Alignment 101

The position of (fill in the blank) influences the rest of your alignment. Because our body is interconnected, one structure’s alignment will influence another’s. For example when your pelvis is out of alignment, it pulls your spine out of its natural alignment. The spine’s position effects the position of your ribcage, head and neck, as well as further down your chain in your knee and ankle joints. Basically your center of gravity is thrown off.

When you’re misaligned, muscles pull you in directions you otherwise wouldn’t be in, to fight for “balance” and trick your brain into thinking everything’s positioned where it needs to be. You’re alignment (or lack of) influences how well you stand and move, and that influences how your body responds to its environment, functionally or dysfunctionally. The latter leads to pain and injury.

A Purpose Of Exercise

Keeping as many muscles on the body engaged as you move through an exercise is crucial to reinforcing the way your body functions outside of exercise 🦾

Creating and maintaining tension is priority to prevent going through the motions with a flaccid structure 🥀

Just like a flaccid 🍆🙉doesn’t work, a body void of muscle tension won’t work optimally either. This is what sets the stage for pain and injury down the road 🤕

If you expect to live life without dull aches and debilitating pains, all of your muscles need to function the way they were designed to, to support your body the way you want them to🏃🏻‍♂️

Work one-on-one with our team of trainers to build your body for the life you’re living! Contact us today to get started!

210-947-4597 OR info@safunctionalfitness.com

A Different Kind Of Gym

What makes our gym different from other gyms? Why do our trainers utilize the Functional Patterns training system? We’ll answer that by looking at the way humans were conditioned through evolution.

Over millions of years the human body evolved to do 4 things with precision, that other animals can’t do. As humans, we stand upright on both legs, we walk and run upright on both legs, and we throw overhead.

These functions were necessary for survival- running from predators, throwing spears to kill prey and feed ourselves, and walking long distances to migrate to better climates, all while standing upright.

As a result of these movements in our early years, our muscles learned to contract a specific way to support these necessary actions and the repetitive contractions shaped our muscles and gave them the tone that we have today.

The reason our trainers learn and teach Functional Patterns is because the foundation of this training system, recognizes and respects these 4 fundamental functions with all of the exercises. It’s a system that was created for humans that reinforces the way the human body evolved to move and exist.

As we train these fundamental functions, our bodies learn to move in line with our ancestral movement patterns. The result is strength on a wide scale because the body is learning to create muscle to support the way it moves everyday- the same way humans have moved everyday for several million years.

We run into trouble when we perform exercises that break the mold that shaped us. Our muscles learn functions that it doesn’t need and forgets functions that supports the way the body naturally moves. This results in aches, pains, and injuries because the body is out of its element and muscles fight through and compensate in ways they didn’t evolve to.

Working out, exercising, training, lifting, whatever you want to call it should NOT cause pain or only make you strong in the gym. It should enhance your natural functions, so other functions come along for the ride, and without all the drama. It’s not normal to wake up with aches every day, live with pain, or chronically work around injuries.

The right kind of training (backed by the 4 fundamental human functions) will provide strength, mobility, and endurance for any scenario. Once your body is functional (by the above standards), that function carries over to activity, performance, and general movement to support your body without fearing pain or risking injury. That is what fitness is.

If you want to be functional and fit for your life apart from the gym, now and in the long run, train with the above in mind. If you need help figuring out what exactly that means, and you want to feel what an exercise feels like when executed correctly, instead of just copying the movement from YouTube or a “fitness” app then contact us today. Call, stop by, or book online to try your first introductory session!

What Does Your Exercise Regimen Do For You?

You know exercise is good for you, but is the way you exercise helping enhance your ability to function as you age? Whether you’re 30, 50, or 70 exercise has the power to optimize your function as the years roll on. The caveat is that your muscle network needs the right kind of stimulus to produce the results you’re after.

Mindlessly sitting on an exercise bike after sitting at work all day, or lifting weights up and down without mechanisms that mirror human motions is just going to lump you in the “I’m just getting older so my knees hurt and I just can’t move like I used to” category.

