During my recent visit to Moorea, French Polynesia, I met a physical education teacher, Jody Grosma, who taught at the island's agricultural school. We were training no-gi jiu-jitsu together at a cool little outdoor fare (open air structure) dojo he'd built outside his home on the beach. We loved talking training with each other and were pleased to discover our health and exercise philosophies had much in common.
Jody mentioned that while getting his physical education degree in France, he'd studied the "Methode Hebert" of natural movement exercise. Now, I'm extremely well-read on the subject of old-time training systems and I've always based my own training on pre-1950's systems. This is because of the specter of performance-enhancing drugs. You have to be suspicious of so-called "results-producing" post-1960's protocols because the results of the adherents may be tainted by drug use but as a natural athlete I can completely trust exercise systems of the mighty men of old.
There were some kick-ass dudes way back during the times of our grandparents and great-grandparents who didn't have access to so much as a Flintstone vitamin, yet they produced stunningly, incredible, athletic results, coupled with superior health.
The physiques of these men, and few brave, pioneering women, were more in line with the ancient Greek ideals of body proportion and symmetry. It was health first, in their regimens; performance second, and increased aesthetics were the result of the first two. It seems to be the reverse today: everyone's after the "six-pack look" with little thought for optimal health. Anyway, despite having read volumes of old books, I'd never yet heard of Georges Hebert.
I was greatly intrigued and did some quick internet research...with happy results! I discovered that Georges Hebert, a physical culturist of the late 19th century, was the father of many exercise systems, some still in use to this day. While the French, unfortunately, never took him as seriously as they ought to have, the Germans put his ideas to work and used his methods in molding their elite fighting troops, such as the SS. My own Maxercise exercise system is virtually identical to the Herbert Method. Naturally, I found this pleasing. Great minds think alike!
I've always striven to meet the standard set during the Golden Age of Greece. My version of the natural exercise movement system is based on the same ten movement patterns:
- various crawls upon all fours
- lifting heavy objects
There is a growing trend away from this unfortunate norm. On my trek across the United States, I was invited to visit Gym Jones, in Salt Lake City UT, owned and operated by Mark and Lisa Twight. Mark and Lisa trained the cast for the movie 300, and designed the original 300 workout. Mark, a world-class climber, developed an array of amazing apparatus for body weight climbing, pulling and pushing. I've never seen so many different pull-up bars in my life! Lisa is an excellent martial artist and works as a trainer on movie sets. Both Mark and Lisa are both stellar examples of their own philosophy.
Another awesome gym is the Monkey Bar Gym in Madison WI, owned by my good friend, Jon Hinds an inventor extraordinaire of many unique fitness devices, including my beloved Lifeline Jungle Gym. At the Monkey Bar Gym, there are neither music, mirrors nor machines. The single machine permitted is the human body. Their system of exercise is nearly identical to my own. What do I like best? No shoes allowed! The Monkey Bar Gym emphasizes foot and ankle development through barefoot training--nature's way.
Both Gym Jones and the Monkey Bar Gym hearken back to the ancient athletic principles that built men like the Spartans and the gladiators.
If you want to learn more about the Maxercise system, get thee nigh to the Underground Gym in Edison NJ Saturday 12 July for a day of heavy, natural sweat and good times. click here.
If you're a trainer, want to be a trainer--or look like one--I'm presenting a body weight exercise certification at Maxercise, in Philadelphia, 20 July. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and get yourself on the list.
I'd be so pleased to show you what I've learned over 36 years as a trainer! Hope to see you there.