Caveman Playground

Sometimes learning new stuff can turn your life around. At least parts of it…


Sometime ago, I began looking at stuff from MovNat. It’s a way of looking at fitness based on natural movement. It is, as the MovNat website says, “a physical education and fitness system based on the full range of natural human movement abilities. These include the locomotive skills of walking, running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, and swimming. In addition we practice the manipulative skills of lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching. How we move is how we train.”

As much as I like a good gym workout, I found that, once I began to incorporate MovNat workouts into my life – and very soon into my daily life – I felt much better about fitness exercising. (I’m basically a lazy person. I run a lot, but that’s because running is easy. And exercising – for me, anyway – isn’t.) Soon I found myself doing bear crawls around the living room, going up and down the stairs on all fours, and lifting heavy things just for fun. The logical next step was to make my own MovNat exercise area in my back yard.

I decided to call it my Caveman Playground.

Caveman playground

In the photo, you can see the current version of my caveman playground. From left to right are: three rocks, placed about a meter apart, that I use for taking single-leg steps. Because the rocks are uneven, landing on them, and stepping off to the next one, requires and develops good balance. As I get more confident, I’ll progress to jumping from one rock to another with both feet. Later, as my skill levels improve, I’ll move the rocks further apart. In the middle of the photo are three rocks which I use for lifting, for squats, for waist carries, and for arm and shoulder exercises. One of these three (and all of the stepping-stone rocks) I found half-buried at the edges of my back yard; the other two I found by the side of the road about 500 meters from my house, and carried home. On the right of the photo is the trunk of a tree that I’d cut down earlier in the summer while clearing the back yard. I use the tree trunk for a MovNat exercise called “push press,” which involves holding the end of the trunk at chest height with both hands and pushing it above my head a number of times.

As well as what you see here my backyard workouts now include dead hangs from a branch of the apple tree at the back of the garden, bear crawls in the grass, and some tentative climbing of a big Russian olive tree. (“Tentative” because I never climbed trees as a kid, and I’m still very much averse to heights.) I do all of the moves barefoot.

Instead of going to a gym and doing repetitive movements with weights and machines, what I’m doing now is incorporating MovNat skills into my daily life.

MovNat Skills

As someone has said of my playground, “It’s a gym, it’s outdoors, and it’s for free!” All to the good, as far as I’m concerned.

Right now, all of this is quite enough for me. My Caveman Playground invites creativity and exploration, as I discover each time I get into it. That being said, I’d like to expand it to include a long log for balance walks, and an obstacle course of long branches and tree trunks leaning up against other trees. (I also have a fantasy of creating a babbling brook through which to walk while carrying one of the big boulders… But that’s probably a bit of a stretch.)

And perhaps, eventually, I’ll even add some caveman art to my playground.

Lascaux cave art


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