The daily grind of getting up and down from the ground will either do your body good or contribute to extra wear and tear. Get Ups, when performed efficiently, serve as a fitness-building, skill-improving tool that pays dividends for a lifetime – making the ground our ally, instead of a place to dread.
I was 25 years old—my 25th birthday being just two weeks ago—and I was heading to work as a roughneck on an oil rig in West Texas. That’s about all I remember. I woke up in a hospital bed about 6 months later with tubes emerging from nearly every part of my body. Apparently, I had been waking up for a few days at that point, but a head injury left me with a large gap in memory that spans from around the time of my birthday to this last time waking up.
I was told that I had been in a car accident and was awakening from a medically induced coma. I couldn’t walk, write, I could barely speak, and I couldn’t remember anything past 20 minutes. I had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), fractured my hip, broke my arm, tore nearly every ligament in my right knee, tore some ligaments in my left knee, and separated my shoulder at the acromioclavicular joint. I was a complete and total wreck.
Prior to the accident, I was in my prime. I was just getting off active duty and had spent 7 years in the US military complete with a combat tour of duty. I completed some of the more difficult training that the military had to offer, and I was in the best shape of my life. Now, I looked in the mirror, and didn’t even recognize myself. It was such a strange experience. In my mind, I could do all of the things that I could do prior to the accident, but now when I tried to move, none of those things felt even remotely possible.
I underwent numerous surgeries and what feels like every type of therapy known to man (speech, occupational, physical, etc.). All of these surgeries aimed at getting me to a “functional state,” but none had the intention of getting me back to where I was. I wanted more than just to function. I wanted to be able to do more than just exist!
7 years and 13 surgeries later, we arrive at the near present in Austin, Texas. After all of the surgeries and subsequent rehab, I still had a noticeably abnormal gait. My left leg would circumduct whenever I took a step, and my left foot would hit the ground much harder than my right due to nerve damage. My left arm had atrophied, I had pain in my left shoulder, and pain in both knees. My coordination was all over the place from the TBI and lack of appropriate neuromuscular retraining. Don’t get me wrong, I had come a long way from using a walker, and I had some great physical therapists and surgeons along the way who helped get me to a place where I could function. That said, I wasn’t where I knew I could be.
But that was about to change in a big way.
Scrolling through Instagram profiles of martial artists, gymnasts, and movers like Ido Portal, I noticed this theme of captions discussing “natural movement.” Eventually, I stumble upon MovNat, and learn that there is actually a systematic way to learn how to move.
After doing some research, I decided that MovNat was what I needed. I signed up for a dual level 1 and 2 instructor course and booked a flight to Portland.
My class was held at Point Gym & Kitchen, a locally owned training and coaching space that focuses on movement and nutrition. I was warmly welcomed by my MovNat instructor, Danny, and his co-instructors and owners of the gym, Kimberly and Melissa. To be honest, I wasn’t certain that I was going to be allowed to train when I got there. My list of injuries was quite long, and I bought my ticket to Portland hoping that I would be given a chance to show that I can overcome any of my disabilities, if I was just taught how. While I may have a lot of orthopedic issues, I do not have a deficiency in work ethic or will.
I spoke with the head instructor, Danny, before the course commenced about my injuries and participating in the level 2 course as well as the level 1. After a little deliberation he said, “Yeah man, you can do level 2. Just let me know if there’s anything you can’t do or if you feel any pain.” This was the first example of a recurrent theme throughout the course, and one of the reasons that I fell in love with MovNat, and that is MovNat is for everybody.
From the day I stepped into that gym to the day I left, I was encouraged and motivated to explore this body that I was only just relearning how to move. Kimberly and Melissa, gave me extra attention and instruction when I struggled with certain movements and had infinite patience while doing it. They cheered me on as if they had a personal stake in my success. Danny made especially sure that the I was able to teach the areas that I was particularly weak in by assigning me those tasks to teach during the testing portion of the course. Most importantly, every instructor there was able to perform–without flaw–the movements that they were teaching. All this combined meant that I was in he presence of great teachers. So, I did my best to soak up everything that was being offered.
In the course, I attempted and performed movements that I had not even considered doing since the accident. In fact, I was doing things that medical professionals told me I would never do again.
