Mike Fitch wants you to channel your inner beast.
That’s the idea behind Animal Flow X, the newest cardio fitness class to hit Washington. Fitch, the creator of Animal Flow, made a stop at Equinox Bethesda this week to debut the Parkour-like fitness movement that’s taking over gyms across the country.
“Animal Flow is a unique discipline that integrates the entire body, using every muscle, your core, butt, abs, shoulders—I mean everything,” Fitch explained. “It involves using animal components with free-movement components, allowing us to create this endless flow of movement.”
Animal components? Like, swinging my arms around like a monkey?
Not in the slightest, I soon learned. As Fitch took us through the warmup—which felt like a workout in and of itself and lasted 30 minutes—we performed slow, deep exercises that engaged every muscle possible: We channeled baboons as we squatted on our heels; we got into crab-walk position, slowly lifted our hips, and reached behind ourselves; we jumped side to side while staying light on our feet, as a gorilla would while defending his territory.
The actual workout then integrated the exercises into one. Although each move was slow and calculated, by the time the last circuit ended, sweat already dripped from our faces, arms shook, and the animalistic roars encouraged by Fitch turned into whimpers.
“The whole idea [of Animal Flow] is bringing movement back into fitness,” Fitch explained after the class. “For so long we’ve been stuck in these fixed-axis machines.”
Fitch created the Animal Flow movement after years of only weightlifting. “I just didn’t feel or move well,” he said. “So I stopped weight-lifting and turned to bodyweight disciplines. I’ve never felt or looked better.”
Look better, indeed. Fitch’s physique is a testament itself to the Animal Flow workout. He’s 50 pounds lighter and credits it all to Animal Flow and what he calls progressive bodyweight training. (Think pushups, handstands, and planks on steroids.)
As we wiped away sweat and massaged our sore wrists (plenty of moves are performed on your hands), Fitch demonstrated what moves to expect in an advanced class, contorting his body into seemingly impossible positions in fluid movements. “Again, it’s something that as we practice, we get better,” he said.
Animal Flow X is available at Equinox Bethesda and Tysons Corner. For more information, visit Equinox’s website.
Watch a video of Fitch demonstrating Animal Flow.