YouTube is full of videos of sculpted men and women stretching like tigers, jumping about on all fours like monkeys, and loping about like cats.
What they’re doing is a type of exercise called the animal flow workout. It’s a new trend in physical fitness, but it’s more than a passing fad.
Animal flow apes the movements of certain animals, to improve core strength, flexibility, agility and posture. But it’s not just about doing one type of stretch or movement — lithe animals are typically lithe for a variety of reasons.
So Mike Fitch, an American strength coach, personal trainer and injury rehabilitation expert who designed the animal flow workout, conducts workshops around the world where he teaches the entire set of movements as they were meant to be done.
There are six components. The first is a basic wrist mobilisation; then comes ‘activation’, which are movements aimed at waking up the body and readying it for the workout.
The third is a set of form-specific stretches. Fourth is travelling forms, where you combine movements to get from one spot to another. Then come switches and transitions, where you use targeted exercises to move from one position to another, and the last is flow, where all the components come together in a choreographed workout.
Animal flow at its most basic level is a gentle form of exercise, which makes it ideal for post-surgery rehabilitation, as well as for varying age groups and fitness levels.
It should be practised twice or thrice a week, but may be unsafe to start without supervision.