I hadn’t jumped in 7 years, and by the end of the course I was performing vaults off of walls and over obstacles. I had previously tried running, but I was really only able to jog for short distances. I was now running to the park and back. It felt surreal. I could barely believe it, but I felt so free and so present in my body that I barely processed the experience until I returned home.
Of all movements, I experienced the most significant improvement in my balance.
I suffered extensive nerve damage on the left side of my body, which left me with a profound proprioceptive deficit. I was not able to completely feel my left foot whenever it hit the ground, so doing simple tasks like walking down a flight of stairs required me to hold onto the guard rails out of fear of falling. I was now attempting to walk, turn, and crawl on aligned 2 x 4s.
By the end of the course, my balance was not what it was pre-accident, but I could now see a future where it would be. A mere 5 days of amazing coaching from Danny, Kimberly, and Melissa advanced me light years ahead of where countless therapies had brought me post-accident. Their encouragement and coaching throughout the process gave me hope, and this is a debt that I could never repay.
For the first time in 7 years, I am able to envision a future where I am better than I was pre-accident. It no longer feels like a pipe-dream.
I am now back home in Austin, and my exercise regimen, and thus my life has taken on a different shape. I am now conscious of how my body is moving when I am doing everyday tasks like walking, standing, or even sitting. Exercising has become much more fun. It often feels like training has become a sort of game that I can play with my son. I cannot express in words how much that means to me. My son was by my side when I was in a hospital bed and in my lap when I was being pushed in a wheelchair. Now, he is seeing his dad overcome what seemed like the impossible. That is an invaluable lesson to teach him.
Somewhere in the process of relearning my body I realized that helping others to do the same would be just as fulfilling. I am now taking some science prerequisites to enter a Physical Therapy Doctoral program.
If I could give any advice to people going through hard times—whether they be physical, psychological, or emotional—it would be this. What you are today is for the most part a direct result of how you have programmed yourself. If you learn and apply better programming, then a new you will emerge. MovNat taught me how to reprogram my body, which subsequently reprogrammed my mind. If you’re unhappy with yourself, then do the necessary reprogramming.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aaron Wood is a Level 1 MovNat Certified Trainer (soon to be Level 2!), a U.S. Military veteran, and a student of Physical Therapy. He lives with his wife and son in Austin, Texas.
SO MANY HIGH FIVES!!!
One commitment we had when we opened was to keep our classes small enough that it would feel like a community. We wanted to get to know our members and have our members get to know each other. Staying true to this sentiment allows us to appreciate our business for more than just our livelihood. Our lives are enriched by all the people who sweat on our floors. Everyone who comes through our doors teaches us lessons about the world and for that we are truly grateful. Below you will find just a short appreciation for all of our current members who make POINT a truly wonderful place. Some of them are silly, some are sweet, but all are heartfelt. Thanks for a great year, everyone! Give yourself a high five!
Amarylis F - We appreciate you sharing your perspective on wellness with others.
Amy V - We appreciate your work ethic in workouts.
Anna R - We appreciate your uplifting mood as a staple of our evening classes.
Annie K - We appreciate your focus on quality of movement.
Ashley S - We appreciate that you always give people the benefit of the doubt... and that you are a rare member of POINT who actually enjoys running ;)
Beth B - We appreciate your humor, your long underwear, and your dedication to getting your first pullup done the right way!
Bridget H - There is no way to express our appreciation for you. #dirtyhealth ;)
Brooke R - We appreciate your dedication to all your PT after your workout.
Caitlin C - We appreciate how freakin hard you work in class!
Cesa S - We appreciate your dedication to the gym even though you have so much going on with school and jobs!
Chaise J - We appreciate how you use POINT workouts to facilitate your love of biking and running.
Cristin P - We appreciate you being back at POINT! #7AM4lyfe ;)
Daniel S - Even more than putting the signs out, we appreciate how you make everyone feel so welcome - especially new members!
Danielle B - We appreciate how when the workout starts, you put your head down and get it done!
Ember K - We appreciate all your outdoor adventures! Thank you for living the POINT mission!
Emily O - We appreciate having you back at POINT and for showing everyone that new moms can take time for themselves.
Farrell R - We appreciate your dedication to your knee rehab so you could meet your running goals… Nice work this year!
Gina K - We appreciate your ability to bring bring the mood up even when there are so many burpees!
