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Unleashing Fitness Potential with Animal Flow Bodyweight Training

Unleashing Fitness Potential with Animal Flow Bodyweight Training

  • Riley James
For those unfamiliar with the concept of animal flow, it's a unique form of bodyweight training that teaches you the art of exercising without the need for weights. Much like the popular calisthenics workouts, animal flow is a blend of bodyweight movements performed on the ground, but rather than focusing on sets and reps, it emphasizes a sequence or flow. It's like a beautiful fusion of strength training and yoga, creating a bridge for those who enjoy weightlifting and those who prefer restorative exercises.

Keen on exploring the potential benefits, I dedicated 30 minutes each day for a week to this intriguing form of exercise. Here's what I discovered.

Animal Flow, as the name suggests, is a floor-based style of bodyweight training that employs animal poses, crawling, transitions, and an uninterrupted flow of movement to create “sequences of motion.” The objective is to target and enhance various fitness areas. You can categorize animal flow into the “Six Components” that constitute the AF system and can be “mixed and matched” to create your workout. These include:

• Activations: This involves waking up the muscles and bringing conscious awareness to the body in preparation for movement.

• Traveling forms: These are animal locomotive movements that mimic animals and their variations.

• Switches and transitions: These are dynamic movements that can be linked together to form combinations of exercises.

• Flows: These are exercises linked together to form a sequence or workout.

Each component consists of various moves, stretches, or activation exercises designed to provide a solid foundation in animal flow. Once you master the basics, you can build and adapt using the animal flow library and various transitions.

My week-long experiment with a daily 30-minute animal flow workout routine was quite an enlightening journey. Just like starting weightlifting, you don't just dive into complex movements. Instead, you start from scratch and build from there. Animal flow is like an art form, and rather than plunging headfirst into an advanced class, I focused on the basics, sticking to a 30-minute beginner class throughout the week. My sole objective was to observe any progression between my first and last session and how it made me feel.

The routine began with standard wrist mobilizations, which was a relief considering my history of wrist issues during workouts. Then we moved onto introductory movements found in drills, progressing into a beginner flow. Animal flow is the epitome of functional training, improving the quality and range of your movement and how you interact with your body throughout the day. But the structure and progression it entails was something I hadn't anticipated.

Animal flow aims to consciously connect the body, breath, and mind (a challenging feat) to improve balance, coordination, mobility, flexibility, range of motion, proprioception, and build strength, power, stability, and endurance. A study by Animal Flow and Dr. Jeffrey Buxton revealed that quadrupedal movement training (QMT) shows improved functional movement, range of motion, stabilization, and flexibility markers when regularly performing an animal flow routine. This was a revelation for me.

The challenge posed by animal flow was surprising. It requires a lot of energy to control your body through a range of motion you’re not used to — especially when every movement requires complete control. The first class introduced four level-one movements — the loaded beast, front step through, underswitch, and jumping side kick through — but the whole program includes around 75 movements ranging from beginner to advanced. The possibilities are endless.

By the end of the week, I felt incredible. I noticed improved mobility, flexibility, and less stiffness in the mornings which translated into better movement quality during my CrossFit workouts. My hips and hamstrings felt more open, my core felt strong, and I even noticed slightly better posture. In just seven days of practice, I felt more in tune with my body than ever before.

I also found the routine fun and calming. Research shows that the gentle nature of repetitive movement can bring mindfulness. Rhythmic motions, like animal flow, can be therapeutic on the nervous system, helping to physically and mentally ground you. One study even found improvements in cognitive function and working memory following meditative movement.

I’ve committed to incorporating one animal flow routine into my weekly exercise program, and I’m eager to learn and develop as many moves as possible. Plus, you can do it anywhere, anytime, without equipment — all you need is some patience!

So, if you're looking for a new workout routine to add to your fitness health clothing collection, why not give animal flow a try? You can even buy workout clothes suitable for this type of training from our T-shoppe online fitness store.