The Natural Method (translated) Georges Hébert’s Practical Guide to Physical Education

The Natural Method - Philippe TilThose who don’t pay attention to History are doomed to repeat it, the saying goes. That’s a good thing in this case! At the prompting of eminent fitness educator Dr Ed Thomas, I have undertaken the translating of Georges Hébert’s book The Practical Guide to Physical Education into English, which I will break down into a trilogy of books. The work dates from circa early 1900’s and has been used since to establish fitness aptitude and instructional guidelines not just for Armed Forces personnel, but also for the physical aptitude of citizens of any nation. As a French native and fitness professional, it behooved me to accept the task rather than hand it over to a translator who may not understand certain nuances of training or movement. After discussing with peers and other fitness professionals, the consensus was first to deliver as close and faithful a translation as possible. While there have been certain advances or research in the fitness industry since, the gist remains the same. Hébert himself acknowledged cultural or geographical differences in the execution of certain exercises, but none of it takes away from the method itself, which transcends cultures and can be adapted to all (healthy and ambulatory) bodies. What is even more important to note is that back in the day, there was more uniformity in the aesthetic of bodies, with greater abilities and function, compared to the extreme lack of fitness our nation, and even the World, are experiencing nowadays. What is the point of technological advances if we are regressing in our fitness? Even Hébert was noticing that then, over a century ago! Let us revisit the past to create a better future!

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