GMB Fitness has created a new introductory level bodyweight training program, Elements, that we like so much that we’re recommending it as the perfect lead-up to Animal Flow. Requiring no equipment, and letting you work at your own pace, Elements is designed to help people of all fitness levels establish an incredibly strong base that leaves you well prepared for skills-based bodyweight training (and Animal Flow!). Whether you want to lift weights or learn how to do a handstand, the strength, mobility, flexibility and balance you’ll develop with this program will give you a great start.

In the video below I talk about some of the synergies between Elements and Animal Flow, demonstrating how the foundations built in the first will transfer into more complex movements in the second. Check it out, and get your Elements copy HERE.

Hand balancing, Gymnastics and Animal Flow Synergies

My first glimpse of the movements included in Elements was more than a year ago, watching GMB’s Ryan Hurst command a group of mothers and their children: “Okay, now Frogger!” he was yelling, but in an encouraging and enthusiastic tone, like adults use with children. They dropped into deep squats and started hopping around a padded obstacle course. The room was overrun with frogs.

Ryan demonstrates Elements version of the monkey
Ryan demonstrates Elements version of the monkey
Mike Fitch demonstrates Animal Flow's high hip lateral ape
Mike Fitch demonstrates Animal Flow’s high hip lateral ape

I had just arrived in Osaka and was watching one of Ryan’s “mommy and me” style classes at his gym in Japan. Ryan’s curriculum when teaching kids is a combination of skill training like jumping, climbing, rolling, and tumbling, with (I’m happy to say) lots of animal movements. And along with the movements, Ryan ties in English lessons with the activities. It was a pleasure to watch.

After class, Ryan and I got a chance to crawl around a bit and work on some animal inspired movement flows. We spent a few hours working through our animals, talking about the similarities and the differences. I remember him saying, “Your Side Traveling Ape is very similar to the mechanics of the Monkey that we teach.” It got me thinking even deeper about the many variations you can practice with this simple primate movement, taking it from a basic beginner level move to extremely advanced progressions incorporating tuck balances.

A mindful movement approach

Ryan’s been using animal movements for years in his own training and in his classes. He’s always been a huge advocate of our own Animal Flow program, but I didn’t realize just what a staple part of GMBs programing that animal movements were until I received a link in my email to a program called Elements. “Check this out brother, let me know what you think.”

I played the welcome video that introduces the program components: “We’re not going to be focusing on sets and reps, nor will we be focusing on progressions that go from A to B to C. This program is all about focusing on the mindful movement approach.”

All right, you’ve got my attention.

What’s inside?

GMB Fitness
The Elements Course layout is easy to navigate!
I delved right into the on-line program. I love the way it’s set up – rather than a DVD, or even several video downloads, Elements is comprised of many short lessons presented in streaming videos, with easy to follow instructions. You are presented with 49 days covering the 7-week program, providing you super clear tutorials and written instructions that tell you exactly how to perform the moves and how to incorporate them into your workouts. It’s well laid out, and incredibly easy to navigate.

But more important than a cool layout, the content of Elements is pretty great. Much of the program is structured around three core animal movements: Bear, Monkey, and Frogger. Ryan breaks down the exercises and stretches surrounding these three movements, taking you through the most regressed variations all the way to the super smooth versions. Along the way, you’ll be building a solid foundation of movement, flexibility, mobility, coordination, strength and endurance.

All animal movement exercises are not alike!

Watching the Elements program got me back to thinking about the “movement jam” I had with Ryan, comparing the similarities and differences in our monkey moves.

In GMB Elements, the Bear has straight knees and high hips.
In GMB Elements, the Bear has straight knees and high hips.
The Animal Flow beast has lower knees and hips, creating a different type of challenge
The Animal Flow beast has lower knees and hips, requiring more stability

You can see a clear correlation between Element’s introductory moves (Bear, Monkey, Frogger) and some of the core Animal Flow moves (Beast, Lateral Ape, Forward Ape), yet they are most definitely different exercises. In fact, the Elements animal variations and progressions are valuable enough, and different enough, that I’d recommend it as the “prequel” to anyone just starting out with Animal Flow. Check out the video above for some demonstrations of how the Elements animal moves can transition into Animal Flow moves as your practice progresses.

I thanked Ryan and the whole crew at GMB for releasing Elements, because now we have an answer when somebody writes us asking if there is a program to help them prepare for Animal Flow.

So, who’s this good for? Easy – anyone that wants to learn how to use their body better! I’m certainly going to suggest it to our Animal Flow enthusiasts, and all of our Instructors, to build a solid base for Animal Flow. But I wouldn’t limit it just to Animal Flow – I would honestly recommend the program to everybody.

Get your Elements copy HERE.

Ryan Hurst and Mike Fitch know that GMB Elements and Animal Flow make you strong!
Ryan Hurst and Mike Fitch know that GMB Elements and Animal Flow make you strong!

Published by Mike Fitch

Mike is the founder of Global Bodyweight Training. He has more than 12 years as a fitness professional encompassing a wide range of disciplines which he draws upon to create the GBT system.

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