On October 14, 2020, TACFIT Team Leader Alaina Sawaya releases our latest TACFIT introductory program, TACFIT FlowFit 101. “Flow” training was originally created by TACFIT Founder Scott Sonnon nearly 20 years ago out of a need for more effective training to help mitigate excessive stress and postural imbalances found in his athlete and first responder clients. First an athlete and now a firefighter, Alaina Sawaya is an ardent devotee of this calming, restorative practice. Here’s what she has to say about FLOW in your life …
When I discovered Flow as a strength coach, it was an innovative and challenging practice that sharpened my movement literacy. Now as a firefighter, Flow-style training has become my lifeline.
Practicing sequences of complex movements stimulates the brain to expand its capacity for learning, and not just in the realm of physical movement. According to TACFIT Founder Scott Sonnon, training in this way can “increase our capacity for situational awareness, reasoning, free memory recall, attentional stamina, decision-making speed, accuracy, access to language and high-level problem solving.”
Flow releases physical tension, improves strength imbalances and restores parasympathetic tone to our musculature. Flow promotes lymphatic circulation, bolstering our immune system and expediting the removal of toxins from our tissues. On so many levels, Flow heals, and that is the kind of training I get passionate about!
According to the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) our bodies adapt to what we do repeatedly. That is, whatever posture our body holds most often, becomes our shape. If this is not balanced with strength in the opposing ranges of motion and strategic unbinding holds post-training, we create postural dysfunction, over specialization, dysfunctional movements, plateaus and chronic pain. Inevitably, we cultivate injuries.
I knew this in theory for years, but now I know it in practice as I feel my body changing under the massive stresses imposed by emergency response. When it’s triggered, the sympathetic nervous system enables us to do superhuman things, but when it’s chronically activated, it becomes toxic to our tissues and our psyche. I now feel the effects of elevated cortisol levels catabolizing my muscle tissue and the subsequent increase in time needed for repair. This coupled with a highly demanding physical workload and a perpetual drive to train harder, my need for balance through compensatory training is very real. In essence, Flow has legitimately become my antidote, enabling me to prioritize my health and longevity in a tangible way.
What to expect in my new FlowFit 101 program:
The unique versatility of TACFIT FlowFit is that it can be used as a standalone program, a rehabilitative tool, dynamic warmup/cooldown for other training, and a restorative practice on recovery days. This introductory FlowFit program is designed similarly to the original, as a “No to Low” intensity workout, meaning it’s a perfect fit for your “No Intensity” and “Low Intensity” workout days.
By adhering to a “No to Low” intensity design, you do not run a high risk of over-training.Therefore, these Flows can be incorporated into your practice in a myriad of ways.
If you are solely focused on Flow, I suggest working on 1 flow for 4 days in a row before moving to another flow.
If you typically engage in another classic TACFIT protocol (clubbell, kettlebell, etc., or a weight lifting, jiu-jitsu program), I recommend to my own fitness clients and firefighting peers that they insert FlowFit 101 into your 1-2 days of intentional recovery each week. By using the above-mentioned “No to Low” intensity recommendations for joint mobility and compensation, you’re creating much greater movement while repairing soft tissue before engaging in Moderate to High days of other activity.
Remember, at any time if you feel abnormally tired from your weekly regimen, use that as a great piece of biofeedback from your body. Taking a “No Intensity” day of simply performing joint mobility will prove to be a very beneficial restorative.
Flow: The ever-evolving process that enhances my life:
I honestly get stoked to practice Flow! It can be playful and it can be intensely humbling, but it is always productive. When it comes to correcting movement pattern deficiencies, flow is unparalleled! It allows me to take a movement limitation, come at it from a new orientation, and essentially trick my brain into rewiring a new pathway, allowing newfound access to that movement. It has taught me to be more aligned with my priorities, to link breath with movement and movement with state of mind. This requires that I be fully invested in each session.
Over the years Scott Sonnon has pushed me to become intuitive in my training; to question WHY I practice what I practice, and to see training as a dynamic and ever-evolving process of enhancing my quality of life. I am grateful for the privilege of learning from the best, humbled by the process, and will forever be learning through Flow.