Méthode Naturelle, also known as Hébertisme, is a training method to develop one’s highest potential, or, in other words, to achieve integral development by the use of his own means of locomotion, work, and defense. Thus, the natural method involves many different disciplines of humans’ natural movement. It was essentially developed at the beginning of the 20th century by french naval officer Georges Hébert under the motto
“Être fort pour être utile” – Be strong to be useful
It imposes that one should be able to help oneself and others in situations of natural disaster or accident. That is the reason why méthode naturelle trainings also contain assistance and spotting techniques, carrying people and self-defence.
The ultimate goal of the training is “to be able to produce in a given time or in a minimum of time, without harming the body, a dose of activity roughly equal to that which would represent a whole day of life in the open air in the state of nature” . (G. Hébert, Guide pratique d’éducation physique, Paris, Vuibert, 4è édition, 1922, p. 3)
In the same work, G. Hébert indicates that the man in the state of nature, “the savage for instance” is “obliged to live an active life to meet his basic needs” and “realizes this integral physical development by performing only natural and utilitarian exercises such as walking, running, jumping, “climbing”, “lifting”, “throwing”, swimming, defense, etc., and engaging in the most common tasks”
The three components
The training is very comprehensive and covers the following fields:
physical component: consisting of ten families: marching, running, leaping, climbing, carrying, throwing, balancing, self-defense, swimming and crawling (quadrupedalism)
moral component: will, courage, coolness, tenacity, helpfulness
energetic component: endurance, rapidness, strength, resistance
Méthode naturelle shouldn’t be understood as restricted to training in nature. It rather refers to method or manner of training. It is simple, practical, appropriate to everyone and applicable everywhere.
It doesn’t require special installations or terrain, though it can be practiced in purpose-built course parks similar to keep-fit trails or military obstacle courses.
The main goal is to “make strong beings, with enhanced health, an energetic character, strong resistance and skills sufficient for any natural and practical exercise.”
The essence of the natural method is not exercises or techniques, but the methodology of the training session. The natural method is equally suitable for children and adults, women and men, experienced athletes and beginners. It fits nature, urban settings, or fitness parcours.
The workout plan and exercises, the volume of load, and the duration of the training vary with each session. They depend on the physical ability and age of the participants, weather conditions, and terrain. The methodology itself is universal and always remains the same.
Freedom of choice and competition
For everyone can train at his own rate and compares his results not with others, but with own old ones, the risk of injury is minimized. Most méthode naturelle practitioners stay fit until very old age.
Recording the results
It is important to keep track of one’s improvement. Georges Hébert designed special score tables that allow to control wide range of achievements, such as high jump, run, weight throw, rope climb, dive underwater etc.
It is important to work on all the components. “Why be a champion jumper if you cannot climb or swim?”
Running is the primary exercise. “Strength lives more in the heart and lungs than in the muscles.” Still, try to include several disciplines in one session.
Development of moral is a necessary part of training. It start with respect to fellow men and nature and goes over to courage, energy, commitment.
Outdoor training in all weathers is essential to develop resistance to cold and a good way to develop firmness and discipline.
Hébertism vs. Methode Naturelle
The terms “Hebertism” and Methode Naturelle (MN) are often mistaken to mean the same concept. However, Hebertism has a much broader meaning. Whereas MN is a method of training and physical education that Hébert developed in the period from 1904 to 1911: Natural Method of Physical, Virile and Moral Education (Hébert 1936), Hebertism is a holistic pedagogocal approach that synthesizes six lifestyle components:
- integral physical development through the use of MN
- health and naturist initiative (nutrition, hygiene, naturopathy, aero-, hydro- and heliotherapy)
- intellectual culture (e.g. history of philosophy, sciences)
- artistic sense and aesthetic culture (dance, music, arts)
- mental and moral culture
- daily manual labor and manual crafts (e.g. gardening, woodwork, housekeeping)