Jacob H - We appreciate you doing your best… to get Mallery to the gym on time. ;)
Jamie H - We appreciate you being the only one that had a year-end MovNat goal!
Karim A - We appreciate your sharing circle contributions. :)
Ken K - We appreciate your seemingly endless good mood.
Kirsten I - We appreciate your embodiment of the POINT philosophy: Train Indoors. Play Outdoors.
Kristin V - We appreciate your “beast mode” in the gym and your “badass-ness” outside the gym.
Lauren O - We still appreciate your sense of humor, usually at Bridget's expense, in and out of class :)
Lauren T - We appreciate your SEO genius and your willingness to help our small biz!
Mallery H - We appreciate your pumpkin cookies! And you… we appreciate you, too. ;)
Mason K - We appreciate your dedication to work-life balance. We know how hard it is to start a business… Keep it up!
Matt B - We appreciate your newfound commitment to gym life. :)
Matthew S - We appreciate how excited you get about using your POINT skills outside the gym!
Mel D - We appreciate you celebrating your special occasions at POINT!
Michelle C - We appreciate your awesome POINT coaching skills on Saturdays!
Mya - We appreciate that you’ve never not finished a workout. ;)
Nicole D - We appreciate your attitude… And we mean that in ALL possible ways! ;)
Nicole M - We appreciate your commitment to MovNat!
Nikki B - We appreciate how you approach the rocks that weight as much as you do with no fear!
Osa E - We appreciate that you kept showing up… and also that you are now taking important time off.
Rhonda W - We appreciate how you spoil our pups with all the treats. :)
Sam Z - We appreciate how you are taking your recovery in stride and actually giving yourself time to build true strength and heal.
Shawn S - We appreciate the energy and lightheartedness you bring to the evening crew!
Sherri S - We appreciate you giving back the message of health to your students!
Sheryl A - We appreciate your loyalty as a current “honorary” member. ;)
Simone S - We appreciate how we STILL look at you as Wonder Woman! ;)
Steve K - We appreciate that you do all the stuff you hate without complaining… unless you are asked. ;)
Talia E - We appreciate how hip your tattoos make the photos on our website look. ;)
Tyler H - We appreciate that we can always introduce you to new people as Mr. Nude Portland. ;)
By Madeline Schaefer, NTP, HYT, and Certified BirthFit Coach
I am so excited to announce that as a BirthFit Certified Coach, I now offer support, training, and guidance to women and their families in all stages of motherhood and parenthood. If you or someone you know is pregnant, wants to become pregnant, has ever been pregnant, or is postpartum, BirthFit is for you.
As a BirthFit coach it is my goal to empower women to be an active participant in their health, before, during, and after pregnancy. You can continue to train, move, adapt, set and break new goals, and embody power and strength in all stages and all representations of motherhood. Pregnancy is not a handicap, nor is it an injury; it is a miraculous demonstration of your body’s ingenuity, strength, and resilience. My goal is to prepare you physically and mentally for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
The programming I develop for preconception, prenatal, and postnatal training combines functional progressions designed by BirthFit to support women in preparation for and recovery from birth. It is additionally influenced by…
Athletes need yoga, and not just because it is a great recovery day option for movement. When practiced with intention and led by a teacher who is molding the class to fit the needs of the students present, yoga is an incredible source of untapped potential, overall health and strength. This is why we have added yoga to the schedule at POINT. So many of the pains, limitations and inefficiencies that show up in our group classes can be effectively addressed through a regular, intelligently implemented yoga practice.
By Coach KB
There is no shortage of fun to be had in the outdoors here in Portland, Oregon: biking, skiing, rafting, rock climbing, SUPing, surfing… even dragon-boating! It seems everyone these days is getting into something new that they can look cool doing on Instagram. But what will be there when the hype runs out? When the gear becomes too expensive to maintain? Or sits unused on your shelf because you realized it actually takes a lot of effort to get it all packed up for an adventure? Or the weather conditions have made it too dangerous or just plain miserable?
Good ol’ fashioned hiking.
Hiking is there for you when the glitz and glam of all the other fashionable outdoor sports wears off.
Hiking is there when you don’t feel like schlepping all your gear from the basement to the car and the car to the outdoors and back again (don’t forget cleaning it all up!).
