I have a question: why won't people trust what is natural?
I speak to many people about diet. I tell them to eat as natural food as possible. They then eye me suspiciously, "what, you mean organic food?" Well, yes, I tell them, amongst other things. I mean food that comes out of the ground without having been doused in chemicals, and food that hasn't been synthetically produced in a lab (squeezy cheese for example). I can then see them mentally picturing the alluring, succulent yet symmetrically perfect, aestheticlly pleasing vegetables on one side of the supermarket versus the mishapen, funny-coloured mysterious looking offerings on the other and thinking, "ugh, no thanks!"
The same goes for exercise. I encourage my clients to get outside in the fresh air, to move their bodies as they were designed to move and to enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with it. Why would you want anything different? But people do. They want to look good and think they can only achieve this by pushing themselves to the limit. They would rather stand inside a sweaty, man-made gym in front of a mirror watching their biceps contract and relax as they grimace through yet another set of curls rather than work their biceps (and many other muscles at the same time) by climbing a tree, for example. After all, everyone knows that working yourself to your heart pounding, sweat dripping limits whilst hating every minute of it is the only way to achieve fitness, right?
Unfortunately, this is what we're told every day when we're bombarded with adverts for gym membership and all the paraphernalia that accompanies the gym world, such as special shoes, clothing, gadgets, etc. I would argue, though, that the fittest people are those that get outside and tackle nature (check out Erwan Le Corre at movnat.com). You get some strange looks when you train like this though. David and I were practising some movement therapy up in Crystal Palace Park a few days ago - rolls, headstands and handstands, pull-ups on tree branches - and received several puzzled, amused/bemused glances. I think it's weird that people run inside on a treadmill which takes them exactly.....nowhere.
I'm not saying that gyms and the modern ways of "keeping fit" do not have their place. Sometimes it is safer indoors, it can be much easier to rehab an injury in a more controlled environment.
But, as a society, we have been conditioned to trust the artificial and be very wary of the natural and I find that really scary. That's why I'm so pleased about what's beginning to happen in the fitness world. Or, the "mainstream" fitness world, I should say. Just as there are many people out there who've always eaten natural food, growing their own veg and eating healthily, there are people who've always followed a more simple way of training and never stopped climbing trees, doing acrobatics and so forth. Martial artists particularly fit into this category. This type of body conditioning is becoming wider-spread now though and indivdiuals are starting to question their exercise methods; question what they've been told by the fitness media.
I don't think we'll ever revert back to the way human beings used to live - chasing and killing their own meat, eating only fresh foods without additives and preservatives. Most of us wouldn't want to. The goal is to find a balance so that you can maintain a healthily functioning body well into later life without actually ostracizing yourself from society.
So, keep an open mind, keep the questions coming, find a balance and remember: nature knows best!