Reflections on Ido Portal’s Upper Body Strength Seminar

May 11, 2016 — 12 Comments

I’ve hardly slept at all and my alarm goes off. It’s 3.45am. Bleary eyed I pull back the curtains and the Baltic Sea looks glassily calm and beautiful in the dawn light. I make my way into the bathroom and have a fraction of a second of feeling superheroic when I appear unusually ‘chiseled’ in my reflection. Bleary eyed, like I said. Quick shower and I find blood on the towel. Not superheroic after all – the skin on my wrists has been flayed.
I’m in Turku, Finland and it’s the morning after 2 days of “Upper Body Strength” (Level 1), according to the Ido Portal method. I feel elated, and all of my senses seem heightened, despite the sleep deprivation. I don’t know how much this is influenced by the stunning, sunrise scenery as I drive to Helsinki but for sure a lot of the emotion is a result of the intensity of the seminar, and while I’m driving I know that later I will need to write about the experience, for my own sake but also to attempt to help others understand why they should stop finding excuses, or putting it off, and sign up for one of Ido’s seminars.

The best way that I can describe the feeling is of being ‘charged’.

Physically charged because I’ve put my body through about 16 hours of training in two days and feel strong, as well as sore. That sort of training load is a daily occurrence for the teachers leading and assisting on the seminar, but I haven’t worked that hard since, er, June last year, when I was last in Turku attending the Movement X and Handbalancing seminars.

Mentally charged because I have had so much stimulus in terms of thinking about how I move, and how I teach, and what’s possible with the right application and mindset.

Emotionally charged because of the above, and because the camaraderie of working as part of the group, and with other individuals in the group is a powerful thing. We won’t all be friends for ever, of course. Being me, I’m bound to feel slightly impatient with the attitude or questions of some of the group, but in general it’s impossible not to admire many of my fellow participants. There were a lot of strong people there, and plenty of people who are not yet so strong but embrace and fully immerse themselves in the work. I wish I was surrounded by people like this all the time. Special mention goes to my workout partner for the weekend, helping me maintain a tradition of always being partnered with a Belgian, in spite of my wife’s absence – you were an inspiration, dank u wel.

I’ve talked to a lot of people I’ve met about Ido’s seminars, and a number of them have said “I’d love to do that but I’m not ready”, or “I’ll never reach that level”. I guess that this is an impression that is created by YouTube videos of very strong people doing astonishing things, yet at the seminars I’ve attended every movement or exercise has been scaled so that everyone can participate fully, whatever level they’re at. In fact, having watched some of the videos since the seminar I’m not just thinking “Wow, that’s incredible.”, I’m also thinking “I know the steps to take to achieve that.” I may never achieve a full planche, or a full front lever but that will only be through lack of training time on my part, and with some training, following the steps that I’ve learned, I’ll get to where I deserve to be.

I’ve written before now about the quality of the seminars’ structure so won’t say more about that here. Suffice it to say that I’ve now experienced 3 different teachers, and 3 different assistants, and they have all bought something special to the experience. I’m happy I met Ido at my first seminar and, with all respect, at subsequent seminars I haven’t had a moment of feeling that his presence was missing.

I would recommend starting with Movement X (my new Belgian friend described discovering that it’s possible to cry with happiness at Movement X, and if you’ve been I bet you know when that was…). I’d also say that the Corset is a MUST, and highly recommend
Handbalancing, and Upper Body Strength. I’ll let you know about Locomotion after September – but let’s just say that we’ve been looking forward to it for the last 2 years.

And hey, if you get up early enough the next day, the lighting’s right (and maybe you’re a bit dehydrated) you might look like a superhero, too.


12 responses to Reflections on Ido Portal’s Upper Body Strength Seminar

    Jelica Kricskovics May 12, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Incredibly good writing Mike! You’re truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Jelica


    An additional thought – if you’re interested in gymnastic strength then my N=1 experiment says that you’re money would be much better spent on one of Ido’s seminars or online training than it would on a Gymnastic Bodies course.

      Simon McKenzie May 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      Hi Mike, whats your N=1 Experiment and could you elaborate on this please?


        Hi Simon.
        N=1 as in a sample size of one person – me. I have bought and followed Gymnastics Bodies programming, which I later abandoned because I seemed to be injuring myself. I paid much more money for Ido’s workshops but came away with a much clearer idea of appropriate scaling of exercises, proper execution, programming etc. and I have not injured myself following what I’ve learned there.


        “Ido trained with Gymnastic Bodies for four years?” Thats what sommer says. totally not true


      You understand that Ido’s corset protocols: the knee series and wrist series for starters, largely come from Gymnastic Bodies AND that Ido trained with Gymnastic Bodies for four years? Also, you can injure yourself brushing your teeth. Correlation does not mean causation. Lastly, have you ever thought/tried to attend a Gymnastic Bodies seminar? Ido shrouds much of what he does in mystery because much of what he does is taken from other sources and then he repackages it as largely his own creation or ideation. While his work may be effective, its marketing is quite dishonest and insincere. Also, online coaching for $1200 every 3 months with Ido, or $625 forever with Gymnastic Bodies (with immediate and daily feedback from their forums and tailor-made workouts). Not saying one is better than the other but certain ‘pros,’ absolutely outweigh glaring ‘cons’ between these programs.


        I support your right to hold opinions different from mine, and even to express them on my platform. And I’ll be more careful when brushing my teeth, thanks.

    Simon McKenzie May 13, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Thanks Mike! Best wishes going forward. Cheers


    Thanks for writing about your experiences. I think charged is a good way to describe an Ido workshop. There is so much energy and passion in every word that comes out. Its an incredible experience.

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