Hiking is there when you have run out of money for gear.
Hiking is there for you whether you have a whole day or just a couple hours.
Hiking is there for you whether it is raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing, AND when it is sunny and beautiful out.
For all of you who want a no-frills, no-hassle outdoors experience in Portland, I am here to officially give you my TOP 5 HIKES in and around Portland. There is something for everyone here - a hike in each direction, a few levels of difficulty, and all no more than 90 miles from the city center:
We live in the Pacific Northwest, arguably and biasedly, the most beautiful corner of the world! We could pretty much drive in any direction and be somewhere remote and beautiful within an hour. That said, most of us don’t have a 2 hour round trip window to work with every time we want to get outdoors, especially on the weekdays. Fear not! Over the past 9 years I’ve made it my life’s work to find every nook and cranny of nature left in our fair city.
Below are my four recommendations; some you may have heard of, others not, but all can have you in nature within 10-20 minute from your office or doorstep.
By Coach Mel
We talk a lot about movement and nutrition and sleep and wellness. What we don’t talk a lot about is the mental side of all those things. We live in a culture of convenience and comfort. Most of us reading this blog are privileged enough to not have to be physically uncomfortable if we don’t want to be. Food, a warm house, community, a car, delivery services are all at our fingertips literally anytime we want them. I’ve written about how our movement has been stolen through what our society deems “progression” but through these same conveniences our grit and perspective is being stolen as well.
By Coach Mel
It’s mid-January 2018; A New Year! With the New Year comes… resolutions? Yes. Champagne? Probably. A new gym membership? Maybe. The flu? We hope not!
Unless you don’t know anyone you probably know someone or are someone who has or had the flu this year. Whatever it is about this year’s virus, people are being hit hard with little to no mercy.
A lot of resolutions come in the form of something health related. Our hope is that the focus is not on burning calories or altering the appearance of your body, but rather, working on your body from the inside in an effort to fight off sickness and disease as best as you can control. Get your gut right (keep reading to find out why) and make sure you are building your body with the most nutrient dense foods to support the healthiest cells that make up your body. Sound good? Cool.*
By Coaches KB and Mel
As we reflect back on the last year it’s incredible to think about all the progress we’ve made in our tiny little business. In trying to determine what it is that makes POINT successful for us the thing we kept coming back to over and over again is YOU! We are infinitely grateful and inspired daily by all of your hard work - you know that taking care of yourself is important for your health and for our community and that is exactly the POINT! Showing up in the world as the best version of yourself - strength, confidence, balance, being well-rounded... whatever motivates you to keep coming back - is the best gift you can give anyone.
As a small token of our appreciation for making our jobs awesome, we thought we would share a little something we see in each of you that positively contributes to our great community. Some are silly, some are serious, and all recognize you as a valuable asset to POINT.
We’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it again and again… We continue to be so thankful to have a community and platform from which to ask for help and get support for causes that need it the most. It is pretty overwhelming to think of all the people that could benefit so greatly from things we take for granted. We are passionate about many different organizations that all need extra support right now so we have decided to choose a few we love the most to sponsor during our annual POINT donation drive.
How you can help: Just choose from one (or more) of the organizations below based on your own passions, take a festive tag from the gym and fulfill the request on the tag, drop it off at POINT when you come for your next workout, and we will drop it off for you! Don’t actually attend POINT? You can still swing by and grab a tag or just use the lists below as inspiration and donate on your own.
By Coach Mel
As many of you know Kimberly, Madeline, and I are all Nutritional Therapists. While we all work with a variety of people with different needs regarding nutrition, we each have our own specialities as well. One of my specialities is Nutritional Therapy for transgender people.
Recently, I went to a bookstore looking for a specific book I wanted in the LGBTQ section. I couldn’t find it and neither could a staff member. Turns out the section had been recently moved to the back corner but the location had not been updated in the computers. The book I wanted was a memoir and the author was writing about his experience as a transgender male. It was a great book. It didn’t necessarily need to be in the LGBTQ section; it could have also been up front showcased with other memoirs, but back in the corner is where it rested. It would be great reading and should actually be required reading for anyone. ("Just Add Hormones" by Matt Kailey)
This got me thinking about other ways we compartmentalize different “groups” of people all the time and how this hinders our progression toward any sort of equality. Bookstores, movie genres, types of music... We are obsessed with putting ourselves in boxes and highlighting differences. Except that, curiously, I have never seen the genre “white movies” or “heterosexual novels” thus furthering everyone's perception of what is “normal” and what is a sub-category.
