Christian at Move Studios: an interview on redefining fitness
Yo Christian, your class is like going to the zoo with ducks and bears and tigers. Training with you has been the maddest, most fun yet intelligent, strong, flexible experience. I would love to deep dive into your philosophy a bit more …
Tell us a bit about your fitness journey up until now?
From around the age of 14 it was becoming clear that the possibility of becoming a professional rugby player was high. Provided I focussed and trained hard. From then I began working with a renowned speed and power coach called Margot Wells (her husband Alan won the 100m gold at the Berlin Olympics – the last white man to achieve this feat). She was phenomenal. A little crazy, ocassaionly ill tempered and moody, but she was a genius. From there I developed a love of training. This carried on into an 8 year rugby career during which I would work with a couple of physios and strength and conditioners who were at the very top of their trade. Spending much of my time injured, I learned first hand about rehab protocols, firing patterns and neural pathways etc. When I finally became a personal trainer I was armed with all of this knowledge but hadn’t ever been forced to piece it all together. When I began doing so, plus diving further into other methodologies things began to click. I fixed my own broken body by way of better movement and mobility training, most of which was done on the floor. It’s all be wild movement since then.
When did you fascination with movement happen? Was it a departure from your previous training?
The fascination began when I attached the concept of play that I was used to in sport, to proper movement training. Its not a chore being fit as a rugby player. You either chase a ball or a person, throw each other on the floor, have a wrestle and repeat. There is little time to think of it as fitness. The movement exhibited on a rugby field shouldn’t find its way to public gyms but the idea of getting lost in movement certainly should.
Why do you think it's so important?
We are born to move. However we are subject to marketing strategies and social constructs that have led us to believe that fitness is measured in calories and performed under flashing lights. Those concepts were not designed with the consumers best interest at heart. You are a pawn. We need more real movement. How well do you move? Do you enjoy it? Are you in pain? I plan on moving until the day I die. For that to be the case you need to move regularly and move as intended.
You are on a mission to redefine fitness, how does that look for you?
There is space for all types of fitness methodologies. Do not confuse my opinion for negativity. However I do feel as though the fitness landscape is broken. Fitness isn’t a number or a topless Instagram pic. Fitness is all too often allowed to negatively contributing to its users state of health physically and mentally. It is too easy to be a coach.
My aim is to redefine the way we view fitness, to change that word for movement and be at the forefront of a shift towards the embitterment of people both physically and mentally. We need happy people with a body that is built to last. Not one that is built for the approval of others.
Any common myths you’d like to dispel?
There is no such thing as a tummy fat burning exercise.
Sweat is not an indicator of calories burned.
You don’t get abs by doing more abs.
If you work a full time job and simply want to be healthy and happy you don’t need a heart rate monitor. Just move.
Your muscles cant get longer. Thats not what happens when you stretch.
The question you know everyone's thinking … Can you really build muscle without weights in the gym?
Yes. It is perhaps more difficult because building muscle requires resistance and resistance is easily manufactured through weights. That said, the better you understand how to move the more resistance you can create within your own body. Gymnasts are incredibly muscle bound and they spend most of their time doing bodyweight training. The true question is how much muscle do you require in order to be an efficient and strong mover for your desired output. Bodybuilding is great but im not sure how useful it is walking around at that size with the ability to recruit that much force. Ive never had to lift up a car but I have to sit, stand, walk and turn every single day.
What does strength training mean to you?
This has three levels for me. 1) performing exercises that make me strong and proficient for what my lifestyle requires. 2) performing exercises that make me stronger and better at moving the way that I love to move from an enjoyment standpoint 3) performing exercises that make me strong enough for the eventualities that hopefully never happen but perhaps one day might – defend myself, run away, jump over things, protect others etc
What is your daily fitness routine like?
Coach anywhere from 2-8 hours depending on the day. I accumulate most of my movement during those coaching hours. I walk my dog for about an hour most days. My own training is usually only about 30-40 minutes. I don’t have the energy to do much more than that due to the other load. My training is by and large either focussed specific positional work or rolling around on the floor with no plan until I get tired. On weekends I try to get out for a long run along the river. I move everyday as I coach 7 days a week but I do not train everyday.
Has training had an impact on your mental health?
No doubt. Running was the first thing that helped my mental health after retiring from rugby. It was a form of escapism and time to think with no distractions. You have to get good at running first however for this to be possible. Now, the floor flowing-groundwork is my movement meditation. I put the music on full blast and just move. I move until I cant think about moving.
What keeps you motivated?
Helping People. Changing perceptions.
What are your top 3 power moves?
Vertical jump. Stair bounds. Med ball overhead toss. (sadly can't do either of the latter at move but we find our ways around it!)
And finally... what is the weirdest thought you’ve had when training at home?
Not sure about thought but I had a full blown conversation with my dog mid yoga flow yesterday.