Practicing Animal Flow bodyweight training guarantees an improvement in key areas of a person’s fitness level, and at the same time, just might land you a spot on World of Dance. The key areas of fitness, as we know, are strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and stability. Think about the different planes of motion people exercise in? Too often, workouts limit the person to a specific direction like running on a horizontal plane and lifting on a vertical plane. As for most things in life, it’s imperative that we shake things up every once in a while. People become automated in the forms of exercise they use, often lacking body awareness. Animal Flow challenges that using primal, locomotive and quite literally animal mimicking techniques to connect the mind with the body.
Who is the mind behind Animal Flow?
Mike Fitch is the mind behind the madness that is Animal Flow. He began to explore bodyweight exercises after 30 years of training and educating in many different forms of fitness. His goal was to find a form of exercise that effectively targets flexibility, endurance, strength, and cardio without causing excessive bodily pain. Therefore, this form of exercise challenges the person to complete a whole routine in a series of fluid and explosive movements. The movements fall somewhere on the spectrum between breakdancing, yoga, and hand balancing. Animal movements, also known as locomotion, have existed long before Fitch created Animal Flow. However, they had previously never been tied to a whole routine consisting of fluid movements drawn mostly from hand balancing and yoga.
The exercise is made up of six components:
- Wrist Mobilizations – stretching and warming up the hands and wrists for the exercise.
- Activations – using foundational forms called the Beast and the Crab to activate the body in preparation for its connection with the mind.
- Form Specific Stretches – base animal positions extending to different motions that encourage mobility and lengthening muscles around joints
- Traveling Forms – mimicking the movements of the ape, beast, and crab, thus tying in the primal aspect of the flow.
- Switches and transitions – dynamic movements that can form a number of different combinations
- Flows – all components come together to create a mind-body connection throughout the whole routine.
Now that we have a little bit of background on what Animal Flow is, here’s why it can benefit personal trainers and their clients.
Create dynamic warm-up exercises
The flexibility and flow of this workout style allow for it to be used in a number of different parts of the typical exercise routine. As everyone should know, warming up is important to minimize the risk of injury. Warm-ups steadily increase breathing, heart rate, and muscle temperatures. The first three components of Animal Flow, if not all of them, target stretching to increase blood flow and joint mobility for every part of the body. This can be helpful to prepare the body for the workload for the exercise that will follow. Also, creating a meditative flow through these movements better connects the mind with the body. Body awareness helps tremendously to prevent injury.
Compare this to using yoga as a warm up except it’s more of a synchronized dance that the user can create and flow through. From the perspective of personal training as life coaching, some clients need to tap into their inner animal flow. This helps them to become more in touch with their fitness routines as well as their day to day activities.
A substitute for common bodyweight exercises
What sets personal trainers apart from one another and how does someone segment themselves from this oversaturated market? Obviously, people want results, but they also want to escape the mundane. As people, we follow patterns pretty heavily and can easily become stuck in a routine. Animal flow provides a way for trainers to break themselves and their clients out of the norm and get a little… primal. Almost providing the user a medium for self expression. When clients have the freedom in their workouts for self expression the trainer can learn more about what helps them connect their mind to their body.
Body awareness during an exercise directly relates to the way the client feels after the exercise. It also contributes to the way the client will approach the next exercise. Often, people become burnt out or too sore to even want to exercise again which is a huge problem. Health coaching is important in this realm of exercise feedback.
“Good body awareness is difficult to measure scientifically, but can teach us how to recognize a strenuous workout that, instead of leading to pain and injury, improves performance, muscle balance, and everyday functionality”Pirkko Markula Ph.D., professor of socio-cultural studies of physical activity at the University of Alberta and author of Fit Femininity
Animal Flow lets the person stay in touch with how their body is feeling and reacting to the movements throughout the whole process. Integrating Animal Flow movements with other bodyweight exercises can be a great method to help clients maintain a strong connection between their mind and body. Of course, whole workouts can and should consist of various styles of exercise from free weights to using machines to bodyweight.
Efficiently train muscles in the three planes of movement
Cross-training is very important in reducing stress in certain muscle groups, right? Yes, and something trainers should remember is how important it is to work out on different planes of motion. Sagittal, frontal, and transverse are the three planes that humans are constantly moving in. In each of these planes, there are several different muscle groups and joints. Personal training should reflect how people naturally move on these three planes to provide a full-body exercise. Animal Flow makes practicing this easy and effective. Also, using Animal Flow takes some thought out of planning good workouts for clients.
Break down the six different components of the flow art. This helps to better understand how it effectively trains muscles in different groups. For example, look at breakdancing, one of the influences in this flow style. Breakdancers use mobility drills to lengthen the muscles so that it is less resistant to different movements around joints. This is the secret behind those crazy contortionist movements they are able to do. Mobility is a trait that everybody should strive to keep developing because of its importance in overall joint and muscle health.
Cooling down post-workout with Animal Flow
Muscle and joint health provide a nice segway into talking about the final component of every workout – the cool down. Every trainer knows the importance of giving the body a chance to steadily relax after an intense workout. The heart needs some time to wind down before coming to a complete rest. Cooling down is known to improve endurance giving the heart a chance to steady out while still staying active and in motion. The fluidity of Animal Flow movements allows for the user to stay in motion and gradually slow down. Ending a workout this way is meditative. As a personal trainer, this is very important to lead clients into a relaxed meditative state post-workout. Clients will leave feeling more accomplished with the extremely hard work they just put in and will hopefully keep coming back for more.
If you found any of this information helpful and want some more information on how to incorporate Animal Flow into your training, then leave a comment below!