ELLE tries Animal Flow
Art Director Sheila Cheah looks beyond yoga and finds herself in a studio, imitating an ape
Animal Flow, RM30 for one class, RM120 for four classes. Yogabycat Studio, 8C Jalan PS9, Taman Prima Selayang, Selangor. 011 1122 6866
A fun and challenging workout that combines ground-based movement with bodyweight training.
Even if I have to battle crazy after-work traffic for it, yoga is non-negotiable me time. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening I'm there, on my mat, breathing deep. It's become so embedded in my routine that I no longer even think of it as part of a fitness regimen, so in the last few months I've been looking into expanding my exercise options and supplementing yoga with something new. Animal Flow sounded like the perfect next step – a form of practice developed by American coach Mike Fitch that combines yoga-like poses and dynamic movements as you switch between them. Like a cross between yoga and Capoeira, with a major focus on bodyweight training.
Most new yoga practices don't faze me, so I was pretty confident when I rocked up at my first Animal Flow session. Ten minutes later, when I was crouched on the floor, imitating an ape and feeling my shoulders tremble from the exertion, I was a little less sure.
At a beginner level in Animal Flow you start with the ABCs: Ape, Beast and Crab. With Ape you're squatting with all fours on the ground, moving from side to side. In Beast, you start with your hands, knees and feet on the ground, before lifting your knees ever so slightly off the ground.
Then there's Crab, where it looks like you're just sitting on the floor – except actually you're lifting your butt about an inch off the ground. "Just enough to place a piece of paper underneath," elaborates instructor Sean helpfully. Hold each pose for a count of 10 – and then stitch all the moves together to form a flow, which takes an incredible amount of mobility and strength. I found this the most challenging part; everything is done low on the ground, lifting just one limb at a time. As with traditional yoga, you need to really focus on the different muscles and understand your own body strength, which makes Animal Flow a great supplement to lots of different workouts, whether you're into weightlifting, cardio or studio work.
The next day my muscles were aching from the unaccustomed moves, and I found myself going over the flows in my head, working out how to make them smoother. I'll be back, but I'm not looking forward to the Crab.
What to wear
This feature first appeared in the October 2017 issue of ELLE Malaysia.