If you're of a "certain age," you'll remember the Reece’s commercial when a man bumps into a woman on the street and accidentally jams his entire chocolate bar into her weirdly open jar of peanut butter, thereby creating the most delicious flavor combo on the planet.
Seemingly disparate modern-day workouts can be similarly blended, albeit in a less incongruously machinated way, to create a completely new training experience — yoga with Pilates, barbells and barre class, and now kettlebell training and Animal Flow. The dynamic duo of Venus Lau and Marcus Martinez melded together these two disciplines to create Oxygen’s new six-week course Kettlebell & Flow. Their ensuing unique training cocktail is fun and effective and is all but guaranteed to make you stronger, more mobile and more intimately connected to your body.
Sometimes getting back to basics is the best way to make progress, and it can’t get any more basic than using your own body in a functional way. “We were literally born to move like this — crawling, squatting, running and moving in every plane,” Martinez says. “As we get older, we lose that capacity and have to earn those positions back.”
Animal Flow — the brainchild of Mike Fitch, NSCA-CPT, NASM, NSCA, IFPA, AAHFRP — was designed to do just that, combining ground-based, multi-planar movements with elements such as bodyweight training, gymnastics, break dancing, parkour and hand balancing. “Animal Flow is based on primitive, human movements that are the healthiest for our bodies to master,” says Lau, who herself is an L2 and L2 Animal Flow instructor. “There is no other fitness system that gets your body moving so much. It is strength, mobility, core dynamics, cardio, balance, power, coordination, timing, brain stimulation and self-expression all at once.”
It will also get you into great shape. “I tried flowing because I thought it looked unique, but I quickly found out how much more challenging it was compared to normal calisthenics — I was a sweaty mess,” Martinez says.
“I got into the best shape of my life doing this kind of training,” Lau adds. “In fact, I can lift more weight now than I could before, and I am rarely sore.”
In the last decade, kettlebells have rolled out of the chalky corners of the gym floor into the limelight and are the current darlings of the weightlifting world. “The kettlebell is an incredibly versatile tool that allows for so much more than a dumbbell,” says Martinez, who is a master kettlebell trainer. “The off-centered mass combined with the handle allows for a wide variety of flows, transitions and nonstop circuits that you can’t do as easily with a dumbbell.”
Kettlebells develop grip and core strength as well as shoulder stability and body awareness. “They also build incredible flexibility and power in the hamstrings and hips, and help you lose body fat through fast-paced circuits,” Martinez says.
“They also allow you to move in multiple ranges of motion, which is complementary to flowing,” Lau adds.
The Killer Combo
And hence, the metaphoric chocolate and peanut butter happenstance: Lau and Martinez combined these two distinctly different workout flavors into one incredible program. “The ability to explore traditional training mixed with true functional training is a fun and effective way to exercise,” Lau says.
“The fact that both these modalities can be done anywhere gives the user the ability to have an incredible workout with tons of variety,” Martinez adds. “Also, groundwork alone is great, but it lacks a pulling element; the kettlebell helps balance that out.”
In addition to the physical benefits, Kettlebell & Flow has a strong mental component. “The variety of angles you are moving in is so powerfully athletic that it forces you to tune in to your mind-muscle-body connection,” Lau says. “It fires new brain neurons and ingrains new movement patterns to give your body a unique kind of challenge.”
Besides — it’s fun. “For children, play is a critical element of development, helping build emotional intelligence and how they handle things in life,” Martinez says. “Adding flow to your strength programming helps reignite that spark and heighten that creativity. It becomes like movement meditation, and many users get a euphoric feeling postworkout.”
But is it as euphoric as discovering the pleasures of Reece’s? The only way to know is to try it for yourself.
Q&A with Kettlebell & Flow Creators
Never have we laughed as much on set as we did with these two experts. With back-and-forth banter akin to squabbling siblings, Venus Lau and Marcus Martinez dished out plenty of sweaty workouts while also entertaining us with nonstop schtick. Here's a little taste of their larger-than-life personalities with an impromptu Q&A.
How did you guys meet?
Marcus Martinez: Venus came to a kettlebell certification course I was teaching, and I immediately loved her inquisitive nature. She was a perfectionist and needed to know everything and why/what it was working. Even though she was a pain in the ass, she challenged me, which I appreciated!
Venus Lau: We also have the same sense of humor. He’s like a brother to me, and I’m super grateful for our bond.
Who is funnier?
VL: I used to be a comedy writer and in a sketch comedy troupe, so...
MM: I guess I'll give her the (very) slight edge on this.
What is your favorite joke?
MM: I used to be addicted to soap, but I'm clean now.
VL: How much does a hipster weigh? An Instagram!
Who is a bigger badass?
VL: Well, I think I'm badass but I'm really a big dork. Plus, Marcus has three kids, so I'll let him win this one.
MM: I used to be the head of a biker gang. Also, I made that up.
What is your secret vice?
MM: Beer and stand-up comedy.
VL: Flow (not a secret), tequila and comedy.
Ketchup or mustard?
VL: Hot salsa.
MM: Ketchup all the way. If Venus had answered mustard, I'd probably have to end our friendship.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
ML: I've literally never watched one second of Star Trek, so by default, Star Wars.
VL: Star Wars. I had a life-size R2-D2 in my room growing up!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
VL: I was a little cross-eyed and very farsighted when I was a kid. I was bullied for having big glasses — and also having a name like Venus and being an Asian in a small Texas town. One day, a group of boys started a fight with me, and I decided I was done wearing glasses. I never wore them again. I forced myself to develop my eye muscles with depth of field work and gained strong vision through adversity. I even became a competitive golfer who went on to play NCAA Division 1 golf.
MM: I read the Tao Te Ching every single day. It has given me clarity and peace and has put a lot in my life into perspective. Not to mention the entire book promotes flow — I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
Certifications: Master kettlebell trainer, RKC, IKFF, steel mace specialist, battle ropes trainer, durability specialist, suspension specialist.
YouTube - @mbodystrength
Sponsor: Kettlebell Kings
Certifications: NASM-CPT, Animal Flow L1 and L2, Onnit Academy Kettlebells, RYT 200, FRCms, XPT, PCms, TRX
Instagram - @venus2bfab
Facebook - @venusfit
YouTube - @venusfit
Get the Gear!
Venus and Marcus swear by these Kettlebell Kings 'bells featured in their videos and in this article. Now you, too, can lift like a pro with this exclusive 10 percent discount — and free shipping! — just for Oxygen readers.
Code: oxygen, kettlebellkings.com
Kettlebell & Flow is designed to make you leaner, stronger and more athletic in only six weeks. No matter what your age or ability, this course will work for you. Get flowing today!