UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor’s movement coach, Ido Portal, is revolutionizing the health and fitness world with his philosophy on body movement. Learn from the master yourself.
TRAIN: What’s the big problem with traditional fitness training?
Ido Portal: “People must focus on the movement layer instead of just tuning into a very simple voice that comes from the fitness world, which they’ve done for so many years.
“Things are packaged in an instant microwave answer and then when you approach something of true complexity and true beauty and potential to change lives, some people’s attention span cannot hold onto that.
“People need to seek out better tools for their movement abilities – something I’ve been doing for many years. It’s about getting someone to invert, to rotate, to be more coordinate, to crawl, to climb to take all these positions and to soften the body in the right areas to harden the body in others. It helps you understand movement patterning and re-patterning, changing patterns and to recognize patterns. There are so many subjects to explore.
“Since we are aware of the shortening of the attention span and employed a watered down approach, we have started to issue very simple challenges to the public. One of them was the squat challenge (hold a deep position of a squat for 30 minutes for 30 days), while the other was the hanging challenge (hang from a bar for seven minutes a day for 30 days). They are very simple tasks that can start to unlock certain areas of the body and to heal the body and allow better movement to come naturally.”
Your philosophy on movement started developing after you took up capoeira at 15, but what caught your attention about this Brazilian martial art?
“It was the fancy stuff, which is not what it really is. It’s a social interaction, movement dialogue and a movement conversation. What got me into it is not what got me to stay there – they’re two different things. It was the movement that got me in there, and I stayed for the movement, but not for the fancy movements.”
Why should people not just focus on the aesthetics of weight lifting?
“For many years the aesthetics of the body have hinted at ability. These muscles and these looks we search for, we do it because they suggest certain abilities and attributes, but it’s not there anymore, it’s disappeared. Now it’s just reverse engineering, it’s an attempt to have the aesthetic without the pattern behind it and the ability.
“Some people say ‘he looks very strong’ – but strength doesn’t have a look. Strength can look like nothing, a fat person, a skinny person. Strength doesn’t look, it is a look of many different attributes.”
What other training principles can you gain strength from?
“It can come from a very efficient nervous system, just like a rock climber without much muscles. But it can also come from a heavy sumo guy who doesn’t look very muscular. It can also come from a muscular person. We need to bring the focus back into the patterns, into the actual movement abilities versus just the looks of it.”
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