So a common question I get is: "There's so much to do with Movement Training, i'm overwhelmed. Where should I start?"
First things first, when you start on any journey, you need to figure out where you want to go. Another thing you want to know is, where you are now - but more on this later.
Without this crucial information, you are comparable to a millennial tourist lost in the Serengeti desert with a flat smartphone battery. Not ideal.
I advocate a top down approach to begin with, so that you have something in your head to look forward to and aim towards. Once we have that, we will work from there to get you to your goals and aspirations. Because if you start with no vision, you won't have much incentive to do what it takes to keep moving forward.
I've created a simple Worksheet with sections so you can write down all of the notes from the exercises in this article. It will help create the bigger picture for your movement practice. You can download it here:
So, where do you want to be or go?
Simply starting with "I want to be good at movement" isn't enough. Movement Training is way too broad a concept to have as a starting point in in of itself. It could mean anything from being able to draw circles with your big toe all the way to slithering across the floor, or flailing around in space with some degree of control. Movement is everywhere, everyday. So we need to think a little bit more specifically about it.
To do that, let's try to get rid of any definitions you've seen or heard anyone else say regarding movement training. Just leave all that at the door for now. This is about creating your vision and what you want to achieve.
Take 2 minutes right now to deeply think about the concept of movement and whatever that means to you. Imagine you're watching a movie of yourself moving and continue to visualize that in your mind, now.
You should have gotten at least a few snapshot ideas in your mind of what movement looked like for you, no matter how expansive. Perhaps you got a particular movement or a sequence of abstract movements. Maybe you simply visualized some broad attributes like softness, or continuous movement. Maybe you found yourself inverting or holding a particular shape.
Using this quick exercise, I suggest trying to come up with at least 4 different benchmarks or vector points before you move onto the next part. If you didn't, keep repeating the exercise until you have your 4 benchmarks singled out. No matter how broad.
Once you have your 4 benchmarks written down, double check with yourself to make sure it's something that you are genuinely relating to and that you truly desire. It's important that any goals and benchmarks you find out as a result of this, are actually meaningful to you. Otherwise, your unlikely to be consistent with it. Think about the why.
This will help you develop a strong personal sense of what you intend to do and achieve.
Some good traits to be aware of and address at the very beginning include:
Take some time to figure out and answer all of these questions. Again use the worksheet I've provided to write them down because in the next section, when you decide how to go about starting your journey it will be useful to have what you wrote handy.
Also if you're going to ask for help, you'll very likely have to revisit your notes and share them with whoever you recruit to help you.
*Important* I would heavily recommend addressing any current injuries with adequate professional advice before embarking on your Movement Training Journey. Developing a vision of where you want to go should serve as a good incentive to get back to good health.
Let's put everything together to create the final part of your process and figure out where a good place for you to start would be.
When it comes to your practice, an important factor to think about is also other people. When you were thinking about movement, did you visualize or see other people around. Are you comfortable with touch? This will also help categorize a good starting point.
There are classes for pretty much anything out there, so this is generally a good place to start and get a feel for what you might enjoy. Using all of the information you've collected from the article, you can start thinking of a suitable one to start with:
The options are broad. There is a plethora of different martial arts to chose from also. Tai-chi, Bagua, Wushu, all offering different flavors of movement, individuality and interaction.
Going to classes will allow you to experience a lot of what that discipline has to offer. Once you've spent a bit of time with it, you might find that you enjoy certain elements of particular classes more than others. You might like the warm up from a yoga class, but then move onto some gymnastics skill training and finish with a form from your Tai-chi class. The more experience you gather, the more you will be able to add to your portfolio of movement training. Overtime you will have create your own practice and preferences.
1:1 Movement Training / Online Coaching:
If classes still seem like too broad of a landscape, you can also go down the slightly more personalized route here with 1:1 Training or Online Coaching. You can directly communicate all of the information you've gathered here, or any thoughts and ideas you had about Movement Training to your trainer. He or she should be able to program sessions and train you according to your particular goals and needs.
If you've read all of that and thought to yourself "I can already see how I want to move and I just want to get on with it but I don't have the time to train myself." Then this is also the route to go down. There are loads of trainers out there, so you'll have to be picky and look around for one that you connect with and inspires you.
A good place to look is social media, particularly Instagram because It provides an overview of what trainers offers. You can have a quick look at their page and message them to see if they are right for you.
1:1 Training and Online Movement Coaching nowadays are great ways of starting out on your movement/strength/flexibility journey.
Generally speaking, you won't have to spend time and resources sieving through information trying to figure out the best way to do things, that's the trainers job. If they've done their homework properly, they should come equipped with multiple tools and ways of skinning the cat.
Workshops are great to delve into wider concepts. If you are quite autonomous and self motivated, they can also be a great supplement to your own training. You will generally get exposed to certain concepts and wider methodologies which you can then dissect and implement into your practice.
They are lengthier and more substantial than one off classes. Another good thing with workshops is that you will also start from the beginning like everyone else, and usually be taken through the particular concept from start to finish. Albeit, it will be a condensed account. But you will avoid starting in the middle of a specific training period depending on the class or discipline. Classes can sometimes be fragmented.
Self training is also a very viable option if you have the time and self reliance. There is lots of free material out there on the internet for you to look through and learn from. You'll just have to tune your bullshit detector up to the max, and you might find that things can take a little longer this way. But it's a worthwhile effort.
It might all seem a little overwhelming, but it's a process. You didn't turn 10 years old and suddenly know exactly what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. It is a process.
When all is said and done, I recommend trying a bit of everything at the start regardless of what you're preferences are. Even if you train with a coach. There are a lot of benefits and a lot to be learnt from going out of your comfort zone and experiencing various different movement patterns, skills and concepts.
As with anything else, you will likely have to work hard and go through challenging processes in your practice in order to progress and get the most out of it. Don't think you're gonna come along to a couple of classes or 1:1's and come out the other side moving like Cyril Raffaelli. It just doesn't work like that.
Finally if you've got any injuries on your list, you've got to address those before anything by seeking appropriate medical help. If you feel you are lacking strength or flexibility, it's also worth working on those attributes from the beginning.
You can also have a look at my blog post on lower limb strength/flexibility here, and if you haven't already, download my Free Handstand E-Book Here. It's a good start.
And that's it good people. All the best on your movement training quest, if you have any more questions, you can drop me an e-mail using the contact form at the bottom of the page.
Movement Teacher and practitioner.