Recently, functional fitness is gaining more of a following because of the impact certain exercises have in everyday life. The word “functional” relates to the way something works or operates, so if certain exercises can help you operate better (improve your life) wouldn’t you do them? The purpose of functional fitness is to utilize special exercises that mimic real life scenarios to prepare your body for life outside of the gym (operate better). Traditional exercises train your body in the context of the gym environment so you’ll aways find yourself spending more and more time in the gym to make progress, because the exercises don’t reflect what you’d encounter in real life. If you want to use your time in the gym to improve your time outside of the gym then this is for you!
If you bust your butt in the gym and plow through an intense training session, only to spend 20 minutes icing your knees every morning then is your workout really benefiting your quality of life in the long run? Mentally, you may feel good about how hard your workout was but if you’re physically worn down after every workout and can barely climb up stairs without knee pain or your lower back always feels tight no matter how much you stretch, then I suspect that your workout isn’t benefiting your life the way you intended.
First, you should ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your workout. Do you want your workout to make you bigger, faster, and stronger? Help you lose weight? Build strength and endurance to raise your children or keep up with your grandkids? Help manage muscle or joint pain that limits your quality of life? Do you want your workout to sustain your health as you age? Once you establish why you’re working out then you have to take into consideration if you’re current workout habits are going to help you achieve what you want to accomplish.
Working out improves many aspects of your life, but mixed with the wrong intentions it may lead to other health complications. For example, if you workout so that you can lose weight and every time you exercise you do high impact moves that place wear and tear on your joints, then over time you may injure yourself and have to take a few weeks off from working out with the potential of gaining your weight back. If you workout because your doctor told you it would help decrease pain but the nagging discomfort or stabbing pain won’t go away, gets worse, or spreads, then you may be performing the wrong types of exercise for what you really want to accomplish. My point being, the way you workout should be taking you closer to your goal, not further from it.
The fitness industry does a great job advertising exercises that look cool, are hard, and make you sweat. That’s why you see most people exercising the way everybody else is, but not really knowing why they’re doing a particular exercise. Sometimes we just do an exercise for the sake of exercising, sometimes that exercise benefits your body in an applicable way and sometimes that exercise distorts your body and, if repeated enough, can lead to problems with posture and movement.
Personally, when I choose an exercise I make sure that it’s going to benefit my life outside of the gym in some way. If I constantly perform bicep curls because I think it’s going to help me pick up my dog easier then I am missing the applicable part. When I go to pick up my dog I am not just using my arms to lift her, I am engaging other muscles in my body all at once to help with the movement. If I want to function better in reality, then when I workout I should implement exercises that mimic my real life environment. If I want to pick up my dog without hurting my back, I would choose an exercise that involves me bending over and standing up while I integrate my hamstrings, glutes, core, and arms all at the same time, because that’s what my body is doing when I pick up my dog. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the way you workout is going to determine how you move in real life. Traditional exercises don’t take this into account and so what you do in the gym doesn’t improve your life the same way true functional fitness does.
If you like to go to the gym and lift weights for the sake of lifting weights then more power to you. In the same breath, if you’re looking for a workout that has a direct carry over into how well you function in real life then contact us to set up a consultation. You’ll learn how you can make the most of your workout and if your current exercise routine is really helping you or actually harming you. At SA Functional Fitness we teach exercises that get your body on the path to enjoy all life has to offer- we don’t live to workout, we workout to live.