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Kelly Starrett: In this episode of the Ready State Podcast, we are thrilled to have old friend Erwan Le Corre. Erwan is the founder of MovNat, which is a coaching method, fitness program, certification system for the field of natural movement. Truly encompasses exercise, fitness, functional rehab and even physical education.
Kelly Starrett: Growing up in France, Erwan spent his time outside exploring nature and throughout his life, he’s trained in every discipline imaginable from martial arts, to Olympic lifting, long distance triathlons and Combat Vital.
Kelly Starrett: Synthesizing his years of training, his passion for natural movement, MovNat was born. Erwan believes it’s everyone’s universal and biological birthright to be strong, healthy, happy and free. He calls this state of being our true nature. Enjoy this conversation with Erwan Le Corre. Erwan, welcome to the Ready State Podcast, such a pleasure to reconnect with you my friend.
Erwan Le Corre: Absolutely Kelly, I’m delighted really.
Kelly Starrett: I think the last time we ran into you was actually … or I ran into you was at in person, at an old Primal Con, Mark Sisson event where you were running around, being a maniac and I was trying to help people untangle musculoskeletal dysfunction and here we are, boom, again on the same team.
Erwan Le Corre: Yeah, exactly, well because we don’t let the team down, number one and that team I believe is those individuals who are really passionate and dedicated about making a difference in people’s lives. And I think it’s a good thing to connect from time to time.
Juliet Starrett: Erwan, we know that you grew up in France and that that really shaped sort of your thinking and philosophy about movement and fitness. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and childhood growing up?
Kelly Starrett: Especially since just for conference or reference since a lot of our community may not know about your movement system, what you’ve done, and sort of the advocacy you’ve been holding, the doors you’ve been holding open for us for over a decade.
Erwan Le Corre: Well, I was indeed born in France, so nobody’s perfect. I have upgraded by becoming a U.S. citizen a few years ago. I’ve been living in the U.S. for 10 years. Indeed, I grew up in France and my corner of the world, the little place where I lived had a fantastic asset, is that it was located nearby hilly woods that had those huge boulders similar to the Mecca of rock climbing in France called Fontainebleau. It’s like it was a little Fontainebleau for people who know.
Erwan Le Corre: So I literally spent half my childhood just being in the woods and moving naturally. And I was lucky that not only my parents would let me without supervision. They would let me spend hours in those woods, but they actually encouraged me to do so. As a matter of fact they somehow hooked me on it by … In my childhood, we’d go on long hikes with my parents and my siblings. And my parents would … especially my dad would push me to climb those rocks, to go higher, to crawl underneath fallen trees, to do all these natural movements, so that was really a blessing.
Erwan Le Corre: And it did like you say Juliet, determine what I do today, played a big role.
Kelly Starrett: You know, we have a mutuaL friend in Gray Cook who we’ve talked to on the podcast before.
Erwan Le Corre: That is true.
Kelly Starrett: And I know you guys are friends. One of the things that this season is obviously about is aging and longevity. But one of the sort of underlying factors that we keep bumping up against is that our modern human selves are somehow sort of out of phase with our environmental historical movement selves. And when I hear you talk about running and climbing.. . I mean you’re actually describing my childhood in the mountains and forests of Germany where we had these amazing trees to climb and mountains to climb.
Kelly Starrett: I really feel like so much of my athleticism developed from just solving play problems as a very young person and I think that ultimately gets expressed out maybe in that…I can hold that thread and narrative all the way to my death. But you guys have really talked about this mismatch, you and Gray between sort of environment and organism. Will you elaborate a little bit on that.
Erwan Le Corre: Today sports have become so specialized, fitness have become so specialized. There is a plethora of physical activities. So most people are not physically active. And when people are … I would say unfortunately they tend to choose activities that are … pardon my French, highly specialized.
Erwan Le Corre: And so what you’re talking about that you experience in your childhood, Kelly is number one, it’s unspecialized natural movement, which is the foundation of all specialized physical activity. There would be no sports if it wasn’t for that universal foundation that we all share which is natural movement, number one.
Erwan Le Corre: And number two, what is so often overlooked in sports but especially in fitness industry, is the interaction with the environment, with the context where our movement skills were originally born, and shaped and evolved. And that is nature, and that is not a romantic idea, it’s a fact. And it’s been spoken about by science, it’s called dynamic systems.
Erwan Le Corre: There are theories about that. Movement ecology also is a new field in science that is really starting to explain why living beings move and how they move, but why it is that they move, whatever. How is movement a strategy for survival or for thriving for every species including any creature, any animals.
Erwan Le Corre: So we’re no different and so there’s a reason why we move naturally, but that natural movement has always to do with some context, some variables of the environment where you move, where the movements are performed. And that is going to influence the way we move through adaptability.
Kelly Starrett: One of the ways we’ve reconnected in the last years, you came out with this gorgeous, gorgeous book, sort of a practice-
Erwan Le Corre: Thank you.
Kelly Starrett: … it called The Practice of Natural Movement. And I have to say it’s a beautiful guidebook into thinking about how we move in space and sort of the root movement language of the human being. And I highly recommend anyone who is a movement nerd or you’re looking and thinking about your development of your children. I mean, pick this thing up, it’s super gorgeous, but it’s also very much a philosophical treaty about how we’ve come to be where we are.
