Beautiful, fluid movement comes from a foundation of strength, flexibility, and body control, combined with a playful exploration of what your body can do.
Mike Fitch is a great example of someone who has built up those foundational elements through years of training in various movement styles. His program, Animal Flow, is a movement system designed to help people improve strength, flexibility, body control, and coordination. These movements and transitions fit together in a way that emphasizes artistic, fluid practice in an easily understood package.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what Animal Flow is all about, and how it complements your training to help you move better.
Since we first wrote this review, Mike and his team have significantly improved the actual Animal Flow product, so many details below are out of date. We’ll be updating this soon, but our unreserved recommendation remains unchanged, and if you keep reading, you’ll understand why.
How Animal Flow Creates Fluid Movement Mastery
In a previous post, I described how the rules and intent of any program is what define it and separate it from other programs on the market.
From the very beginning, Mike has made it clear that he did not invent any of the movements that make up Animal Flow. Rather, he has drawn from his varied experiences in yoga, gymnastics, parkour, break dancing, and other movement styles, to select the elements that go into the program.
The program is designed to be accessible at any level, with progressions leading up to advanced movement mastery.
What really makes Animal Flow unique is the way the movements are catalogued, sequenced, and taught to string together the system as a whole.
Mike designed the system to be taught to people of almost any level so that, at its most basic, a beginner can string together at least a few movements into a beginner flow on their very first day, and at its most advanced, it could be used to challenge high level athletes to work on athletic traits they may have neglected.
Subtle changes in leverage and speed allow the jumps between skills to be small enough so that people can use the system to continue to progress for a long time without getting stuck at a certain level.
Basics and Transitions in Animal Flow
The basic forms of Animal Flow are Ape, Beast, and Crab (the ABCs of Animal Flow), and all movements and transitions stem from those.
In every moving form and transition, the emphasis is on contralateral movement, meaning the movement occurs across the body. So in a traveling beast, you would move your left arm and right foot forward at the same time, then vice versa.
Performing these contralateral movements with control helps to build better body awareness and coordination.
The benefit of working with a system like Animal Flow is, rather than being locked in to one discipline – such as yoga, martial arts, dance, or gymnastics – you are able to learn something from many different disciplines, making your practice more well rounded and adaptable.
This well-rounded approach fits very well with how we at GMB look at training.
GMB and Animal Flow: A Love Story
Like any good love story nowadays, Mike and I met over Facebook, through mutual friends in the fitness community. We hit it off right away, and realized our philosophies about fitness and movement complement each other really nicely.
Animal movements – namely the bear, monkey, and frogger – play a big role in our programs at GMB.
We’ve seen the benefits of incorporating these fun movements that are likely not part of our normal daily routines. While we do teach and train with other skills, the so-called “animal” movement patterns are a great way to work on improving your strength, flexibility, and body control.
What speaks to us most about Animal Flow, though, is the simple, easy-to-learn way Mike has set up the system. Many of our clients have supplemented their practice with Animal Flow in various ways, and have seen a lot of benefit from combining our material and his.
Which shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’ve been collaborating for quite a while.
A Few GMB and Animal Flow Collaborations So Far
- Two of our GMB Trainers – Stephen and Christopher – and one of our staff members – Rachel – are certified Animal Flow instructors.
- We’ve also worked with Mike on several projects at this point, because we just love collaborating with likeminded individuals who embrace movement, not dogma.
- When we released Floor Two, we asked Mike to put together a bonus tutorial for us, and he obliged with a hand balancing flow. It’s a series of fun movement patterns that was a great introduction to his style of instruction.
- Mike then asked us to come up with a bonus video for his hand balancing DVD. It’s great to be able to work with someone who’s open to different movement approaches and is always looking to learn new things.
An Even Better Animal Flow
Mike’s philosophy and programming reflect a focus on better movement and body mastery, rather than just “cool tricks.”
Animal Flow takes the strength, flexibility, and control built in to our programs, and provides a clear, readymade practice to apply these elements in a flowing, improvisational manner.
Since we originally wrote this review, a newly revamped Animal Flow has been released, and it’s even better than the original.
Animal Flow 2.0 is the new edition of this bodyweight movement system.
- the videos have been completely reshot and edited
- it now includes 26 total exercises and 20 sample flows
- the program is now available in streaming format
As much as our clients and trainers benefited from adding Animal Flow on to their practice before, this new and improved edition will be even more helpful to anyone looking to improve their overall movement abilities.
Move Better with Animal Flow
We’re really careful about whose products we recommend, but we’re more than happy to vouch for Mike Fitch’s programs in general, and Animal Flow in particular.