About Julie Beck
Julie Beck is a twenty-four year fitness professional and trainer who says, “I’m not stopping anytime soon!” With an early introduction to fitness in high school weight training, Julie has become a student of every kind of strength which led her to complete Level 2 certification in MovNat® a system of natural movement founded by Erwan Le Corre,that has roots in 17th Century Europe’s physical education system. Time to Warrior Up with Julie!
Julie, MovNat aside, you’ve got an awesome background in fitness!
As kids, we would only come back home to check in for lunch or dinner, leaving us free to explore anything within a 10 minute bike ride and we were extremely active from morning until evening. We were moving naturally everyday outside, running, jumping, rolling around on the ground, and we just called it “fun!”
As I told you when we first spoke, I think it’s great that you had a high school Physical Education class that included weight training! How did that early foundation in weights affect what types of exercise are attractive to you?
It was interesting for me to move from group athletics to add free weight training. We also worked on our cardio system so at a very young age I was able to define the difference between the two, how they each would increase my ability as an athlete. And it really stuck with me! We were pretty creative, we used buckets of cement, tree trunks, rocks and pretty much whatever was handy to create resistance and I find myself today still lifting random heavy objects just to see if I can or jumping off of walls or over barriers testing my spring loaded legs. It was something I could control; you can’t control much in life but you can control how much you lift, how heavy and how often.
You also have an extremely inspiring story of overcoming drug addiction and replacing it with healthy habits. Do you find that being transparent helps you attract and inspire clients?
Being transparent about my history with drug addiction has enabled me to authentically connect with those people who choose not to judge and it and fosters an openness in our client/trainer relationship that is both fearless about sharing and hopeful about changing. I didn’t necessarily replace drugs with fitness, I was doing both. Eventually I quit that craziness and landed upright and committed to taking good care of myself. I exorcised my demons with physical movement.Thank God, literally.
You’ve been doing MovNat since January of 2016 I believe. What was the first thing that attracted you to it?
I’ve been certified since April of 2015. January 2016 was my Level 2 cert. One of my clients turned me on to MovNat. I enjoy workouts at the UFC gym including grappling. I find it interesting that today we have to design methods of fitness specifically retraining us to move freely again but what I find useful about MovNat is that it is a science based fitness program for everyday living but mostly training outside in nature.
You were already an American Council on Exercise® (ACE) personal trainer. How many workshops and certifications would you say you’ve attended in the last twenty-five years?
I am proud of my extensive background as a personal trainer with ACE. I have taken over 30 courses and invested thousands of dollars into my own continuing education. I’ve certed in yoga, TRX® and as an Online Fitness Coach. I’ve taken courses in nutrition, small group exercise, senior fitness, cardio-kickbox and more. Since April of 2015, I now have 3 certifications with MovNat, Level 1 & 2 and I am also a Combatives Trainer. Science keeps changing our perceptions of things and it’s imperative to stay current with the ever changing fitness industry and I think that’s why I was so open to learning something new.
I asked that because a lot of times, especially when it comes to any kind of personal training, people need to be able to understand what it cost for the person coaching them to learn what they’re passing on. People can’t understand why coaching costs so much when someone down the street says they can do it for far less. How do you answer people who want you to give your hard-earned knowledge to them for free?
I’ll talk exercise and healthy diet with anyone but you can’t discount my knowledge and so I don’t discount my rates.
I love that you frequently throw your own flair into movements, hair flips during Get Ups and forward rolls just because— it looks like you’re having fun! Is what you like most about MovNat that it’s an excuse for adults to play?
I am able to train people in a fun way, like adult playtime as partners who train together may use 2 x 4’s to balance on while tossing a ball or learning to crawl up stairs for coordination drills. I mean why would you want to crawl up and down a staircase? Well, I actually had to do just that for 10 weeks once in my training studio when I had broken my foot!
What is the biggest reason the average client comes to you?
I did a survey early last year of adults age 40 and over and based on the average response, people come to me because they want to feel better. Surprising right? Losing weight was an important reason but still did not rank as high as physical and psychological health. My girl Annie who is over 70 and moves like she is in her 20’s, will tell you just how good she feels that she can outperform even her grandkids!
I attract people who want to be educated about fitness. They want to be coached and motivated and held accountable. It’s so cool to hear someone share a story of how they crawled on the ground to help put in a hardwood floor or lifted a 40lb. bag of fertilizer to plant and garden with when no-one else could do it.
Are they mostly men or women?
I train 60% female and 40% men. The majority of men that I work with exercise as husband/wife training partners. It’s uncanny how many teams of married partners I’ve trained over the years.
You live and work in California which is conducive to year-round outdoor training. Ross Enamait aside, most people in colder climates tend to prefer to train indoors when it gets cold. Do you program a mix of indoor and outdoor training for your clients as well as yourself?
Most of my clients are active during the week outside of our scheduled training sessions, we call it “Homework”. Each person being unique, will choose some mix of what inspires them; walking or running outside at the beach, swimming, cycling and a fair percentage have a gym membership or workout at home on our off days. Some take yoga or Pilates classes too. Everyone does homework and the bonus is that the more they are outside, the more opportunities they find to use their MovNat skills!
