Animal instinct... taking fitness tips from the wild
A new fitness trend is drawing inspiration from the movement of animals to help improve body awareness while developing mobility, strength and core muscle function
Over the last decade, many fitness concepts and methods, which promote more primal movements and eating patterns, have emerged. These days, however, fitness experts are looking to animals for the next step in the constantly evolving sphere of strength and mobility training.
'Animal Flow' is a specific type of bodyweight training based on animal-like movements and is complementary to many existing forms of exercise.
"My philosophy, both for my own training and for that of my clients, is to look closely at how the body is moving and to assess what is needed to enhance the system as a whole. This opens up the 'window of opportunity' because the more movements and exercises that you are capable of successfully performing in the gym, the quicker you are able to execute those same exercises with intensity, which is an important variable for progress," says Animal Flow master, Rich Scrivener.
Rich, who will be speaking at Dublin's Wellfest event this month, became involved in fitness at an early age in his hometown of Ipswich.
"I began exercising because I was the skinny one in my group of friends at high school and received my fair share of banter for it," he laughs. "The boys did me a favour really because it sparked my interest and motivation to learn, and at first, that became my motivation to improve my body.
"My career started the day that I first walked into the gym as a naïve 16-year-old," he adds. "The second I realised that knowledge was the key to being able to help myself, I realised that the more I learned, the more effective I could be at getting results."
During Rich's 15-year career in the fitness industry, the London-based personal trainer has been involved with several movement-based disciplines.
As well as being Global Body Weight Training's Animal Flow Master in the UK, he is also an instructor in Tabata - a variety of high-intensity interval training. In his spare time, he also practices capoeira - a form of martial arts from Brazil that incorporates dance, acrobatics and music.
Rich believes that our knowledge and understanding of what drives better health and performance should always be expanding and evolving.
So how exactly does Animal Flow work?
"Animal Flow combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with elements from various bodyweight-training disciplines to create a fun, challenging workout emphasising multiplanar, fluid movement," Rich says.
"The Animal Flow concept was created by US Coach Mike Fitch a few years back. Since then, he's pulled together a team of 'master instructors', who now teach the certification in many countries around the globe.
"Animal Flow has gained an incredible amount of popularity because not only is it highly effective at developing almost all facets of fitness, it is great fun too," Rich adds.
"You can use it with a personal trainer, on your own - if you've been trained or have attended a certification - or in a group training environment."
The practice is also accessible to all fitness levels.
"There are components within the programme that can benefit everybody," Rich explains.
"There are many exercises and movements, which can be progressed and regressed to cater for all abilities. It is great for improving body awareness, posture, strength, core-muscle function, agility and mobility, and so, is great for athletes as well as regular gym-goers.
"Animal Flow provides everybody with a personal journey of physical development and provides the challenge of conquering one's own body," Rich adds.
So how does it differ from other forms of training?
"Animal Flow uses quadrupedal movements, meaning that your hands and feet are in contact with the ground," Rich says. "We've lost the ability to take full control of the many potential movements the body is capable of. Animal Flow re-establishes the broken link between your 'motor control centre' and your body.
"You need only your body and some space," Rich adds. "There is no need for a gym membership or expensive equipment, you simply need a flat, clean floor and a little space to 'flow'. And Animal Flow is a body weight-only programme, meaning that you can take it anywhere."
Rich believes in taking a holistic approach to fitness; giving an equal emphasis to the way we move, eat and think.
"You have but one vessel for your time on this planet, and that's that; it really is well worth looking after it," he says. "I like to train everyday if I can, but I vary the intensity of the sessions that I take. The body needs lubrication each day because if not, the many layers of tissues which cover the entire body begin to thicken and stick.
"Movement is important to me and to be able to move well, you must maintain good fluidity of all of the tissues within the body.
"I enjoy strength and power-training with exercises like squats, deadlifts, cleans and snatches amongst others and find this is an excellent way to complement the Animal Flow and capoeira movement training that I do. This way, I gain increases in strength and muscle alongside the ability to use this strength and muscle effectively."
According to Rich, consistency is key when it comes to both exercise and nutrition.
"Consistency rules," he explains "So many people wish to achieve a certain type of physique and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, consistency means hitting an 85pc-plus ratio of time and effort dedicated to your goal, across more than just a few weeks.
"To get real results, you must appreciate that you are embarking on a permanent ride," he adds. "Make what you do part of your day-to-day routine and one year later you'll have made real progress.
"Results are always a by-product of permanent change."
π Rich Scrivener will be speaking at Wellfest on September 19 in Herbert Park, dublin. For more information, see wellfest.ie
Health & Living