Functional Fitness Part 1

Functional training can mean different things to different people. In our gym, it means exercising to coincide and enhance your body’s natural movements- like walking, running, lifting objects, standing, and navigating daily demands without pains or injuries limiting your function.

Humans innate biology designed us to stand, walk, run, and throw. These functions shaped our muscles and the way our muscles work. This is why our trainers prioritize exercises that match these types of movements. The outcome is a well connected, strong, and mobile body that can withstand the demands of the real world, because real life enforces these mechanics consistently. As opposed to movements like crawling (not a regular function after we learn to walk), burpees (beating your body up to burn calories from overeating), step aerobics (repetitive strain on your knee joints), spin classes (conditioning your hips to be stuck in flexion, like sitting all day) , or powerlifting (not the same demand as lifting an object because the barbell limits your range of motion).

If you like disconnecting your legs from your upper body during spin class, overdoing HIIT classes to punish your body from overeating, using your lumbar spine as a lever during powerlifting, or just like acting like an animal and crawling around the floor- then you do you. BUT if you’re only doing these types of things because you’ve been told they’re healthy or they’re going to help you, then stop and reconsider how your body actually functions (standing, walking, running, throwing) and if these types of exercises are reinforcing these functions or causing dysfunction.

Stay tuned for our next post as we elaborate further on these different modalities.

Action shots from our hard working clients

All ages and stages of life working with our trainers to learn how to improve their biomechanics, to move better in life outside the gym!


The only gym in San Antonio certified to teach your body Functional Patterns!


Our trainers teach exercises that go hand in hand with your body’s natural movement. Allowing your muscles to get strong, mobile, pliable, and supportive simultaneously!


Most importantly, the gains made in the gym translate to life outside of the gym. Achieve real world strength to help your body everyday. Whether you’re looking to improve your general fitness, prevent injuries, rehab existing ones, or manage chronic pain- our gym is your one stop shop!

SAID Principle

Your body adapts to the demands you constantly place on it. This summarizes the science behind the SAID principle; Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. For example, by only doing squats for your lower body, your body adapts to this specific physical demand, but not to other patterns or environments for the lower body, like walking or running.

Another example can be if you sit for extended periods of time, your body will start to change and adapt its structure to the sitting environment that it’s constantly in. This makes it difficult to move correctly when you try to pick up your favorite recreational sport or hiking trail on the weekends, and leads to overuse on certain muscles and eventually pain or injury.

With only so many hours in the day, we all have minimal time to exercise. Which offers a unique opportunity to impose specific demands to counteract the effects of your normal environment. Meaning if you sit a lot, initially you’d want to choose exercises that promote trunk and hip extension, to work in opposition to the spinal kyphosis and hip flexion patterns of sitting. As opposed to sitting all day then getting on a bike and cycling; same pattern/demand as sitting. So nothing improves and your body further adapts your structure to your sitting environment. This can be a problem when you expect your body to perform like it always has.

Circle back to our initial example about squatting and the limits it places on your lower body function. The muscles of the lower body- glutes, quads, hip flexors, calves, plantar fascia, etc.- have all evolved to help the human structure walk and run. It wasn’t until the 1960’s-1970’s that Arnold Schwarzenegger popularized training the muscles outside of their intended functions and with exercise patterns that didn’t replicate the way the muscles worked together to produce human specific movement. A couple decades of consumers training the human body this way (coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle), led to a disassociation with our natural movement and one of the main reasons most people deal with some form of ache, pain, or injury. The body has adapted to exercises that don’t mesh with the way the body actually needs to move.

Whatever demand you put your body through repetitively, intensely, and subconsciously will be what your body is forced to adapt to. Make sure what you’re teaching your body has a carry over to the roots of your human function, so you can continue to move well, without pain, as you age.

How Do You Build Strong Glutes?

Having strong glutes is crucial for a strong body, because your glutes play a role in all of your movements. As trainers, we work to build functional strength in the glutes to improve our clients ability to use their hips more efficiently in sports, like running, boxing, or golf, and for EVERYDAY use.

What does “functional strength” mean? Strength that translates to the way your body uses that strength in the real world. Most trainers or exercisers only use squat variations or mini band exercises to build their glute muscles, without considering how those exercise patterns translate (or don’t translate) to their movement patterns in real life.

In other words, context matters because the way the glutes function during a golf swing, for example, is primarily through rotation of the pelvis- a HUGE difference from what the pelvis is doing in squats (pictured) and mini band exercises. If we train our client’s glutes for rotational function, the muscle strength carries over to the way their body uses it during golf and daily movement.

