Image Source: Mike Fitch
If you've been in the workout scene for a while, it can sometimes feel like you've done it all by now. It seems like every group fitness class you do these days is some variation of cycling, strength training, or HIIT. While these are all great ways to get a sweat on and strengthen your body, you might be in the market for a new, fresh way to exercise as we move into 2018. Lucky for you, we've got the inside scoop on a workout that's about to take the world by storm: Animal Flow.
Rather than try to explain it ourselves, POPSUGAR spoke with Mike Fitch, the fitness educator and trainer who created Animal Flow. We also chatted with two other personal trainers who have been incorporating Animal Flow into their own workouts and sessions with their clients. This workout might be exactly what you need to get fitter than ever.
What Is Animal Flow?
"Animal Flow is a ground-based movement program that's designed to improve the function and communication of the 'Human Animal,'" Mike explained. "Although if I want to simplify the explanation, I'll usually just say that it looks like a combination of gymnastics, yoga, and breakdancing with some animals thrown in."
"Animal Flow is a ground-based movement program that's designed to improve the function and communication of the 'Human Animal.'"
Christian Favor, a personal trainer at Equinox (who I've been training with for several months), describes Animal Flow as "a fitness program that'll get you moving in all planes of motions with just your body." And Eric Leija, kettlebell specialist at Onnit Academy, added, "Animal Flow is a bodyweight-based movement system that helps you gain more body awareness. It can more easily be described as yoga combined with breakdancing."
OK, so we've got some keywords here: multiple planes, yoga, breakdancing, and bodyweight. But it's still hard to know what Animal Flow actually is until you've seen it or tried it for yourself, so here's a short video to give you an idea.
As you can see, it's like no other movement you've ever seen before (and trust me, it's way harder than it looks). You won't need any equipment to do Animal Flow, but that doesn't mean it won't be a challenge. I started working on Animal Flow with Christian a few weeks ago, and just the introductory movements left me sore as hell when I woke up the following morning. I'm finding that Animal Flow allows you to move your body in a unique way, and it accesses muscles that you didn't even know existed.
What Are the Benefits of Doing Animal Flow?
"The benefits of a regular Animal Flow practice are extensive because it's a complete mix of physical attributes."
It looks interesting. It seems cool. But why would anybody do it? It's a fair question, and not to worry — there's a long list of benefits that come from doing Animal Flow on the regular.
"The benefits of a regular Animal Flow practice are extensive because it's a complete mix of physical attributes," Mike told POPSUGAR. He said Animal Flow gives you the opportunity to train "all of the different abilities of the human body, like strength, endurance, power, flexibility, balance, mobility, and coordination, [while] most fitness modalities will only result in one or two of these attributes."
Mike said Animal Flow is especially helpful for people who strength train or do CrossFit or simply need some more mobility and flexibility in their life (ahem, runners). Animal Flow is even great for "the yogi who needs more strength and power." As a yoga teacher who has been doing yoga for years, I can attest to this. Animal Flow may incorporate some elements of yoga, but it's an entirely different practice that offers additional strength.
"By incorporating Animal Flow into your routine, one would see improvement in their mobility, stability, strength, and overall fitness," Eric added. "Animal Flow has helped me with coordination, timing, and how to manage my breathing while controlling my body more efficiently, which has helped me become more fluid with my movement." He has seen similar results with his clients: "They've gained tremendous core strength and body awareness."
Christian says he has experienced the same positive results. Having come from a background of power lifting and strength training, getting his certification to teach Animal Flow was completely out of his comfort zone — but it paid off. "I'm becoming more aware of controlling my breathing as I go through the flows," he said. "You can use Animal Flow at the beginning of your workout as a warmup, you can incorporate it towards the end of a workout as a cooldown, or you can just have a full session strictly with Animal Flow."
Who Can Do Animal Flow?
"Animal Flow is great for everyone," Christian assured. Mike agreed, adding, "Since every movement can be both regressed and progressed, we can confidently say that it's for all people, whether they're male, female, young, old, new to fitness, or a seasoned fitness junkie."
"Since every movement can be both regressed and progressed, we can confidently say that it's for all people, whether they're male, female, young, old, new to fitness, or a seasoned fitness junkie."
Although anyone and everyone can benefit from the workout, it's particularly useful for people who devote a lot of time to weightlifting and other kinds of strength training, since it keeps the body supple and improves mobility. This is extremely useful when lifting heavy weights, not only to progress yourself but also to prevent injury.
On Eric's Instagram profile (he's known as primal.swoledier), you can often see him incorporating Animal Flow into kettlebell workouts. Seeing super fit folks like him and his clients do Animal Flow proves that there is a lot to be gained from the practice.
How Can I Incorporate It Into My Own Fitness Routine?
Your local gym probably doesn't offer Animal Flow classes (yet, anyway), but that doesn't mean you can't get started on it yourself. You can visit the Animal Flow website and purchase the instructional video to practice the moves on your own. You can also watch various videos for free on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook.
"If you're looking to become certified as an instructor or just want to improve your own practice, we offer workshops all around the globe," Mike said. "We'll have over 100 workshops in 2018." He also told POPSUGAR that in just a few months, there will be a "fully functioning directory on the Animal Flow site where you can find either group fitness classes or personal trainers that are Animal Flow certified." Finally, feel free to reach out to the Animal Flow community on Facebook or through the website if you have any questions.
"Beginners should first learn how to hold the three basic movements: Beast, Crab, and Ape," Eric advised. "Then progress toward learning how to transition from Crab to Beast (known as an underswitch), as well as travelling in the basic movement forms."
All those terms will make sense to you as you become more acquainted with the practice. For now, just explore online and feast your eyes on the countless videos out there. The more you slowly incorporate it into your own fitness routine, the more you'll agree with us that Animal Flow is the next big thing in the world of fitness.