Merrell Ambassador Julie Angel (photo by: Anya Chibis)
Nature's Gym

Ask Julie Angel what piece of equipment you should use to develop stronger core strength and she might say you can have the Kettle Bells, she’ll take a big bag of dog food.

Merrell Ambassador Julie Angel (photo by: Anya Chibis)

Merrell Ambassador Julie Angel (photo by: Anya Chibis)

“Lift that bag of dog food and carry it out to your car the next time you leave the store instead of using the cart. There are a thousand things you can do to get stronger that you don’t need to schedule into your day.”

As a movement coach that helps people rediscover the joy and benefits of natural movement, Julie believes we have everything we need to lead stronger and happier lives.

“The problem in today’s go-go-go society isn’t that we don’t have enough tools to improve our physical well-being,” cites Julie. “It’s that we’ve forgotten how to move.”

When asked to expand, Julie, who completed the world’s first Parkour-themed Ph.D and is an expert in natural movement, explains that modern culture has made it too easy for us to get through the day. From how we commute to how we entertain ourselves, physical movement has been replaced by technology.

“Whether it’s a shopping cart to tote your groceries to your car or virtual reality goggles created to help us explore artificial environments, we seem to be trying to find ways to limit or eliminate movement and that’s simply not good for anyone,” notes Julie. “We are meant to move.”

Asked to relate this to people who already love to move and go outdoors, Julie responded, “If you already are moving or training, my message would be to think about how to work more practical movements into your regimen. If you’re going to climb a mountain, think about the load you’ll be carrying on your back. If you love to surf, think about what you’re asking your shoulders to do as you paddle out into the line-up. If you’re a rock climber, think about the various grips and handholds you’ll encounter. Focus on what mastering these movements will require of you when it matters most, then look for ways to replicate them as closely as possible to the real thing when you set out to train.”

The driving theme behind Julie’s philosophy is don’t reach so quickly for a machine or device, look to nature.

“When you go to a gym, you see all these crazy contraptions and inventions designed to make us stronger and more flexible, but the problem is they are designed to train a very specific muscle group or range of motion. In nature, it doesn’t work that way. You can find yourself in awkward positions and uncertain footing. You have to be able to adapt.”

Based on the growing popularity of the yoga, pilates, boot camps and high-intensity interval training, one could assume the trend towards more natural movement is on the upswing, but Julie said there’s plenty of room for growth.

“Don’t get me wrong, any type of activity–whether it’s a spin class or a run on a treadmill-is great. But we’re animals. We were born to move freely all the time, not just some of the time. And the best way to do that is just get outside and move. Ideally in nature.

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Julie using the playground rings at her local park to get her workout in for the day (photo: Anya Chibis)

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