The Carmel Market (also known as Shuck Hacarmel) is the largest market in Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s a bustling frenzy of hurried customers and fast-paced moped riders. Ido Portal and I stood alongside each other in the midst of the madness, using it as a jumping-off point for our interview. “It’s where life is,” he says, before narrating what’s happening around us —merchants screaming, shoppers selecting different foods, and random liquids pooling at our feet. He cracks a smile as he quips, “Some good old Israeli charm.” Ido Portal is an Israeli coach, trainer, and teacher. While many gurus focus on a specific skillset — flexibility, dance, strength, circus, etc. — Portal’s method centres around the broader spectrum of movement. He developed a mindset around embracing your body and the way nature intended it to move, which he calls Movement Culture. His movement centre hosts a diverse community of energetic students, known for their hard work and fluid-like agility. Portal teaches his “tribe” the importance of being a human above all else. You can be a fighter, martial arts expert or even a circus performer, but first, you were a mover — and before that, a human being. Ido Portal’s goal is to study, understand and appreciate every angle of body movement — nutrition, health, anatomy, physiology and more. His following exploded after he trained mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Conor McGregor before his featherweight title fight, where he knocked out his opponent 13 seconds into the first round.
One of the first topics I discussed with Ido Portal wasn’t the lesson I learned in movement, but the lesson I learned in people. The Movement Culture community was incredibly welcoming, and it was refreshing to discuss the effect it had on myself and my time in Israel.
Of course, it was necessary to touch on the upcoming fight between his most infamous student, MMA fighter Conor McGregor, and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather. He discusses working with McGregor as a coach and friend, humbly minimizing his role as “the squeeze of lime on top of the dish.” Adding a bit of humour, he describes the much-anticipated event as “an octopus meeting a lion.”
I asked Ido Portal how he was able to transform the lives of his students. His response? He doesn’t transform anyone — he’s just there to facilitate the situation.
He uses a metaphor to clarify: planting, growing and cutting down a tree, sawing the wood, and transforming it into a table. His role, he says, is to simply plant the seed and see what unfolds, not to influence the entire process. In his eyes, it’s about facilitation, not transformation. His skills and insight are just a small piece to a much larger puzzle.
Ido Portal’s take on life is truly unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed our stroll through the Carmel Market.
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"Of the People, By the People, For the People"
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