Kelly Starrett: One of the things that I think Juliet and I keep running into is we keep saying the same fact over and over again. For example people are like, “Taking too much tumeric can be bad for you.” And we’re like, “Well, who eats 17 pounds of concentrated tumeric?” And so you know like, “We have to take all this vitamin D.” Well, it turns out if you go in the sun, you make enough vitamin D very quickly.
Kelly Starrett: It seems to me that in the sort of current gym environment, we’re seeing that people are coming to the realization there are these movement deficiencies and yet we’re trying to take a vitamin like approach. Do you think that there’s a more holistic way that we can still specialize and still bike and do what we need, but without having to take all of these vitamins of movement?
Erwan Le Corre: Yeah. Well, what are fitness program really? Fitness programs and any kind of physical activity in fact that is seen as a hobby, as a personal occupation, is a coping mechanism. If you look at it very closely, you understand that most of the time people are physically inactive and when they are physically active, they are nonetheless hyperspecialized.
Erwan Le Corre: So let’s look at what most people do from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. And from the moment they wake up, they are going to stand up and they’re going to walk a few steps and they’re going to sit and then they’re going to stand up again, walk a few steps and go to the next seat to sit longer. They’re going to sit the same way, diverse types of chairs or sofas, whatever it is.
Erwan Le Corre: And this going to be their main physical activity of a day sitting on elevated surfaces. Standing up, walking a few steps with no intensity and probably not a lot of distance and especially not any real challenge from the environment. All the surfaces they are artificial, they’re flat, they’re stable, they are predictable. So basically they’re sterile to the part of our brain that is designed for movement, that takes care of movement, it has no stimulation whatsoever.
Erwan Le Corre: This is nothing else, but a hyperspecialized physical activity that we call-
Juliet Starrett: I never thought of it like that.
Erwan Le Corre: Thank you. Well, that physical idleness, I also call it the movement poverty predicament and that movement poverty predicament literally afflicts everyone. It has nothing to do with your personal identity, your gender, your ethnicity, how much money you got in the bank, none of that. It’s just something that people do without doing and without noticing. It has become what we call normal and something that not only we don’t question, it’s something that we don’t even notice anymore.
Erwan Le Corre: And that is the big problem. We’re supposed to be physically active. We’re supposed to be doing this all the time. So natural movement, it’s an unspecialized, therefore it’s a very versatile practice that reintroduces the original and universal movement behaviors of all humans. Which is what we’ve all experienced when we were kids. We were crawling, rolling, sitting, getting up, finally standing, finally managing to be able to stand before we could even do our first steps, before then we could run, or walk and run and jump and land and hang and climb and do all these natural movements.
Erwan Le Corre: We all have had that experience of natural movement as kids and then what happens that’s taken away from us by limiting conventions of the modern world. My work is all about offering solutions for that.
Juliet Starrett: So, Erwan, you mentioned earlier and just we’re also talking about sort of the pitfalls of sports specialization. We actually did a whole season of our podcast on kid’s health and one of the frequent subjects that came up was the serious amount of sports specializations going on in kids today. I know you’re a father. I imagine that you are trying as hard as you can to keep your own children from being sports specialized, but I just wanted you to comment on what you’re seeing in sports specialization in kids generally and how you’re managing that in your own family.
Erwan Le Corre: You’re right. I am not too inclined in … I’m not pushing my kids in any way to start talking up any specialized sports at the age of 5, and 6, and 10. And the reason is I believe strongly in that foundation of natural movement from a motor skill development perspective, from a physiological health perspective, there are windows of physiological and neurological development that can’t be missed.
Erwan Le Corre: And I’m not saying that specialized activity would necessarily interfere with that. But I would certainly try to not take away from my children to look at the big picture. And they’re actually very skilled at this. They are very talented at this. My belief is that every kid is really if you let them follow their innate drive for natural movement. Then they will do all these movements, they will vault over your couch. They will climb on your table and jump off of it.
Erwan Le Corre: And they will see … even indoors, even if you confine them in indoors artificial environments, they will find a way to reclaim their natural movement behavior. I like to show that to my children. We spend a lot of time outside. I don’t teach them yet. Actually it’s exactly true that the older one, I start to give her cues about techniques and she pays more attention. And when she realizes, “Oh my God, this works. This makes my movement better.”
Erwan Le Corre: I know that that might have be a discovery she could have made on her own, but maybe not. In any case, mimicry is a very, very important way, very effective way to teach your children what you want them to do. How you want them to physically behave. You got to show them, you got to be leading that example and by example. So that’s what my wife and I we do. We go on the beach, there is a driftwood and where we can balance on, we going to do that.
Erwan Le Corre: We going to take our shoes, we going to be barefoot and we now either a hike or literally run on rocky, muddy single tracks. We going to do all these things and just kids follow along. They get it, they understand that language of natural movement.
Juliet Starrett: So true. It’s really just so fundamental for kids and it’s sad that it’s getting lost somehow in all this crazy technology world. Talking about kids is one of my favorite subjects, but of course this season is about aging and longevity. And assuming that most of our listeners are people who probably as adults are doing something pretty sports specialized like CrossFitting or going to the gym every day.
Juliet Starrett: What would be your recommendation to sort of your average gym going person who’s active, but doesn’t really have any sort of natural movement in their lives? What would you recommend they start doing or how could they add a little bit of this into their lives?
