Life begins on the ground. For the first few years of our life, we explore our environment with movement. We move towards things, we squat down to inspect them further, and we learn how to control our bodies.
Then we go to school and sit all day. For the next twelve years of our lives, we sit. And then we go to university and work, where we sit some more.
Primal movement, as a fitness method, is all about using, aligning and perfecting the movements of your whole body, just as we did when we were young. It’s about undoing the habits and postures you’ve learned from a lifetime of sitting still and paying attention to the board!
What is primal movement?
What would your day look like if you were born 5,000 years ago? You would likely be walking kilometres each day, sprinting to chase food, cutting down trees, lifting logs, building shelters… All movements that use your whole body in a way that benefits all those other movements.
The body is an interconnected web that acts as one unit. Yet when we exercise, we often focus on one muscle group or one area (which is why you see so many men with biceps twice as big as their legs!).
But at its core, exercise is all about movement.
What does primal movement have to do with Pilates?
Did you know Joseph Pilates studied animal movements?
‘True rhythm and control are observed both in domestic pets and wild animals – without exception.’ – Joseph Pilates
In fact, he frequented zoos and encouraged students to watch the way animals move. You’ll recognise some exercises as named after animals even: swan, jack-rabbit and crab, for example.
Pilates works to restore your basic movement patterns, thus making your daily movements easier, more efficient and more powerful.
What are some examples of primal movement?
Let’s look at some of the basic primal movements.
Push: A pushing exercise requires either pushing external weight away from your body or yourself away from the ground (eg. a push up). Pushing yourself off the ground to get up from a seated position, or putting away groceries are both pushing movements used in our daily life. In Pilates, we do many push-up variations! We also do plenty of pushing away with our feet on the Reformer machines.
Pull: Obviously, a pulling motion is the opposite of a pushing motion, in that you are pulling a weight towards your body, or pulling yourself towards an object. From pulling a motor to start the lawn mower to moving furniture around, pulling is a movement we use constantly.
Bending: Bending is the movement pattern where you bend your torso by hinging your hips. We use this all the time! From picking a baby up off the ground to lifting suitcases and grocery bags. Yet more than half of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. We hinge all the time in Pilates, strengthening your back muscles and gradually increasing your flexibility to prevent pain.