6) 1919: WOMEN AND CHILDREN   

At the end of the war, Hébert is disabled from left arm.   He is retired  by the army. He is 43 years old.

The College of Athletes of Reims is in ruins, victim of the bombardments from the start of the war.

 

Several of his collaborators were killed.

Demeny died in 1917.

Peace is back, sports movements are favored and France gradually abandon the Hébert method.

Postcards:
The college of athletes of Reims: before and after the bombardments

 

The army, which had sought out Hébert during the war, abandoned the natural method in favor of less utilitarian training ...

 

Army will come back to it later when the same causes produce the same effects ...

 

Hébert brings together some instructors trained in Reims. He starts in 1919 in Deauville, a gymnastics college for women and children:

 

                          the Palestra.

 

A revolution at that time, when the emancipation and physical education of women was hardly considered.

 

Another establishment of the same type as the Palestra, will also be created in the south east at the Château des Bormettes in La londe les Maures

He quickly entrusted the management to Yvonne Moreau .

She is a former student of Demenÿ and of the college of Reims. He married her in 1923. They had two children: Jeanne and Régis.

Yvonne Moreau
La Palestra: the management pavilion.

At La Palestra, Yvonne and Georges Hébert offer a broad vision that includes:

  1. A complete physical training by Méthode Naturelle

  2. practicing  all the routine manual work:

    1. housework: cleaning, kitchen, sewing, painting, maintenance, home repair

    2. gardening work: use of tools (rake, shovel, saw, wheelbarrow), hobby garden and vegetable garden

  3. moral and mental culture: order, accuracy, frankness, sense of duty, harmony, respect for common rules, good humour

  4. Intellectual culture: courses relating to physical education, literature or history

  5. Artistic culture: lectures on art and antiquity; dances and songs

  6. Naturist initiation (in the philosophical sense, not to be confused with nudism): healthy food..


The Palestra is exported to the English market. The English brochures add one more element: French lessons!

(La Palestra, programme, Librairie Vuibert, Paris 1925    //  La Palestra residential physical training college for women students, Imprimerie Durand, Chartres, 1925)

She is very dynamic but very discreet. She signs articles under the pseudonym "the coach", not mentionning her name.

Since HEBERT is handicaped by his wound, she rewrites and types Georges' manuscripts.

She takes an active part in the writing of the book "Muscle and female plastic beauty" where we can see the strong influence of the sculptor Rodin.

In 1922, Georges Hébert restarts the magazine:

"physical education"

He will stay at the head of it till 1955, shortly before his death; This magazin will allow him to spread his ideas throughout the educational and sports world, because many convinced sportsmen listen to him and take advantage of his technical lessons.

.

In 1925, he publishes a book :  

                     "Le sport contre l'éducation physique"  

                         (Sport against physical education)

The controversy is intense: he denounces  the physical, social and moral dangers and harms of modern sport in its misguided conception (specialization/ show / money / violence / drugs etc.)

He definitely breaks with de COUBERTIN.

(Georges HEBERT: Le sport contre l'éducation physique, Librairie Vuibert Paris, 1925

In 1930, Georges Hébert who is now aged 55, founded the first female nautical school in the world aboard the Alcyon , a three - masted schooner offered by a donator.

 

It thus proved that women had the same physical qualities and especially character as men.

 

This school is a great success. Unfortunately, the donator having money problems, Hébert gave him back the ship which was then sold.

It is following this original initiative that the French Navy will start the construction of two sailing school-ships, the Etoile and the Belle-Poule, which will set sail in 1932 and which are still in service today.

The Alcyon, leaving Deauvile harbour
(Family archive)

Furthermore, HEBERT is facing the indifference of the public authorities. He will regularly denounce this passiveness in his magazine. He  considers that it is the role of the State to teach physical education  as it does for intellectual education.  HEBERT  is approached, both by public organizations and schools ( Fire brigade, railways, Electricity companies, Parisian police...) and private ( Scout movements, Michelin factories, Ecoles des Roches...) which adopt the method within their structures or schools.

 

At this time, he met a Belgian, Marcel Beugnier, who along with 2 of his friends, Alexandre and Nelissen, will play an important role in the transmission and preservation of his doctrine by spreading it widely in Belgium after the war and creating the " Belgian Federation of Education by the Natural Method ".

 

The natural method at SNCF ...
, to the Firemen of Paris ...
or in summer camps ...


In the world, (Germany, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cuba Spain, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon ...) centers which will call themselves “hebertists” are formed. They come from private initiatives and they  apply Hébert's teachings. Hébert is happy of this diffusion but stays away for these organizations, he does not want a centralized organization.

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