Exercise Less?!

Exercise can be bad when we go through the motions of our default movement patterns. We just pack on more muscle imbalance that causes a subconscious stress on our mental and physical state, affecting our physiology. Then we cope with drugs, alcohol, food, sex, whatever dopamine fix we need to temporarily feel better. We enter the cycle of trying to outwork our coping behavior and beating our body up in the process, but we can only do that for so long until we feel “old” because our habits caught up with us.

Taking a few steps back to heal our body with intentional movement might not feel or look like society’s idea of exercise but it starts to retrain our brain and body to function better, promoting muscle mass that is symmetrical and “balanced” to help us respond to stress better. Then when our muscles are in balance we’re consciously and subconsciously able to handle stress more efficiently- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. and then we don’t feel the need to cope. Then it comes time to break out of the habits that we developed from coping that we no longer need.

This behavior change is painful and uncomfortable but time well spent and can start seeing changes in weeks for little things, months for some bigger things, and sometimes years for habits we’ve built over our entire lives. This is the change that helps our physical health- from muscle strength, weight loss/ weight maintenance, hormone balance- which in turn helps our mental health like anxiety, mood, depression, and the ability to not have to cope the way we used to. And when we do need to cope we are able to be more aware of what we’re doing and why, and maybe not even coping the same way we did in the past because our stress response is improving.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise, as most doctors and so called fitness experts will tell you that you need to eat less and move more to stay healthy. But if you move wrong and use your muscles in a state of imbalance then all of the above cataclysm of events happen- and that’s not healthy. You need to understand more about your body in order to make sure you behave in a way that promotes health. When you’re over exercising and under eating for so long, your body’s hormones get thrown out of whack and it makes it a lot harder to lose weight and body fat. You end up spinning your wheels trying to lose weight or build muscle but you’re fighting an uphill battle, up  a water slide. When you learn to fix your muscle imbalances when you “exercise” instead of just going through the motions of various movements, you’ll be able to address the subconscious stress on your body- aligning your posture and your hormones. This equates to a healthier body inside and, most importantly, outside of the gym!

Contact our gym to learn how our team can help you start and sustain your journey to a healthier you!

Posture 2.0

Posture is often associated with standing upright with the shoulders pulled back and the chest opened up, but posture is more than just standing straight.

Your body can’t hold one particular posture when it moves, so your muscles need to learn how to change “postures” when it changes positions.

When you think about what it means to have “good posture,” consider how that relates to your body in motion, and the changes movement produces in your body’s alignment.

When you bend over to pick something up, your pelvis is going to be in a different position while you’re bent over, than when you’re standing upright.

Therefore, your posture changes. It’s not about staying stacked a certain way 24/7, because certain functions require certain positions. Your muscles need to learn to drive your skeleton into those positions and get you out of them, so you don’t get stuck in a certain posture.

Posture changes constantly, and it goes deeper than what your posture looks like when you’re at rest. It’s one thing to be aware of your posture when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. But have you ever given any thought to what your posture looks like when you’re moving? Exercising, golfing, walking, hiking, boxing, dancing, running, etc.?

Good posture means your body can maintain integrity throughout its structure, when at rest and when moving. Structural integrity is achieved when your muscles are functioning correctly to support your alignment and intrinsically stabilizing your body from external demands.

The better your structure can withstand external demands, like gravitational forces and daily activities, the better your alignment will become at rest. Your body won’t be beat into a certain posture, or “comfort zone,” because it will be strengthened to withstand those effects and align into a “neutral zone,” always ready to change and adapt to balance the demands placed on it.

Not all training is going to respect the concepts described above, some exercises may even cause your structural integrity to weaken- making your body more vulnerable to the forces acting on it. The exercises you perform should enhance your body’s capability to withstand gravity and daily activities, without adversity.

If you want all the gravitational gains, without the compressional pains, set up your consultation with one of our biomechanics trainers today!

*Client Testimonials*

We do things differently here at SA Functional Fitness. We aren’t riding the fad on “functional fitness” to attract a specific market of customers, we’re codifying the entire spectrum of muscle function as it relates to the way humans move most and setting you up for real world function. This methodology allows us to simultaneously build muscle, increase strength, improve flexibility, and mobility when and where it counts. A byproduct of learning how to exercise correctly and using the right muscles enhances posture and alignment, restores muscle imbalances, eliminates joint pain, and fixes the body’s structure down to the biomechanical dysfunctions that cause pain and inefficient movement patterns in the first place, allowing for efficient recovery.

