We all started on the ground, look at any baby as it learns to move. One of the first things parents do is with a newborn as they get older is incorporate “tummy time” into the daily routine.
It’s been a new method to speed the development stage of babies but the concept is as old as time. Babies naturally learn this process over time to strengthen their back muscles so they can keep their heads lifted and eventually learn to crawl.
And crawling is where the magic happens. It’s the first Primal Movement we learn as humans and the one we practice the least as we age. Of the seven Primal Movements (push, pull, squat, hinge, rotate, crawl, and gait) crawl holds the most benefits. It builds core strength better than a plank (it’s also more fun because you’re moving around instead of holding still), supports shoulder health (as the main stabilizer), engages the entire body (knees are off the ground), and it’s psychologically challenging. The challenge comes from the coordination required to move contra-laterally in a crawl. Contra-lateral is when cross body limbs move at the same time. If the right leg moves forward the left arm moves with it and vice versa. This is how the human body moves as it runs and walks (gait) naturally. Try it out and you’ll notice when you walk, your right arm swings forward as the left leg moves forward. Humans are wired to work in contra-lateral movements.
Of course, due to the requirements of everyday modern life, we don’t tend to be in constant anatomical positions. Hunched over at a desk, looking down at our phones, how we sit (especially in the car) all contribute to poor posture and tight muscles. The demands of certain jobs can also weaken coordination and motor reflexes which hurt the mind-body connection that limits contra-lateral movements.
That’s where ground-based movement comes in, particularly Quadrupedal Movement Training. Quadrupedal movement training is a form of bodyweight training incorporating animal poses, transitions, and crawling patterns to improve fitness. This type of training improves multiple facets of fitness such as functional movement, dynamic balance, range of motion, and upper body strength and endurance.
The best practice I’ve come across to train these movements is Animal Flow. Animal Flow incorporates movements you would generally see in gymnastics, yoga, and breakdancing. On its face, it looks like if yoga and martial arts had a baby that used animal locomotion exercises (like bear crawls) but it is none of those things. In fact, the founder (who was a kettlebell and advanced bodyweight instructor) only studied gymnastics and parkour when developing the program. It is now a global phenomenon that is practiced in over 35 countries. It’s based on 6 components that make up a class, once you learn the base moves you can then chain link them into a flow. No one flow is ever the same, and it ranges from slow and controlled to fast and powerful.
As the only active Animal Flow Instructor in the Charlotte area, I’ve been working with local trainers and yoga instructors to help improve their physicality so that they can be better at what they love doing. Keep a lookout for classes and pop-up events I’ll be leading so that you can learn how to incorporate this practice into your routine. I like to use it as a dynamic warmup before strenuous workouts or as my workout for the day if I don’t feel up for doing high-impact exercises.
As a Primal Health and Fitness Coach, Gabe helps those who are tired of hitting plateaus in their workouts, struggling with self-image, and barely have any energy to get through the day.
I primarily help men in their 30’s who have trouble making time for exercise and lack the discipline to eat better. But my services can help anyone. The number one result they see is improved athletic performance.
I am also the only practicing Animal Flow Instructor in Charlotte. You can find me at different studios in the city teaching classes to help spread the movement.