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Flowing with the Family (Part 2)

Building connection through fun and movement
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Author- Alisha Smith

I have a distant memory from around the age of three. I’m laying on the carpet of a community function room. My mom and a group of other leotard-clad women all lay on their backs, fingers poised at their temples as they perform synchronized crunches. Fast forward, 19 or so years later, to where I find myself again surveying a sea of ab-crunching women, this time in response to me cueing them from the stage. Another 17 years on and I’m fully immersed in multiple areas of the fitness industry–from coaching and teaching, to writing and consulting.

Witnessing me as a child, you would never have guessed that I’d end up working in fitness. I was the antithesis of a sporty kid. I was afraid of any sport that involved a ball, I demonstrated no knack for anything requiring coordination, and I would end up gasping for my asthma inhaler after cardio of any sort. So what led me to the point of choosing to eat, sleep and breathe fitness for almost two decades? It’s hard to say precisely though research certainly throws its support behind those early aerobics classes with mom as having an impact.

Instructor in the making

Talking to Ezra Yang adds weight to that suspicion. Ezra is the 9-year-old son of Bobby Yang, an Animal Flow Regional Leader and personal trainer based in Hamilton, New Zealand.

“Is there anything else you want to ask or tell me about Animal Flow?” I ask towards the end of our interview. “How long does it usually take to become an instructor?” he asks confidently. We discuss the requirements and I ask Ezra if he wants to become an instructor one day. He nods vigorously, a smile beams across his face.

Ezra’s well on his way to influencing other kids. With the extra time afforded by extensive lockdowns through 2021, Ezra decided to start filming some of his Flows and sharing them on Youtube. He’s also already begun teaching some of his friends a few movements.

When asked what it is about Animal Flow that’s captured his attention, Ezra’s answer is simple: “It’s fun. You can build Flows.”

Feeling safe to explore

10-year-old Janka Stadnik from Wroclaw, Poland, has been practicing AF since March 2021. After being introduced to it by her trainer, Level 2 Certified Instructor, Beata Szczukiewicz, Janka has continued to practice with her parents, Monka and Gregor.

“I like AF because the exercises are interesting, not as boring as the gym. AF makes me feel flexible; I like it a lot. I totally recommend it for others, not only for kids, but especially for them. All I can say is: try it if you have an opportunity, this is so much fun.”

“I play sports all the time,” Janka continues. “I’ve tried many things: horse riding, climbing, swimming, hip-hop and disco dancing. I ride a bike a lot, and hike in the mountains with my parents who also practice in the same AF group as me.”

How does Janka like practicing Animal Flow with her parents? “It’s fun spending my time training with them,” she says. “I don’t think many of my friends play sports with their parents. It makes me feel comfortable, too, especially when we practice in pairs. I can be sure that they’ll take care of me so I have no fear.”

Check out Janka and her parents, Monka and Gregor, during their first ever Animal Flow session with Certified Instructor, Beata.

Always watching, always learning

7-year-old Marcus Lau from Hong Kong surprised his dad, Level 2 Certified Instructor, Mike Lau, completely out of the blue.

“About one year after I started Animal Flow, I decided to put more time into my practice by performing a Flow each morning,” says Mike. “After 5-6 months of practice, one morning Marcus showed me that he had learned the Flow just by watching me. He knew every movement; I had never taught him any of them.”

The pair started to make practice a regular activity, with Marcus’ sister, Kala, 6, also joining them at times. Having practiced gymnastics for two years, a lot of the movements came naturally to Marcus. The Call Out language proved more challenging, with Mike realizing that he’d have to teach kids differently to the usual way he’d coach adults.

“Kids can’t take in a lot of the subtle instructions so it’s important to demonstrate the movements. That way they can just watch and copy what you do,” explains Mike. “If Marcus can see, try and feel the movements, it is much easier for him to learn them.”

And just like Ezra’s dad, Bobby, Mike says that the best thing you can do is make the experience enjoyable. “You can’t force kids to do it. It needs to be fun for them. And because it’s something that we both love, now we can do it together.”

Marcus thinks so, too. “I like Animal Flow because it looks cool and it makes my body feel strong,” he tells me. “I also like to practice with my dad and my sister because when we perform a Flow, it’s like a game. We’re happy.”

Four tips for Flowing with the family

  1. Keep it fun! Make up games, explore fun transitions and don’t take it too seriously.
  2. Focus on participation, not perfection. Don’t worry about rights and lefts, or perfect alignment.
  3. Keep it short and varied. 15-20 mins of practice is great, especially for younger kids.
  4. Visually demonstrate and have kids follow along.

We love seeing Flowists of all ages practicing together! Share your family Flows with us on Instagram by tagging @animalflowofficial and the hashtag #familyanimalflow