I think my favorite video is of you practicing lapping and carrying with your garden Buddha. This was during to fulfill Day Nine of a MovNat challenge, Lifting and Carrying. Did you walk outside planning on using the Buddha statue or was it just a meathead experience, you saw it, wondered if you could pick it up and the rest of the workout happened?
Total meathead moment in the yard! I had actually come home early from training; wasn’t feeling good. I think I caught a bug and I said I don’t want to miss this challenge day! I was doing the thirty day MovNat challenge. I looked around my backyard, and I had bricks but nothing heavy enough. I just thought, “You know what?” And grabbed my 60lb Buddha in my jammies!
You remind me of performing strongman Bud Jeffries who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year. He enjoys picking up whatever happens to be nearby and using it in his workouts. He also does a lot of training for what he calls “James Bond” movements. Like hanging from a branch one handed and holding a dumbbell as long as he can to simulate having to hang from something and hold someone until help comes.
I’d like to give you an example of how and why this training can both condition your body and train your brain. Using the Knee Hand Crawl you practice being on the ground sort of tenderizing your knees and wrists and hands to desensitize them. What would happen if you were in a house on fire in a room full of smoke and you had to crawl out? You don’t want your brain to freeze and panic, you just want to go into “MOVE” mode unconciously— without fear and because you’ve already practiced being on the ground it is not so unfamiliar so you don’t think about how hard it is, you just do it. What if you had to drag another person out or carry a child out of danger?
I’ve been calling them clients but it occurs to me that we should probably call those you teach/coach students because you’re helping them learn and relearn how their body moves properly and without pain as opposed to teaching therapeutic exercises designed to get them to an acceptable level of discomfort.
I use the terms “student” and “client” interchangeably even in the studio. When we are speaking of schedules and fees we’re in client mode and when actual training sessions, definitely students.
I’ve heard it said that MovNat helps you shovel your snow or fight off a mugger and that it might be the system best suited for a beginner.
The skill sets that are MovNat are adaptable to any circumstance because they are real movements we practice over and over so that when a situation arises that you need to be of service, you can perform readily— without injury.
Think caveman who needs to catch dinner by throwing a spear with exact precision while running at top speed and then carry dinner home over rocks and boulders jumping over a stream of water or climbing hills all while barefoot. See what I’m saying? It’s back to nature really and it feels good!
So beginner doesn’t necessarily mean unfit or new to fitness?
How do you evaluate yourself so that you know where to begin? Use these performance assessments and benchmarks . What skills come naturally to you? What is your end goal in training? As a coach I use a combination of techniques depending on your initial fitness level whether you’re a beginner, a highly advanced athlete or somewhere in between.
I love that MovNat can be used to enhance your chosen sport. The MovNat website has examples of how the system can improve performance at obstacle course racing, parkour, yoga among other things but it also seems like a restorative that would be great for people who compete in powerlifting and strongman.
I’m definitely not going to say that MovNat can repair every type of body that has suffered years of physical trauma from high impact or injury but it’s extremely useful in correcting imbalances in a body that has played or engaged in specific sports that use mostly single plane movements.
The range of motion in our exercises as a whole, especially when put together as combinations of movements during a training session, will cover all directions and planes: back and forth, up and down, side to side, even rotating, going around and over (like grappling techniques or front rolling). So ultimately practicing combinations of skills put together as sets should allow both strengthening, balance and healing for a body that has been previously injured or has been training sport specifically.
MovNat is geared to be practiced mostly outside in nature and a lot of competitive sports are played indoors. I imagine that just going outside to exercise would be restorative to the spirit too.
My first experience with a natural movement training system was Tim Anderson’s Original Strength RESET. MovNat looks like a cousin to that. Could you briefly tell me some differences between MovNat and other methods like it? Is it similar to hardstyle versus Girevoy (Kettlebell sport style)?
We teach a science based system that serves anybody. The techniques can be modified to fit the individual. We take a base movement and may make a regression due to an injury consideration or can accelerate a skill by adding intensity by moving faster or adding weight or making a movement more complex by using just one leg.
What about Parkour? When you first hear about people running through the woods, crawling and climbing trees, it sounds like wilderness parkour— I even saw one of your early videos where you were practicing the change of direction using a wall— is MovNat to Parkour as training with weights is to competing in Olympic Lifting or powerlifting?
Myself, I’ve heard MovNat described as Parkour’s cousin who grew up in the woods and it’s a close description but I think that the practical applications of natural movements into daily living is what makes MovNat so special. It is not competitive it is instinctual— like running if someone is chasing you— and universal; everyone can do it. The other system or method of fitness that I think is closest to the natural movement style is Restore Human Fitness Studio based in Vancouver.
As I watched the MovNat Level 3 certification video, I also thought about how it turns a simple hike into playing in the woods.
Here’s a fun example:
Imagine being outside in your yard and the first exercise is safely lifting a big rock at chest height throwing it forward then sprinting to the clothesline, doing an elbow swing up, dropping down and doing a broad jump onto a 2×4 with a precise landing, balance walk sideways to the end and then pivot and do a front roll off to standing. Learning a safe front roll is great to learn how to fall properly. That’s a good overall body conditioning combo.