If you train exclusively in the sagittal plane with expectations that you’re going to build functional strength, you’re missing the context that your body needs to operate smoothly. Did you know your glutes rotate your pelvis when you walk, run, and throw? Most athletes perform all of these functions at some point, and most humans perform at least one every day (walking), and it’s important to remember that if your training doesn’t factor functions that relate to the way you use your body in reality, into your exercises, your strength will be confined to the gym. Period.

Start training your body for the life it lives outside of the gym. Context matters. Our trainers recognize that not all exercises translate to the what your body needs, unless it’s specific to how your body moves. Squats would be more useful to us if we were kangaroos, but since our glutes primarily contract in a horizontal direction, as with walking, we need to train them and prepare them for what they do most. This is how strength translates to function!

Surgery Isn’t Your Only Option

It’s unfortunate that so many surgeons push surgery to correct injuries and pain brought on by mechanical dysfunction. Surgeons are crucial for emergency surgery, but when it comes to addressing bone malformations, joint replacements, spinal fusions, etc., they fix the joint at fault but don’t take into account what led the joint to get to that point in the first place, or how that newly fixed joint is going to mesh back into movement with the rest of the structure. Sometimes surgery fixes the issue you’re complaining about but creates another one.

Sometimes surgery is the only option, but if you’re like us and want to prevent surgery or approach rehabilitation from a non surgical route, then your training should address what is causing the problem. Exercise no longer has to be exercise to lose weight or sculpt a ripped physique. The right kind of exercise can provide rehabilitation to old injuries, while simultaneously building muscle where your body needs it, to prevent future injuries!

Don’t get trapped in the mindset that you need to exercise to lose weight (that’s mostly influenced by your dietary habits anyway) and then because you’re dealing with pain or suffering from an injury, you need to carve out more time to go to physical therapy. As mentioned, the evolved way of exercising takes into account therapy that the body needs to mitigate pain and injuries while you exercise.

But exercise can’t be performed the way you’ve always trained, or the way you see most others exercising or being trained, because those same exercises are likely leading to worse mechanics that cause your body to be more prone to injuries and deal with aches and pains. Exercise needs to be pinpointed to simultaneously build the strength and muscle you desire, to support your body, without causing poor movement patterns that lead the body to pain and injury that require surgery.

Circle back to why you need surgery in the first place, and what options you have to heal. Surgeons are always going to look at the problem and what surgery can do to fix it, occasionally you’ll get sent to physical therapy, but usually it only delays surgery or the surgeon will only see surgery as the only option to fix the issue. We want you to know, there are likely other options to fix the issue. Because sometimes the issue you complain about, isn’t the underlying issue. Sometimes it goes deeper than having knee pain and you need a new joint. Sometimes building a strong core and glutes will help support your pelvis better and influence the movement of force in the knee joint. Sometimes building a strong upper body will help your lower body move better, leading to less stress on the knee joint. Sometimes it’s a combination of things that improve the health of your knee joint. We work to get to the bottom of what your body needs to improve your overall health and function.

If you’re on the fence about surgery to fix an issue, you might want to consider the recovery from that. Using the knee for example, if the issue is with weak glutes or a weak upper body, surgery magically gives you a new knee joint, but if you don’t address the weakness in your body, in a few years you’ll be back in the same predicament. Your new joint will take the same force that your real joint used to take on because the rest of your body wasn’t built up to support your movements.

We are the only personal training studio in San Antonio that trains this way. We don’t like to call ourselves personal trainers because we get lumped in the category with the rest of the industry’s trainers. We are Functional Patterns Human Biomechanics Specialists. If you’re not familiar with Functional Patterns, look it up. It’s what sets us apart form the rest of the trainers out there and it’s the way we conduct our training sessions- to improve the current body you have, naturally and non invasively. For obvious reason we don’t display the corrective exercises that rehab your body, what you see on our website and social media is a tip of the iceberg of what we do. We only showcase the dynamic exercises that reinforce the corrective exercises we do behind the scenes.

Sure, it will take time, but with the work we put your body through, the results will last over time and not offer temporarily relief, but relief that is here to stay! Come find out more about our style of training and why it’s changing the fitness and rehab industry.

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!

Want Strong Muscles? Do This.

Most training and rehab methodologies have oversimplified the mechanics of the human body. When in reality, moving well is complex. We know that if you move well, your likelihood of injury decreases and developing pain from long term compensation diminishes because the body isn’t out of balance when you move. So to simply think that lifting weights is going to make you strong without any negative consequences is shortsighted. It boils down to how you “lift weights” and we aren’t talking about your form on a bench press or a dumbbell raise. We mean how your body looks when you’re lifting. Are you doing simple exercise to stimulate a muscle but then not teaching that muscle how to function when you, as a human, move (upright, on 2 legs).

