The Cut’s guide to self-improvement without spending a million dollars.
The New Year is difficult. Over the holidays, you eat your weight in jelly beans or ham and then, come January 1, you are forced by various periodicals to stop doing that and “get healthy.” Why? Because it is very cold all of a sudden? That is actually just when you should be eating more jelly beans, so you can hibernate for the winter.
But I am not immune to the forces of our media. Indeed, they haunt me every second. And so, usually, January sees me trying out some new fitness regime in order to feel in tune with the times.
This is how I came to try a new workout called “Animal Flow.” Animal Flow broke me down because of its catchy internet name and also because it reminded me of my pact with myself to crawl into a cave and survive there, in the style of an animal. Plus it was a trend. There was a class devoted to it at Equinox. It was on Good Morning America. And, according to an article in Shape magazine, “primal-style workouts are one of the hottest new fitness trends.” So there’s that.
The only problem with Animal Flow was that I didn’t know what it was. What is a primal-style workout? I looked on the website:
Animal Flow® is an innovative fitness program that combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with elements from various bodyweight-training disciplines to create a fun, challenging workout emphasizing multi-planar, fluid movement.
If you want to practice Animal Flow in the comfort of your own home, buffered from the arctic chill, here is what you do: You go to a website called AnimalFlow.com. You pay $49.95 for a series of “e-videos” and $19.99 for a single 88 PAGE e-book called Animal Flow for Fighters. That’s it! You are done!
I read Animal Flow for Fighters first, despite the fact that I am not a fighter. It was the most expensive e-book I had ever purchased, so I felt I should honor it.
Luckily, the book explained the basic concepts of Animal Flow pretty well before launching into a longer description of its various perks for fighting. (I stopped reading right when I got to this sentence: “There is nothing like watching a live MMA fight.” So, I don’t actually know how it helps fighting.) There are six different components to Animal Flow, which include wrist mobilizations and form-specific stretches.
To the untrained eye, in pictures, these components resemble the following: harder version of child’s pose, that downward-dog split thing you do in yoga, crab-crawling, a kind of one-legged plank position, and moving your wrists around. To get from position to position, you do a bunch of very fast contortions. All of the movements have different animalistic names, like “loaded beast” and “ape reach.” I guess these positions sort of resemble what animals do on the ground? I stress the “sort of,” because it all looks way more like yoga to me. But what do I know? I have never had a pet since Freddie 2, my fish whom I loved like a son.
The next day, I went to my gym and actually looked at some animal-flow videos and tried to do them. The videos are all approximately a minute long, and most (but not all) feature a blonde man in front of some kind of ocean, doing a nonstop “flow” of animal moves. In the background of the video, a man intoned words such as “loaded beast.” This was the cue for the man to assume the “loaded-beast position,” which looked like child’s pose. Every time the man said “loaded beast” I started laughing really, really hard and collapsed. The problem was that “loaded beast” seems to be a very popular pose in Animal Flow, so this really hindered my movements.
The videos progressed extremely quickly. One minute you “flowed” from “loaded beast” (LOL) and the next you “flowed” to “right-leg scorpion reach.” No break!
Even though each video contained approximately one minute of “flows,” it still was one of the hardest workouts I have ever experienced in my entire life. Doing about five “flows” in a row knocked me out. I would start out in a weird crablike thing, and then somehow have to flip over to a one-legged plank, and then back to crab, and then back to plank for what seemed like hours, even though it was only a minute. Sometimes I would have to kick my leg near my armpit! It reminded me of when my brother used to pretend to be a Power Ranger and crawl on the ground and tumble from side to side. It seemed like so much effort that I refused to play with him. Probably one of the Power Rangers’ enemies was called Loaded Beast. Maybe that’s what this is based on.
And so I guess, dear readers, that this is an excellent and efficient workout — but, if you are not a Power Ranger, extremely difficult. I may stick with it, however. At least it takes place inside the house — which is the place I happen to hibernate.