Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 584

38 13 J ANUARY 202 2 Wellbeing WEEKENDING If press ups, squats and lat pulldowns feel tedious and regimented, perhaps it’s time to consider something new. Patsy Westcott discovers primal movement, which introduces animal-inspired moves into your workout, helping you find fitness through play Find your inner animal If you’re already bored with your New Year’s fitness regime, try shaking things up by tapping into your inner animal. Primal movement, which incorporates bodyweight exercise and animal moves, is gaining momentum in the fitness world. It involves adopting the natural movements of children and animals, which enabled our ancient ancestors to forage, hunt and escape from woollymammoths long before gyms, running tracks, swimming pools, cycle lanes and the like existed. Primal movement unites two of the biggest fitness trends in the American College of SportsMedicine’s annual survey of worldwide trends – bodyweight training and functional fitness. In other words, it’s a form of exercise that enables us to go about our daily activities with ease. It’s perfect for Covid times whenmany of us have becomemore sedentary because anyone can do the moves, anytime, anywhere. “Of all animals, we humans are among themost sedentary and physically inactive. As a result we’ve lost touch with our instinctive need tomove,” says movement coach and author Darryl Edwards of Primal Play, which incorporates animalinspiredmoves into a whole-body workout designed to increasemobility, boost strength, flexibility and heart and lung health. Spurred by a health check showing that, although slim, he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and an unhealthy amount of internal body fat, the former banking technologist quit his high-powered job in 2011 to become a personal trainer. Five years later, bored and disillusioned with conventional training, he began to slip in some playful animal moves. “I’m like, hang on, I’mhealthy and I feel great, but when I exercise I’m clockwatching and that’s how Primal Play came about,” says Darryl. Themoves, which you can find in his books Animal Moves for adults and My First Animal Moves for children and on packs of playing cards, are designed to lure us away fromour screens using animals as reference points. Youmight, for example, balance on one leg like a crane, walk like a crab, crawl like a bear, jump like a kangaroo, hop like a rabbit or propel yourself along the floor using hands and arms like a crocodile. “The use of many di erent moves makes working out more fun, as well as easier to staymotivated whileminimising your risk of injury. It’s about rediscovering the sense of play that animals have and that we had as children to transformour approach to exercise,” he says. For Zoe Bateman, 48, a self-employed fluid dynamics engineer, fromReading, Primal Play is a way for the whole family to have fun. “I originally started to get in shape for my 40th birthday party just after my daughter was born, but enjoyed it somuch I carried on. My husband Steven joined in and the kids (Owen, 12, and Eloise, 9) have grown up with it. We all love it. The exercise element is incidental. It’s been ideal, especially during the pandemic as you can do it anywhere. We do it in the garden, the park and in odd moments while watching TV. There’s so much variety it’s never boring,” she says. Animal Flow is a similar programme and now has teachers all over the world. Created by US fitness trainer andmovement coach Mike Fitch in 2010, it draws inspiration from gymnastics, yoga, and breakdancing with animal moves thrown in. The heart of the programme is amoving sequence or flow tomobilise, strengthen and release tight muscles, without weights or machines. “We all have that inner animal in us. It’s about exploring it and finding yourself ‘We humans have lost touch with our instinctive need to move’