From the outside, looking in, the fluid yet precise movements of Animal Flow can look like any number of physical activity styles. Some moves wouldn’t be out of place in a modern dance class; others, such as the Crocodile Roll, draw on a Breaking heritage; and yet others, like the Tuck Balance, could be straight out of gymnastics.
There are undeniable visual similarities between AF and elements of these movements styles. There’s also something else that ties them together and sets them apart from more traditional fitness approaches.
Each of the styles mentioned above is comprised of skills. For many of us, some of these skills won’t necessarily come naturally or easily. We might achieve some more quickly than others, but there’s generally always something to work towards.
Gymnastics, dance, Breaking, Animal Flow: they’re all more than ‘just’ exercise–they are practices in their own right. When we ‘practice’ something, the process is as important as (if not, more than) the product. Through the practice, we become Flowists.
By comparison, much of what we do as gym-users focuses primarily on the outcome: how many calories we burnt, how many pounds we lifted, how many miles we ran. Quantity is often achieved at the expense of quality.
Quantity asks, ‘How many can you do?’
Quality asks, ‘How well can you do it?’
Rather than simply destroying ourselves through repetition, in Animal Flow, we aim to respect every repetition, no matter how many we do.
When you consider all of the above, it stands to reason that beginning a skill-based practice requires a different mindset than beginning a workout. We asked nine of our global Master Instructors for their advice to new Flowists. Here’s what they said.
“Do not give up at the first sign of difficulty. Soon you will appreciate the magic of this journey.”
“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. It’s amazing to see people’s improvement over time so just start where you can. There is power in regression!”
“Use the words YET and UNTIL. You may not be able to do something YET, but with practice and time, you can master that thing. How long do you need to practice? UNTIL. Until what? Until your body and mind figure out the thing you’re looking to learn.”
“Take it slow; spend a lot of time with each basic move. Most importantly, have fun!”
“Be patient with yourself and your body. If you take bite-sized chunks of practice and do them consistently, you’ll succeed in growing your capacity without injury or frustration. De-conditioning happens quickly and reconditioning can be a much slower process but frequent practice sees it through.”
“Practice frequently and always with fun.”
“Take your time. Enjoy your journey. You are unique so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your movement tells your story. And remember, you have the rest of your life to work on this practice.”
“Have patience. Even Frodo and Sam had to walk through the Mines of Moria, The Dead Marshes, Shelob’s Lair and then Mordor before getting to Mt. Doom and destroying the One Ring. You’ll get there too.”
“Be kind to yourself and put in quality time for practice. It is time earned for yourself.”
Wondering what to wear, where to practice or how to learn the movements in Animal Flow? Master Instructor Kathy Donatto answers five commonly asked questions to help you get started on your Animal Flow journey. Read the article here.