Na’Vi Fitness


I don’t mean to do a plug for a movie I have no connection to, which most people are going to see anyway, but James Cameron’s “Avatar” flick has a tremendous amount of resonance in how we ought to be, live and perceive our environment.

Hunter Gatherer Lifestyle
In the movie, the Na’Vi tribe has a lifestyle of total communion with their ecology. Everything is connected to their Goddess Eywa (quite literally, through some form of organic technology, as every living creature seems to have the equivalent of a USB port, be it plant or animal, even the soil), like a huge hard drive where you can download and upload memories. They attempt to not disturb any ecological balance, and any kill is justified and respected. The Na’Vi, indigenous to Pandora, are tall, lean, beautiful, agile and extremely fit. They are “Wild Fit”, as a matter of fact. They train all day long by riding their native equine and bird equivalents, climb trees, cling to vines, scale mountains and more. The forest is their playground, their gym. Quickly into the movie, you care more for the natives of Pandora, truly connected to their planet, than you do for the humans, who act as a colonizing virus (a concept explored in movies like The Matrix Trilogy) after putting their own planet, Our planet Earth, in ecological jeopardy (nice to know in many centuries, we still haven’t resolved our environmental issues).

Wild Na'Vi Fitness

Similarities to Our Ancestry
Well, not just our ancestry if you consider we still have a few tribes of true Hunter Gatherers, such as the Hadza in Tanzania. But, humans used to be hunter-gatherers before they were farmers, over 200,000 years ago. Farming (and a newly acquired sedentary lifestyle) lasted 10,000+ years until we became the modernized “zoo humans” we are today, thanks to the industrial revolution. We have the technology, which seems soulless compared to how the Na’Vi’s “theo-technology” (a term I just coined for this post, but will not claim was not used elsewhere, if someone happens to have beaten me to it), but we are disconnected, figuratively. We may connect to the World Wide Web, send tweets and social network updates via our smart phones, but we are detached from our immediate surroundings, all focused only on our tech devices. The Na’Vi remind me also of the Masai warriors my wife and I encountered when honeymooning in Tanzania. Very tall, lean, able to read the bush and track animals even in the dark, with a built-in GPS into their brain, their skin so dark it seems it had a bluish tint to it. We don’t need to travel 6 light years, though I thank Jim Cameron for the experience, the reminder, the awareness, the message.

Masai fitness

Movies: Not Just To Escape
Yes, movies allow us to escape from our worldly matters, but great ones also bring us back, especially when the message is subtly obvious (great oxymoron, but stay with me here…). Last year’s “Wall-E” showed ballooned humans, degenerating after trashing the Earth. Here, we saw us colonizing another planet to steal rather than undo what we did to ourselves. The answer in both cases was a return to our roots. It’s not just fitness. It’s a change of perception (which the movies provide), hopefully for a change in lifestyle, not just exercise and proper eating. It’s a call to Action!

10 comments on “Na’Vi Fitness”

  1. Josh Hanagarne

    You forgot to mention that we should all be, not only tall, but 12 feet tall. The taller you get, the lovelier and wiser you are. I am the link between humans and the Navi, admit it Philippe!

    1. Philippe Til

      You are absolutely correct! I was wondering how you enjoyed “driving” your Avatar during the movie. Your character was not shown doing the download and upload via Eywa at the end.

  2. Michael Warren

    All I can think of as I sit here reading this on my computer, in my cubicle…in my sedentary job, is how I wish I could be outdoors getting “Wild-Fit” by mountain biking, rock climbing, surfing, mountain trail running, etc….all the things I love to do. Our current culture is breading heart disease, obesity, and low bone density. On with the Na’Vi!

    1. Philippe Til

      At least, Michael, you do those things to offset the “zoo human” lifestyle and you instill that in your children. I always look up to all the things you’re capable of doing. You keep yourself in tip-top shape and your age doesn’t show (you’re as old as your connective tissue, and you rebuild yours constantly with your activities). But yeah, I hear you!!!

  3. Tara

    The movie totally inspired me too, what a great illustration of how humans could live. Great blog Philippe!

  4. Philippe Til

    @Todd: I’m right there with you on that. In this particular flick, the point I am seeing (rather than making, JC -the director, not the messiah- makes the point) is that we shouldn’t have to go light years away to find what’s right at home. The cgi are a medium, not a destination. They support rather than take over. It’s really an interplanetary “Pocahontas”, but worth a shot.
    There is a French expression (may be international, not sure) that says “no one is a prophet in their own land”.
    As a Wildfitness ambassador, I really appreciated the synergy that the Na’vi people displayed. The Hadza live similarly.
    Stay tuned for my interview, coming a week from Monday, with the founder of Wildfitness 🙂

  5. Todd

    @Josh, you are very lovely, so you may be right.