Erwan Le Corre: Well, my first recommendation would be to start implementing some of those natural movements in your day-to-day life. And obviously it would be great if you could arrange specific sessions say in your week, the same way you arrange specific sessions for whichever physical activity you like. If you could do that for natural movement, that’s great. But if you could start with implementing, reintroducing those lost forgotten, we may even say endangered natural movements in your day-to-day life, that would be a huge change.
Erwan Le Corre: So let me give you an example. When is the last time that you found yourself in a deep squat or moving on all fours or doing get-ups? Like getting up from the ground, not from a seat, from the ground, from the floor and getting back down and standing back up using your hands, using both hands, using one hand, using no hands. All these simple low-intensity movements that are absolutely overlooked by pretty much … except for you guys because you know what’s up, you know what’s the good stuff.
Erwan Le Corre: But pretty much every fitness program in the world just doesn’t tell you, “Hey, when you’re home, you’ve got to implement those movements. You got to check out your overall physical behavior and movement behavior.” No, they want to tell you, “Hey, salvation, physiological, physical functional salvation is in the gym. Right? That’s where we going to teach you real stuff and like we going to do the real stuff, get you real results and all.”
Erwan Le Corre: What’s true is that you going to get results in the gym, but what’s not true is that there is hope outside of the gym. There is a whole life outside of the gym. You can be amazing outside of the gym. And actually if you’re to do that, if you’re to have … we like to call them movement snacks. I believe it’s Frank Forencich who came up with that metaphor one day where you have those movement breaks instead of having a break where you basically be more idle somewhere else.
Erwan Le Corre: You’re going to take a physically active break, a movement break and you may not need any equipment, any program to do a few get-up and get-downs, to spend some time in a deep squat, to hang. And we have a variety of many, many forms of hanging. If you have access to even a tree branch or whatever metal bar. A 2 x 4 in your house, in your background would enable you to do a variety of very, very important balancing movements.
Erwan Le Corre: And all these movements by the way require and stimulate mobility, balance, coordination, physiological health, function, all of that. So if you do that, you will notice a change in the way you feel and the way you move. You will notice a change in the way you perform at the gym. It’s so really full of goodness.
Juliet Starrett: Well, you know, I don’t want to get too sciencey because that’s not my area of expertise as we talked about earlier. But I do know and Kelly can correct me that being able to get up and down off the ground and I think without touching your hands on the ground is a predictor of overall mortality or longevity or something. I mean, am I getting that right, Kelly?
Kelly Starrett: That’s right.
Juliet Starrett: So it turns out if you want to be good at that you should probably practice it.
Erwan Le Corre: Yeah exactly. So it’s a Brazilian study that was indeed … that did prove that having the ability to get up and down from a sit position to standing and back to the floor without using your hands and I believe without even using a knee, not even using your knees. If you can do that it’s a predictor of greater longevity..
Kelly Starrett: I was just say you’re stimulating so many of the ideas for me. One is that one of the things that we’ve seen in the modern gym culture age, is it’s easy to quantify things in the gym. It’s easy to see and even our most elite throwing coaches out there, who have worked with the best track and field athletes, even they have realized there’s a diminishing return. It’s like you need to go throw more, you don’t need to bench more.
Kelly Starrett: And one of the things that we’ve seen I think even in the modern CrossFit age is that CrossFit in the gym has given us a way where we’ve taken our most athletic beings our most competent movers in the world. People who could problem solve and skateboard and swim and jump and bike and play well, taking them into the gym and they actually look like terrible athletes. Because they can’t just generate the most wattage or move the most pound or do the most work.
Kelly Starrett: There’s almost those things are anathema and that the intersections where we see that athletic development layered on to then real capacity training for specific goal really led to the best outcome. But it’s easy to sort of accidentally conflate gym prowess with the ability to move. And I think that maybe is that heart of the matter. Sometimes, it’s hard to track-
Erwan Le Corre: It’s very true.
Kelly Starrett: … progress of natural movement.
Erwan Le Corre: No, actually it’s not hard to track progress with natural movement for the simple fact that pretty much everything is measurable. Except let’s say how relaxed you feel, how confident you feel, how quick you are at assessing a specific challenge, movement problem that you get it solved in the gym, in the field and especially in nature when you move. All these are somehow immeasurable aspects of performance and yet there are tremendously important aspects of performance.
Erwan Le Corre: Now, we’re talking here about movement competency.
Erwan Le Corre: So what you were talking about was movement capacity because that’s what is mostly emphasized in every gym and with most gym programs, fitness programs CrossFit being one of them. It’s an observation. They do practice skills as well, but most importantly they focus on capacity, strength conditioning, metabolic conditioning, all of that.
Erwan Le Corre: Now, the truth is that physical capability is neither one or the other. It’s not just competency, motor skills. It’s not just capacity, strength, power, etc, which are physiological adaptations, it’s both. So you’ve got to train both. And with that idea that everything needs to be isolated and compartmentalized in our life and obviously in sports and in gyms and physical education, the result of that is that we have to do so many diverse trainings and routines to feel that we are becoming complete for instance as an athlete.
Erwan Le Corre: And with natural movement and MovNat method, you have everything at the same time because they work symbiotically. You do just like a … it’s the martial arts approach to natural movement, it’s mixed natural movements.
