There’s a new exercise trend inspired by the movement of animals & it’s guaranteed to help you ski. Animal Flow trainer Guillaume Tual writes for SnowsBest.
How active have you been in the past couple of months and most importantly, are you planning to get fit for your upcoming ski trip? I’ve been working alongside physiotherapists and bodywork therapists for 4 years now and each year we see people totally unprepared to go skiing who come back torn and broken, whether they are novice or pioneers.
We live in a world where we spend too much time sitting behind a desk, in a car and on the couch. Then we decide to go for long runs or hit the gym to lift heavy weights. But our bodies are designed to move constantly not in a “stop/start mode” and all these pre-set programs you find in the healthy magazines make us want to go hard or stay home.
I invite you to think for a second about how you move when you ski, snowboard or telemark. Does it look like you are running, lunging, squatting? To some extent, yes, but you are never only moving in just one plane so why would you train in just one plane?
So many things happen at a muscular, neural and sensory level when you hit the slopes. There is constant changing ground that requires you to adapt and stay balanced, there is G-Force pulling you to the side as you turn and you have to fight it, there is muscle fatigue in those long runs that can increase the risk of injury.
Skiing and snowboarding are one of those sports that require you to be good in many areas of fitness.
I usually recommend targeting your training to skiing/snowboarding at least 3 weeks before your trip if you are already active, and 5-6 weeks ahead if you haven’t done much physical activity recently. Either way, you should incorporate some of the moves from Animal Flow.
This Bodyweight training focuses on multi-planar and functional movements using body leverage, tempo changes, form specific stretches, transitions, activations, traveling forms and eventually flows. It is a great assessment tool that can highlights postural asymmetries, strength deficiencies, muscle tightness and weaknesses but also allows the participants to reconnect with their bodies.
Each step has a progression/regression mode so you can work towards your own goal while still having fun. This discipline combines ground-based elements from various bodyweight trainings (yoga, parkour, breakdancing and gymnastics) to create a fun and challenging workout that takes the participants through multi-planar fluid combinations.
Most of the moves in Animal Flow are in quadrupedal positions (all four limbs on the ground) and since you are constantly moving and pushing your body around at least one limb, gravity pulls your body in different angles which challenges the neurological system in a totally different way than when you’re standing. In addition, it creates greater motor unit activation and synchronization, which is vital for snow sports.
The hands and feet are packed with sensory receptors so loading and unloading your whole body weight over them stimulates your central nervous system like nothing else. When you’re skiing, you probably don’t realise how much you are using your arms to stabilise your body and during big turns your upper pole is often dragging in the snow to keep you up. Same thing when you plant your poles ahead of you, your body revolves around it.
The practice of Animal Flow is complimentary to what you are already doing. It can be used for stretching, warm up, cool down or to increase your technique in other elements.
For example, if you feel you have reached your limit in squats, try the Loaded Beast or Deep Ape (in the video above) to increase hip flexibility and mobility. You’ll be surprised of the results! You can also put the different moves together into a Flow and create some High Intensity Interval or Plyometric combinations that are guaranteed to make you sweat.
As one of the first Animal Flow Certified Instructors in Australia, I have incorporated some transitions, stretches, travel forms into my clients’ training programs from running, to weight loss, core activation, toning and rehabilitation. The possibilities are endless and although classes are heaps of fun, learning the moves and poses individually can take your own training to the next level.
At the end of the day, remember to move a lot and in different planes to remain functional. Our bodies are incredible machines that need to move to perform better.
The last thing you want to do before skiing is run up and down the stairs, do hundreds of squats, lunges and crunches and not take your body through rotation and side movements, loading and unloading different joints and muscles.
Learn to re-connect with your body and you’ll find your new potential.
If you are curious about trying Animal Flow or want to know how it could benefit you, contact me to find out where the nearest class (group and one-on-one) takes place.
Guillaume will be at Steves’s Snow Sale at Mona Vale Memorial Hall in Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Saturday and Sunday May 9 and 10 from 10am to 5pm. Drop by and have a chat with him about your exercise routine.