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Being Strong to be Useful: Giving Thanks for Movement

Strongman Training by thereeljames

Strongman Training by thereeljames

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. I’m going to add my 2 cents to the slew of other blog posts that probably came out today about what I’m thankful for. Everyone writes about that on Thanksgiving. I guess there’s a reason for that.

I’m always thankful for my friends and family and being born in a time and a place that affords me all the things I currently have. It makes it much easier to live an interesting futuristic lifestyle compared to 50, 100 or 300 years ago. I love playing sports but I don’t think I’d make a good warrior running around on the battlefield.

What I’m very thankful for recently, and this has come up a few times in the last few days, is having my health and mobility. For the most part I can run, jump, crawl, lift weights, chase the dog around, ride my bicycle and play floor hockey. And it’s awesome. I love being able to move hard and fast and it certainly is a huge part of my life.

At the moment, though, my back is sore from a bad landing at beach volleyball last week. I’m not moving very fast. But it won’t last that long and I’ll be out running, jumping and riding in no time.

What being injured does show me (and more regularly than I’d like to admit) is to not take movement for granted. Never for one minute think that ease of movement will last forever. It won’t. It’s often one of the first thing to go when you’re older. It’s like your mind, if you don’t use it then you’ll lose it. People are losing their ability to move well at an alarming rate these days.

That concern lead me to read the first story I had ever found on Methode Naturelle. Georges Hébert was an officer in the French Navy prior to First World War. He was stationed on an island in the Caribbean where a volcanic eruption threatened the lives of many people that lived there. Orchestrating a rescue, he and his crew saved some 700 people. The ordeal had a profound effect on him for one reason. Many of the people they saved did not have the fitness or the strength or save themselves or their family. They did not have the physical ability to get themselves out of harms way. Hébert would go on to form a personal motto out of the experience:

“Être fort pour être utile”


“Being strong to be useful”

Just reading the article in Outside magazine gave me goosebumps. After, Georges dedicated his life to spreading a fitness system based on natural movement. I believe one of the basic requirements we have as humans should be efficient movement and we have to work hard at keeping that going. Kids run around, climb trees and jump a lot. Adults should too.

This idea and many others have caused me to orient my life around movement and getting a lot of it. I try not to sit still for too long. The more movement the better.

We only have it for so long. Make the best of it and never take it for granted.