Erwan Le Corre: So when you go to a dojo and sensei is now going to tell you, “Listen, yeah, I would love to train you but you don’t look very strong, kind of weak, skinny or something or overweight, whatever it is. You want to go to the gym, come back in one year, get fit, I’ll start training … I’ll start teaching you techniques.”
Erwan Le Corre: That’s not how it works. You start learning techniques, you improve movement quality and you improve motor skills, you become better at movement. Already in that process, you have already improved your capacity. You are already becoming stronger. All the connections, all the tissues are improving in your body and then it’s much more progressive, it’s not flashy super-fast results, it’s more progressive.
Erwan Le Corre: And then it’s a long-term approach that is progress, but they’re also much more safer than going all out all the time for the sake of capacity. And when you translate that to sports, then you forget that before anything, every specialized sports has to do with very specialized movements. And if all you do is being obsessed with capacity, you might actually impair those skills and that’s a mistake that has been observed over and over and over and has ruined careers and stuff like that.
Erwan Le Corre: So my proposition is that you are a non-mover, but doesn’t exist actually. But that you are a person who’s out of shape, doesn’t really move much or that you are a highly specialized athlete. Everybody will gain at recovering a movement behavior, a physical behavior that is much more versatile and much more natural.
Kelly Starrett: And one of the things that I really love that you hear us say that hey, even if you are wedded to your Peloton bike. You love it. That it’s so easy to integrate sort of this way of thinking into your environment by moving a little bit, by playing a little bit, even just thinking about how you’re interacting sort of with your day-to-day environment.
Kelly Starrett: One of my favorite books is by a guy named Phillip Beach which is called Muscles and Meridians, really tries to integrate embryology with sort of how humans move and what that says about us. And one of his concepts is that sitting on the ground, being in some of these primal shapes, kneeling, crawling, they’re self-tuning methods of the body.
Kelly Starrett: The body is such a complex system that yet it does seek self-tuning and as we rip out sitting on the floor or balance and play, we lose a lot of this, the roots, sort of gasoline that drives the engine of longevity, of balance, of feeling stable. Would you agree with that?
Erwan Le Corre: Absolutely. The way I put it is that if in most cases … because that’s in most cases, a lack of natural movement, and by natural movement I mean all these patterns, crawling, jumping, landing, balancing, stepping in so many diverse ways, hanging, climbing, doing all these. What young kids do before they’re told, “Hey, that’s not the proper way to exercise.” If we could do this, but when we don’t … and that’s most people and that’s happening for many years or decades and it causes so many physiological functional issues and ailments.
Erwan Le Corre: So if a lack of movement, versatility, variability, frequency is the cause for so many physical ailments, wouldn’t it make sense that reintroducing frequency versatility, variability in your movement behavior should be the cure, could be the antidote.
Erwan Le Corre: And if on top of that you were to do that and on top of that, you were to add some of the solutions that you Kelly have developed, that could be a very, very incredibly potent cocktail, if I may say. A remedy to that predicament which is movement poverty and all the adverse effects on our health function, physiology, feeling, wellbeing, all of that. That would be beautiful.
Juliet Starrett: So, Erwan, we’ve had both Mark Sisson and Gabby Reece on the podcast and they both incorporate a ton of training that looks like playing into their lives and I’m sure you do the same thing. In fact, I think you’ve said you definitely do that with your own kids. But can you just talk a little more about what your view is on the importance of having at least some of your training look like play even as adults?
Kelly Starrett: Let me just jump in before you start by saying that I’m pretty sure I’ve heard you say that animals don’t exercise, animals play to get fit. Am I right there?
Erwan Le Corre: Right. Well, they play at least … they play when they’re young. Animals, young animals play to learn and once they’ve learned they play less. They keep playing but they play less. Humans are no different. To me, play is a mindset, that’s what it is. It’s not a particular movement pattern, it’s not a way to exercise, it’s not a program. Play is a mindset.
Erwan Le Corre: So it’s obvious that when we have people balance, try to not step off the surface where the balancing and they climb and they try to climb on top. And it can be absolutely challenging. It can be even hard sometimes when you get, i don’t know sprint, lift something heavy, clear an obstacle, do all these practical adaptable movements.
Erwan Le Corre: It’s going to be feeling very playful especially if it’s been a very long time that you have not practiced those movements. It’s like a liberation and you’re going to have tons of fun. And tons of fun doesn’t mean that it’s unstructured or doesn’t bring results. It means that you experience the mindset, the felling which is play and playfulness and that is beautiful because it’s uplifting. It uplifts the mood.
Erwan Le Corre: And we know that most people today, so many people are afflicted by depression. It’s a wonderful thing to move away, if I may I say, move away from fitness programs that are seen and that are experienced as chores, as tasks. As, “Oh, man, more work. After work, I got to go to the gym. It’s going to feel like more work. I won’t have fun, but I have to force myself because I want the results.”
Erwan Le Corre: And hey, it’s very easy to not stick to that. Actually that approach has made some people successful, but we never talk about the millions of people that it has just failed. Because it’s boring and nobody wants to be bored because everybody knows fun rules. So play is a beautiful mindset. I recommend that mindset in whatever you do, in work, in life to be playful, to be joyful. That’s very important to stay young. It helps you stay young and then appreciate life better.
