Movement Minute - Balancing in the Forest

We keep getting these gorgeous fall days, and I gotta say I’ve been dropping the ball a bit on taking advantage of them. This past week I did manage to capitalize on an opportunity to get out to one of my favorite natural training spots in Milwaukee, the Beerline trail.


My schedule changed and I just stopped coming to this spot, now I’m kicking myself for the prolonged absence.  I was randomly in the area and the weather was balmy so I took to the trails for a run.  You’re right in the middle of the city and would never know it if you couldn’t hear the traffic.  Occasionally you’ll run into a group of college kids smoking a joint, whether or not you stop to partake is up to you.


Right away I spotted this beautiful training situation.  A tree had fallen in just the right way across other trees to create a bridge about 8 feet off the ground.  This is a legit playground filled with obstacles, pitfalls, and challenges.  Hang, climb, swing, crawl, step, duck, twist - you'll use an array of different movement expressions to navigate this space.  


It’s times like this that I’m most grateful that MovNat came onto my radar.  In the moment, it was just like second nature to balance and crawl and jump off and climb back up.  It was an automatic response to go into “kid mode” and play and explore.  To do so competently and seamlessly is a direct result of the last 5 years of MovNat training.  I’ve had so much fun training this way, I forget how much I’ve changed as a result.  


Anyways, there are a few interesting things to point out with this balance practice...


Trail running & Balancing.  I love this particular trail because you can run around to train in different little areas like this.  The combination of trail running and balancing will light you up! The quick precision of running mixed the slow, methodical precision of balancing is a great stimulus.  To stand on a shaking tree trunk after your legs and heart are pumping is an incredible feeling and challenge. Go get you some of that.

Justification for the 2x4s.  We typically train balance with 2x4 planks on the floor.  It’s a fun and a super convenient way to practice balancing skills. But this ain’t a 2x4. This is the practical application, this is when all that gym training makes sense. You learn to feel every footstep, hand placement, or change of position.  You learn to feel the control as your joints and muscles adapt to the stability demands.  The techniques become familiar and you learn to keep your breathing relaxed. It’s good to train in the gym but to also put this stuff to real world use regularly. The payoff is significantly higher.  

A natural puzzle. Each opportunity offers unique challenges and features to adapt to. I spent a solid amount of time deciphering these small movement puzzles - how to maneuver around the branch and how to climb on top and underneath. A little bit of danger raises the stakes higher.  You think twice before you put too much weight on a dead branch. You explore exit strategies and possible alternative routes.  Tactical tree climbing, yeah?  Nature really is all about the fine details.  Stay mindful.  


Not to sell short the mental stimulation or physical benefits, but there's so much goodness for the soul in this practice.  The physical act of balancing definitely impacts you.  The calm focus you practice in training just seems to overflow into the rest of life. You feel connected and in control of balance. You slow down and reclaim responsibility for maintaining balance within your own life.

I mean that's the real reason to climb a tree, right?

Ha, or at least something to keep in mind as you go climb and balance on something this weekend.  Have a some fun.