There's been a lot in the fitness press about animalistic/natural movement recently. These are classes that focus on body-weight movements and claim to 'torch fat' (in some articles) but it's really about different moves that build strength, stability, mobility and cardio fitness, and it builds strength that actually supports your other workouts like running, yoga and HIIT--all without needing any special equipment.
Anyone who's been to a bootcamp will probably recognise some of the basics like bear crawl and some of the moves you may just remember from childhood (let me tell you, the crab walk was a hell of a lot easier when I was eight!).
I'd heard of Zuu, a branded animal movement class started in Australia, and luckily my friend and PT-extraordinaire Yasmine Say was teaching it at Virgin Active (currently the only place in the UK where you can get this class) and when I mentioned how excited I was to check it out, she invited me along.
Class of crabs. And the walls even had a lovely nature theme!
I don't really know what I was expecting, given what I'd read and the anecdotes Yaz had told me about this 20-minute class reducing super-fit, large-muscled men practically to tears, but as I'm usually up for (almost) anything, I was excited to find out first-hand what there was behind this massive trend.
Zuu's mantra is 'liberating human movement' and it certainly does that. There were about eight of us in the class and luckily we all had a sense of humour (or, possibly, no shame) as we ended up in some pretty hilarious positions and I realised that I've definitely lost some coordination that I had for these kind of moves when I was little.
We did all sorts of moves with names like crab walk, gorilla jumps, bear crawl, polar bear press, and the easy-enough looking frog squat that was horrendously painful (after about three of them my quads were on FIRE). Iguana crawl was the most difficult to coordinate by far and then we had to do it backwards! Together, this routine of animal-like moves caused both laughter and almost-tears and I could understand why grown men wept after it.
Yasmine demonstrating the iguana crawl.
For the length of time, the intensity of this class was high (bearing in mind I've been to Barry's Bootcamp -- it was harder, but more concentrated, than that!) BUT it was completely achievable to go at your own pace and level and also a good laugh because we all looked ridiculous doing the moves. I definitely ached afterwards in places that I didn't know I had muscles.
You can see some examples of the moves in this video which makes it look easier than it is, but it's a good demonstration of how these classes get you doing moves you wouldn't do with any other kind of class.
Final verdict? If I had a Zuu class nearer to me, I would be a regular. It was fun, felt effective, I'm a big fan of body-weight exercises anyway, and loved the feeling of moving in different ways to counteract the routine fitness and day-to-day movements my body's used to. Definitely one I'd recommend to anyone!
Have you tried animalistic/natural movement classes or Zuu? What did you think?
And, if you're looking for a PT in the West London area, Yaz is wonderful and you can check out her Instagram or contact her here.
Disclaimer: Occasionally I receive free classes, such as the Zuu class, however the opinions expressed in the reviews of these products are my unbiased opinion and are not affected by or paid for by the companies mentioned.