By Coach KB
How many of you, men included, would want to wear a corset every day? Sure, maybe every once in a great while for a very *special* occasion, but Every. Single. Day??? We stopped wearing corsets regularly a long time ago… They are impractical and unhealthy. You can’t breathe properly in a corset and they can permanently alter the structure of your ribcage if worn long-term. And they are UNCOMFORTABLE! Why has this same realization not been made with our shoes?!!
By Coach Mel
I know you feel it… Fall is coming. I don't know about you but that old Triumph song keeps playing in my head: "Days grow shorter and the nights are gettin’ long..." and it's true - Every year it seems like fall just sneak-attacks us leaving some of us hopeless; with the onset of fall comes the worry of winter. Less daylight, less ideal weather for outdoor-play, namely rain. It is a time of year where depression rises and people tend to hibernate. Your energy might feel lower, you might turn to more comforting foods that are inherently heavier and less nutritious, maybe you walk less, bike less, drive more, all creating a cocktail of general malaise.
Bummed yet? The good news is there is hope. Our bodies are genius and have an answer for most things that afflict us. One answer to this particular quandary? ...
By Coach Mel
If you have food allergies or sensitivities the holidays can be a frustrating time, mainly for your digestive system, but also for your stress levels. No one wants to be “that person” who is everything-but-lettuce-free and only drinks water blessed by kittens.
Some of us have real allergies, some just know certain foods make them feel bad and want to avoid that, and some of us just prefer a certain way of eating. Navigating this and knowing who and who not to announce it to can be the tricky part...
... Here are a few tips to help navigate:
By Coach KB
This third and final segment on improving sleep quality is probably the reason most of us aren’t sleeping. Addressing it will likely yield as many health benefits as those you will garner from getting consistent good sleep. If you have spent the last few weeks incorporating the recommendations from Part 1 and Part 2 and still aren’t sleeping, I would suggest taking a good hard look at the big factor whispering in your ear while your head is on the pillow. It was a big eye-opener for me when I realized how blind I had been to this issue. If you follow my Instagram you may have seen my recent stories trying to tackle a terrible bout of insomnia using the most common nutrition, movement, and lifestyle recommendations I give to my clients. In hindsight it was not surprising that none of them worked because the factor that was preventing me from sleeping trumped all the other amazingly healthy behaviors I was practicing. The arch-nemesis to sleep (and optimal health, in general) is...
By Coach Mel
Coffee can be great for some people; many studies have proven health benefits and we all know that nothing warms a rainy morning like a cup of delicious Portland coffee.
But, maybe you “need” coffee; maybe you have heart palpitations; maybe you’re having trouble sleeping at night; maybe you have anxiety. There are many reasons why people don’t (shouldn’t) drink coffee or caffeine but this does not make a person less inclined to enjoy aforementioned warm beverage.
Recently, I began the journey of a coffee hiatus. I realized I fit nicely into the mold of needing coffee and I didn’t like that feeling at all.
During my break, I have been experimenting with many alternatives and have made this list of my five favorites to share with you; Enjoy!
By Coach KB
How much would you pay for a magic pill that:
- Made you smarter, more creative, more decisive, and more productive?
- Improved your memory, your physical health and strength, and boosted your immune system?
- Gave you more energy, balanced your hormones, and curbed your food cravings?
Would you pay even more knowing that NOT taking it could result in:
- Increased stress, depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings?
- Weight gain, disease, high blood pressure, infertility, and physical clumsiness?
- Lack of impulse control, motivation, and memory?
What if you your insurance covered this pill for the rest of your life FOR FREE? Raise your hand if you would take it!
I will assume that all of you raised your hands. There is just a tiny hitch, though, that might change your minds (why is there always a hitch?!!)...
By Coach Mel
Which phrase do you hear all the time: “diet and exercise” or “nutrition and movement?” Which phrase resonates with you the most? For me, diet and exercise sounds restrictive and compartmentalized, implying how we should eat and move our bodies. Nutrition and movement seem personally intentional - how we choose to fuel ourselves and how we move throughout life.