What is Movement Culture? Beginner Training with Ido Portal

movement culture
Image by Matthew Ragan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

What is movement culture? What training is suitable for a beginner? and what does Ido Portal say? It's quite difficult to pin down what movement culture is as there isn't exactly one authority or one fixed position, as it grows and adapts. I'd say that it's a collective that has built on top of functional training, incorporating new aspects: like play, community, and natural movements, such as barefoot work. It's also about a path rather than a goal: it's about self-exploration, self-expression, and constant learning, about all aspects of movement from all disciplines.

It's also a practice that's careful to restore the basics of movement and mobility in those that have dysfunction, before trying sophisticated or challenging movement.

If you want to make a start in movement culture, you can begin with a foundation of functional training with a few modifications, such as some restorative exercises and stretches. You might also try various different movement practices: dance, yoga, boxing, or BJJ, for example.

Functional Training with Michael Boyle

Functional training is training for a particular function. It can be different depending on the function; for example functional training for a 70-year-old to help them climb stairs will be different from the functional training for an Olympic athlete needing to shave some time off of their 100m sprint. Similarly functional training within movement culture can differ depending on the individual. But there are key aspects to functional training for sports that are important to all.

  • Functional training is not sports specific but is movement general
  • Functional training emphasises stability and a strong core
  • Functional training is about improving physical conditioning
  • Functional training is about pre-hab (prehabilitation), practice that protects the individual from future injury, strengthens joints , and rehabilitates dysfunction or imbalances
  • Functional training favours compound movement weight training over isolation exercises
  • Functional training works on proprioception through balance exercises

Nutritious Movement

You are what you eat and you are how you move: Katy Bowman's approach to movement is like having a healthy diet: it's nutrition based. In other words, there are movements that are nourishing to our bodies and protective of our health. Katy is a biomechanical scientist with some very interesting things to say. She has a focus on the following.

  • Mobility fundamentals - gaining the basic mobility that should be common to us all
  • Strength and flexibility - tight muscles are weak muscles
  • Macro nutrients - hanging, walking, carrying, squatting
  • Micro nutrients - physio exercises, stretches, with a focus on common dysfunctions caused by modern living, especially feet, hands, rounded forward shoulders, etc.
  • All day movement over periodic intense exercise, don't be active sedentary
  • Using muscle contractions to move blood and lymph through the body
  • Removing casts - sitting, shoes: bad habits / patterns are all damaging to the body, like wearing a cast that limits movement and causes the muscles to atrophy
  • Exercise is not going to fix your body - if all you do is jog your movement diet is missing many key nutrients
  • Fixing the squat
  • Movement is required to remain healthy at all ages, from babies to goldeners (people in their golden years)

Ido Portal

Ido Portal is a force of nature and he is probably why many are currently interested in movement culture. Ido is inspiring but unfortunately he hasn't presented his current thinking systematically in the form of a book or other resource and his seminars are too expensive for many. Therefore, it's worth mastering the basics of functional training and restorative exercises before seeing Ido himself. There is much that he does say and we can glean the following:

  • All movement is relevant - not one thing, not dance, not karate but everything
  • Fitness people are the worst movers (they are non-functional movers with poor mobility)
  • Focus on mobility - movements over exercises
  • Embracing chaos - training the nervous system to react, training proprioception: don't just do a perfect lunge on a balance board but catch a falling stick so that your lunge is chaotic and different everytime - a "real world" lunge - a step beyond functional training
  • Build a movement community
  • Emphasise the importance of play
  • Movement culture is more like a path than a goal
  • Create a dialogue and exchange between different types of movers
  • A mover is someone willing to learn from all movement pursuits and disciplines and who wishes to understand the body, health, and performance, both physical, psychological, and artistic
  • Periods of focussed learning on different aspects of movement are important - personal projects and goals
  • Movement is for everyone, no matter the age
  • Beginners should focus on correcting the form of their bodyweight squat and on hanging

The Edythe Heus and Marv Morinovich Training System

Videos to Loop for ISCN from Edythe Heus on Vimeo.

Edythe Heus, a chiropractor working in rehabilitation, and Marv Morinovich, a famous sports conditioning coach and former athlete, created a functional training system which works the nervous system, through balance exercises, and improves muscle flexibility and explosive power potential. The system emphasises the following:

  • Movement over muscles
  • Prehab - strengthening joints, fixing imbalances
  • Power through plyometrics
  • Get the whole body in balance - work on weaknesses - often hands and feet
  • Get the body working as a whole, as one
  • Proprioception through balance

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