How natural movement became a fitness trend
In many areas of life, we feel an expectation to be superhuman. From career to social circles to fitness goals, the pressure to push boundaries can be overwhelming. But for a refreshing new twist, the fitness trend of natural movement takes the emphasis back to the very thing we’re best at: being human.
Photo by Lydia Elise Millen; Lydia wears Adrenaline Run Capris, Home Straight Run Tank and Attitude Sleeveless Hoody
Natural movement is a new category in group and individual exercise that aims to reverse time and restore the full range of motion that humankind enjoyed before the advent of desk-based jobs and largely immobile lifestyles. Using primarily bodyweight for resistance, it also tests your ability to perform basic agility drills from crawling to jumping. The result is a challenging full-body workout that engages both your brain and your body for an intense and immersive experience like no other.
And there are different iterations of natural movement to attract everyone. At the fore of the trend is luxury fitness chain Equinox, with two unique classes within the category. Deep EXtreme is described as the “barefoot cardio training of the future” and incorporates multi-directional moving, swinging and flying. Downward dogs segue into mountain climbers, with leading US online health magazine WellandGood.com comparing it to a “super sweaty vinyasa bootcamp”. Equinox’ Animal Flow class follows a similar format, taking the pace down slightly and placing a greater emphasis on bodyweight training to strengthen and tone the body.
Emerging from Switzerland under the direction of expert trainer Robert Steinbacher is a dynamic dance conditioning fusion known as BodyArt, which is also becoming increasingly prevalent on top studio timetables. New York fitness centre Brooklyn Zoo specialises in precisely this fusion of natural movement disciplines. Under one roof you can dabble in parkour, obstacle jumping, trampolining, gymnastics, dance, acrobatics, balance and krav maga – or any combination of the above.
A historic discipline in its own right, yoga is also advancing the art of natural movement. Indaba Yoga in London runs a Space and Flow class that fuses contemporary dance with martial arts and centers the vinyasa sequences around mobility of the spine and the power of the breath.
Photo by Arved Colvin-Smith for Skinny Bitch Collective
Some trainers are reversing evolution even further and incorporating quadrupedal movements into workouts. In the UK, Russell Bateman of the model-frequented Skinny Bitch Collective (SBC) champions signature moves like the bear crawl and scorpion kick. With fast-paced transitions between full-body compound movements, his heart-racing classes have become a favourite with clients who demand fast results from compact sessions. As of today, these workouts will also become available online via "The SBC Experience": Russell's first offical fitness videos.
Throwing strict rules out the window and embracing natural movement to help you excel in functional movement, this is a trend that’s destined to evolve. Share your natural movement workouts with Sweaty Betty on Twitter and Instagram and tell us how you’re learning to excel at being human.