Your functional capacity is a byproduct of your exercise regimen, or lack thereof. Lifting weights up and down to build big muscles is shortsighted if you don’t consider the function of the muscle, and how it works to move your body when you aren’t exercising. Muscle mass built on a compromised structure turns into dysfunctional muscle because its main function(s) isn’t it’s only job anymore. It’s having to hold your body in positions that aren’t preferable or natural but now it’s stuck there because you trained the muscle to associate its function “this way” instead of the way nature designed it to.

Lift weights and exercise to train your muscles in the context that your body uses them the most, because your future function is at stake every time you exercise. You’re 25 or 35 years old now and your body feels alright, but if its barely hanging on now and you’re starting to feel joint aches creep in then you need to ask yourself what state your body will be in 10 years from now if you continue exercising the way you’re exercising now. Real functional exercise has more to it than meets the eye. Our gym focuses on how the human body evolved to function and how it moves on a daily basis to create an exercise regimen to provide a sustainable way to workout, without succumbing to aches and pains accompanied by traditional gym exercises.

If you want to learn more and treat your body right, now, so it treats you right, later, then schedule your initial consultation to get started on the path to pain free, unrestricted movement, and enjoy the activities that are part of your life!

How To Tell If Your Workouts Are Paying Off

No it’s not just that your losing weight (that’s mostly diet anyway), or that you’re lifting more weight, or you can touch your toes. All of that should come along for the ride, but what if all of that happens at the expense of your well-being, and you can lift more weight but you blow out your knee joints, or shoulder joints, or you’re losing weight by beating your body up with chronic fast paced interval workouts that you won’t be able to sustain when your body finally crashes (hence why dietary habits are more important for sustainable weight loss), or you’re more flexible but touching your toes is over stretching your hamstrings and now you can’t contract them like you should and they no longer support your body.

The way our trainers educate our clients to know if their workouts are actually yielding a return on their investment is if they’re able to move without guarding or restriction, they no longer have chronic pain when they exercise or move about in the real world, and they can function the way they need and want to without having to avoid certain activities. Of course all of this is a process and not an overnight event, but those are the goals our trainers have for all of our clients, our intentions behind every workout is to build muscle and strength that carries over to life away from the gym. After all, the gym shouldn’t be where you spend hours a day but instead get in, do your work, and get out to enjoy other activities that our gym has prepared your body for!

We are a unique boutique fitness studio that focuses on human biomechanics and our niche does’t entertain all the fluff in the fitness industry because we’ve been there and we’ve done that, and we finally realized that it was ego driven and unsustainable. We beat our bodies up at the expense of looking good, and we realized that if we continued on that path, we’d be right where the rest of gym goers were, wearing knee braces, avoiding certain lifts because it hurt, working around problems, on the path to knee replacements and back surgeries, and eventually blaming old age on a problem that was created years prior from bad fitness habits. We realize not everyone is about longevity and sustainability but for those of you who want something different, and something that will last, we’re here for you!

Once we can undo the damage done to your body from past exercise habits and old injuries, then the fun can start and you can obtain that rush of endorphins and the higher intensity cardiovascular workouts but you won’t injure yourself because your body will have been primed for advanced movements. And if it’s not, your body will tell you and we’ll stop and correct what needs correcting before blindly proceeding with an exercise that you might need more coaching on. The difference is by that point you and your body will know what feels right and what is going to produce damage, because we like to educate you along the way so that you learn the purpose of an exercise and how it should carry over to your overall function- inside and outside of the gym.

We spend time in the beginning learning foundational concepts to apply to basic exercises that involve structures like your pelvis and ribcage, that effect other structures like your arms, shoulders, and neck, as well as your legs, knees, ankles, and feet. When you learn the functions of these structures and how to move them to contract muscles and then what those muscle contractions should feel like, then we can go on to the next level. We don’t like to get ahead of ourselves or rush your progress, but we do want to push you to get your body functioning the way it needs to be. How ever long it takes, we have patience to safely progress you and ensure we aren’t going to force you into exercises your body isn’t ready for. As we keep moving you through the levels, that’s when efficiency starts to manifest and we are able to make the most of your time in the gym. Rather than keeping you in a routine that works on stretching first, then strength training, then cardiovascular exercises, then core strengthening, then mobility, then endurance and time under tension, we are able to do all of that at once. Not in one workout but in one exercise! Then not only does your time become efficient but so does your body and the way it moves.

