The other day I showed a YouTube MovNat video clip to one of my sons, noting the serious fitness of Erwan Le Corre. I also noted that the stunts were somewhat dangerous, and that they tried to replicate some of the movements that our Paleolithic ancestors had to do on a regular basis. That is, those movements are part of what one could call a primal workout.
My son looked at me and laughed, as if asking me if I was really being serious. Why? Well, he is into breakdancing (a.k.a. b-boying), and also does a bit of something called "free running". If you don’t know what free running is, take a look at this Wikipedia article.
Here are a couple of YouTube video clips on free running: clip 1, and clip 2. The moves do look a lot more hardcore than the ones on the MovNat video clip. (The reason for my son's reaction.) But, to be fair, the environments and goals are different. And, in terms of danger, some of these free running moves are really at the high end of the scale.
And, if you are interested, here are a couple of instructional YouTube video clips prepared by my sons: this one by my oldest, and this by my second oldest. (We have four children.) I have been telling them to be careful with those “airchairs” – the moves where all the weight is placed on one hand. It just looks like too much pressure on the joints of one single arm.
Two of the things that I like the most about primal workouts like the MovNat ones are the variety of movements, and the proximity to nature. Those two elements can potentially help with sticking to an exercise program in the long run, which is what matters most. Most people get very bored of exercising after a few months. Free running seems to be more competitive, and more dangerous.
Both free running and primal workouts are practiced by some people as their main form of exercise. In those cases, they appear to lead to body types that are similar to those of the hunter-gatherers on this post. I cannot help but notice that those body types are more like that of a sprinter than that of a typical bodybuilder.
The feats that those body types enable are feats of relative, not absolute, strength. This makes sense, as our Paleolithic ancestors were too smart to hunt prey or fight off predators (or even each other) with their bare hands. Spears and stones were formidable weapons. Paleolithic ancestors who were very adept at using weapons would probably be like skilled gunfighters in the American Old West – menacing, with the advantage of being able to use their skills to feed themselves and others.
Being lean, strong, and agile – all at the same time – arguably was one of the keys to survival in the Paleolithic.