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Ido Portal
Ido Portal
Ido Portal

Ido Portal

04.07.2017 | Sport | Meeting Ido Portal, the Movement guru
Chris Hettinga and Sjuul Damen, our Mobility, Crosstraining and Movement trainers, went to a training weekend with Movement guru: Ido Portal. A very intense event where people got bruised and threw up, “but it was amazing”. We spoke with Chris and Sjuul about their experience.

How was it to train with the man himself?
Chris: It was nice to meet him! Sometimes you train with his apprentices instead of himself. So at first we thought he wasn’t going to show up. But then we saw on his Instagram that he was there himself, so we were very happy.

How was the overall feeling of the weekend?
Chris: ‘It was very good, we learned a lot about coordination, movement, rolling and many other things.’

Sjuul: ‘It was very interesting. He works with movement concepts, what lacks in nowadays movement and what is interesting to awake to rehabilitate and dissociate. He wants to shake you up and see how you can do things differently and see movement in a different way. He turns the fitness and sports world upside down and by looking at the mechanics and more in the level of how do you move, what makes a man move, and how can we move people better.’

How can we improve those movements?
Sjuul: ‘Nowadays, we have all these different institutions that produce movement in a certain way, for instance track and field, gymnastics, running, boxing, etcetera.
We see that as sports, we see that as movement. And these are detailed specialized kind of movements. In Ido’s theory every sport uses a couple of motor skills that can be transferable to other sports. First, you take a body part and you isolate it. Then you train it and then you have to step by step integrate it into a more complex system and then you can place this system into a more complex context. 
That’s what he does. He isolates the body parts first, he integrates it and then use it with improvising movements.’ 

So he focusses on training this particular movement, so you can use it in other sports?
Chris: ‘Yes, in every sport. ’

Some people see him as a guru, as someone who knows it all, how did you experience that?
Chris: ‘Well he has a lot of charisma! He has good answers to every question and also his assistants are such great movers. It looks so easy when they move, even the simple moves they do it in a perfect way.’
Sjuul: ‘On the other side, he is also an ex-military. He can be really nice, but he can also be really disciplined and an angry coach.’
Chris: ‘But that’s good, I like that.’ 

So he can be quite strict?
Chris: ‘Yeah, failing doesn’t matter, but you have to work for it.’
Sjuul: ‘He made us roll over concrete for like half an hour ‘

What have you learned from his methods?
Sjuul: ‘If you are nice to the floor, the floor is nice to you. And more in that principle, if you are round and if you roll well, you won’t feel the floor.’
Chris: ‘You’re rolling over your flesh.’
Sjuul: ‘But if you hit to the floor, the floor will hit you back. And what happened was in the end of the day people were tired and it was quite warm in that place, so in the last minute people were slowing down their rolls. When he saw that he got angry. He said to the group: “You can do like 50 rolls in one minute. You are not here to waste my time and you’re not here to waste your own time. So let’s make this time worthwhile, so I want you to do rolling without stopping.” Then we rolled non-stop.’
Chris: ‘And then you get dizzy of course, you lose your coordination, people even threw up.’

And how were you guys feeling?
Chris: ‘Ok, but we got bruised.’ 
Sjuul: ‘Yeah, we still are.’ 
Chris: ‘But we didn’t threw up.’

So if people ask you ‘How was the Ido Portal training weekend?’ you say: You get bruised, you throw up, but it was amazing’?
Chris: ‘Yes and it was worth it!’

Is there something specific you learned that you’ll use when teaching?
Sjuul: ‘What is interesting is that he is a specialist in movement and he, in his words, “not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk”. He is a really good coach, he trained so many people and he tried so many different ways. He has this idea about movement which I really liked and which I also tried to apply this last week and will try to apply more; you have to treat every movement as something special for yourself. Not one movement is better than another, whether you are doing a muscle up or making a roll over the floor, you know you want to – you are there with that movement, you want to advance it in perfection. That is what you want to learn.’ 
Chris: ‘He also said that once you learned a certain skill, it is always empty – you know you can do a double backflip, but the moment you learned it, there is nothing behind that backflip – you’re not getting like 8 virgins and a gold medal afterwards. What he says is “it is still worthwhile to go to the goals and to pursuit certain challenges”, 
Sjuul: ‘Yeah, maybe it is the skill, but maybe more appreciate the movement in itself, the fact that you are practicing it, is already the goal itself. And that is what I liked and he used a nice metaphor; his dad used to look down on him. He thought “you are rolling and stuff, do something more substantial.” and now he is paying his fathers bills with rolling – does that make this rolling any more special than it was twenty, thirty years ago? No, it’s still rolling but now he makes money with it.’

Is that something you will use in your own practice and try to teach other people that it is about the movement itself instead of its end goal?
Sjuul: ‘Yes and the fact that you want to pursuit goals is not bad, but you have to be realistic about the fact that is not all about that. It’s about the path towards it and how you learn it and what it does with your body, with your muscles and all the other benefits for your health. And the fact that you’re having fun, that is essential.’
Chris: ‘It’s about the simple things, playing with a ball like kids do, that makes an adult feel like a kid again, just play. And this fits really well to the mentality of Het Gymlokaal to make sports more fun, have a good time instead of being focused on losing weight or getting a six pack.’
Sjuul: ‘That is a nice side effect, but that is also my idea and also that is what I like about Het Gymlokaal, and what attracted me here in the first place was that it has a more holistic approach to movement and not necessarily short-term goals and aesthetic ideals.’
Chris: ‘When you train in a fun and playful way instead of doing 50 burpees, you don’t think about exercising anymore, but you are still moving and still working on your coordination, or your speed or your explosiveness and muscles.’ 

How are you going to make an exercise more playful? 
Chris: ‘For example the exercise with the tennis balls, you can do simple things, just catching the ball with the hands, with the feet.’
Sjuul: ‘What he showed us were examples of how you can manipulate a certain object or your body. But he also did it in a way that he only showed the tip of the iceberg which can be interesting for your own, because today in a class, I did the same stuff with the tennis ball and I thought about integrating the elbow or integrating the knee.’

So in the end the most important thing is that you to start thinking ouside the box? 
Chris: ‘Yes, nobody is the same, do the weird stuff.’
Sjuul: ‘That is what he also motivated or rewarded during the workshop, if someone did something really different he was like: “Oh I like that”. And when somebody did something really cool – when normal people would think is awesome, he has seen it all, so he doesn’t give a fuck.’
Sjuul & Chris: ‘And he can do it all.’

What do you want to say to people who want to start with movement and mobility training?
Sjuul: ‘I think it is really inspiring for everyone to see what is possible with movement, come and join the mobility, movement, crosstraining or capoeira classes.’
Chris: ‘… and new doors will open for you.’
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