Releasing your inner animal

Story by Giovanni Roselli 

Now more than ever we are bombarded with many different types of fitness regimens.  

With more equipment available than ever and more options to choose from than ever, maybe it’s time to go back to basics — simply using your body as your equipment. There are many qualified professionals who say that machines and external weights shouldn’t be used until you can move your own body weight with precision.

There is a certain form of body-weight exercise that has helped me in my own career as well as helping my clients reach their fitness goals. Animal Flow, a form of body-weight training that has been around for hundreds of years, has gained in popularity quite recently.

Fellow trainer and colleague Mike Fitch created one particular form of Animal Flow that I follow closely. As a combination of yoga, gymnastics, parkour, breakdancing and martial arts, it can be considered the highest form of body-weight movement. Each of these disciplines uses quadrupedal animal movements in one way or another.

“The flow component, which was also inspired by the different disciplines, is all about how the body transfers, dissipates and communicates ‘energy’ or force,” Fitch says, “whether that’s the force of your own body weight and gravity or it’s the energy that’s coming back into the body from the ground or an external object.”

Here, you’ll find an introduction to a few basic Animal Flow moves.  I want to preface these moves by noting that since many animal flow moves are performed on the ground, proper warm-up of the wrists and hands is recommended prior to, during and post-exercise.

As with most exercises, these poses can be easy or difficult depending on the effort you put into them. My recommendation is to focus on your breath in these poses and let that dictate the time under tension.For the static positions (crab and beast), begin by attempting to hold your breath for 10 slow, full inhalations and exhalations. Once you can accomplish that, try adding more breaths. For the moving exercises (crab reach and beast to side kick through), begin by attempting three repetitions on each side with full inhalations and exhalations throughout.

“Everyone who practices Animal Flow does it for different reasons,” Fitch says. “Some people use it as a restorative modality to repair and down regulate their bodies. Others may make a more intense practice of it, which they use to improve performance.  The way in which you use it is completely up to you…. It is a constant practice to become a more fluid mover, transferring forces and energy seamlessly.”

For those interested in learning more about these moves and this type of training, please feel free to send me an email at GioRoselli@gmail.com as well as visit animalflow.com.  

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