Six years after the release of its predecessor, L2, the final level in Animal Flow’s certification system is here–and it packs a punch. Almost 50 certified instructors from around the world joined program creator, Mike Fitch, for two intensive days online. We talked with Mike; Regional Leader, Andrea Zylinski; and Master Instructor, Michael Palser to get a glimpse into the L3 experience.
“It took me a while to sign up,” says Andrea Zylinksi of the first ever L3 certification workshop. “I was scared to, but I knew I wanted to be part of the first one and I’m so glad that I did.”
Having taken L1 three times, L2 twice, and (the now retired) Advanced Flow Design twice, L3 wasn’t just another workshop for Andrea.
“It’s like passing through another dimension of AF. You realise that your journey is really just beginning. It’s learning new hard moves, but it’s really about understanding the systems so much better, and knowing that the program that I love with all my heart and soul is doing something incredible for my body, mind and spirit.”
You can see it, too. Speaking with her just a few days after the workshop, Andrea is energized. She’s also adamant that the journey to L3 is worth every step and every stumble.
“I only just recently passed L2,” Andrea reflects. “It took me five years. I didn’t feel good enough, but in reality, I created that feeling myself. A lot of people are ready for their L2 Test Out but, like me, they just put it off. There’s really nothing to wait for. The content in L3 is so important and it’s going to change everything. So jump in, you need to be there.”
“This workshop was like coming full circle. From learning Static Crab in L1, to learning Rotating Crab in L3, this was something special,” Andrea smiles. “AF had me from the very first time I ‘Set Beast’. For some of us, it grabs our soul and it doesn’t let go.”
Michael is overflowing with excitement as he speaks to The Flowist about his experience at the workshop. “No, you don’t understand,” he says effusively, “this workshop is beyond anything we’ve ever seen in Animal Flow. It’s the culmination of everything the program has become over the past ten years. It was an honor to be a part of it.”
The precursor to Michael being inducted as a Master Instructor midway through 2021 was an extensive in-person training program with Mike. Living close to Mike also meant that Michael got preview access to some of the L3 content in the weeks leading up the workshop.
“L3 is about so much more than the movements,” explains Michael. “It’s Mike at his absolute best–as a Flowist, as an educator, and as a presenter. He brings his A-game to this level of the program and it just reinforced to me how much more practice I have to do if I want to step up to that.”
So, what does that mean for Michael on his Master Instructor journey? “I’ve got a lot of work to do,” he says, humbly, “and I’m so fired up about that. I’m inspired to keep putting the time in and following the structure. Mike always says that you have to suffer through the structure to conquer the chaos and that’s exactly what I plan to do.”
“L2 was complete but I realized that the system wasn’t,” Mike says. “I always knew there was more to it but, looking back, I wasn’t ready. I didn’t understand it enough to share it. I had to embody it first.”
In listening to Mike articulate the differences between each level of the program, it’s evident he’s invested an extraordinary amount of time contemplating the way they all fit together.
“L1 introduces complex movements to people who typically come in with a more linear experience with physical activity,” he explains. “There’s a real focus on purpose–what AF is about, how to perform it, when and where we apply the tools.”
“L2 opens up the toolbox of possibilities but with a focus on the conceptual part of ‘Flow’. We’re introducing concepts like tempo and ‘constant but various motion’ which allow attendees to experience their bodies differently.”
“Everything changes in L3,” Mike says emphatically. “Yes, it still provides techniques that you can use with your clients but the focus of this workshop is on bettering your understanding of the ‘human animal’ as a whole.”
“It’s about performance,” he continues, “and how we can rely on the structure that we’ve put into place so that we can allow our bodies, our breath, to guide us through the process.”
“It looks at anatomical systems, too, of course, but we’re also looking at how Animal Flow pertains to your life. It’s about finding flow, or finding friction and then trying to identify ways to eliminate those friction points.”
With much of the focus of L3 rooted in the perspective shift it delivers, what else does Mike want Flowists to know about the workshop? “It’s L3,” he says with a laugh, “so it’s fucking hard! Be prepared to be stretched, to be challenged in every way. It can be overwhelming so just allow it to land and be absorbed. Perfection is not the goal, participation is.”
It’s clear that the birth of L3 has been a labor of love for Mike. “Even if there’s only a handful of people out there in the world who ever understand this system at the deepest level, it doesn’t matter. I just needed to get it out, I needed to share it with other people.”
Animal Flow’s L1, L2 and L3 workshops are delivered around the world in live online and in-person versions. To find a workshop near you, visit the Workshops tab on the website.