We train the entire spectrum of total body function to ensure your body is getting the proper stimulus to illicit the results you paid for! We practice what we preach, and we teach you the importance of the little details, and how, if left unresolved, the little things add up to major dysfunction throughout the entire kinetic chain. We’re patient and passionate personal trainers that enjoy teaching to all levels of function and fitness, with an emphasis on human biomechanics to restore optimal function to the body and the way it performs on a daily basis.

We aren’t your typical gym, we don’t waste time with arbitrary exercises, we develop your fundamentals of movement as it relates to the human body and the way it was designed to move, and then take it to the next level as your body adapts, increasingly challenging your structure with exercises in the gym, to help your body navigate reality with ease!

Don’t take our word for it; read what our clients are saying about our methods!


Big and Strong

My name is Michael, and I am the owner of SA Functional Fitness. I used to think that lifting heavy weight and having big muscles made you strong, it does and it doesn’t. It does make you strong when you lift that particular weight in that particular pattern, however the strength I gained in the gym didn’t translate to reality. The way my body moved when I was in the real world, never represented the way I moved my body in the gym, so that strength in the gym only applied to the gym- never to my lifestyle.

I ended up with various aches and pains in my early 20’s that I wrote off as “no pain, no gain” and continued to do what I thought, at the time, was the correct way to train the human body. As time went on the aches and pains got worse and little injuries started to pop up, first as nagging, then as something that required me to alter my training program and seek traditional methods of healing. I tried chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, cryotherapy, Airrosti, foam rolling, stretching, mobility exercises, body weight training, and more. They all served a purpose toward managing my pain, however nothing truly fixed the underlying issue- I didn’t know how to move well. Poor movement over time started to break my body down due to various compensation patterns I had developed to offset my aches, pains, and injuries.

I finally connected the dots that the way I had trained my entire life was inadequate and what led to my body becoming disconnected, and essentially useless for the way I wanted to live- pain free! It wasn’t solely the heavy lifting, but the exercise patterns that I was moving my body through when I lifted. When the human body moves, at it’s basic function, muscles on one side of the body shorten and muscles on the opposing side of the body lengthen, to propel the body through space. This is called contralateral reciprocation- connecting opposing limbs with each other, right arm/ left leg. It’s easily observed during the most fundamental human movement, walking. When I went to the gym I was squatting, deadlifting, bench pressing, doing isolated muscle work on machines, and ultimately trying to activate individual muscles to make them stronger and balance out the body. None of that worked as I intended. I discovered that muscles can never be isolated, unless your surgically separate them, due to a web that surrounds our body and unites every muscle with each other, called fascia. In other words, when one muscle is working, multiple muscles elsewhere in the body are also working to achieve the intended action. The way I was originally taught to exercise didn’t account for any of that. Over time, my body become out of synch with all the moving parts that make up efficient movement, and little things like walking my dog, playing frisbee, getting in and out of my car, and living life started to become hard because my body wasn’t prepared for the various forces encountered in reality.

These experiences led me to discover a training system called Functional Patterns, that’s geared toward training the human body and the mechanics that compose its various movement patterns, and then getting the body stronger when it moves through those patterns. After employing these new techniques into my training I immediately felt the benefits and saw the logic behind the system. Unfortunately I was still incorporating some of my old traditional exercises into my workouts because I thought it would compliment the new techniques. So some days my body would feel great and then the next day I could be in the same state that caused me to seek out alternative exercises in the first place. Finally I decided to abandon the traditional methods that didn’t serve my function, but only fed my ego and body image. After a few weeks of solely training with the new system I noticed that something felt different. I didn’t wake up with a stiff lower back, my knees didn’t hurt climbing down stairs, and I felt taller, lighter, decompressed, whatever you want to call it, my body felt like it was healing.

At this point, I had been a personal trainer for a few years, peddling out the same exercises to my clients that I had been doing for years. None of my clients complained because, like me, they thought it was all just part of the process. Some were in pain and we’d work on traditional rehab exercises that I had learned from physical therapy, and others just wanted a good workout and we’d work on traditional strength training exercises. Neither instances ever improved my clients pain to the point that it was gone, only diminished for a couple hours or days, nor improved my clients functional strength, only to the point that they could lift heavier dumbbells or more plates on a machine. In fact, my clients who were getting stronger in the gym were starting to complain about little joint aches and muscle twinges that they hadn’t reported when we originally started working together. I knew something was missing but I never had a long term solution to fix their pain or improve their performance without causing minimal amounts of adverse tension. Until I found and experienced the Functional Patterns training system. I decided to start implementing some of the exercises that had helped me and cut out the exercises that I thought were doing more harm than good. Slowly but surely my clients started to feel more lasting relief from their pain and felt better outside of the gym when doing things like playing golf, running errands, and even keeping up with their grandkids. I knew this system was a game changer and I wanted to learn more. I purchased some of their online materials and books to start with and felt my understanding of the human body and movement increase. Then I decided to seek out a practitioner to get training first hand by someone with more experience. My perception of what I thought exercise was about, was crushed- in a good way, and the doors to physical and personal growth opened wide.

