Vanity Training

The problem with exercising exclusively for how you look without addressing how you function, is it’s not sustainable.

Just like a car that isn’t working, a new coat of paint won’t fix the problem under the hood.

The new paint job will make it look good, but eventually it will break down and you’ll have to admire the paint job without using the car.

Eventually the new paint job will rust because you’ll neglect the car that you can’t drive.

Just like a body that “looks good” but you can’t do anything with it. The looks you busted your butt for will fade because your body is in too much pain, injured, and broken to actually put in the work to keep your body looking good.

If you pursue functional mechanics when you exercise, the exercise will carry over long after you’re done working out. Your body will feel good, you’ll be able to move well, and your body will look good as a result of proper training. Training that is sustainable and supports the complexities of the human body.

How Do You Train Your Pecs?

Did you know your chest muscles (the pecs) dominate movements like punching, throwing, and even running?

The pecs were designed for these functions via human evolution- throwing spears, pumping the upper body when running from danger, and fighting for survival.

These muscles also connect into multiple kinetic chains and when we move, they function together with the rest of the chain to produce more power and efficiency. For example, the pecs share functions with the nearby oblique muscles and function more often through rotational mechanics, like throwing, instead of exclusively pressing motions.

Traditional chest training like the bench press and pushups will make your pecs stronger, but not the rest of the chain your pecs connect to. Therefore you’re only strong at the bench press and not functional activities that require you to use your pecs the way they were designed.

The bench press is one exercise we were taught to make our chest stronger, but the chest predominately functions in different patterns than the bench. When we go to use our pecs the way nature designed them, but we’re unnaturally training them, they aren’t prepared for reality and injury risk goes up.

Come work with trainers who know the way your muscles need to be trained, and how to teach exercises that go hand in hand with their natural function(s). At our gym, your muscles are prepared for real life so your body can function without pains and injuries, the true meaning of strength.

Come As You Are

We aren’t the typical gym that advertises chiseled abs and huge muscles. We welcome the unfit. That’s why we exist to help you become a fitter, and better functioning, version of your current self.

If you can’t function well, then your ability to thrive in your environment (the definition of fitness) is diminished. That’s why we emphasize the importance of using your muscles the way there were designed to function.

In the process, weight loss, muscle mass, strength, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and mobility come along for the ride. As your body relearns functions, old injuries, aches, and pains also get rehabbed simultaneously.

Chiseled abs and appropriately sized muscles are what we work toward, but not until the prerequisites of fixing your mechanics have been established. This sets your body up for achieving these goals, without pounding your joints and compressing your spine in the process. First things, first.

When you want a trainer that prioritizes the same goals as you, without hurting in the process, then we’re the gym to help you!

Note: this is a process and not a magical over night fix. It takes time to undo the damage your body has been through from dysfunctional exercise habits, injuries, and pain that comes on from both of these. Once we undo the dysfunction then the possibilities are endless. Just ask our current clients!

Why We Do What We Do

A lot of you have been asking what we do, and the simple answer is we want to bring value to our customers lives. Whether that’s helping them out of pain, building muscle and strength, aligning their posture, or getting them to move better to reduce their risk of injury. All of which go hand in hand.

The fitness world is littered with trainers that promote getting stronger but usually at the expense of your posture, muscle strain, joint pain, and movement restrictions. We opened our doors to be a solution to this approach to getting fit, by teaching alternative techniques that simultaneously build strength and mobility without damaging your joints or exacerbating muscle imbalance.

We are Functional Patterns practitioners providing training that your body needs to function without adversity. Come try our gym to experience where personal training meets physical therapy. We help you reach goals you thought weren’t possible!

Reciprocity

What goes up, must come down, what goes left, goes right. Basic principles that can be used to train functions for the body, specifically with exercises that reinforce basic human movement patterns.

One pattern that accounts for moving your body is referred to as contralateral reciprocation. It’s primarily explained as your arms and legs working in uniform opposition- right arm swings forward as your left leg kicks back, and vice versa with the arm and leg on the other side of your body, to rhythmically propel yourself through space.

Watch any person walk or run (and even throw) and you’ll see reciprocal functions taking place throughout their body. Ipsilaterally and contralaterally. It’s a trait that the human body has developed as a result of its movement patterns.

Since the human body primarily operates through a series of reciprocal actions, you can use the principle of reciprocity and apply it to exercises in a way that replicates how the body moves in reality.

Realistically, walking is a, taken for granted, movement that your body does the most. If you want to get “strong” in a way that matters for the world you’re living in, get better at strengthening your body to master the mechanics behind walking, and running… (and throwing). That way you built your body to be resilient for what it endures on a daily basis, and to better withstand the damage from gravity and the force it places on your body.

Let’s reign this back in to, the title of this post: Reciprocity, and why it’s a piece of the puzzle to overall better movement.