It also reminded me of my one and only obstacle course race and I could see how doing MovNat might have helped me and my wife move through the course.
Imagine signing up for an obstacle course race and blowing through your stations like a boss! Last time I raced in Chino, I used some sort of low crawl in at least six of the obstacles! I can definitely help you train for an obstacle course! An appropriate session should challenge you and it should be fun.
Looking at the training principles and methodology it strikes me that this would be an awesome system to teach home schooled kids! What a great way to make sure they grow up without all of the deskbound issues that most of us start to develop as soon as we start school and begin sitting for hours at a time!
I think you’re spot on with your idea to include natural movement as a recess activity for homeschooled children. Kids have a lot of energy right? They need a way to expend this abundance of natural energy so herding them outside for a break between lessons and letting them move and jump and run and explore is exactly what they need, to continue to pay attention inside and learn . Kids don’t need Ritalin, kids need PLAYTIME.
I’ve been listening to Zach Even-Esh and he’s constantly lamenting the horrible movement patterns kids have nowadays, especially since they either spend too much time on the couch, or get funneled into specializing in one sport way too early by overzealous parents.
For those parents who want to see P.E. classes in school again, beginning in February, MovNat will offer a FREE Level 1 certification to any phys ed teacher who will bring MovNat into the school curriculum!
Wow! I’m going to spread the word about that. Our kids NEED General Physical Preparedness in the worst way!
I taught my friend’s young son to go downstairs sitting on each step safely so that he would stop running down them so fast. I made a game of it called “BUMP” and we happily bump-bumped our way down SAFELY. He’s 16 now and still laughs about it.
You have a fair number of online students. Although I realize that you check form with video, do you encourage workshops in person to reinforce what people practice at home?
There are workshops held every month somewhere in the world (MovNat is international) and I’ve been to Phoenix, Albuquerque and Santa Monica just to meet like-minded peoples and to keep moving. I learn something new every time I go to one, even the trainer needs training you know? Here is a link to the upcoming schedule.
I think Conor McGregor is the best example of how movement based training can propel you to the top of your chosen sport. He is a student of Ido Portal I believe. Do you have examples of top athletes who use MovNat to excel?
Ido Portal who is well known for training Conor McGregor uses his own movement method combining dance and martial arts. Erwan Le Corre, the founder of MovNat has trained UFC fighter Carlos Condit. They had a session outside the Crossfit gym where we were. Carlos came in the afternoon and he actually spent several hours with us giving instruction in knee strikes. He is now a L1 MCT MovNat certified trainer and is teaching the upcoming Combatives course in February.
I’m a physical culturist and MovNat has it’s roots in Physical Culture, going back to Spanish educator Francisco Amoros and the system of physical education he founded in France in the early 19th century. Where can people learn more about the history of MovNat?
If readers would like a full immersion into the world of natural movement and want to work with a Level 3 coach check out https://www.MovNat.com/about-online-coaching/ or you can call me and I will hook you up.
MovNat.com is the perfect place to visit for an in-depth look at how MovNat developed as a fitness training system.
I think that Kelly Starrett was the biggest influence in making it okay for people to go barefoot again. Do you find that people are still resistant to the idea of training without shoes and how do you help them overcome that and go back to training in what God gave them?
I’ve had lukewarm success in getting people to take their shoes off outside except for grass and sand surfaces. We train frequently inside the studio barefoot and I personally train outdoors monthly so that the bottoms of my feet don’t get too soft.
I train barefoot as much as possible. I only put on shoes, or any equipment for that matter, if I’m getting ready for a competition and I need to practice in the equipment. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that I’m going to drop weights on my foot when I deadlift. Probably it was an easy transition for me because I spent so much time barefoot as a martial artist. But MovNat takes you out into the woods barefoot to lift, carry and climb. How long does it take for people to get their feet and body conditioned to be able to handle being in the woods without all of the goodies from REI?
I love this question! I used to train with the right kind of shoes for either walking, running or cross training and wear gloves when I lift, and it seemed like I had to bring a lot of gear with me to workout. When I got certified I totally revamped my philosophy on tools needed for training and even the type of warm up and strength training exercises we perform. This style of natural movement resonates well with me having a martial arts background because you don’t need anything to roll on the floor and grapple! I travel lighter now. Our instructor Vic Verdier told us about the new Nike® shoe with a chip in it and how it records your heel strike, your speed and pacing and said: “So, now I can’t run without a chip in my shoe?” He made me laugh because I’ve been guilty of thinking I need bells and whistles sometimes. There is a point where you just have to rely on your brain and your body to get through your workout without toys. Just you and your workout.
How can people contact you if they’d like to understand more about what you specifically offer, follow your training or become a student?
If you would like an idea of what individual skills look like check out my ninja account on Instagram, @warriorup_fit. I actually opened the IG account for this and the very first series of posts are from the MovNat Challenge in 2016. They are perfect examples of the types of skills we teach.