    I have no interest in seeing Avatar. It sounds like this one has some redeeming qualities, I hate moveies that rely so heavily on CG for special effects.

  6. Angela

    James captured a lot of the cultures from Africa, South America, and especially the Native American culture in the movie. I find that absolutely amazing. The Na’vi are inspirational in how they are so cultured, and they also inspire me to be stronger, physically and psychologically.

    THAT and the Na’vi will give us some insight on how us as a human race will evolve, too. Our ancestors, the first humans on earth, were short and stocky with men at about 5″2. 60 years ago women had tiny feet, and TODAY our feet have doubled, TRIPPLED in size. Look at us now. Look at the models in magazines. Tall at a range of 5″ 7 to 6″ 5, slender, and strong. Studies show how we’re evolving ever so slowly.

    Imagine what we’ll look like in the next hundred years or so. We’re not gonna be blue or have yellow eyes or even a tail, but we’ll look an awful lot like the Na’vi in how we’ll be shaped. Our earth has a stronger gravitational pull, so we’d probably still be shorter.

    That’s all I godda say about that.

  7. MCPO Robert Brown

    Fine. If anyone else would not like to know where their next meal is coming from, run around naked apart from paint and feathers, and be even poorer than black people in slums, more power to you. I will sit at home, watching documentaries and liberal news media saying how you have to scrounge for food, unwilling and/or unable to go into a commissary and obtain food that not only has been killed already, and instead shivering in your mud tree because you cannot get food to sustain youself, or even maintain the level of physical fitness that makes no sense for a planet with lighter gravity than earth-you should work less, right, if things are lighter on Pandora?
    Phillipe Til-so, we’ll look a lot like the Na’vi, huh?
    We won’t be blue, have yellow eyes, have a tail, and we’ll be shorter, and lack virtually every other characteristic that puts the aliens in a completely different species from humans, but our shape will be the same?
    People in medieval England had fingers, feet, heads, ears, eyes, and the Na’vi do also.
    You make no sense.
    Anyone else who wants to give up their car, family, life, laptop or computer, job, and run out into the African wilds to attempt to survive on a bsic existence for the rest of their life, just turn all your money over to the government and use your credit cards to catch a plane to the African jungle.
    See you in the news someday!

  8. Philippe Til

    @MCPO Robert Brown:
    I found your comment rather entertaining and appreciate the humor, even if unintentional, as it sounds more like a criticism of the message you may have otherwise misunderstood. First of all, in case you are unsure, I don’t believe we are going anywhere Pandora in our lifetime, well, for starters, because it’s FICTION, CINEMA 🙂
    Second, my analogy and commentary using the remaining hunter gatherer tribes in Africa are merely to illustrate that while we all have the same essential skeletal structure and operate under the same gravity, the obesity epidemic, or I should rather say “Pandemic” (not “Pandora”) that plagues many developed countries is an indicator that it’s not about giving up our lifestyle, but maybe sitting at home watching documentaries and liberal news is not exactly the way to rehabilitate your body. Have you seen the HBO Series “The Weight Of The Nation”?
    Our bodies don’t know how to stop eating because we’re still wired the same way we were WHEN we hunted and gathered 200,000 years ago, and our bodies are designed for efficiency and scarcity. Now that food is not scarce (explain even overweight homeless people to me), we oughta adjust our behavior towards food because our next meal IS around the corner. So, I don’t disagree with you and am not looking at living not knowing where my next meal will come from, or when, but Robert Brown, if that is your real name, you probably, as well as a few people you know, could put the fork down and get off that couch and turn off the boob tube (unless you upgraded to a flat screen, my bad, sorry!) and rally a few people who SHOULD move because THEY KNOW they will have another meal soon.

    Look at X-rays of obese people, even overweight people. You’ll see the frame is not mean to support the excess weight. A corporation in Arkansas took a health survey of its employees and found that 55% were over 200lb, 30% over 225lb and 15% over 250lb. Construction guys carrying 60lb of tools on top of 60lb of excess fat. Robert, the scaffolding, the frame, the skeletal structure will collapse (I am using analogies again, in case you miss that point like in the blog).

    So, I’m not giving up any of my luxuries, I am not suggesting that. I am giving up excess calories, trans fats, processed foods, refined sugars. And book a trip somewhere outside of the country to explore other cultures. You might enjoy it 🙂

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