If you study the patterns of human movement you’ll find that the body is constantly reciprocating, from basic examples like agonist and antagonist muscles- as one muscle contracts, the one opposite of it it, stretches. And the  timing of the inhale and exhale of your breathing mechanics. Then to the mechanics of contralateral reciprocation like walking, sprinting, kicking, punching, a golf swing, even a baseball pitch. And to more advanced reciprocation, like the micro sequences within oppositional motion. Like the Yin and the Yang, without one, you’d have too much of the other, and that would throw out the balance.

Let’s circle that back to exercise and “training” the body. Training doesn’t always need to be referred to as physical. With the right kind of exercise you should be training your brain and body, and using stimuli to condition the desired response you want for your body, or brain. If you understand that mechanisms in the body work in reciprocation then you can use exercise as form of stimuli to condition more harmony within the body. Exercises that revolve around the principles within gait (walking, running, throwing) involve contralateral reciprocation patterns of movement that communicate to the brain, that the body is in harmony with its biology- how humans evolved to move.

Think about it this way- an upright chest press, with a step, is reinforcing movement patterns that align with human movement, and reconditioning the neuromuscular system to achieve a more rewarding response. Versus, squatting with a bar on your neck, and lifting the weight up and down, or using a dumbbell to pump out 20 reps of curls for big arms- with no regard to what’s going on with the rest of your body. Have you consider that because the body works in harmony and integrates muscles to work synergistically at once, that isolating one muscle to work one at a time, creates disconnections in your neuromuscular system. So, which form of exercise do you think would create more symbiosis versus division in the body? No more Yin and Yang together.

While there is still much more to account for in terms of exercising, training, principles, function, and reciprocity, this was written with the intent to create a different way to think about exercise. And the effects it has on your body, function, wellbeing, and longevity. As we learn more about the human body and how it operates, we can finally become more intelligent with the way we exercise. No longer for sport or ego, because those aren’t healthy for your body and more importantly you can’t sustain the behavior.  So you spend a few years looking good, maybe even feeling good without joint pain, but eventually it’ll catch up to you and you won’t be able to move, you’ll hurt, you’ll put on weight, turn to dysfunctional behavior for comfort, and enter the hard to get out cycle of self sabotage. What if you could use exercise to get healthier as you age? Not to look good like when you were younger but to feel youthful, energized, and functional like when you were younger! It’s a red pill to swallow but one that can be rewarding in terms of wellbeing as you age. All the fears and self fulfilling prophecies of hip replacements, back pain, and immobile joints can all be avoided, if you decide to train smarter instead of harder. Set yourself up for the long run. The world needs strong and capable humans!

Yours in Health,

Michael

You Get What You Pay For

Sometimes the cheapest option isn’t the best option. Not just with your health but anything. For example, a cheap apartment might cost you less per month in rent, but when the landlord doesn’t take care of things and there’s bugs everywhere or something’s always broken and needing repairs, the inconvenience isn’t worth it. Just like a gym that cost $20 a month but you’re left to your own devices and training your own body, figuring out what works for you through trial and error. Or maybe you pay $80 a month for unlimited group classes but then you’re drowning in a sea of other people, forced to go through a workout that everyone else is going through, that might not be right for your individual needs.

This is when it pays, to pay a little more for personal training. You get one on one attention, exercises created for your unique requirements, and you can ask questions, offer feedback to your trainer, and the workout can be modified to best address what your body needs!

Sure, it costs more, but when you only have one body to invest in, make sure it is a wise investment. You want to see AND feel tangible results that are sustainable, rather than just paying someone to stand around and count reps while you do the exercise they just demonstrated. Our trainers do all of that, plus we let you know what to expect during the exercise, where you should feel tension, what is normal, and what is not supposed to be, and then while you’re doing it, we remind you of what you’re supposed to be focusing on to manifest what we described during the demonstration. You’re constantly being reminded what you should be mentally focusing on, so physically your body is doing what it needs to be doing to ensure you aren’t going to hurt yourself.

If you want to shut your brain off and just copy an exercise you see for the desired amount of reps without knowing what muscles you should be working or how to activate them, then use YouTube or a cookie cutter fitness app. But if you actually want to learn about your body’s function and how to put that function to use correctly, to mitigate pain, ward off injuries, and enhance your peak physical function- during exercise and in life outside of the gym, then follow us on social media, subscribe to our newsletter, read our blogs, check out FunctionalPatterns.com to see the type of training methods we utilize, and then you can decide if you want to spend your money with us!

No pressure, it’s your body, treat it the way you want to treat it.

The Right Kind of Training

If you’re exercising and you have to constantly work around joint restrictions and physical limitations, you’re not doing yourself much benefit in the long run.