At the time I had been working at a local personal training studio, that when I had started, their training methods made sense. But as my body and the bodies of my clients slowly deteriorated I realized that I had to leave the traditional fitness culture behind and spread the knowledge I had acquired to more people. This led me to open SA Functional Fitness to make a lasting impact on helping people move better, without causing pain in the process. Fast forward and I am now a Functional Patterns practitioner, still learning from fellow practitioners that have been incorporating this system longer, and learning from each client that I see. Every body is the same, as we all have the same underlying muscles that are designed to function a particular way, however every body requires different exercises to stimulate the muscles in a way that is going to undo the compensation patterns they’ve gotten themselves into. For example, as humans, we should all have the ability to drive our body forward when we walk by utilizing the glutes, as well as other muscle functions. Sometimes we lose that ability, for various reasons like too much sitting or old injuries, and we end up moving our body with only our calves, or hiking up one of our hips. The muscles must be retrained to activate the glutes during that particular movement, but not by doing squats or clamshells with mini bands, those are the wrong patterns. We teach you the correct movement patterns that are going to engage the glutes and integrate them with the rest of the body, in a fashion that mirrors real life movement, like walking or running. Over time your body will learn to move better at the things you do most, and if you move better, you aren’t victim to aches or pains that develop from improper movement.

Ultimately, if you’re in pain, that’s your body signaling you that it needs help. It’s key to get to the root of the muscle malfunction early before your body starts to move around the pain. Your body will avoid the painful stimulus and adapt your posture and eventually the way you move to allow you to “live” with the pain. We believe that’s no way to live and so we exist to help you find a long term solution to improving your movement- to mitigate pain and improve your posture. If you’ve been living like this for years and years, it’ll take more than a few weeks to undo the damage, but with your hard work and the right techniques, we’ll teach you a recipe to improve your quality of life, and sustain it.


Prevent Falls: Build Better Balance

Balance is critical if we want to sustain pain free movement and prevent falling as we age. In regards to “improving balance,” I’m sure you’ve heard it all. “Stand on one foot,” “walk like you’re on a tight rope,” “walk straight and turn your head side to side,” “step sideways over hurdles,” “tap a cone with your foot,” “close your eyes and touch your nose,” the list goes on and every single one of these is helpful to some degree, in regards to proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s awareness to feel where it’s located in space. In other words, if you step up onto a curb and your foot catches the top and you trip, good proprioception, theoretically, ensures you’ll be able to catch yourself and prevent yourself from falling.

However, no matter how great your proprioception is, if your body is positioned poorly in space then your structure has to compensate when you move. Those compensations could lead to shuffling feet or stiff arms which will impede your walking cycle, increasing the probability of a fall and poor body mechanics during movement. Proprioception aside, if your walking mechanics are optimized and your body moves well through space, then your chances of falling are drastically reduced. If you move well, that means all your muscles work together to lift your leg high above the curb so your foot clears it and you continue walking into your next step. If standing on one foot with your eyes closed actually improved your balance then you wouldn’t have to keep getting referred to physical therapy because you keep falling.

Maybe you don’t fall but you shuffle your feet when you walk, experience pain when you walk, or you feel unsteady just standing up. It’s time to implement exercises that apply to balance in a relative context, when you move! What’s the point of standing on one foot if your chances of falling increase when you walk? Train your body in the context that you want it to function in. Abbie walks around her neighborhood every day, and while she wasn’t suffering from falls, she was shuffling her feet which was leading to problems with her ankles and hips. Problems with the ankles and hips could then impair her ability to walk properly, increasing the likelihood of a fall. Since she likes to walk, it’s crucial to position her body into the same patterns that she would encounter while she walks. This way, she can make use of the exercise patterns while she’s functioning in the real world.

In the video you’ll notice a slight tweak between the images, the rear foot is lifted into a calf raise. Every time you walk, one of your legs performs a calf raise to propel your body forward, and then that leg lifts and the other leg goes into a calf raise. This sequence is repeated every step you take when you walk. If you can’t do a full calf raise or your ankle rolls out when your calf raises during a step then your body is going to compensate in a different muscle to keep you moving forward. But those compensations could be dysfunctional and lead to poor body mechanics and eventually a fall. By making Abbie’s body stronger in a calf raise position we are mimicking a phase of her walking cycle to build better stability for her when she moves, resulting in improved balance. Now that Abbie’s body knows what a proper calf raise is and how it can apply in certain functions, we can integrate her calves into other movements. Connecting them with other muscles during specific exercise patterns aimed at enhancing her balance when she moves. When it matters the most.

