It was a clear Wednesday evening, as I entered the gates to the business park in Clapham North, London. I was about to train with Animal Flow Royalty. Someone who is arguably the best Animal Flow Coach in the UK.
This wouldn't be my first time either.
I first discovered Rachel Thompson on instagram. I had recently been suffering with a condition known as FIGF (Fitness Industry Gimmick Fatigue).
Now I'm not going to lie, I had been one of those lifters who was quick to dismiss Animal Flow as powder puff nonsense, and just a weak imitation of dynamic yoga and gymastica natural.
But I was wrong.
After studying her clips on instagram, I was impressed not only by her ridiculous movement quality (she is a trained contemporary dancer), but her versatility in training (she lifts too, and is far from a powder puff) and her depth of understanding completely sold me.
I began training with Rachel Thompson sometime in 2017 and have attended various workshops and classes. Each one slightly different. Learning something new, while still returning to fundamental principles.
This master class at Reach Fitness was no different.
An intimate affair, with a mixed blend of female and male participants of various levels. From complete newbies to coaches, and seasoned movement enthusiasts - Rachel catered for us all.
What first strikes you about her coaching style is her passion and enthusiasm for what she is actually teaching. You can literally see her light up as she gets into the flow of what she is doing...
"Seeing people really [connect] with their bodies is awesome, with animal flow there is no time to think about anything else. It's rare in life that we really find or make the time to find the mind body connection
I had worked out earlier in the day - upper body pressing. I was soon to discover that was a mistake.
Within five minutes of the warm up I instantly regretted it. The muscles at the back of my arm began to lock up. Have you ever had cramp in your triceps? It's bloody uncomfortable to say the least - and I still had another ninety minutes to go.
I grabbed some electrolytes and cracked on. Rachel took a part - part - whole approach to the session. This is where you teach one movement, highlighting the finer details. Then build on to the next one before putting it all together. Never once easing back on her enthusiasm as a coach.
The culmination of these movements would evolve into what would be our final flow.
From beast to scorpion to crab, and a whole host of animals my body would soon rather forget (I had some serious muscle soreness the day after!), we were taken through various transient postures which utilised our body's full range of movement, highlighting strengths and areas that I need to develop. It was great fun.
Then for the grand finale we flowed together with superb synchronicity and precision that would leave Cirque du Soliel in the unemployment line - ok maybe not, but we certainly gave it a good try.
"I love feeling the flow unfold. Learning a move, building a flow. It's like watching magic happen.