The issues you are working around never get resolved and keep compounding and getting worse. Eventually other issues pop up from A) all the compensation you’ve been doing working around issues, B) weaknesses that keep getting weaker because you never addressed them, or C) your body just eventually caps out from the demand you’re placing on it trying to get a “good workout in.”

What is a good workout to you? Sweat dripping on the floor, pulse thumping, out of breath, and fatigue all over your body? Those markers are indicative of a good workout but not if your body (joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and correct muscles) can’t handle it.

Those symptoms trick your brain into thinking that what you’re physically doing must be working because that’s what most of the fitness industry teaches. But do it long enough and it’s not sustainable and eventually you’ll degenerate your body and wellbeing all because you, or your trainer, don’t really weigh the pros and cons of how you’re exercising now, and what effect that will have on you in the future.

Our gym is a little different, we still view the above markers as important ways to challenge the body, but only once the physical prerequisites have been met. This allows for a “good workout” but with less wear and tear on the body, thus promoting longevity and allowing you to continue working out as you get older.

If you can continue working out, correctly, as you age then your exercises will enhance your overall function and ability to move well in life outside of the gym. Our gym promotes exercise that goes beyond the exercise itself and carries over to life in the real world.

If this sounds like something you want to try to get yourself out of the rat race of the mainstream fitness world, then call us and set up your initial consultation today!

Health- What Does It Mean To You?

The health and fitness industry can be overwhelming with all of the information- information that contradicts itself and information that is unpopular from the mainstream. You have to read all the sides and decide what is best suited to you- with all your health history and complex individual requirements. We think its helpful to consider what health means to you? Is it a 6 pack abs and big arms, is it good blood panels, is it being able to move without pain, is it eating nutritious food, is the ability to keep up with your kids, grandkids, and fur babies, is it NOT having to take prescription medicines, is it all of the above and then some?

We view health and fitness with the overall ability of the body to thrive. Physically, mentally, externally, internally, handle stress well, fuel your body with the right foods and environment, and have the ability to live life without being limited by pain, poor health, and other restrictions. We don’t view health and fitness as simply having a nice looking body. What looks good on the outside might be in turmoil on the inside- either from poor dietary habits, inability to cope well with stress, or too much emphasis on the physical and not enough on the mental, emotional, and internal needs of the body. All of those factors cumulate to make up health and fitness.

We want to be upfront that we aren’t your typical gym that just pushes a good looking body and doing whatever it takes to get there. Sure that is nice and a reflection of health but without all of the other aspects, no matter how toned and trim your body is, you can still be unhealthy or unfit.

So take a moment to reflect on what being healthy and fit means to you. If you’ve been hesitant about going to a gym because you’re concerned it’s all about what you look like, then look no further than SA Functional Fitness! Our gym is tailored to what your body can do, not what your body looks like. Come as you are, and as a byproduct of regaining and training function, your body composition will change along of the way. But remember, that shouldn’t be your sole focus because the way you look doesn’t always align with the way you feel and the way your body performs.

Fitness is defined as “an organisms ability to survive and reproduce in a particular  environment.” This is from a biological standpoint and not what popular opinion defines fitness as. So if you hold true to this definition, then are you fit? Are you able to navigate the daily demands and real world conditions of your environment, without turmoil, pain, anxiety, aches, and being overwhelmed, exhausted, and incapable?

Being fit determines your health, the more adaptable you and your body are to the environment you live in, the more strength you can use to handle the physical demands, the more focus you can exert to manage stressful situations without feeling like you need to cope with a drink or comfort food, the more energy you have to make it through the day without fueling yourself with caffeine just to have another restless night of sleep because your body and brain are too wired to rest, truly rest.

As all of the layers of health and fitness work with each other, the better your body is at existing in reality. Instead of forcing your body to workout and eat a nutritious diet because you know it’s good for you, your body will start to want these things because it feels good when you treat yourself right.

So stop working out and dieting solely for “looks” when you know health and fitness goes deeper than the superficial vanity you see on commercials, movies, advertisements, and peer pressure from all sides. Fueling your brain and body that way is exhausting and it’s why we don’t truly have health. The rat race of beating your body up and extreme dietary deprivation places the body in a stressed state and then it doesn’t have the means to heal itself so your hormones become out of whack- and then you’re working against your weight loss goals and so you start working out even more to lose those last few stubborn pounds that just won’t come off. But if you take a step back it’s because your health habits aren’t really that healthy.

The calorie restriction and daily cardio and strength training, stresses your physiology out and your body goes into survival mode to keep from losing more weight, and then when you try to workout harder, you still don’t lose weight because biologically your body is working to stay at homeostasis. True health and fitness is a mind shift from what you’ve been told and seen most of your life and learning to encompass physical, mental, emotional, and physiological aspects of health to truly thrive as a human being.

So, rethink your definition of health and fitness. Does it align with where you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years. Is it sustainable or are you pushing the extremes to look good now, without regard for what’s going on inside of your body and how that impacts your future health and fitness?

