This shift in biomechanical thought is evident in Animal Flow: A new system of fluid, fundamental movements that combines Parkour, break dancing, gymnastics, free running and circus arts, and was born out of creator Mike Fitch's fatigue of free weights. “There were years when I was lifting a ton of weights, and it was too much on my joints — I felt inflamed all the time,” says Fitch, “So I decided to see how my body would change if I explored purely body weight disciplines. I noticed that there was a common theme: Animal movements, or the quadrupedal movements, and that really resonated with me.”
Fitch combined these animalistic movements with his own understanding of traditional biomechanics (he started his career as an Equinox trainer), in an attempt to optimize ancient primal forms for the modern exerciser. The result: a freestyle flow that works through multiple planes of motion. “It connects all of our stabilization systems and creates synergies throughout the body,” says Fitch.
Which is exactly what vice president of personal training, David Harris wanted to bring to the Equinox member. “We’ve evolved the personal training program away from the secularized world of strength and conditioning and into a full-body, integrated approach to movement,” Harris says, “Animal Flow brings us back to fundamental movement patterns that we could do as children, but have lost through the years. It re-introduces them in a new and dynamic way.”
Rekindling the long lost relationship with such fundamentals has benefits beyond the obvious. "Animal Flow trains movements, not muscles," explains Lashaun Dale, national creative manager for group fitness, who is helping to adapt Animal Flow into a class format, "Every part of the body, every sense, every system and every muscle is firing in a sequence to move, stabilize and balance. We are training the body as it was designed to move." And, of course, aesthetic benefits — from standing taller to achieving a balanced body — abound. “By increasing the range-of-motion around your scapula and shoulder capsule, your postural set will improve and your proportions will change,” says Harris.
What's perhaps most appealing about this type of training, however, is its sustainability. "Strength and conditioning certainly have their place, but over the long term, they're going to facilitate more restriction than they do freedom," says Harris, "As one gets older, one begins to appreciate the ability to move, and that freer range of motion."
For a look at Fitch in motion, watch him demonstrate a killer Animal Flow session in the video above.
Animal Flow is currently available as part of Equinox’s personal training and group fitness programing in select clubs. See the full schedule here.
Video by Dstllry.