are so many blocks in there.
No one in our environment would say freedom of thought is bad. No one should—and I think generally people would react negatively to that. But when we restrict movement, people are okay with it.
There’s definitely something to be said about over-domesticating humans. We know if you keep some species of animals in cages, they just die. We know that if you keep people in boxes, they generally become depressed.
Sounds like the restrictions are often self-imposed—thinking “exercise” has to be like this or that.
Exactly. What’s the first thing someone will tell you?
“Oh, it’s New Year’s, so I’ve got to get in shape. I’ve got to join a gym. I’ve got to find a personal trainer who’s going to make me lose weight—who’s going to make me look the way I want to look.”
So they “need” an expert—and equipment. Plus, they’ve probably spent days, weeks or months preparing for the “perfect” time to actually start moving.
They’ve incurred all this cost—not only opportunity cost, but economic cost from buying all these clothes, seeking out an instructor, joining a gym.
These things really complement people who have a particular interest and focus. But we use them as barriers before we just move.
If you don’t just move first, you don’t even know what you want.
If movement’s about more than just “working out,” where does it fit with the rest of life?
Movement doesn’t belong separate from culture in life.
People are like: “What am I supposed to do?” Okay. Is movement absent from your life? Well then, increase the percentage. What percentage of your day is spent moving? If that’s not significant, increase it. That’s important.
And making it part of your culture is important. Just walk. Just go out and play. Turn off the smart phones. Just go outside. Roll around. Play with your kids. Do something.
It doesn’t have to be this thing where: “Now I’m in movement mode. Now I’ve got my spandex on and whatever accessory I’m carrying with me, and I’m finally ready to do a very specific activity.” It doesn’t have to be that formal, and it shouldn’t be.
Building a culture and a community that you care about—and where they move too—makes it more permissible. So build the culture. Be the example.
If you’re in an environment where movement is constrained, fight for movement rights. Make movement accessible not only culturally, but economically.
We see poor people who are put in institutions (it used to be factories; I feel like now it’s call centers) and treated like livestock. They move from a drywall box in their apartment to the box in their car to the box where they work to the box where they eat to the box where they take their kids to the box where they live when they go home. They are surrounded by drywall sadness all day long. That’s what we need to fix.
Movement advocacy is about creating environments that are movement friendly. Once we have that, we can start to think about types of movement we might want to specialize in. But we’ve gone too far with structure in our institutions.
I hope people are saying: “You know what—I don’t need someone to tell me how to move. And I should move more. That would probably make me happier. But whether it does or not, I’m just going to do it.”
Try walking. If you’re walking already, try running. Try sprinting. If you’re running and sprinting, try darting and climbing. If you’re climbing and that’s fun, try jumping. Try rolling. Try something like parkour or martial arts or dance and go from there.
And you? Did you always have a movement practice, or did it evolve over time?
There’s no perfect movement, but there’s definitely a scale. With things that are over-specialized, like organized sports, at age 6 you’re already being groomed to be a college athlete. So you’re either on that track or you’re not doing the sport at all.
When I grew up, I wasn’t domesticated when it came to movement. I was raised on a farm. I was raised playing with animals and climbing on roofs. Then I went to school in China where I studied martial arts, where there was a lot of free and changing movements. So I’ve always had this exposure and was always known as being the one climbing on shelves or who wouldn’t wear shoes in school.
I did all these sorts of things that the typical person who’s accepted rules in relation to movement would not.
Really, it’s been self-discovery that brought me to this. I’ve asked myself: Why haven’t I been happy in modern institutions? Later on, I observed the institutionalization of movement. In sports…in schools. And I had an emotional conflict with it.
Reflecting on these conflicts brought me to the point of feeling we have the right to move. I’m trying to create an environment that’s interesting, inspirational and encouraging to get you to move. That’s my goal.
If you’re static and increase your movement in whatever capacity, that’s the goal.
What about eating? Does that affect your movement practice?
For me, I tend to really fall off and eat whatever’s in front of me when I’m the most stressed or I’m the least happy, and that’s when I’m in an environment that’s movement restricted.
I don’t have to be throwing down huge jumps and doing flips off desks in my office. I mean, don’t tempt me! But I don’t need that level. I certainly need to be able to sit on the floor. I need to be able to squat. I need to be able to stretch at my desk. I need to be able to hang.
When I have that, the food choices I make are better.
When I go through really active periods, I can mow through whatever I get my hands on as long as my staples (like 80 percent of what I eat) are grass-fed fats, grass-fed meats and vegetables—typically organic but I don’t discriminate, because I just want to get them in.
When it comes to carbs, I avoid gluten for the most part. It just doesn’t react well with my stomach, and I get cloudy cognition. I just don’t do well with it.
A typical day for me starts with bulletproof coffee, and I can operate on that until noon. I’ve experienced really good benefits from it, which I think mostly comes from the intermittent fasting and healthy fats.
When I started introducing grass-fed butter as part of breakfast, whether in tea or coffee, I started realizing effects in cognition I hadn’t before. Memory retention increased. My ability to form effective ideas increased. Absolutely observable in three days after starting on it.
Now that we’ve heard from Travis, I’d love to hear what role movement plays in your life.
Is it planned…or spontaneous?
Does it affect how you feel…or how you eat?
Are you eating and moving the way your body wants to eat and move? Please share!
And if you want support with that, you might consider working with me one-on-one.
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