“Live intentionally and not habitually.” – Naudi Aguilar

 

 

How To: Exercise

Confession time, I didn’t know how to exercise when I was growing up. The exercise habits I learned on my own, from fitness magazines, athletic coaches, and even other trainers, and exercise programs started ingraining dysfunction on my body and the result was aches and pains… in my early 20’s.

I finally realized if I continued down the path I was on, surely I would need a joint replacement, back surgery, or I would become crippled and unable to function the way I wanted to. I admit, what I learned about fitness and how I started training clients was not conducive to mine, nor their, overall fitness and wellbeing.

I had to wise up and humble myself, because I didn’t know everything and I had to learn more. For my health’s sake and the health and fitness of my clients if I wanted them to stick around and achieve the results I knew were possible with the right kind of training.

Through ups and downs of trial and error I finally found Functional Patterns, a training system for humans! And if you practice FP, or if you’ve ever had a chance to try it with a practitioner, you know that it is all encompassing. Training that is mentally overwhelming and physically deceiving, yet intuitively feels good and leaves you coming back for more.

The best part about Functional Patterns training is that it doesn’t bother my joints. When I first started rehabbing myself from old injuries and nagging pain coupled with joint compression I would uncover movement compensations during an exercise that highlighted my weaknesses and dysfunctions. I was able to gain insight into how to correct my motor skills to support my overall function, and also my function as it related to specific scenarios that I could train my body to adapt to.

The main area that I train my body to get stronger at is my gait. The gait cycle is a key element to human function. It’s how our movement evolved our muscles, their shape and how they function. Exercising the way I had when I was growing up didn’t train the body that way- it grouped it into individual muscles and individual functions and trained them like that. When in reality, the body functions as one integrated unit.

It was a no brainer, the way I was exercising was messing my body up even more, because it didn’t take into account how to train the body to coincide with the way it functions. It didn’t matter that everyone else in the gym was training the wrong way, it wasn’t for me. And in hindsight, it wasn’t right for them either, looking back on it, mostly everyone in the gyms I was working out at had some form of injury or joint pain that they were either working around or trying to fix with the same old rehab exercises that have been around for decades- yet still didn’t work. If they did, I feel like they would have worked for me and everyone else in the gym trying to get out of pain. Once I realized all of this, I started transitioning into more and more Functional Patterns training. I purchased their 10-week online course, started working with an FP Practitioner in person, and eventually wanted to learn more so I got certified and become a Practitioner myself!

The more I learn, and our team of FP Practitioners learn, the more we discover how traditional means of exercise (the common exercises you see being performed) create more damage on the body because they don’t align with the true mechanics that make up the motion(s) of the human body. It’s our mission to fix our own bodies so we can fix yours! We lead by example, so all of the exercises we teach, we’ve gone through and tested out on ourselves first, to ensure that they work. This allows us to deliver a low risk; high reward exercise, rather than making your body feel worse in the process of “exercising” and “getting fit.”

It’s time to learn how to train your body intentionally and with a purpose, rather than habitually and just going through the motions with whatever muscles are working. Time to exercise the right way, instead of compensating your way through an exercise. It’s finally time to see a trainer at a gym that aims to simultaneously strengthen your body while rehabbing your body, so that your body can perform the way you want it to in the real world.

While this isn’t a step by step guide on how to perform the exercise that’s right for you, it is a guide that you should consider when exercising. How does exercising make you feel, during and after, and even the next day. This is one way to recognize if the way you’re exercising and the exercises you’re performing are inflicting damage to your body and impeding your overall function.

If you want to learn what exercises to do, and how to do them, to achieve a high functioning body as you continue to age and without all the aches and pains, then schedule your Initial Consultation with one of our FP Practitioners today!

 

 

Human Function

The human body has evolved to function in the way that it has through environmental stimulus from the natural world. In nature, a human would need to be efficient at walking, running, and throwing in order to survive. Just because we have changed our environment through technological innovation over the past several hundred years, does not negate the thousands of years that went into forming our body into what it is today.

There are specific ratios of movement, rotations, muscular tensions, and pressures that need to be coordinated in order to have efficient gait and throwing. Almost every movement that a human does is going to be a derivative of those patterns. By optimizing the length tension relationship of muscles through these patterns, you end up with a structure that is able to float in a sea of muscles and distribute force through entire kinetic chains as opposed to compressing joints and vertebrae with the impact of every step you take.

Our gym utilizes Functional Patterns training because FP seeks to codify and quantify the specific movement sequencing needed to optimize those patterns and get ordinary people to move in a closer approximation to an elite athlete.

Once these patterns are instituted, progressive overload can be utilized to build muscle that serves a functional purpose rather than isolated muscle that makes us clunky and inefficient movers.