I’ve just unpeeled my closed eyes on the Eurostar coming back from London and Emmet Louise’s Modern Methods of Mobility (M3 seminar).

Why did I go, what did I learn and was it worth it?

There are a whole lot of approaches to mobility or flexibility or stretching or whatever you want to call it. There are different trends, different buzzwords, different theories. I’ve worked and played with quite a few, but not to the extent that Emmet has and I came with specific questions about my own training and for people I train.

I picked Emmet to go to because I find his YouTube videos clear and refreshingly hype free. I also enjoyed meeting him at my first Fighting Monkey workshop. As for the workshop I’ll say that he Emmet does not disappoint.

I’m not saying he could not disappoint.

If you were looking for a guru Emmet would probably not be your first choice to worship, unless you’d worship a friend you go to the pub with for a laugh, to talk about stuff, and for a drink. I better be careful, I mean this as a good thing.

What I’m saying is that Emmet does not let his personality get in the way of the information he presents.

This isn’t a trivial point to me. I would much rather support teachers who display ethics in how they market and work with their public.

The seminar started with some introductions and theory. The participants were pretty mixed, trainers, martial artists, dancers, office workers, people with specific goals like middle splits and people with general goals like moving without pain and being able to play with their kids. What I liked was that did not seem to be anybody who had confused their capacity in their discipline (or mobility) with their self worth.

hip flexor exercise demo

The theory covered the ways we could stretch, using resistance or or not (including gravity) using external focus or targeting and timescales to create really useful changes, as well as how big fast gains are possible on a coordination and nervous system basis. The idea was that we would be able to adapt the ideas to understand or work with other systems that use stretching, such as different Yoga styles (Emmet taught standard gymnastic/acrobatic postures).

Emmet emphasised throughout the workshop that there would be techniques that work better for us as individuals and we should mark them out in the notes we were given. There was a lot of use of the participants for demos, and Emmet was able to help most people who wanted it in practice with cues and personalised variations on exercises.

Over the weekend we covered pancakes, pikes and forward folds, side splits, hip extension, a little front splits, shoulders, torso and backbends, we worked on joint rotations, programming for mobility and did some strange ankle voodoo that gave instant gains all over the body.

I’m not going to go into the details of techniques, for a few reasons. One of which is that I am fried after the weekend, as Emmet warned I would be. I don’t have much stiffness or soreness but pushing the end range of so many positions is exhausting for the nervous system.

here are a few valuable pieces for you, distilled to bullet points:

  • Daily joint rotations, with attention and grace are not revolutionary but often offer some of the greatest benefits – over 30 days they can get rid of all kinds of chronic pain.
  • Take 18 months as a timescale to really move up a level in mobility, to make a position like splits not just possible warm but comfortable cold (providing you have a reasonable base). You may be able to achieve head to toe quickly for Instagram, but it’ll take longer to be able to keep it.
  • 2-4 sessions a week of good mobility work is plenty for most people. You can do more if you have no life.
  • A lot of people train more than they need, don’t eat enough and get miserable
  • Take 6 weeks as a decent time to test a program
  • Experiment and tweak for yourself, Emmet may know 70 pancake variations but you could probably find them by yourself if you want to

As I said there were many details and cues and corrections that were indivualised for participants. This was one of the pleasures of the workshop, watching questions and issues be welcomed and answered. I know that the solutions I got for some of my personal issues were worth the trip, not to mention the material I have to experiment and offer while coaching.

external cues – this one very helpful – thanks Matthew

At the same time as I could benefit from and play with the principles that Emmet gave, it was also clear that in many ways we were scratching the surface. Emmet is drawing from experience. He has read plenty of research, however he is not too concerned with the why a technique might work, as he has noticed that the explanations tend to shift over time. He is interested in what actually works in practice and he has worked with plenty of people over the years.

This returns us to a theme of experiences being more valuable than knowledge or simple information. This weekend with Emmet was a good mix of both and importantly a nice springboard into more experiences.

If you do not know his Youtube channel Emmet has some great stuff.

The workshop was efficiently organised by Elise and Motion Impulse – which has some other great teachers. Thanks Elise!

Thanks Severine for the photos.

Unexpected bonuses seeing Nick for the first time in maybe 17 years.

Hello Nick! My selfie skill is atrocious