Efficiency is key because in the real world your brain and body don’t have time to think of how to move, it just happens automatically. So the idea of mentally “squeezing” a muscle breaks down at some point and your body needs to learn how to contract a muscle by positioning your bones at the correct angles. Don’t worry, we teach you this. And we take it a step further by matching those angles to the angles that replicate basic human movements like standing, walking, running, bending over, and even throwing, so when you go to perform these movements, you don’t have to think because your muscles already know how to contract during those functions. Again, all of this takes time, depending on how dysfunctional your body has become from improper exercise habits, arbitrary workout classes, old injuries, chronic pains, and whatever else we have to fix to start retraining the brain and body to connect better.

If you’re local to San Antonio and the surrounding areas, we’re your future gym. Not to toot our own horn (because we’re humbled everyday by unique cases like scoliosis clients, clients with chronic pain that hasn’t been helped by physical therapy so they turn to us as their last ditch effort, and other problems that the fitness industry prefers to avoid or work around), but we’re the only place that trains this way. Sure other gyms might claim to do this or have the same intentions, but chances are they are not providing the same service and techniques. The human biomechanics field is a very small, up and coming one, and the Functional Patterns institute that teaches these techniques doesn’t promote weekend or online training seminars, but instead we spend weeks learning these methods to ensure that first, we get them right, so we can properly teach our clients.

So, stop getting stuck in the stretch, lift, cardio, stretch routine and start learning how to become more efficient with exercise, to become more efficient in the real world. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation/ evaluation and learn what your body does well so we can build off of that, and also what it doesn’t do well so we can correct that! You have your entire life ahead of you, are you going to spend it in pain and unable to move like you used to (what your doctor says is just old age) or are you going to do something about it? It’s time to regain your freedom to move and take control of your lifestyle and the way the human body was meant to move, no matter your age! This gym exists for that reason! Come find out what we do differently from the rest of the fitness world, and why we do it!

Not All Trainers Are Created Equal

When you keep walking in to the gym and your body is in worse shape than when you started working with your trainer… your trainer doesn’t have the skills to fix biomechanics. Function is key to health, chase after function and the “looks” will come. Stop working with trainers that are just there to give you a workout and work around your problems. Chances are they have injuries and pains themselves that they don’t know how to fix so they’re just worsening your problems and the shape your body is in.

If you’re working out solely for looks then wait and see what happens 5 months down the road, a year down the road, 5 years, etc., we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, what you do now will catch up to you. A 6 pack and big arms won’t mean a thing if your hips, knees, and lower back are always in pain and you can’t get off the couch or out of bed. We want you to know that not all trainers are created equal (or educated with the right intentions) and if your trainer isn’t trying to solve your joint pains and restore your freedom of movement, you have options! You don’t need to live with your aches and pains, you don’t need to muscle through another workout because your trainer keeps telling you you’ll get stronger. Packing muscle on a compromised frame is only going to keep exacerbating the pain you’re already in. A strong body is a body that isn’t in pain and can function freely in the real world.

If this sounds like something you’d like to do for your body, then contact us to set up your introductory workout! Getting in shape shouldn’t be painful because being in shape means being able to function and perform in any scenario!

Neuromuscular Exercise

Your brain naturally defaults to the neural pathway that represents what you’ve done before. These pathways are created based on habits and behaviors, ei; how you move, what muscles you use to move, what your muscles are doing when you’re not moving, etc.

The brain prefers the path of least resistance- the easiest route to avoid working hard. Since the brain (nervous system) controls our physical actions (muscular system), our function is at the mercy of this path. The way we move is determined on how hard the brain wants to work to coordinate the movement, dictating correct biomechanics versus dysfunctional mechanics based on how your brain is wired.

