Renowned movement specialist Carl Paoli believes the way movement feels is the key to unlocking your potential. If it feels good keep going, if it doesn’t then listen. Carl kindly illustrated his 4 key movements for us at a gym in London. The muscle-up is shown below, all are featured in issue 1 of our printed publication.
WM: What is your movement philosophy?
CP: Let your body do what it wants to do, and don’t be scared of it. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you through feeling. As long as it feels good you are going in the right direction. And if its not going in the right direction, your body will tell you. Everyone wants to measure movement by time or weight and I say that true human performance can only be measured by feel. We must learn to feel how we are moving.
WM: Which comes first, the sport or the movement?
CP: The sport is just the definition of the movement. The movement is the act. So they are both the same
WM: 3 things to focus on when moving?
1 – Consistency. A little bit every day.
2 - Quality, it is never going to be perfect but try to make it the way you feel is right. The way is good for you.
3 - Positive Mental Attitude. Whatever happens, learn from it. There are going to be good and bad moments, but whatever that is, it needs to be meaningful and when you look back it needs to reflect a positive.
WM: "Human performance can only be measured by feel”, this idea came up in our conversation. can you expand?
CP: Performance is the product of adaptation. Adaptation is simply, progression and I see progression in 3 ways:
1 - The natural way. Our bodies naturally adapt and progress in a certain direction according to the challenges that the environment offers and to your desires for progressing yourself to whatever goals you may have. There is a natural progression there. Now when I look back at that natural progression there are moments in time when certain changes were obvious. Those points are ones that you can use to formalise a progression. That is what we teach. So for example lets say you were standing up off the ground and in the process of doing that if you did it many times you would notice that a few moments; when I sweep my leg, when I lunge, when I pick my chest up, and a moment when I push and stand. Those become formal points of performance that you can teach. And that is not something that you woke up one day and said that is how you do a movement. No, this is how your body has adapted into a movement and by doing it over and over again it found the most effective and efficient ways to move which are useful, long lasting and safe. Which are basically the characeteristcs of functionality, that now allow you to teach those things. And once you reach that this evolves in the Creative Progression.
2 - The creative progression is where you are returning to that natural stage of progression. And the creative progression is saying ok if I went this way, can I go the other way and is it ok to go the other way? And when I go the other way what happens? Did I consciously decide that or did it happen naturally? Now you are back to where you started. And what you just did was you went full circle in your progression. And that is when we realise that progression is not linear, it is circular. And once you completed a loop you get to roll forward towards where you are going. And that is the movement that we see, that is the linear progression that people are trying to measure, but if you look at that circular progression, the numbers are almost going backwards and you are like “ wait what happened? I thought I was getting stronger, no, am i getting weaker. and then all of a sudden you complete the progression and then it comes round and it rolls and all of a sudden whoosh your numbers just rise up. That is the jump, so that is what true performance is, it is being able to measure it by feel. Just because the numbers aren’t matching, if it feels correct, if it feels right, it will take you forward. You have to trust that body knows better than anyone else, and of course you can be testing metrics at many different levels. But when it just comes to movement, just you, the movement, no tools, no measurement, no nothing, just your instinct you need to ensure it by feel.
3 - Our bodies and our minds have to learn to speak the language of movement. If your body says “I feels pain” is it good pain or bad pain? Is it pain like my leg is broken or is it just discomfort because I am performing at a high level that is making me feel uncomfortable. Distinguishing between them I can then move away from pain, meaning if I am feeling pain, even if it is good discomfort back off a little bit and now it will last longer and I am going to get there faster. To suffer a little bit is fine but back off just a little bit and that is the sweet spot.
WM: Thoughts on nourishing the body?
CP: Its consistent throughout the year, but there is seasonal changes and when it comes to food. thankfully we in California have the farmers market and the farmers market offers what they have so that is what you eat. which is And it is very good, and if you don’t go to the farmers market we have the world famous WholeFoods who like to sell you very expensive things but at the same time they also are very seasonal so whatever is in season they bring out and that actually becomes your foundation, because it is very local you are eating local and you are adapting to your weather, your conditions, your environment so I think that is just a benefit we have living in a place like california.
WM: Eating well, training whilst travelling can be challenging, do you have any tips and/or inspiration to keep the focus?
CP: I think that travelling actually does give you structure. You know you have to get in a car, on a train, go through an airport, get on a plane. And if you’ve done it once or twice, you know what to expect so if you know what to expect then prepare for the expected and then be Ok with the unexpected. And when you accept that it actually turns out fine.
With foods, you know what foods make you feel good you know what foods make you feel not so good. And just make a good, better choice. It is as simple as that.
And the last thing is if you know what you do well on, food or rest wise stick to what you know works.
Stick to the basics and try to stay as consistent as possible.
WM: How do you keep your life in balance between maintaining your level of performance with living?
CP: I think we go through phases, so there are phases where you train a lot, where you live a lot and phases where you work a lot. And no matter how much there is a tug of war going on always leave a little bit of room for everything, so you fill up every cup, even if its with a little bit. Eventually as life goes on it balances out once you look back. There is always going to be a specific focus at certain times. If you can prioritize the consistency, the quality and the PMA in every thing you do, no matter how much that is, that dose you are giving yourself will be conducive to growth. Be ok with living an imbalanced life because overall it will balance out.
WM: What book would you gift to someone (other than Freestyle which we will be featuring!)
CP: I was thinking about this the other day. someone just gifted me “The One Thing”, i forget who the author is and I was like “you know what? This is kind of a good book!” And then there is a woman who is a writer, elizabeth Darsch is her name and she told me “Carl, you need to read more fiction” and I was like I don’t like to read fiction. And I was thinking which would be a good fiction book that I would like to read and I don’t have one so if you have a recommendation I’ll take it.
One book I like to read is The War of Art. Not the Art of War. The War of Art, super easy to read, super small. And it is basically the process that the artist or anyone that is trying to do something actually goes . It is basically the struggle that you go through to get shit done. It is a good little book, super easy to read. And the other book would be “The One Thing”. There are some pretty cool stories in there, I like that a lot. It links in with what we talk about, a little bit every day, consistency, dedication, focus.