Just because the gym is filled with free weights, squat racks, Smith machines, bench presses, cables and pulleys, and countless other pieces of equipment doesn’t mean you actually need any of them to improve your fitness. While these tools are a wonderful aid to many styles of workouts, there’s something to be said for getting back to the basics — and that’s why bodyweight-flow workouts are so trendy these days.
If you’re familiar with yoga, then you know a “flow”-style class (or vinyasa) connects various poses together in a flow of constant movement. Bodyweight flow is similar — it’s a combination of distinctive exercises in which you’re using the different anatomical lines of your body, and the goal is to be as fluid and smooth as possible in between movements. Like yoga, you’ll also focus on your breathwork. In between the flow, there are beats and moments of explosiveness, control, stops and pauses.
So what are the top benefits of this style of fitness?
- Mobility. Because you’re moving in so many different directions and planes throughout a bodyweight-flow workout, you’ll notice you feel incredibly loose afterward. It’s an unexpected sensation of feeling both strong and mobile at the same time — unlike most workouts, during which you may feel strong but need a serious cool-down of stretching afterward to loosen up.
- Mind-body connection. While doing bodyweight flow, you’re firing more neurons in both the left and right hemispheres of the brain because there’s so much coordination involved and so much information being given to you by the floor in your hands and feet. Because you’re going from one movement to another and using your whole body in a dynamic way, everything has to work together. So your brain is having to coordinate all these things, just like traffic on the highway during rush hour. You’re essentially creating a superhighway of information running up and down the body.
- Full-body strength. You may be wondering how you’ll gain strength without lifting any weights. Well, even though you aren’t loaded down with weight, you definitely aren’t stronger than the floor. So bodyweight flow is almost like using your own body as a resistance band. You’ll be taking point A and point B in the body and pulling them away from each other to create even more tension — and this increases your strength. Plus, you’re able to control different degrees of motion, so when you do add a kettlebell into the mix, your body has already had that sensory input.
- Lean muscles. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to spend time huffing and puffing away on a cardio machine to lean out — bodyweight flow burns a ton of fat and calories. We always tell clients to just focus on how good and smooth and fluid you want to make the movements — and the side effects include getting lean, getting strong and getting abs. On that note, you also can say sayonara to miserable crunches on the floor because bodyweight flow comes with plenty of core work.
- Meditative. Think of bodyweight flow as a puzzle you’re putting together — it’s a free flow movement, like a create-your-own adventure workout. Many people find it akin to a movement meditation, in which they’re connecting to their body and to breath in a way they never have before. Plus, if you aren’t good at breathing properly when you work out, you will essentially be forced to here because the movements are so complex.
- Increased coordination. If you are embarrassed to take a Zumba or other aerobics-type class because you can’t figure out the choreography, bodyweight flow can help with that, too. You’ll have to learn how to control each position, which forces your mind and body to balance and move differently.
- Joy. We like to describe bodyweight flow as being on a meditative cloud of awesomeness. You feel great afterward because you have just been moving more freely than you have anywhere else in your life. It’s actually fun, unlike being stuck doing one boring movement, counting your reps and wishing they’d go by faster. The goal is to spark creativity, challenge your body and find new freedom in the flow.
Looking to challenge your body from multiple angles, including strength, athleticism, balance, mobility, coordination and power? This summer, we are pairing movement specialist and certified trainer Venus Lau with master kettlebell trainer Marcus Martinez for a series of 30-minute Kettlebell & Flow workouts that will train both your mind and body.
So what are you waiting for? This high-octane program designed exclusively for Oxygen is guaranteed to build incredible resilience, strength and body awareness — so switch things up by choosing kettlebells over dumbbells this summer! Join Kettlebell & Flow today.