Méthode Naturelle, also known as the Natural Method or Hébertisme, a methodology of physical education to achieve integral development by the use of natural movement. It was essentially developed at the beginning of the 20th century by the French naval officer Georges Hébert
The philosophy, or the doctrine of Methode Naturelle, summarizes its underlying ideas. They explain the essence of the method and largely determine its difference from other physical education methods, as well as from sport and fitness.
A man who lives in natural conditions is forced to get food, move around and defend himself against enemies. His holistic physical development is achieved through daily useful and natural movements that correspond to the structure of the human body and its vital needs.
Civilization reduces the amount of daily human workload or makes it one-sided. However, the need for a holistic movement in our bodies remains the same as it was millions of years ago.
The founder of the natural method, Georges Hebert, believed that a person should receive a daily dose of exercise equivalent to the activity in the natural environment. Since the time for training is limited, it is important to use it effectively. Hebert called his teachings about the effective physical education “Methode Naturelle.” The methodology aims to develop maximum physical potential in an individuum through natural and useful movements, as well as improve his health and stress tolerance.
The natural method uses movements that are natural to the human body. The human body was designed for such movements by nature, as opposed to artificial, stylized gymnastics or sports exercises. Initially, the name of the method was used to underline the method’s innovation and distance it from other physical education systems that were common back then, such as Swedish gymnastics.
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.
“Why be a jumping champion if you can’t swim?” – wondered Georges Eber. In his opinion, it is better to have an average level in all skills than to succeed in one but neglect the others.
The idea of a harmonically developed body is not new. The culmination of the ancient Olympic Games was the pentathlon – competition in running, wrestling, long jump, discus and javelin throwing.
Hebert added to this idea the development of a strong character. “A man of medium physical strength, but bold and energetic, is superior in life to a man of exceptional physical ability, but fearful and indecisive.”
Natural method athletes compete with their old performance, not with other people’s achievements. Work at own pace, without competition or pressure from outside, minimizes the risk of injury.
The natural method includes competition in training in the form of relay races, tug-of-war, and games. Heterogenous teams that consist of participants of different ages or physical fitness levels emphasize team spirit instead of achievement.
Regular performance tests
Hebert was one of the pioneers to develop a comprehensive physical test to control the progress of the athletes.
The test examined participants’ strength, speed, mobility, and endurance through exercises from different disciplines – running, swimming, jumping, throwing, and others. Hebert evaluated skills on a 20-point scale, from -5 to 15, with 0 points as the minimum requirement for an adult. Regular tests allowed to monitor the quality of training.