Erwan Le Corre: And it’s very useful in exercise, whatever you call that, in physical practice because it’s uplifting and it’s enjoyable, so you’re more likely to stick to that, whatever program it is if it’s more playful. But this being said, well at least in the MovNat method, it’s not just all play, it’s also we’re pushing people because one of our aspects that is important in life, that has to do with mindset more than a natural pattern, movement pattern or specific way to exercise, it is mental strength. It is mettle. It is again those parts of ourselves that are immeasurable and fundamental.
Kelly Starrett: I have seen your normal practice. If you dive in your Instagram as examples, I know that people can take a lot of your drills and as you say drop them into … you don’t have to throw up the baby with the bath water. You’ll come back to the movement, the natural movement side, the play side because the results are so good and it’s so fun and so freeing.
Kelly Starrett: So, one of the things you do recommend is just “Hey, in the 10 or 15 minutes of pre, when you’re warming up, there is a great time to explore this.” But one of the things that I think gets lost in our message is people don’t realize how fit you are. You are a very, very competent athlete and I think sometimes people are afraid in the natural movement that they’re going to lose their capacities to run and capacities to swim.
Kelly Starrett: And I think one of your original inspirations was … I think it’s Georges Hébert, right?
Erwan Le Corre: Yeah.
Kelly Starrett: And when I saw some of his original swim standards and I don’t think I can meet any of those standards, I don’t think I can meet any of the running standards. So you are never necessarily not advocating for not being very, very fit and very very strong through just balance and work play. I want to make sure people understand that you’re really building robust solid people who are really badass movers.
Erwan Le Corre: Thank you. Yeah, I believe we are definitely presenting the world with solid examples of what can be achieved in term of development of personal, what I call real world physical capability. And that our examples if I may say are not necessarily those semi-god like physiques that everybody believe you should have to demonstrate fitness. We have all kinds of people and all kinds of physiques and everybody gets better. And because of the variety of movement skills that are involved in the Natural Movement MovNat practice, it’s obvious that everybody is going to have their own fortes and weaknesses.
Erwan Le Corre: And so it’s not about making people streamlined in the sense of complete homogeneity of performance across the complete scope of natural movement skills. It’s about especially exposing weaknesses and tell people, “Look, yeah, you can bench press, very heavy. But look, you have a hell of a problem walking in all fours with fluidity or even on any significant distance. What’s up with that?”
Erwan Le Corre: Or you can do pull-ups on a bar, but you could not actually climb on top of that branch that’s like a more thicker limb that’s a little unstable and you don’t even know what are your strategies. There are actually eight ways to climb on top of a horizontal surface like that. How much do you want to accept areas of your physicality that are literally inept? And throwing you in the water, can you swim? Could you hold your breathe and dive? Could you help people save a life if somebody is in trouble in the waves, in a tide? Could you lift and carry somebody and carry them over a mile?
Erwan Le Corre: To me, that overall physical capability that again actually applies to the real world, most people don’t even know what it is. Because they’ve never considered all these potential demands and when life happens, when circumstances are challenging you it’s too late. You’re not ready and my stance is that a lot of what’s suggested in gyms has a lot to do with impressions and some measurable aspects of performance that are real, that are rational, but that completely overlooks every other aspects of capability that is also a necessity to actually be fit.
Erwan Le Corre: So, it’s more about impressions and projections of a certain … it’s an image and it’s some numbers. Boy, it’s not necessarily a complete reality in the real world. That is the kind of education that we fight for, that we want to bring to mainstream awareness and we are absolutely actually being successful at doing this.
Erwan Le Corre: And that it has nothing to do with your physique, with who you are and all you are, what your body structure looks like and all of that. It’s really, we believe every human being should be equipped with the necessary skills and the necessary physiological adaptations, so again competency and capacity that will make you capable, it’s part of your education. It’s a no-brainer to me. Just like, can you read and write? You’re a grownup, could you read and write? Hopefully you can. Can do basic mental calculation? Are you autonomous?
Erwan Le Corre: It requires many diverse skills in life to become an autonomous grownup. How come physical capability is not part of the equation, not part of the convo, that’s crazy to me.
Juliet Starrett: You know this is making me think about … and I’m also just trying to bring it back to this whole idea of aging. And I guess I think part of the answer to that question is people don’t often see the ill effects of not practicing these kinds of movements in their lives until they’re in their late 60s and 70s when the loss of balance and agility and stamina and strength actually really start to make … can and start to make a big impact on your overall health in really noticeable ways and also shorten your life.
Juliet Starrett: And I think we struggle with this a little bit in our own business, The Ready State. But I do think it’s hard to get people to care about some of these things often until it’s too late, right? In our instance people often don’t care about their movement and mobility until they’re already injured.
Erwan Le Corre: Yes-
Juliet Starrett: In your case, it seems like people don’t care about working on their balance until they’re 68 and they’ve lost their balance to the point where they can’t ride a bike anymore.
Juliet Starrett: So, how do you and we, and all of us get people to care about practicing these movements before they’ve lost them in their later years?
