In a Peloton and Bowflex society, are workouts from a century ago all we ever really needed?
Nearly 100 year ago, Charles Atlas was the picture of fitness: tall stature, rippling muscles. His secret? Bodyweight workouts, every day. In the face of big-ticket workout devices, mirrors and bikes, a growing contingent of bodyweight devotees are re-embracing the simplicity of Atlas-like techniques. Natural movement for fitness is something we need to get back to understanding for going forward in bettering ourself.
What is bodyweight exercise?
More and more people are turning to bodyweight resistance training for their fitness needs. You can use bodyweight training to target any muscle on your body. Charles Atlas and early 19th-century fitness guru Jack Lalanne knew this and, together, their results inspired a health and fitness movement in America.
Two of their go-tos were pushups and pullups. These moves provide some of the best natural resistance exercises you can do. Our bodies were designed to move and exercise, and natural movement in accordance with fitness gives us plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Charles Atlas designed the dynamic tension bodybuilding method that pits your muscles against one another. He was also part of a massive advertising campaign and helped bring bodybuilding to the masses. Jack Lalanne is considered the father of modern fitness and introduced a lot of the concepts that we see in bodybuilding even now. (He famously beat the modern king of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an informal contest.) Both Atlas and Lalanne had a profound impact on the fitness industry, and their wisdom is worth revisiting.
Don’t forget the equally important healthy diet to go along with exercise! These superfoods can help with your journey.
In the spirit of Atlas and Lalanne’s work, we’ve picked five guides that can help you get started learning some of their techniques:
- How proper breathing can help you achieve a six-pack. (The Independent)
- Burpees are absolutely miserable but terribly effective, and all you need is your body. (The New York Times)
- Learn workout techniques with real world applications. (Men’s Health)
- Get a weightlifter’s body without any weights. (Men’s Health)
- Get the skinny on why your ribs are showing after these workouts. (Men’s Journal)
Check out our vegan recipes for dinner that can help your overall health and well-being.
Carrying the natural fitness torch
Since the advent of Instagram, there’s been a surge in fitness influencers picking up the mantle from where Atlas and Lalanne left off. Here are a few:
CaliMove is one of the most famous. With his iconic look and useful advice, he’s been helping people get fit from the comfort of their own homes with his calisthenics. He also helps people maintain the proper form and avoid injury while improving their posture and general physical health.
Flexthenics offers advice on how to do bodyweight movements and work on flexibility as well as building strength. It’s a similar channel to CaliMove; both offer some of the basics on how to get fit without equipment.
Shona Vertue specializes in strength training, cardio training, and yoga, all mixed together in a comprehensive routine to ensure that you stay healthy in a balanced way. She makes sure that her clients do not lack in any particular area of their health and fitness for holistic health.
Erwin Lecorre is considered the godfather of natural movement. He’s the founder of Movnat, his approach to fitness through natural movement. He’s a great resource to help you begin your journey, as well.
All of these influencers are a great starting point for your bodyweight fitness journey–but none, we should note, are substitutes for getting advice from a medical professional for your specific needs. No two fitness journeys are alike; it’s important to pick the right guides to make sure that you get where you want to be, safely, and happily. Once you’ve found techniques and approaches that match your needs, it’s about putting in the time and effort to put their philosophies into action.
Let us know how you use natural movement for fitness.
1. Have you ever tried bodyweight exercises? Y/N
2. Do you think a bodyweight exercise regimen could replace your current routine? Y/N