Regular followers of our Twitter accounts (@TLPBlog and @TLPEcology) will know that, here at Landmark, we take health and wellbeing pretty seriously. To lick us into better shape we have secured the services of Functional Fitness to run a fitness session every Thursday lunchtime in the church hall next to our office. Well, when I say us, what I really mean is most of us! You see, I’m not a great fan of indoor fitness sessions. Whilst I’m not averse to working off the weekend’s excess, I personally feel that exercise should be, well, more natural.
It was with great interest therefore that I learnt about a new fitness concept called Natural Movement, pioneered by a French fitness coach called Erwan Le Corre. Natural Movement is an exercise regime that utilises the natural environment as an outdoor gym. It is modelled, unsurprisingly, on natural movements such as running, crawling and climbing. Not only do you gain physical health benefits by participating; many people also experience mental health benefits from exercising outside. After all, it was in the natural (rather than the urban) environment that we, as a species, evolved.
So how does this tie in with Green Infrastructure? Well, here at Landmark, we are used to creating wildlife habitat but we are rarely asked to create wild habitat for people. Multi-functional ‘wild areas’ are known to bring many benefits to local residents, and therefore add value for developers. Just imagine (and indulge me here!) if planning policy required new residential housing schemes to, where possible, provide ‘wild areas’ for use by the local community? These could utilise agro-forestry principles to create forest gardens, providing residents and wildlife with a free resource of fruits, nuts and berries. Forest Schools could utilise the area to help educate and enthuse the next generation. Natural Movement classes could help to increase the health and fitness of the local community. People can use these areas to stroll, picnic and reconnect with friends and family away from emails, Facebook and Twitter. And, with strategic planning, these areas could link up to enhance ecological connectivity across the wider landscape.
Perhaps this is all a little fanciful. But we sometimes forget that nature is vital for our wellbeing and, in truly sustainable developments, it should form an intrinsic part of the scheme design. Requiring ‘wild areas’ to be created as part of new residential developments is unlikely to solve all of society’s problems. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Functional Fitness run a Natural Movement class every Thursday morning in Bristol. If you’re interested in coming along, more details can be found on their website.