13 Things I Learned and Re-Learned at the Animal Flow Workshop
April 2, 2012
I had the wonderful experience of attending Part 1 of the Animal Flowworkshop by Mike Fitch today in NYC at Equinox Gym. So many wonderful and amazing people were there learning and sharing new techniques to make themselves better and to pass that knowledge onto others. Met some wonderful new friends.
Bodyweight training is my absolute favorite form of exercise for all it does to maximize physique enhancement, injury prevention, injury recovery, performance, durability and metabolic fat burning. People often make the mistake of thinking body weight training is easy since you are not using an additional load (weight training). They would be wrong!
How many people do you know that can actually do a bodyweight pullup? How about a standard pushup with locked in technique? The additional load in bodyweight training is ‘your own body’ weight magnified by altering movement vectors, sequencing muscle patterns, neural coordination and controlled tempo. Training global patterns of full body movement as opposed to traditional isolated exercises is the ‘secret’ to its effectiveness.
You combine a wonderful flow of energy with all Four (4) Primary Pillars of Movement:
Your body becomes the machine integrating all 4 Pillars. It’s a real eye opener!
Stop Chasing Pain‘s paradigm is ‘Move Smarter. Move Better. Perform Great.‘ Precision movement with quality helps you feel great and optimize energy transfer. Part 1 Animal Flow solidified many things that I talk about on my Facebook page. It was wonderful to hear Mike explain the benefits of Animal Flow and know they align perfectly with my philosophy of movement. I am sure there will be more take homes in Part 2, however I wanted to give you a glimpse of my day moving like an ANIMAL.
Here are 13 things that hit home for me. Hope they jog a few brain cells in you too.
Make movements purposeful. I talk about precision of movement all the time, which is another way to say quality. I love that word purposeful. What is your body doing? What does it want to do without you thinking about it? Stay focused and in the movement zone. Why it matters: Less stress on the joints from heavy loads and controlled movements decrease injuries.
Regress to Progress. Sound familiar? Take a step back and modify your movements until you can gain control and not be in a state of movement chaos. Challenging not difficult is the goal. Why it matters:Clients can earn the right to progress in system that may be monitored for progress and motivation
The brain learns from failure, but not too much at once. Give your nervous system a chance to integrate new patterns. The nervous system software switch will flip to the next level of motor learning as long as you don’t overload its capability. Why it matters: Brain body connection heightens the performance of tasks associated with activities of daily living.
Animal Movements open up fascial lines and slings. Full movements within allvectors help to uncover hidden fascial restrictions and optimize muscle activation patterns to alleviate tensile stress on the joints. Why it matters: Increased mobility. Decreased stress. Optimal muscle range of motion for more dynamic movements and greater calorie expenditure
Your metabolic rate will hit a new thermal high with the stability required to control the body. Move the body, not body segments. Challenging four points of stability simultaneously requires essential muscle patterning and neural sequencing. Why it matters: More fat loss. Nuff said!
My wrists need work. Supporting your bodyweight in extension patterns of stability gives you a new appreciation for how critical the fascia, joint, and soft tissue extensibility is in the wrist. Why it matters? Soft tissue extensibility in the wrist is a critical player in shoulder stabilization and neck function.
Locking the shoulder into the socket with external rotation and compression to the ground in a closed kinetic chain pattern enhances shoulder stabilization. Amazing way to fire the rotator cuff muscles with sensory input from compression. A must to add in my shoulder rehab program.Why it matters? More stable, stronger, and injury resistant shoulder.
The closer you get to the ground the more obvious your asymmetries. Taking the power global body movers out of the equation (cheater muscles) with large movements altering vectors reveals a lot of information about your left and right side balance. No cueing is necessary because the client will instinctively feel the asymmetry. The Static Beast Position will find your flaw quickly. Why it matters: Feedback to body symmetry for energy leaks. Own the central core stability to increase distal mobility.
Relearning alternating patterns of movement takes time. Opposite leg to opposite arm. Learning to move like we did as infants. Crawling, reaching, forward, reverse and lateral movements helped increase my intensity because my brain had to process where I was going and how. Totally different than sitting in a machine and mindlessly pushing and pulling in one vector. I actually feel like I got smarter. Lol Why it matters: Increased body awareness, faster reaction times, and increased brain- body reactive timing.
Strength development is full throttle. The necessary stability required to move thru these patterns stimulates the neuromuscular system leading to more power. The joints are locked in. How do you get better at the exercise? Do the exercise? Explosive power is unleashed. Why it matters: Stronger and more muscle. Nuff said!
The Crab Movement is a shock and awe muscle activation pattern for the upper body posterior chain. What an awesome exercise to engage the lats, traps (all three sections), external shoulder rotators while opening up and stretching the tight anterior chain. What I loved about this movement is the muscles engage simply by doing the movement. Clients can ‘feel’ what it is like as opposed verbally trying to cue them on what to feel.Why it matters: Posterior chain optimization. Simple.
Animal movements are wonderful for rehabilitation (when done within the scope of pain and proper progressions). Let’s face it. Most rehab exercises are useless. They are isolated, run of the mill movements that rarely challenge the body to learn. How many times have you heard a client say, “The exercises they had me do at rehab I already do in the gym.”? Get the client into regressed animal based positions that challenge full body engagement. Doctors and therapist who understand movement will grasp this principle and embrace working with fitness professionals who can program these workouts.Why it matters: The human body was designed to move. It knows how to heal itself if you just give it the tools to do the job. The site of pain is not the same as source!
Empowering people to gain confidence in themselves and feel alive with energy. Getting closer to the ground and training in bare feet puts you in closer contact with your body and the energy within/and around you. I witnessed a profound change in every workshop attendee. They had more energy and vitality, posture was improved, intuition of discovering how their body moves, confidence in how they moved, and an overall change in the physical and mental body. And these were all fitness professionals. Imagine how empowering this will be for your clients. Why it matters: Because it’s about helping people maximize their life potential. The greatest reason of all…changing a LIFE!
Animal Flow is and will continue to be a central part of my workout. I am also adding components to my client rehab program. Stimulate the global body to lock in durability and stimulate the mind to keep clients engaged. The SCP rehab program involves the FLOW. Simply teaching a client Crab Walk regressions and progressions can make astounding positive impact.
What are you waiting for? Move like an Animal to unleash your inner BEAST!
Thank you Mike Fitch for being a great friend and allowing me the opportunity to learn from you. My clients/patient’s thank you too!