Erwan Le Corre: That is a very good point. And how do we inspire people, how do we motivate people? Right there, we’re talking about literally a paradigm shift in today’s mainstream perception of what it is to be alive, what it is to be a person whose healthy, what it is to be happy. What’s a lifestyle? It’s basically a strategy for living the life, the best life you can. That’s designing routines and reflexes and programs and all kind of aspects of your lifestyle can be improved.
Erwan Le Corre: And I think that it happens a lot through example … you know, your example, my example and other players in that field were not just actually considering fitness or functional aspects of who we are. That’s what we specialize on, that’s what we’re good at, that’s what we’re passionate about. But ultimately what we wish for everybody is to live a good life.
Erwan Le Corre: So, how does physiological health and functional movement mastery, and natural movement, I like to call it natural movement, can help you live that better life? Well, you mentioned the study, again that Brazilian study where when people could not get up and get down with the assistance of their knees or their hands, it was a predictor, it was not a good predictor, it was a predictor that their life expectancy … well, actually their lifespan not expectancy, their lifespan might be shorter than what they would like.
Erwan Le Corre: The same has been done with grip strength. So grip strength in people who are in their bed in hospitals, the greater grip strengths they had the more chances they had to get out of the hospital faster and to actually not die in there. But it’s a little sad to think about those considerations because clearly aging reminds us of our own mortality. And that is not something that we are ready to be excited about, nobody is really I believe.
Erwan Le Corre: So, physiological health is going to not prevent you from aging. It’s going to number one, prevent you from aging faster than you should. And number two, give you the best experience including physical experience, how your physical wellbeing, your energy levels in your life, is going to give you more of that. So, it’s going to make your life more enjoyable, is going to increase the quality of your life because you feel great in your body. Our body’s our first home.
Erwan Le Corre: My work is to play a role, an influential role in reminding people at every occasion I can of the importance of that fact. And it’s no surprise that why would you live old? Why would you reach an old age if your function is gone? If your strength has shrunk?
Erwan Le Corre: Those are already from a biological perspective signs that you have less life in you. So, if you want to live longer, and if you want to live longer and better with those additional years, you’d better keep that life in you. You’d better keep that function in you, better keep that strength in you, that balance, that coordination, that physiological health in you. And how do you achieve that? In the most efficient way? Well, by having a day-to-day movement behavior that has that frequency and that variability and variety and some intensity, every day of your life, it’s a life-long proposition.
Erwan Le Corre: And there’s no way around that, there’s no magic pill, never was, never will be. There’s no magic pill, there’s no bio hack, there’s no … no, just forget about, it won’t happen. So, you’ve got to take the matter into your own hands, it has to do with the choices you make and the perception you have, that’s philosophy, perception, how you see things, how you see yourself and then ultimately, it’s going to lead to the behaviors that sustain, that support those rewards of health.
Kelly Starrett: You and I have been educating for a long time. Do you feel like there’s ever an age where people can’t get ahead … it’s too late?
Erwan Le Corre: No. It’s too late when it’s too late. It’s too late when you’ve broken through the other side. And until there, I don’t know. “Hey, I can’t move my body.” “Okay well, maybe you can nod, maybe you can blink your eyes and there’s still some movement, hey, you’re breathing.” Breath is a movement, so, as long as you breathe and you can still try to breathe, take bigger breaths, I don’t know.
Erwan Le Corre: Everything is intertwined. I like to say that life is the practice of energy at every level. And that’s not just fitness, and that’s not just philosophy or meditation. It’s the physical function, it’s the mindset, it’s the heart-set, it’s the soul-set, it’s all of that intertwined and functioning properly and then in a synergitical way.
Erwan Le Corre: So, to be successful in that way is a multi-skill practice. And you have to practicing every day in some aspect but eventually, aging is obviously unavoidable and you’re going to have to look at what is avoidable which is the aging of your mind and the aging of your heart, and to stay happy, to stay enthusiastic, to stay kind, all these again immeasurable aspects of your performance, if I may say.
Kelly Starrett: There are so many old maxims, the Russians say, “When you stop jumping, you start dying.” The Chinese are like, “You’re as old as your spine.” Another Russian proverb is, “You’re as old as your feet.” One of the things that Juliet and I have been really enjoying mountain biking of late, right? We get to see a lot of the country, we get to ride together. But I have noticed, it’s ruining my feet and my calves, it’s making me so stiff and un-athletic that I’ve actually had to go back and put in a ton more jump roping, which a lot of people love to bike, but I’m really sort of sensitive to it, and have realized, “Wow, this is actually taking away from my athleticism.”
Erwan Le Corre: It’s more sitting brother, it’s more sitting. It’s active sitting, it’s sitting nonetheless, right? After all-
Kelly Starrett: I know. I’m going to have to climb more and stand.
Juliet Starrett: Erwan, Kelly and I obviously think that nutrition plays a key role into good health and good aging and longevity. You and I have never actually met in person, but I’ve seen plenty of photos of you online to know that you’re obviously doing something right when it comes to your own nutrition. Can you speak to a little bit about what your approach is with food and nutrition generally?
Erwan Le Corre: Sure, I eat fresh. I cook all my meals, number one. There’s nothing prepared in the food that my family and I eat, very … not a lot, there’s maybe some that is going to have to be quality stuff, but basically there’s no processed food, no packaged food in what I eat number one. So, it’s fresh.
