Pics: Gaurav Kadam
Location Courtesy: MultiFit, Baner
Here’s a trend that gives the term ‘jungle gym’ a whole new spin. Animal flow is the new fitness trend in town, with the city’s fitness junkies taking inspiration from animals like bears, crabs and frogs, too. Pune’s fitness trainers and enthusiasts are taking their workouts to the next level, by taking notes from frogs, ducks, panthers, bears, gorillas, and crabs in their routines. Pegged as ‘a primitive and athletic fitness style – sans equipment – the ‘animal flow’ has humans getting down on all fours, swinging, walking and training like wild animals.
Trainers Nishkarsh Jain, Hrushikesh Bhagwat, Manish Patil and Shreepad Hodawadekar demonstrate a spider crawl
Mike Fitch, the US-based fitness trainer who invented and popularised animal flow, says that the style is a ground-based movement program, designed to improve the function and communication of the ‘human animal’. “It looks like a combination of gymnastics, yoga, and breakdancing with some animals thrown in. Animal flow gives you the opportunity to train all of the different abilities of the human body, like strength, endurance, power, flexibility, balance, mobility, and coordination, while most fitness modalities will only result in one or two of these attributes,” he states.
Harsh Sahu gets on all fours for a gorilla walk
Closer home, many new-age gyms and fitness clubs across India have incorporated animal flow in their module. Gym trainers are not just ensuring that their clients mimic the walks, prowls, jumps and crawls of animals, but they also swear by animal movements for better swiftness, functionality, and strength. “It’s essential to incorporate exercises that don’t require you to use equipment and animal is a great exercise as it engages different muscles of your body. It’s not just a great workout to lose weight and boost metabolism, but also prepares your body for day-to-day activities and challenges. As fitness trainers, we need to be extremely flexible and have an enormous amount of neuromuscular control and that’s where animal movements help. It’s becoming a hot fitness trend in India of late,” says Gulshan Sharma, city-based fitness trainer, and nutrition coach.
Hrushikesh Bhagwat shows you how to jump like a duck!
Another Pune-based personal trainer and fitness expert, Hrushikesh Bhagwat adds, “People don’t do these animal movements all the time, because some of them are a little difficult to do. However, I insist that they start doing it. Animal movements involve a lot of movement on the ground, using your limbs – sometimes one leg, one hand or both – and engaging your core, that builds a better connection between your mind and muscles. The brownie point? It burns extra calories!
Travelling apes to crocodile rolls: Break sweat while having fun
Sanjay Sethi, a 35-year-old bank employee who was bored of just pumping iron and breaking a sweat running on a treadmill, finds animal flow to be a lot more fun. Says Sethi, “When these primal-style workouts were first introduced in our gym, our trainer told the batch to do a frog jump, followed by bunny hop and we were like, ‘what is she talking about?’ It’s a relatively new concept. The fitness moves help you bond with other gym members, because watching everyone – from an 18-year-old boy to 50 plus woman – do a kangaroo jump or a gorilla walk, can be quite funny. We laugh and workout together and that’s a great break from the monotony of deadlifts. Although it is very difficult to do in the beginning, it never feels like an ordeal!”
Manish Patil demonstrates a duck walk
Manish Patil, fitness trainer and nutrition expert in the city, tells us, “The bear crawl, which is my favourite, is a full-body exercise that works on multiple muscles including your arms, shoulders, chest, back, core and legs. You use your own bodyweight around your four limbs; it does not just help tone up your muscles and boost your heartbeat but it is also helpful if there’s tightness in your body, you have a weak core or have limited mobility in your joints. Besides, it looks powerful when you do it. It is a lot of fun doing it!”
For Payel Sinha, animal moves give her the freedom to work out anywhere at any given point of time. “You don’t need a mat, or a dumbbell or a kettlebell. The movements are groundbased and that’s the USP of the fitness style. I have been doing them for more than six months now, and have seen a visible change in myself. I have better flexibility and strength in my muscles. I have been able to carry out other activities outside the gym in a more efficient way too. I specifically enjoy doing frog jumps and love being a happy frog. It burns a lot of calories in no time,” adds the engineer.
Shreepad Hodawadekar takes up animal movement a notch higher by walking like a crab
“In regular day-to-day life, our body is generally not in contact with the floor,” says Shreepad Hodawadekar, city-based fitness trainer, adding, “We sit on the chair, we walk on two feet, but animal flow lets your body move in a way in a completely different way, ie the way animals move. Each animal has a peculiar style of locomotion which gives them a certain strength and advantage and as humans, if we imitate those moves and incorporate in your fitness regime, they increase our ability to face challenges while working, attain better results and help you challenge your own limits. ”
Celebs adopt the animal moves too!
A couple of months ago, the trailer of
Junglee, caught the fancy of fitness enthusiasts in the country. In it, lead actor Vidyut Jamwal could be seen walking, crawling, and moving like animals. From Ganapati Prananam (elephant salutation), to mimicking the movements of different creatures – he introduced fitness enthusiasts to a whole new style of training. Apart from Vidyut practicing and promoting animal flow, actors like Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Akshay Kumar, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Randeep Hooda and others, have also preached this style of workout on social media. Vinod Channa, the fitness expert who helped Shilpa lose her postpartum weight, says, “Apart from a lot of other kinds of functional workout, I added animal flow to her fitness regimen that not just helped her shed those pounds but also strengthened her core and helped with her flexibility.”
Vickrant Gaikwad demonstrates spider jump
According to Vidyut, “Most of the conventional exercises in the gym isolate only two muscles at a time. However, training like an animal functionally overcomes this one way to optimise strength, flexibility, mind-body control. Animal flow workout helped me be at ease while shooting with animals for the film.”
In fact, the actor asserted that Kalaripayattu – the martial art originated in Kerala – imbibes strength, sensibility and personality traits of various fantastic animals. “It was amazing for me to extend my knowledge of Kalaripayattu by practicing animal flow,” he added.
Want to learn how to jump like a frog? Nishkarsh Jain teaches you the right way to do it
Here are a few popular animal movements that you can try:
BEAR CRAWL: Get down on your hands and feet and crawl across the floor with your knees just a few inches above the ground and your back parallel to the ground. This one will drill your abs from top to bottom, plus give some extra work to your hip flexors, quads, shoulders, and triceps.
ALLIGATOR: Similar to the bear crawl, except you keep your body lower to the ground and you touch your knee to your elbow at the end of each “step”, both of which add to the difficulty of the exercise! This one is an advanced exercise that requires significant upper body strength.
CHIMP WALK: Get on all fours, shift your weight onto your hands and hop your legs to the side. Then move your hands to the side as you shift your weight back onto your feet. Repeat to move sideways across the room. The more you’re able to shift your weight onto your hands and control the leg hop, the more core work you’ll get.
GORILLA WALK: Gorilla walk can help you gain strength in your forelimbs and overall body.
Anand Swami does a crocodile walk