Moving With Ido Portal

Lessons from my journey into movement.

Recently I started moving with Ido Portal, the graceful movement teacher making 1 arm handstands and other feats look so easy. When I say moving with him what I mean is having his team help me become a better mover (and teacher) via his online coaching program. So far the process has been extremely rewarding on many different levels so naturally I wanted to share my story for those interested.

A little about myself. My name is Brian Johnson, I’m 34 and I am a movement & nutrition coach in Dallas TX. In a nutshell I like to move, a lot, and I always have. As a kid I played the typical sports; football, baseball, basketball, golf, track and a few others. Quite humbly I was decent at all of them, I didn’t set records in any but could at least hang with some of the best and not get completely lost. Because of that I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades but a master of none. I don’t say this to boast by any means because in some ways it’s hindered my development in certain areas while in other ways it was a blessing in disguise. Being that I never went deep in any one thing it kept me from really mastering whatever given sport I was practicing at the time. It was a blessing because I now see how it gave me a ‘movement language’ that I might not have received if I did go deep in any one sport. All the various disciplines and sports I practiced throughout the years helped me to set the foundation for what I now practice which I’ll call movement.

This movement is where Ido Portal comes in. He originally caught my attention back somewhere around 2009 when I was seeking something different to add to my workouts. He had already started gaining some dedicated students and had created a group centered around a movement culture. These were dancers, gymnasts, crossfitters, yogis, acrobats, capoeiristas and many others looking to bridge their current practices with something more. While doing my own research Ido’s videos would occasionally surface online showcasing his amazingly graceful flows that where a combination of capoeira, gymnastics, calisthenics and yoga. These movements, termed floreio, were extremely seductive compilations that I had never seen anyone do before and I was instantly amazed by his body precision and control. Aside from the dabble here and there with handstands and parallette work I had never practiced this type of movement but deep down I knew this was the next direction I wanted to take my practice. As I continued to seek, explore and implement I realized the potential this type of training had not only to help me become a better mover overall but to enhance the quality of my teaching affecting the lives of my clients as well.

Bodybuilding is paradoxical in that you’re training the body to be LESS mobile by adding too much muscle tissue. Here I was at my most immobile in 2003.

This couldn’t have been better timing either. I had grown tired of the standard bodybuilder routine that the fitness culture is still centered around, creating good looking bodies that really aren’t that functional or mobile. And I should know best, I spent my college years competing as a natural bodybuilder eventually turning pro only to soon find it was a hollow shell, it wasn’t really what I was looking and unfortunately it took me years to recognize it. I’d spend hours and hours in the gym missing out on spending time with family and friends all for the sake of adding a little extra muscle here and there all while making myself more immobile in return. I was so hyperfocused on creating beauty and significance through aesthetics that my movement capability and function became secondary. In the end I realized the sport of bodybuilding was not something that made me a better person or mover and in fact made my world smaller over time. I learned many valuable lessons from this period of my life but I’m also thankful that it was short lived and led me to where I am now.

Post bodybuilding I knew I wanted something that really challenged me physically as well as mentally and wasn’t based on aesthetics alone. I realized I was looking for a philosophy of movement that I could grow with, an art or discipline that I could practice daily that would push the boundaries of what I thought I was capable of on all levels, or a method that I could teach others to do the same in their lives. In 2010 this overarching idea of becoming a better mover started to take shape as I began doing more research into various styles, arts and methods of movement.

Observation from 2012: My handstands weren’t great.