Erwan Le Corre: Number two, it’s as local and seasonal as possible. And then it’s mostly … well, it’s a lot of meat, fish, of eggs, of animal proteins, animal products, cheese, lots of butter, healthy oil, some olive oil, some coconut oil and little veggies, we’re not big on veggies and some fruit sometimes. And that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of our meals are literally cooked in five minutes. And I think there’s a lot of complication about what we eat. So, here, I’m more talking about principles.
Erwan Le Corre: Also intermittent, so, what’s called intermittent fasting, which I believe is a blatant misnomer because I’ve never encountered anybody who would be eating continuously non stop. This is not happen. So, at some point, you’re necessarily going to stop eating, and that’s when you enter a state of fasting.
Erwan Le Corre: I think that what people want to say is that they’re prolonging, extending the natural fasting that happens every night when we sleep. We’re obviously not eating at that time. So, I’ve been a big advocate of that as well. As a matter of fact, all this stems from … it’s not new to me.
Erwan Le Corre: When I was 19, I met that crazy guy, kind of a guru-like guy but decided to follow his lifestyle, his teachings and that helped me a lot back then. He was a kind of Parkour guy before Parkour. He was Wim Hof before Wim Hof because he was known for having jumped off a helicopter just right by an ice berg.
Erwan Le Corre: And so, he was doing all … we were doing all these breathing exercises every day. Cold immersions in the Seine, which is the river in Paris or taking cold showers, and swimming in cold streams, or immersing ourselves in cold stream in the winter, we were doing that all the time.
Erwan Le Corre: Intermittent fasting was a big part of it, it was at least 24 hours per week, but it was often like 18 hours every day basically. Eating fresh, eating locally, eating seasonal even was part of it, going barefoot, that was part of it, what is now called earthing, that was part of it. Exposure to nature, that was part of it.
Erwan Le Corre: Movement including some crazy potentially lethal movements, climbing on top of buildings, balancing in the wind, on top of scaffoldings, jumping off … literally jumping off bridges at night with no equipment in the dark and cold waters, training, Thai boxing in the undergrounds of Paris. You name any of those say aspects of lifestyles that have become somehow niches, specializations, like there’s some kind of a person or group or brand or company that specializes on it. That guy had the genius of design a lifestyle that had it all, all of it. And that’s my background, and yeah.
Kelly Starrett: Do you think we’re getting some things right now? Is it getting worse-
Erwan Le Corre: Oh yeah.
Kelly Starrett: … or is the consciousness change because you … I have said to you I know that I think we would cure a whole lot of disease in America if every middle school, every elementary school, just looked like a MovNat gym, beams, climbing, play, rolling, letting kids explore, jumping, I mean the inputs that kids would get, do you think for the rest … because we haven’t done that yet, that somehow we’re getting some things right, because you just talked to a lot of the things that our aging experts have said.
Kelly Starrett: All our friends are saying, “Hey, look, there are times where you should not eat, you should not be eating every three hours. You’ve got to pay attention to eating whole foods again and moving your body and getting sun-“
Juliet Starrett: And playing.
Kelly Starrett: And playing. I mean do you sense something has changed or is it just only in the small populations changing where we’re still just missing too many people?
Erwan Le Corre: Yeah, so , the question is is there hope? Is there hope.
Juliet Starrett: Yes.
Erwan Le Corre: Are we having any impact on society on the way people live, and are we doing our job and to what extent is this happening? So, yeah, I believe in that. I am a believer in belief, that’s my belief, I have a vision about it. And I don’t like to dream, I think it’s a waste of time. I prefer to … and I’m sure you feel the same, we’re visionary in our ways, that’s not bragging to say that, that means … what is to be a visionary? Is to having a proposition for ourselves in our life and for the world, that we really believe in without doubt.
Erwan Le Corre: I don’t doubt about what can be done, and at the same time, I don’t know at what speed it’s going to happen, to what scale it’s going to take place, but I believe in it. Look, your work starts somewhere, your following you’ve built patiently, intelligently, by putting out valuable content and methods and solutions. And now you have grown that amazing, beautiful, healthy following around you, that did not exist. So, you guys are living proof that change can be achieved and of course you’re ambitious in the sense of, “Hey, we want to reach more people.” And I’m the same, but I believe it’s happening.
Erwan Le Corre: Look, recently I was traveling, went to an airport, and then I was like, “Oh my god, I’m hungry. I don’t want to eat any crap.” And then I found that store and it had every snack including sugar free jerky and whatnot that any paleo, keto, carnivore kind of person would want, glutton-free, organic, and all of that.
Erwan Le Corre: This does not exist 10 years ago when I moved to the U.S. I could never find anything like this, but now I can. Now, you have those gyms, 10 years ago, all gyms were filled with exercise machines. Today, CrossFit has been playing a pivotal role, MovNat is as well, you are my friend playing a pivotal role, it’s a community of game changers that we are, and I believe it’s happening.
Erwan Le Corre: You may tell me, “Hey look, you know what? At the same time, are those changes only a sign that the problem is getting so big that the changes only reveal the extent of its opposite of what’s wrong in the sense of the way people live that’s unhealthy and unexamined. And they don’t really do any effort or question anything, so, they just live normalcy and it’s not your friend. That culture of normalcy is not your friend to paraphrase Terrance McKenna.
