website statistics

Out of the Box Fitness: Animal Flow

Think effective workouts are all sweat and no play? Think again. We’ve scoured the city for the most innovative workouts to reboot your fitness game—just in time for summer.

July 8, 2021

Had enough of slogging away yet again on the treadmill or in the weight room? Us too. While we have nothing against tried-and-true traditional workouts, sometimes a heavy dose of fun is just the thing to snap us out of our fitness funk, inspire us to get our sweat on, and most importantly, keep at it. Luckily, there have been plenty of exciting alternatives popping up around town to help shake up our workout routines. From boxing in the dark to channelling your inner crab, join us as we try out four of Hong Kong’s most out-of-the-box workouts over the next few weeks, which blend novelty with cutting-edge technology and innovative techniques. The best part? You’ll have a blast while doing them.

Anderson Chan


Its name sparks instant intrigue, but Animal Flow, the pioneering ground-based movement system created by 20-year fitness veteran Mike Fitch back in 2010, is much more than mimicking the likes of apes and crabs—although animal-inspired positions and movements are part of the programme.

“We use Animal Flow as a way to improve the connection, communication, and function of the ‘human animal’”, explains Fitch. A personal trainer with years of experience in bodyweight movement disciplines such as gymnastics, parkour, and breakdancing. Fitch set out to design a system that holistically improves the body’s bio-motor abilities such as strength, speed, power, endurance, coordination, stability, mobility, and flexibility. “There was a clear need for something that allowed you to bridge the gap between traditional styles [such as yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and weights] that typically focus on a couple of these abilities. Animal Flow does exactly that.”

In a few short years, the all-bodyweight systemised programme has captivated legions of enthusiasts the world over, not least thanks to a group of “flowists” (as they proudly call themselves) spreading the word about the exercise. One of them, Anderson Chan, Hong Kong’s first-ever Animal Flow regional leader (an ambassador tapped to promote and grow the community) and a level-two certified instructor, attests that it has changed his life.

Anderson Chan teaching a class at Victoria Park

“It turned my long-held concepts about fitness upside down,” says Chan, who taught TRX suspension training, HIIT, and cycling before stumbling across Fitch’s discipline. After several weeks of strenuous training at Optimum Performance Studio, the city’s sole official dealer that offers Animal Flow certification classes, he felt a huge change. “Hong Kong’s fitness scene is quite trend-focused, yet Animal Flow isn’t about performance, aesthetics, or equipment,” he says. “You will instead find yourself understanding and reconnecting with your body like never before.”

Chan teaches a popular bi-monthly free community class at Victoria Park, where over the course of an hour, sans shoes and mat and fully utilising the expansive outdoor space, he enthusiastically leads students through primal moves like the “ape squat” (a deep crouch with arms stretched out), the “loaded beast” (tucking the leg underneath your chest), and the “crab reach” (with one arm reaching up and over towards the ground). They’re choreographed to form fluid, dance-like sequences that are equally fun and intensely challenging, tapping into not only muscle strength and endurance, but also creativity and concentration.

Shin Ng

The programme’s emphasis on the mind-body connection is echoed by Shin Ng, a Lululemon ambassador and level-two instructor who became a newly appointed regional leader in May. “Especially in Hong Kong, where most people live such a hectic lifestyle, we become really disconnected with how we control our body, postures, and movements,” says Ng, who teaches a style he coins “flow jams” that focuses on isolation, integration, and improvisation (students can create their personal sequence) at The Grounds, Fivelements Habitat, and various parks. “Animal Flow has a similar mind and body connection philosophy with yoga, but what makes it different is its versatility,” adds Ng. “It’s a system based on animal-like quadrupedal movements, which means we are on all fours, putting our bodyweight only on our hands and our feet. And the fun part is, without a mat, we move around freely—like real animals!”

Check back next week for Out Of The Box Fitness: Aqua-Cycling!