If your habits and behaviors wire in neural pathways that reinforce the easier path, then your body systems won’t work optimally and over time this becomes normal, and you aren’t even aware of the dysfunction. Using movement as an example… your daily habit of leaning on one leg and popping your hip out to one side when you stand creates a neural pathway, that your brain thinks is normal. Now when you go for a walk, this pathway that was created from your repeated behavior starts to manifest. Every step you take, your hip pops out to the same side as it does when you stand but you aren’t aware of it because your brain has wired this pathway as “normal.” Just because something is normal doesn’t make it right, because a hip that shifts asymmetrically when you walk creates a chain reaction that leads to compensations elsewhere in your kinetic chain. Causing force to pound into your hip joint leading to a hip replacement, unstable hips lead to an unstable spine and overworked knee joints, leading to neck and ankle problems, etc. Think about what else happens during other movements if all this is happening just when you walk.

This is why we prioritize the “mind muscle connection” during training because your body becomes blind to how it’s moving, when your brain has been controlling it a certain way for so long. Our trainers work to uncover if your movement patterns are serving your body for sustainable function or wrecking your body and expediting the aging process.

Contact us if you want to evolve your training to achieve a more practical outcome, instead of just exercising through that path of least resistance.

Fitness: The Ability To Adapt To Your Environment

At this gym we take the mind and muscle connection to a deeper level of understanding and coordination to ensure you get results and not an injury!

You see it’s not enough to think of one muscle while you’re exercising, because when you’re being human and moving your body around like a human body is designed to move (with all its neuromyofascial connections) you have multiple muscles working at the same time- in coordination with each other to facilitate motion. In reality, an isolated muscle contraction can’t do anything to cause better movement, because an isolated muscle contraction does not exist… except in the gym.

Training to stimulate one muscle at a time creates a broken kinetic chain, which is what your body utilizes to function, move, and perform in the real world. Instead of just focusing on the legs or arms, we teach you to integrate your lower body with your core, and with your upper body. Then you learn to use those muscles to move your body through a specific exercise pattern that makes integrating those muscles more feasible. You’re verbally cued to position your bones and joints a certain way to start the exercise, move through the exercise, and finish the exercise so your muscles learn to automatically contract when your body moves through certain positions. Then we pattern exercises to mirror the positions your body moves through most in the real world, so your muscles contract properly during activities away from the gym.

If you’re still blindly performing an exercise for the sake of exercise, and not sure what or where you should feel muscle activity then you’re selling yourself short and not making the most of your time in the gym. We all have busy lives and struggle to fit exercise into our schedules, so you might as well make the most of every minute by mentally controlling the physical actions of your body during a workout. The mental coordination to position your body to produce proper muscle activity can be overwhelming at first, that’s why we help guide you through the process to ensure you’re building your body up and not breaking it down. We show you how your body prefers the path of least resistance and will easily compensate it’s way through an exercise, but then we correct your compensational movements by retraining your brain to recognize the difference and ingraining the correct form of body mechanics to serve your body in the gym, and away from the gym- enhancing your fitness, aka your ability to adapt to any environment and fulfill the task at hand!

If this all sounds super intimidating, don’t worry, because this is what we take care of for you. We hash out all the technical difficulties on our end so you don’t have to figure out what exercises will help or hinder you. If you want results, thats what this gym is about! Contact us today to find the answers your body needs to make real changes that last.

Dysfunctional Muscle

Work around dysfunctional muscles and movement impairments cumulate. Work through the nitty gritty of retraining the kinetic chain to optimal function and expect a return to quality of life and freedom to move!

The way you train determines the outcome. Proper exercise patterns that respect human movements, or arbitrarily lifting weights the way you see in most gyms or fitness ads.

We aren’t your typical gym, we don’t push you to your limits of already poor movement, we push you to the edge of learning (mentally and physically) how your muscles should function, and why.

Contact us today to start reprogramming your brain and body for the reality it lives in. Otherwise, poor movement compounds and eventually leads to overuse, pain, and injuries that make life in the real world harder to live with.

Heavy Lifting

Relying on heavy weights to produce muscle activity is like cheating on an exam, you pass but you don’t learn anything for real life.

Your muscles should be capable of producing maximal tension with optimal positioning of your bones. Skeletal movement engages muscle automatically.

The way your skeleton aligns when you move determines how effectively your muscles engage to support your movement. Whether you’re exercising or moving through real world conditions.

Cheating on an exam creates dependency on a cheat sheet, much like needing heavy weight to feel a muscle working creates muscles that don’t work well in their natural environment. (Reality, not a gym).