It goes deeper than just this mindset and these arbitrary exercises:

Want strong glutes? —> do squats.

Want strong arms? —> do bicep curls.

Strong hamstrings? —> deadlifts.

Shoulder pain? —> banded scapula retractions.

This issues with these movements is that you almost never find them in real life.

Think about it for a minute.

How many times do you squat or deadlift when you run or play sports?

How many times do you isolate a bicep curl when you’re in your day to day life?

These exercise can make your muscles “stronger” but what ensures that those muscles will actually perform their job when you need them most during daily demands?

So if you want to build strong glutes and turn to an exercise like the squat as your main lift, then you’re not training your glutes to be functional, the way they need to be to move your body. When you walk, you’re upright on 2 legs and both legs alternate bearing weight and help push off the ground to move you forward. If we were kangaroos then an exercise like the squat might carry over more to life outside the gym, but if you look at the traditional squat all it provides is an exercise to make you feel like you’re working out. It doesn’t offer single leg weight bearing, weight transfer during movement, and the worst is that it builds your glutes through an up and down (vertical) motion instead of the horizontal motion that your glutes should be using when you walk or run. So if you rely on squats and think they’re your staple to build strong glutes, think again. They’re only building strong glutes to squat and while humans do squat it’s usually not repetitious and only for a few moments to complete a task. What is repetitive on the flute muscles in walking and so if you don’t build your glutes in that context then you lose your ability to walk well over time. And if you think about it, humans were born to walk. Babies squat before they learn the complex motor skills to walk because squatting is simple to coordinate. When it comes time to walk, more muscles (besides the glutes) contract to produce the motion and when your muscles lose touch with their fundamental functions then your body begins to fall into compensatory patterns and pain and injuries eventually set in. Of all the thousands of steps you take in a day (versus all the squats required of you in a day) the best way to build strong muscles and a strong body is to use exercise to enhance what you do most. To get better at the necessary functions of human movements, then if you want to squat you can work that in later as an accessory exercise. But it won’t look the way you used to train squats, with a bar on your back or a dumbbell between your arms as you squat down. A functional squat is one that respects the weight distribution of human mechanics, the reciprocal actions of muscle chains, the integrative actions of other muscles, and the timing of certain principles that circle back to human function.

So as you train the way you train, ask yourself; is this really paying off in my day to day function or am I just exercising for the sake of exercising? Do my muscles learn to behave more optimally as it relates to the way I move in life outside the gym or am I just packing on useless muscle mass that doesn’t function to help me move?

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.

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.

Posture and Pain

Functional Fitness attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow individuals to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries. One of the keys here is without injuries. As we evolve we are becoming a more and more stationary society. We go from sitting at our desk, sitting at lunch, back to the desk and finally home to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Unfortunately this is what our day looks like 5 days a week! Then if we are being honest we spend Saturday scrambling to get our lives together so we can spend Sunday “recharging” aka binge watching Netflix.

This sedentary lifestyle is affecting our entire body but the most obvious effect is our posture. The issue is how our posture effects our day to day activities, workouts, and problems with pain. We are becoming hunched over and a lot of our muscles dormant due to lack of activity. “But I work out 4 days a week so this isn’t for me.” Do you have knee pain? Back pain? Neck or shoulder pain? Then your workouts may not be as effective as you think. You may be working out but are you respecting your bodies’ mechanics by integrating multiple muscles into an exercise the way we do in day to day life? Can you name one movement or daily function that only uses one muscle in your body? I can’t. Picking up a baby: biceps, core, hamstrings, back, glutes, to name a few. Taking a shower: biceps (washing your hair), core stabilizes you, hamstrings if you are bending over to shave. I mean you are always activating multiple muscle connections to do a daily task. The question is are your muscle connections functional or dysfunctional? Only doing isolated movement isn’t respecting your bodies mechanics. You could be feeding your dysfunctions instead of fixing them.

Fitness of the future won’t be concerned with how much weight you can lift or how big your arms are, true fitness will help improve people’s day to day living and allow their body to do whatever they need it to do without any restriction. The current fitness trend of “looking good” is not sustainable and can end up doing more harm than good on our bodies in the long run. At the rate we are going, heavy squats can lead to sitting in a wheel chair when you’ve reached your 50’s and 60’s, but if we respect our body mechanics then you’ll be walking well into your 80’s and 90’s. The tough question you have to ask yourself is, if your current fitness regimen is improving your life or hampering your day to day function?