Animal Flow Workouts

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Ape Squat
Ape Squat

Animal Instinct

Did you know that mimicking animal movements is workout that actually augurs well for you? Well if you did not, it is time to start thinking about it. Whether it is in your yoga regimen or gym routine, exercises that mimic animal movements can actually help build your overall fitness. Animal flow workout is on-trend workout style and practiced by people who really want to build strength, boost endurance, increase balance and concentration, improve mobility, burn more calories, tone muscles and enhance flexibility. Now, that certainly packs a punch and here is how you can too.

The Workout

Animal flow workout connects mind to muscles and is an incredible bodyweight ground-based workout which is similar to Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga and other yoga dynamic poses. Moving with both the arms and legs challenge you to truly be aware of how your body is functioning. Animal movements have been used for thousands of years to improve health and vitality in the human being. “Animal flow workout is a highly scientific workout which comprise of body movements designed consciously to prevent body injury. All the movements target every part of your body.  This is an equipment free workout for which you need an open space, be it your gym or backyard of your house. The motive of this workout is to make people better movers. Invented by Mike Fitch, this is an incredibly versatile method of training,” explains Rahul Kashyap, Master Trainer and CEO, Goodways Fitness Female Studio in Delhi. Animal Flow Workouts are arranged as a chain of animal-styled movements that can be related together to form flows that are alike yoga asanas or movements, except these moves are more primitive and athletic in nature. It is an ideal exercise pattern for building agility and strength and it also aids in developing good motor control. “A lot of the movements in animal workouts emulate the locomotive patterns of animals, hence the name. These fitness forms although induce a sense of fun coupled with ingenuity, but are intensely fixated on myofascial slings (myo meaning muscles and fascia meaning connective tissue),” says Divij Mirchandani, Fitness Trainer, ProSport Fitness Centre, Bandra, Mumbai.

Crab Reach
Crab Reach

Animal Advantage

The best part of animal workouts is that they can be practiced without any fitness equipments. All you need is a strong mindset to initiate animal movements. It can be utilized in a multitude of ways tailored to your own needs and training style. “While optimal movement at a joint is important, that same joint also needs to have the right amount of stability. The shoulder joint makes for an excellent example. Animal Flow, such as Beast and Crab crawls/walks are incredible for creating high levels of tension within key joints such as the shoulder, spine and hip joints. This tension, if directed to establish the appropriate shapes and postures can enhance both local and whole body stability, needed for athletic performance,” explains Kashyap. Endurance exercise involves performing an activity for an extended period of time or for many repetitions. Animal flow workout program-increases muscle endurance more. Your muscles get stronger and are better able to carry out activities for a longer period. Endurance exercises help to tone the muscles rather than creating larger, bulky muscles. “There are many movements within Animal Flow which provide the opportunity for such ‘tempo change’ and ‘energy re‐direction,’ particularly within the switches and transitions,” adds Kashyap. Animal flow workouts also help in neuromuscular development, especially joint involving or affecting nervous and muscular elements. “These workouts are very beneficial for both our hands and legs. Animal movements make our hands robust enough to effortlessly sync in with our legs and stand our body weights while we walk like an animal. It improves entire body stability right from the core and averts danger of wounds and injuries. It mounts elasticity in our body and upsurges strength. It makes our hearts sturdier and reduces the risk of cardiovascular ailments,” says Mirchandani.

Do it Right

Animal flow workout is for those who are physically fit. One can perform this workout by full concentration on the movement and the body. He/ she must not have any cardiac disease, High blood pressure, cervical, chronic back pain, knee injury or arthritis, muscle pain etc. “Animal Flow is typically said to be an “all levels” practice. This means that all shapes and sizes, all ages and abilities are welcome to join in the practice and flow and move together. Because of the wide variety of students, Can’t go into Forearm Stand build strength and confidence in Dolphin Pose to prepare for it. You always have options within an animal flow practice to slow things down or speed things up, to rest or to simply take a modification or a deeper variation of different postures,” says Kashyap. Resting postures like cow pose are always welcome and completely acceptable. It means that if something is pushing you a little too hard, then you should take a moment to rest, relax and return to your posture. Whenever you find yourself unsure about a posture or a transition, move slowly. Move fairly quickly but, when in doubt, move slowly and carefully with mindfulness. “I feel very energetic and balanced from body to mind, it’s a great endurance workout using your own body weight, with no equipment & no prop, and I can do this workout anytime anywhere at gym or at home, I feel more flexible, and I have lost lots of inches and weight with only this Animal Flow workout. I recommend this workout for those who want to do hard and creative workout,” says Neelam Rawal, fashion designer and makeup artist, 21 based in Delhi who has been doing this workout for the last 5 months at Goodways Fitness Female Studio.

