Flow State and Flow Workouts


By: Aaron Guyett, M.A., B.S., CSCS, FRCms, FRAs

Education Director and Master Coach 

So many people are talking about flow, and there is an equal amount of people that have zero clue what these flow-people are doing.

Turns out, many of the flow-people are just using yet another term that has been watered down and turned into whatever feels good at the time.

Person 1 - "Check out this flow that I am doing with the kettlebell." (performs cool sequence of fluid and dynamic movements with a kettlebell)

Person 2 - "I am so flowing right now." (Really into a video game)

Person 3 - "I am flowing." (Gives dog a treat...)

Let's break down what flow state is, and then we can begin to see how flow workouts began to exist in the fitness industry and the Gram (as in Instagram).

Flow State is a heightened state of arousal and focus, also know as being in the "zone."

If you have played sports or even been really into a creative craft or competition...you may have experienced flow state.

Let's see what the experts say about flow state.

"Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi (both highly educated experts in positive psychology and the realm of flow and flow state) identify the following six factors as encompassing an experience of flow:

  1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  2. Merging of action and awareness
  3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness
  4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  5. A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered
  6. Experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience (See works cited 1 below)

Now compare these six items from Oxford University Press to a reflection on flow workouts:

  • Bringing your focus to a singular tool and the movements that you have the capacity for with that tool.
  • The focus is both necessary and natural to perfect your timing and sequencing of the the movements, transitions, and positions with the kettlebell, body, battle rope, and beyond.
  • The practice and training you have done, have culminated to an awesome representation of your power, strength, endurance, mobility, and the dynamic yet fluid movements that this training can create.
  • It is an act of pure creation, as you seamlessly combine movement patterns and  body positions, exploring the capacity that your body and mind have within its multiple expressions.
  • It broadens the possibilities of training and practice, while allowing the mind and body to play.

To get started in flow, Marcus recommends taking 2 or 3 exercises that you have mastered, and combining them with fluid transitions, and not tracking the order or rhythm. Just move in those positions, transitions, and movements for a preset period of time.

The concept and consistency of time will often disappear, when you are in the middle of your flow workouts.

Flow can be done with any tool or even just body weight. Enjoy the break from hard-lined training and practice, and enjoy the benefits as well.


1 - Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihályi, M. (20 December 2001). "Flow Theory and Research". In C. R. Snyder Erik Wright, and Shane J. Lopez (ed.). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–206. ISBN 978-0-19-803094-2. Retrieved 20 November 2013.


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