posted on 17/06/2015 4:07:00 PM
Moving like our ancestors has opened the way to a whole new form of fitness. Simon Hall meets animal flow teacher Mike Fitch.
FitnessPro magazine: Tell me about how you got into the industry?
I got into fitness when I was 13/14. It was something that my dad and I would do together. We used to lift weights together and hang out and that always stuck with me. When I turned 17 or 18 I hired a trainer and he was so cool and inspirational.
When I turned 18 I got my first trainer’s certification in The States then I did everything I could to immerse myself in the culture, studying with different gurus, different styles, how to train with kettle bells, Olympic lifting; everything I could get my hands on.
Eventually I was lifting a tonne of weights and I was 50 pounds heavier. I no longer felt good and no longer moved well. I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to keep doing for the rest of my life. I was too young to feel that bad. So that’s when I got into bodyweight training
FPM: What made you think ‘I need to do everything’, and then decide what to do. It is how your mind is built, or your upbringing and your family? I think it’s a combination of both; fitness and the body gave me the opportunity to really jump in. I’m one of those people if you want to learn something you need to really dive in and be great at it. I had a lot of mentors who I sought for advice. To have an understanding of anything you need to see it from all sides.
FPM: You mentioned bodyweight training. Why do you think it’s currently so popular?
I think fitness is in a very exciting time now. People have gone through that whole race of doing the selecterised machines and building a lot of muscle. But I think nowadays people want to connect more with themselves and learn new skills. I think the goals are becoming more complex than just wanting 6-pack abs or to lose weight or to want huge muscles. I think people still want those things, but the idea of being able to do something and learn a new skill, like being able to do a push-up, pull-up or a handstand gives a greater sense of accomplishment and people really dig that - they want to learn how to do it.
FPM – Yes, like we are sitting here in a club with no treadmills now
Yes, it’s evolved.
FPM – Right at the beginning of the class I heard you mention yoga. I feel that there is a sense of yoga, or grounding in your moves. Tell me how does that fit in?
My own experience with yoga is very limited; I was more into gymnastics and breakdancing. There are only so many ways a body can move and sometimes they look similar. I’m a big advocate of always saying do everything, it’s all good, it’s all movement. So many people get caught up with the type of movement something is, when it’s all movement. The cool thing is that they all complement each other. To go back to your question for me and the way that I try to communicate with people: it’s not just a 30-minute class.
It’s really about reconnecting with our body through the ground. It’s about allowing our hands and our feet to communicate, send and receive messages all through the body. This was part of our childhood development. It helped us walk upright. Unfortunately, we rarely return to that for exercise. It is so powerful to really connect the hands and the feet to the same object, as it means the entire body is communicating on a different level. There’s a lot that allows people to reconnect and be inside and be conscious with their movement rather than ‘pull this, move that, punch this’. They realise they have to be present.
FPM – The instructor-training program that you are bringing to Australia, how is that going to work? From a licence point of view, how does a club introduce it?
That’s a tough conversation because I’m not exactly sure at this point. But what I can say is our goal for this launch is to come in and do instructor workshops. We’ll teach how to become an Animal Flow coach, like Tony. He is a Master Instructor so he will be teaching the workshops. We will certify the other instructors. Once they are Animal Flow
instructors then they can actually teach
wherever they work.
FPM – So I could come to one of the training courses, become accredited, then I could actually run an Animal Flow class in a club that I work at and call it Animal Flow?
Yep, cool. We have this very cool support team and community. We have a Facebook instructors’ page and instructors from all over the world post videos of themselves. It’s a really tight family community and it all goes back to that idea of inspiring people to move.
FPM – How many instructors are out there at the moment all over the world?
I would say there are about 600. FPM – How many have you worked with?
I’ve personally trained about 450 of them, and then my other master instructors have taught the rest. I develop a master instructor in each country and then we help them develop their workshops and so right now we have four master instructors in the States, one in the UK, one in Australia, one in Canada, one in the Netherlands and one in Germany.
FPM – Tony for example how did he end up getting involved?
He worked for a club in The States. He came to one of the original Animal Flow workshops about three and a half years ago and he stayed in contact and integrated Animal Flow techniques into all of his sessions. He’s a great presenter, communicator and very cool guy. So when I knew we were coming to Australia he was the first on the list and he was ready so we took him on.
This is an extract from 'Animal Flow' in Fitness PRO Magazine issue 2. To purchase your copy, subscribe online or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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