Stork Seesaw
Stork Seesaw

A Complete Workout

Animal Flow is very significant in lending a dynamic warm up. The main objective of any warm up is to mount core temperature, recover mobility of the joints, increase elasticity in tight muscles, relax the joints, uplift the heart rate and emotionally prepares one for the approaching fitness exercise and animal flow exercises accomplish each of these. “Even if you are undergoing a pure strength training workout, the animal flow is a seamless way of preparing your body for the upcoming workload,” says Mirchandani. Animal Flow exercises make up for an excessive, comprehensive workout all on its own. Cardiovascular as well as muscular conditioning can be achieved through this. Like warm-up, this includes wrist and hip mobility movements, loaded beast stretches, crab and scorpion reaches and a few other dynamic stretches. “Then, one can get going with some forward, backward, and sideways animal methods, starting with the basic beasts, apes and crabs. Once you’ve gotten through practicing all of the individual movements, you can now combine them all together. This is where the flow and fluidity comes out, working out your whole body. Eventually, Animal Flow workouts are all yours to practice how you wish. The vital thing is to remember to treat it like a practice and a discipline, being motivated to perfect your moves with every practice. It will enhance an interesting and enjoyable component to your workouts, thus producing great outcomes,” adds Mirchandani. Sheetal Bhanushali, Media Professional, 26 based in Mumbai says, “I was not a person who could go to the gym regularly and my trainer suggested that I try the animal flow workouts. These exercises proved helpful for me since I could do them per my convenience. Animal flow workouts helped me increase my stamina, which is very essential in my demanding daily routine. Also, my body feels more toned in comparison to how flabby it was before. It has helped me reduce some inches for sure and it makes me feel more energetic and enthusiastic.” Now how’s that for a new workout?

Crab-Reach

This exercise is an antidote for tight hips and correct poor posture.

  • Begin in the crab position, with hands and feet on the ground, feet about shoulder-width apart and fingers pointed away from you. Lift your hips about an inch off the ground.
  • Raise one arm up in front of your face so you are balancing on the other hand and both your feet.
  • Press your hips up by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes, and extend the raised arm behind you. When in the full position, the reaching arm is relaxed, not locked out, and framing the head. Return to the start (1st step) to complete one rep.
  • Perform three sets of 5 to 10 repetitions in the beginning, and then gradually increase upto 15 to 20 repetitions per arm, holding the stretch for three to five seconds per rep after the full practice.

Ape Squat

This targets shoulders, back, triceps, abs, butt, quads and calves.

  • Stand with your feet, hip-width apart, toes pointed out, and lower down into a deep squat, bending knees out to sides; with arms reaching our from between your knees towards the floor with palms facing out and rested on floor.
  • Maintaining this crouch throughout, lift your heels off the floor and straighten your torso as you raise arms out to sides (rotate wrists so that palms face up) and squeeze shoulder blades together.
  • Finally, lower your arms and heels to the return (1st step) position. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Stork Seesaw

Targets back, abs, hips, butt, quads and hamstrings

  • Stand with feet together and clasp arms behind back. Lift right knee forward to hip level, foot flexed.
  • Balancing on left leg, squat slightly and hinge forward from hips until back is nearly parallel to the floor and right heel is in line with your back.
  • Return to upright stork stance; repeat. Do 3 sets of 14 reps; switch legs and repeat.

Vertical Frog Jump

Targets back, butt and quads

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms by sides.
  • Lower into a deep squat and place palms on the floor between feet.
  • Jump as high as you can and extend arms overhead.
  • Land softly in a squat, placing hands on the floor. Return to standing. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

Crab Flip

Targets back, triceps, butt and hamstrings.

  • Sit on the floor with knees bent, feet flat, and place palms on the floor behind you, fingers pointing away from the body. Lift butt 1 or 2 inches off the floor.
  • Raise right arm overhead as you lift hips off floor as high as possible, arching your back.
  • Lower hips toward floor and place right hand down, keeping butt lifted. Repeat with left arm. Do 3 sets of 12 reps, alternating sides.

This story appeared in the April 2018 issue of Smartlife Magazine here:

Animal Movements Animal Movements 1

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