- Animal Flow is a fitness system designed by personal trainer Mike Fitch.
- The movement is designed to improve mobility, strength, and endurance, but can also serve as meditation.
- It’s gained popularity during the pandemic due to its visually pleasing nature, Fitch said.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
An increasing number of people are taking to the floor to improve their bodies and minds through a movement practice called ‘Animal Flow,’ Mike Fitch, the creator of the system, told Insider.
Using only bodyweight, Animal Flow is a fluid way of moving that can enhance strength, stability, and mobility. For some people, it’s a form of
The practice gained popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, Fitch said, and its visual appeal has led to over 200,000 fans following the movement’s Instagram account.
Animal Flow is a ground-based movement system
After a decade working as a personal trainer, Fitch, 40, founded Animal Flow in 2010. Having grown weary with the fitness industry’s focus on strength, he wanted to explore other movement disciplines, and after dabbling in parkour, break-dancing, and circus acts, he created Animal Flow.
“When I was creating the system, I was just trying to figure out how can we get the most benefit from our physical body,” he told Insider. “We’re trying to improve the connection, communication, and function of the human animal.”
Animal Flow is a ground-based, bodyweight movement system designed to improve a range of skills including speed, power, endurance, flexibility, mobility, and stability — the idea being that you can tailor your routine to suit your goals.
To practice, you flow from one position to another, opening up the body and using stabilizing muscles.
There’s not a lot of existing research on the practice, but recent studies suggest it can help improve whole-body stabilization and flexibility.
Despite the fact that Animal Flow can look like effortless freestyling when done right, Fitch says getting the technique correct is key, and it’s important to learn the movements properly.
Animal Flow’s visuals are popular on social media
Fitch, who is based in Colorado, describes Animal Flow as a cross between break-dancing, yoga, and gymnastics, and its fluid movements helped the exercise gain popularity on social media, as devotees post videos of their practice.
“When people see it, they’re like, ‘I want to know more about that,'” Fitch said. “So when our instructors are trying to figure out how to sell their classes, they don’t have to do much selling because it is so visual.”
Rachel Thompson is an Animal Flow instructor in London, UK.
One of Animal Flow’s biggest advocates in the UK is personal trainer and level 2 instructor Rachel Thompson, 37, who discovered the movement in 2014 and told Insider signing up for her first training course was the best decision she’s ever made.
London-based Thompson regularly posts Animal Flow clips on her Instagram, which has helped attract new clients, such as Nadine Kimani.
Kimani, a German massage therapist based in Leeds, UK, told Insider she was “mesmerized” when she first saw a clip of Animal Flow in 2019.
“I came across Rachel’s profile, and I literally binge-watched her videos and just thought, ‘Wow, I want to give this a go,'” Kimani, 45, said.
Lockdown prompted more people to adopt the practice, the founder says
When the coronavirus pandemic hit and countries around the world went into lockdown, many people were left without access to their usual gyms and fitness studios.
As people looked for ways to keep fit from home (without disturbing their neighbors), some found Animal Flow — Fitch says he’s seen an increase in users of their on-demand channel over the past year.
But Fitch believes fitness culture was actually already starting to change, with an increasing number of people deciding more high intensity workouts aren’t necessarily the answer. While yoga and pilates are generally very popular with women, Fitch says men are more drawn to Animal Flow.
“We have these very muscular guys who are finally figuring out how to use their body in different ways,” he said.
Animal Flow is a lot more challenging than it looks, Kimani found, but it can be tailored to your ability level.
Throughout the pandemic, Kimani has been doing 1-2 classes a week following online classes, and said she enjoys the sense of being part of a global community as much as the movement.
Animal Flow can be ‘movement meditation’
It’s been a mentally challenging 12 months for many, and the calming effects of Animal Flow have appealed to its practitioners.
Fitch says some people think of Animal Flow as training, but others, including Thompson, call it “movement meditation.”
“I do Animal Flow because it allows me to connect with myself and move my body in a way that leaves me feeling good rather than mashed up,” Thompson said. “When I practice Animal Flow, I’m so concentrated on my body and the movements, figuring out where my body is in space and what each bit of me is doing, that I don’t have time to think about anything else.”
For Kimani, Animal Flow is a way to balance her mind and body.
“You need to use your brain and your body and keep them in balance whilst maintaining your positions or carrying out the transitions,” she said. “It’s a great way to develop mind and body coordination and strength and also a fantastic way to connect with people from anywhere.”
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