The Freedom of Animal Flow Exercise - A Whole Body Workout
Animal Flow Exercise
As I watched my fiancé traveling like an ape across the floor, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. He looked like he was experiencing such freedom compared to the stiffness, aches, and pains I felt every day. Since he recently became a Certified Level 1 Animal Flow Instructor, I knew I had to take advantage of his knowledge and experience so that I could begin my own journey with Animal Flow.
Animal Flow is a series of movements that are intended to challenge the body in strength, endurance, mobility, and flexibility. It was created by Mike Fitch: President of Global Bodyweight Training, who fused his knowledge of multiple bodyweight disciplines such as yoga, parkour, and gymnastics, their unique strengths, and commonalities. The movements are replications of animals we see in nature such as an ape travelling on all 4’s or a scorpion curving its tail to strike. Because of Animal Flow’s ability to challenge multiple facets of fitness, it is also a great option for someone with a constricted schedule.
A Fun Full Body Strength Workout
The movements in Animal Flow create a full body strength workout. One particular move may be more challenging for your glutes or triceps but when combining the moves together, you can create tension over your entire body. When observing the demand on the joints of the body, you can see that while one muscle group may be tested in strength, the others may be tested in mobility. For instance, when moving out of loaded beast, your quadriceps and triceps will be tested in strength and your hips and shoulders will be tested in mobility. Because the load you are using is your own bodyweight, it puts less stress on your joints and connective tissues making it accessible to a large demographic of people.
Another benefit to regularly including Animal Flow into your weekly workout routine is the demand it puts on your wrists, hands, and feet. In the majority of the movements, your hands and feet are baring most of your weight whether that is in a quadruped position such as beast or single leg/single arm loaded position such as a front kick through. Using and increasing the strength in these body parts is often under looked and can directly affect your grip strength (wrists and hands) and posture (feet).
Tempo plays a large part in the modality you would like to work. Many of the movements can be done slowly which would increase the challenge of strength or quickly to challenge agility and coordination. It is also an important part of your own personal expression and can reflect your mood, energy, and intent.
The Freedom of Flow
The movements in Animal Flow can be done in a rep style workout by combining >2 movements together and completing as many reps as possible. This is a great way to drill the combination into your memory and can result in a very challenging workout. You can also combine multiple movements together in a pre-planned flow lasting from 1 minute to 10+ minutes. Once you feel comfortable with these two modalities, you can move on to completing unplanned flows. This is where the freedom of flow comes from; the practice of letting your body take the lead.
Incorporate Animal Flow Into Your Weekly Routine
Incorporate this style of movement into your weekly routine a minimum of 2-3 times per week in order to maximize the benefits of Animal Flow. Making Animal Flow a recurrent part of my own fitness regime has been a challenging, fun, and rewarding experience. Being one year postpartum, I have greatly increased my core and pelvic floor strength. The pain I felt in my low back after being pregnant and carrying my growing child has greatly diminished. An impairing shoulder injury that I have been struggling to improve over the past 7 years has never felt better. I have greatly increased the range of motion and strength in my injured shoulder. There is a sense of freedom I now feel in the control I have over my body.
If you want to experience this sense of freedom and mobility, book a session with me and I can add Animal Flow into your workout routine.
Sherry McReynolds, ACE-CPT, Co-owner Primal PT.