The Movement Guide was created as a business to encourage happiness and health through body movement. This is one great influence on why I like to spend a bit of time on my hands hanging out upside down whenever I am able to. Founder Sean Smith started the Movement Guide in Sydney, Australia but has since taken it back to Dubai, UAE, and is about to launch the brand to a whole new level of adventure and knowledge.
How would you describe what you do?
I am a researcher, a teacher but also always remain a student. I study movement, research new methods of these movements, then teach my findings to others. My ‘system’ is a personal expression of my definition of movement; my method is built using physical development tools and techniques from gymnastics, circus, ballet, martial arts, and weight-lifting. I combine Eastern principles of longevity, flexibility and body care with Western methods of periodisation and programming. I help others to move better, and guide them to learn how to teach themselves.
This isn’t how you have always trained though – you have a very diverse range of experience in fitness. How did this evolve and change?
Growing up I went through many sports and physical outlets ranging from archery, horse riding and swimming all the way to free climbing, but my main focus as a teenager and early 20s was rugby. I began playing low level when I was 14 and made my first international cap when I was 16 for the under 19’s AGRFU. At the age of 19 I began playing for the Men’s AGRFU international team in the Asian world cup qualifiers. I then found myself in Australia playing 1st grade Shute Shield and heading toward bigger things when the injuries started to interfere on a large scale. When I eventually retired from playing rugby, I considered entering into the Australian army and was introduced to Crossfit as a result. Crossfit in many ways was and is a wonderful tool, but if used poorly it can be disastrous for the practitioner. I found the sacrifice of form, control and safety for the sake of completing a WOD (workout of the day) with alarming frequency and came to the conclusion that a firmer foundation and patience was needed. I began to study movement in assessment and corrective work, tutoring under specialists and trainers focused on the body’ natural movement patterns. I then researched heavily into gymnastics strength work, but also started training with some circus performers in Sydney. Together that journey lay the foundation for where I am now, studying and working full time as a movement trainer and performer.
Why do you think it’s so important for people to train in movement art?
Movement is our way of life, and our form of expression whether we know it or not. It is a complex process that boils down to a simple combination of tension and relaxation, flexion and extension. I have found that the more athletes I meet, the more my understanding of imbalance and weakness increases; I am meeting people who have spent their lives moving in one set of predictable patterns – they tend to favour certain actions, muscular capabilities and body awareness abilities. There is no one sport or training method that provides all of the stimuli for a truly rounded ability. However, by addressing our first function of movement to a higher degree, we can balance our body’s patterns and capabilities more, and become smoother, stronger and freer.
Can you please tell readers about the projects that you are currently working on?
I will be leaving for China on the 27th of June with my partner to study Tai Chi and Wudang Kung Fu full time for two months to study under one of the most respected masters. We will be studying martial arts, internal healing and longevity arts, meditation, scripture and language and of course Chinese traditional medicine. We will be documenting the entire trip, creating records and tutorials, and I look forward to incorporating what we learn into our current system
We are also currently working with a charity called Harmony House, located just outside Delhi, in India. They help to educate, feed and provide a more comfortable life for underprivileged children in India, and also offers an educational program for creating yoga masters. We are currently running a series of fund-raising workshops to help raise money for Harmony House. We will be travelling to India at the end of the year to teach and share some of the theory and practice that we learn in China. If you would like to find out more, or help Harmony House, check out their website: www.harmonyhouseindia.org
I have officially now launched my online coaching for everyone who is interested and driven to improve their physical abilities and mental toughness. Coaching is uniquely tailored for your personal goals and provides regular feedback and a fully comprehensive and detailed program, which is emailed at the start of each training block. Places are limited though so please drop me an email on email@example.com to find out more, with the subject line ‘Online Coaching’. For all members that sign up, 10% of our earnings go to Harmony House.
What is your favourite exercise and why?
Rope climb – It is such a versatile tool, and provides an incredibly demanding stimulus to the body. In one movement we are using the shoulders to pull and balance, the rotator cuff muscles to stabilise the shoulders, there is a back and abdominal contraction almost constantly, there is hip and leg tension to maintain lift and height… you get the idea! The other awesome thing about rope climbs is the variety and intensity that can be achieved. Changes in leg height, the distance between hands during the climb, the speed and hand grip all can dramatically change the effects obtained. Get up there!
You train hard and a lot – what is your diet like?
I eat a relaxed form of Paleo, so I do eat some foods that strict Paleo does not allow such as rice. I avoid processed foods, refined sugar and dairy, and I limit my fruit intake, as it contains quite high amounts of sugar. I also carb cycle, so some days I will limit my carb intake, and then increase carbs again the following day. This keeps me lean, fuelled and healthy, and I always make sure to stay well hydrated. I keep my supplementation quite minimal, and avoid pre workouts (I much prefer an espresso). I take a multivitamin and mineral complex, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), Zinc, vitamin C and magnesium. This keeps me working hard, progressing weekly and enjoying life. Oh and if I want a slice of cake, I will eat that too. It’s all about having a balance.
If you would like to follow the progress and development of the Movement Guide staff and clients, track the experience through China and access all the free tutorials and articles then please follow on:
W: www.the-movement-guide.com (site under redevelopment, stay tuned for a relaunch in September 2014)