Over the next 5 years from 2009–2014 I slowly continued to migrate to more of a bodyweight centric workout taking up rock climbing, hand balancing, gymnastics, parkour, dance and other like hobbies. I use the word hobby because I wasn’t too serious about any of them and still maintained my “functional” gym workout. It was a time of exploring and investigation. I was continually inspired by many people in varying practices and disciplines along the way(Ido Portal, Lewie West, Laird Hamilton, Steve Atlas, Coach Sommer, Various acrobats, Cirque performers and others) that were leading the way, creating new possibilities within this movement culture. I had the realization that these new movement hobbies I was having fun with had more carry over into creating health and longevity and were more akin to the sports I once practiced as a kid. But it also occurred to me that even though I considered myself a good mover I could be better from so many different aspects. I had practiced these bodyweight movements loosely for years never really taking them too seriously but also had a burning desire to form a practice taking them to the next level. I looked around at many different programs thinking of creating my own piecemeal strategy as there really wasn’t anything out there that offered a solid starting point to what I wanted to learn. This is when I again came across the Ido Portal Self Dominance video which ultimately led me to his explore his website. I wanted to move more toward that… it was beautiful, graceful, strong and fun. After reading and listening to more of his philosophy on movement and life I realized we shared some similar beliefs on many topics but that there was plenty for me to continue my learning. At that point I knew it was time again for the teacher (me) to become the student. I was ready to learn and continue the shift toward forming my own new movement practice which leads me to where I am today.

Quite honestly it took me some time to take the jump into online coaching. Ido openly voices the fact that it’s both expensive and demanding which are both true. I reached out almost a year prior to signing up for the program initially thinking these goals were something I could do under my own plan but over time I realized not only the true value of what was being taught but also how much I needed to step out and go through the process of becoming a student. I also knew that I was my own worst trainee, skipping workouts and making concessions to not do the work. The accountability was absolutely what I needed for a swift kick in the ass. Lastly I wanted to experience whether the Ido Portal Method was legitimate or hype. In 5 short weeks I’ve definitely gotten that answer (see below).

After a short amount of time under the Ido Portal Method (4 weeks)
Planche work after focusing on straight arm strength for the first 5 weeks of the program.

My Takeaways In A Short Time With The Ido Portal Method

  1. Mastery of the basic fundamentals increases your chances of doing damn near any movement. This includes mobility in all directions, deep squatting, bent and straight arm strength, soft acrobatics, ground locomotion (crawling, rolling etc.) handbalancing, movement mimicry and awareness or proprioception in space. These all build the requirements and tools for mastery toward any practice of your choosing and helps create the anti-fragile body well all long for.
  2. One hour of training a few days a week isn’t going to cut it when it comes to building a movement foundation or for mastery in any discipline. It may suffice for general health but there’s nothing generic about handstands, front levers and ring work. Ido makes no excuses for having a “movement first” dogma, which means his life is centered around movement and is prioritized before anything else, and it’s clear in the volume of training he prescribes that he expects the same from you. This has been a huge shift for me and has brought tremendous results in the progress of my foundational practice.
  3. Whatever movement practice allows you to be better is the best practice for you. It’s about investigating and doing the research so that you can then individualize the process. Dancing, martial arts, gymnastics, rock climbing; these are all practices that one can experiment with on a path to finding a process that is best suited for them. Once found a dedication to building the foundation followed by skill work is the key to continued progress.
  4. Consistency is the name of the game. There are a million excuses to not move or put in the time, but being able to do the work and repeat is what separates good movers from great movers. I wasn’t born with the genetics to be the best mover on the planet, but with constant practice I know I can be so much better.
  5. Like all things that are great in life you have to want it and be willing to commit everything to achieve it. Most of the flashy movements seen all over the web are the outer layers of the the practice of which years of work has gone into. Going in and thinking you can master anything without paying respect to the foundation will only leave you broken and unfulfilled.

The biggest question I get is “would you recommend this program, is it worth it?” and in my experience thus far the answer is simple, yes.

I’ve advanced more in 6 weeks than I have in the past 2 years and look forward to what lies ahead.

As I continue this process I guarantee there will be more gems that will come from my transition into movement and from my work with Ido and crew and I plan to share them here. If you’d like to learn more about my process you can also follow my pics and updates on instagram and twitter: @brianmovement or visit my website at www.brianmovement.com

-move on