Erwan Le Corre: But I really have a lot of hope and I believe that vision is unfolding, not just through us but through other players. What I believe and last thing I want to say, I believe that when major brands will jump in the bandwagon, we’re going to have … all of a sudden, we’re going to reach a tipping point where things will beautifully avalanche into a bounty of how the lifestyle societal changes, I believe in that.
Erwan Le Corre: It’s going to start somewhere, but when a big corporation will look at it from the perspective of market even, I don’t care, they’re like, “Oh wow, we could make more money with that health dollar and movement dollar and natural food dollar and all,” who cares? They’re going to be wanting that market, they’re going to playing a role that changes society for the better and so, I believe in that kind of leverage as well.
Juliet Starrett: Erwan thank you so much, it’s so great to hear your perspective and thoughts on all of this. I just wanted to take a minute to congratulate you again on your book that came out this year because-
Erwan Le Corre: Thank you.
Juliet Starrett: … we certainly know what an undertaking that is, and also what’s next for you? What are you up to next?
Erwan Le Corre: A new website that is going to be, shocker, is going to be naturalmovement.com where I will talk about Natural Movement as the whole lifestyle not just the movement practice, but the whole lifestyle. And I’m going to start also turning my book into a series of online courses, so, that’s what I’m brewing right now. I’m very excited about it.
Erwan Le Corre: And somehow I’ve been building that team, I have an amazing team, and we’re operating worldwide, we have workshops all around the world, and we have instructors all around the world, and I love my team, but I think that also I’m not the kind of guy who wants to be on the front all the time, and I could have done so much more in term of say videos and this and that.
Erwan Le Corre: And I kind of wanted others to take ownership and for this to be committed in a movement and not just one person. So, my method is not called the “Erwan Le Corre Method”, it’s called something else, it’s called Natural Movement for a reason. Is because I wanted people to take ownership and not to look up to a person. But now it’s time for me to step in and step up a bit more than I have, and I’m going to do that through naturalmovement.com. So, very excited about that.
Juliet Starrett: That’s so great. Where besides at naturalmovement.com, can people find you on the socials and elsewhere?
Erwan Le Corre: There is a Natural Movement account on Instagram, I have also my personal accounts on Instagram and Twitter. And there is also the MovNat account, MovNat website, M-O-V-N-A-T.com, so, if you are interested in learning about or training with us or getting certified so that you become able to teach this method or to teach these movements to others, then that’s what MovNat does. We will train you, we will educate you in teaching others how to move better, how to move efficiently. So, check out MovNat or movnat.com as well as Instagram, Facebook, yeah.
Kelly Starrett: Erwan, it is great to hear your voice. I don’t know if the … as you’ve aged in the last 10 years you’ve become … even… the blade has become sharper or that you’ve become so reasonable, but I hear you speak and I’m like, “I need to go out and crawl on the ground. I need to go practice my rolling.”
Kelly Starrett: You have so influenced me and the way I think about making sure that the environment fits the organism and that we’re doing the basics. I just need to just wrap this up saying you’re so foundational to my thinking and I’m so grateful for your work and for holding the door open for so many of us.
Kelly Starrett: My oldest daughter has recently discovered the joy of Frisbee and we go out and play. And the amount of crazy shapes she’s in and catches and movements, and I’m like, “Huh, Erwan would be proud.”
Erwan Le Corre: You know Kelly, you are hands down the most gracious person I know in that whole field of health and fitness. Actually you’re the only who has reached out to me to congratulate me on the achievement which represents publishing, releasing a book. You’ve been so gracious and I hope that I’ve reciprocated the same way, because I’m always very impressed by everything that you have accomplished and even The Ready State.
Erwan Le Corre: It’s basically reinventing yourself like not just … it’s like an evolution and it takes balls to do this. Sorry for the language, but really, it’s a strong strong statement, and that means that you have resource and passion about what you do, and I know because my wife is always behind me and working with me on what we do, on what I do and I know it is the same for you.
Erwan Le Corre: You’re a power couple with Juliet and with your children, what I want to say is that to walk the talk is so important. To exemplify, to embody what it is that we do is really what people look at first is like is that person what they are, what they do, is it in line with what they do. So, I admire you in that way.
Juliet Starrett: Thank you so much Erwan, it’s so great to talk to you.
Kelly Starrett: Absolutely, man-
Erwan Le Corre: Likewise.
Kelly Starrett: … can’t wait to do some free diving with you.
Erwan Le Corre: Oh man, I have extra spear guns, so, I can gear you up here. I just had a friend, he’s just retired from being a commodore of the seal teams for many years, and honored me by … the first thing he did after retiring was to come and train and we went spear fishing. So, I’ll be really happy to do that with you brother.
Erwan Le Corre: And I like to quote Fred Astaire, that it’s young generations don’t pray, don’t read. I know Fred Astaire, he was a dancer. He was a singer, dancer, but he said this, “Old age is like everything else…to make a success of it, you got to start young.” So, it’s brilliant, and to not just listen to the information people, but to actually implement it, to apply yourself to it so that you can actually have an experience of it, this is where the gold is. So, don’t waste time thinking, considering insights, just get to work, do it and see the change in your life rapidly as it can be really beautiful.
Kelly Starrett: Erwan, thank you so much. Adieu.
Erwan Le Corre: A bientôt. Adieu. Salut.Back to Episode