What The Heck Is Functional Fitness Anyway?
The biggest buzzword in the wellness and fitness industry over the last 10 years has been “Functional Fitness”. I like to joke that it took over for the word core that held the buzzword title for the previous 10 years. Total Gym has been delivering the concept and benefits of functional fitness training for over 40 years. And I am glad the rest of the industry finally caught on because it helps people function better in life. This leads us to the task of defining functional fitness or what constitutes a functional exercise.
Although I could not find a definition for functional exercise in any dictionary, here are my two favorite definitions of function that are relevant when speaking of a functional exercise and functional fitness.
1 of or having a specific activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates.
2 designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive.
So using the keywords in functional, here is my definition of a functional exercise:
1. An exercise that mimics real life activities.
Now just think of functional fitness as a group of exercises, or an exercise program, that utilizes and combines exercises that mimic and improve life’s activities.
Benefits And Examples Of Functional Fitness
So what is all this buzz around functional fitness? You guessed it, the benefits! This type of training will make your everyday activities easier, reduce the incidence of injury by strengthening the muscles and joints in various planes of motion, improve your sports performance, improve your balance and agility (especially important for older adults).
Here are some examples you might be familiar with:
- Total Gym workouts
- Cross Fit
- Kettle Bell training
- Using a Stability Ball – the big round ones
- Doing shoulder, arm, or back exercises while standing on the Bosu ball
And some cardio examples:
- Rowing machine
- Indoor cycling classes
- Box jumps
I like to choose functional exercises for my clients that combine the following principles:
- Mimic their life or sports activities.
- Uses the person’s own body weight.
- Balance and coordination.
- Core stabilization.
- Multi-directional movements.
- Multi-joint exercises.
- Multi-muscle group exercises.
A video is worth a million words so please check out the accompanying video and I will give you some great examples of functional exercises that you can incorporate into your workouts.