The calf is only one muscle that integrates with the rest of the body when we move, the glutes, obliques, and lats play a pivotal role in coordinating day to day movement. Every single muscle in the body has a role in coordinating pain free function. The key is exercising all the muscles in a sequence that you can utilize during real world movements. Whether you’re an 84 year old who wants to walk better to prevent falling or a fresh young athlete who wants to move better to prevent injuries, building better balance in real world contexts is a game changer.

Senior Citizens Can Walk with Confidence

As you age it gets harder to avoid falling, doctors tell you it’s just part of getting older and something you have to live with. I’m here to tell you that you can re-learn how to walk and avoid falling! It has to do with you biomechanics and the positioning of your body to support your structure as you move. No more shuffling your feet and walking with your head down, re-gain the ability to pick your feet up when you walk to avoid tripping and crashing to the ground.

At SA Functional Fitness we take it steps further than traditional balance training that has you standing on one foot for long periods. Instead we incorporate balance into walking, so we’re training your body in the environment that you want it to operate in. Going over the foundation of walking in the gym will prepare your body to handle the demands of walking in real life, so you’re body is better prepared to handle any kind of terrain.

The reason we don’t prioritize standing on one foot to improve your balance is because that will likely cause an excessive shift of your hips to one side. When your hips shift to the side your entire body comes along with it, leading to an overall shift of your body. That shift will contribute to poor posture and dysfunctional compensations when you walk, leading to pain or injury in the long run.

We mimic the patterns your body goes through in everyday life while we exercise, so your muscles engage the way we want them to in life outside of the gym. Standing on one foot may have some relevance but when you’re out on the town or even walking through your living room, when do you ever stop and stand on one foot for the sake of it? Probably never, so we shouldn’t prioritize that during our workout, we want to prioritize what you do most, walking!

The goal during each exercise session is to connect your upper body to your lower body so that we can train the body to stay integrated as we move around. If the body is not integrating muscles together when it moves then your balance and stability begin to suffer and falling becomes more likely. Re-establishing the connection between your legs, torso, and arms will ensure that you are able to walk functionally and significantly reduce your chances of falling.

If you want to improve your quality of life, your first step is to contact us to schedule a FREE consultation! You’ll get to meet our certified personal trainer who is experienced with the human gait cycle and how it impacts different aspects of our lives, from walking to posture, and balance to joint health. You’ll learn how proper exercise can address all of these important aspects and optimize your life!






Balancing Life

It shouldn’t come as a shock that our lives should be in balance with everything around us to stay healthy. Life get’s rough or busy, or both, and we tend to navigate to one extreme or the other. We’re either walking around the block every morning and eating our fruits and veggies or we’re sleeping in and rushing to work and going out to lunch every day and stopping at a drive through on the way home because we just can’t seem to make time for our health.

What if we tried to do a little bit of everything? Life is never going to lay out the magic carpet for us to walk down and live a perfectly healthy life so we shouldn’t treat our lives as perfectly healthy all of the time. There will be times when you see some of your old friends one weekend and you may choose to drink some alcohol, yes we know alcohol isn’t good for us, but socializing is part of life. I am not advocating that you go out every weekend with your friends and get drunk, but what I am saying is that you should make time to spend time with the people you love and if you choose to have a few drinks as you visit with old friends then enjoy that time spent together. You could balance out the alcohol with healthy eating choices throughout the day and making sure you drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. It’s important to not let the habits of one weekend turn into the habits of the next week, then we’ve lost our ability to stay balanced, and our health will begin to deteriorate.

Maybe drinking isn’t something you enjoy but you love to go out with family and friends and load up on appetizers or dessert because everyone is together and having a good time. A good time doesn’t have to entail eating until you can’t eat any more or sacrificing all of the hard work you’ve spent creating healthier eating habits. You can work to create balance and enjoy some of the foods you don’t normally eat, like nachos at a Mexican restaurant, but instead of eating half of the plate, share it with everyone around the table and enjoy one or two nachos. Most importantly, enjoy the people gathered around the table and take your mind off of the food, you should recognize that you’re at dinner to spend time with the people you care most about, the food may be delicious but it pales in comparison to the joy the people you’re with bring to your life.

Balance is a part of life, and it takes a great deal of effort to practice balance, in my experience you won’t sustain a balanced life over night. It will take some trial and error to start to establish balance and it’s a continuous work in progress because each day is going to be different from the one before it. That means what worked for you one day won’t always work for you the same way the next day, or one weekend to the next weekend. Balance is about being open to new experiences and incorporating your foundation of healthy habits into the adventure that life creates so that you can adapt to life while still living a healthy lifestyle.