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Functional Fitness: More than a Trend

You work all day. You go to the gym for 60 minutes. You go home and continue your life. Do you ever feel like the work you do at the gym has nothing to do with the life you lead? Well let me tell you, workouts - they are a changing.


Functional fitness has been identified as the biggest fitness trend of the year. But by the looks of it, it is anything but "trendy." More and more personal trainers are creating work outs to help their clients with the tasks of daily life, as well as the physicality of their jobs.
For example take a new mom, a functional workout would have her lift a weight through a movement path that mimics hoisting a heavy stroller into her trunk. This motion trains her entire body to handle the stroller, where bicep curls would just, well...work her biceps. Or another example would be an avid skier training with one legged squats instead of leg pressing a lot of weight at a machine. The standing one legged squat will challenge the skiers leg strength, balance and core in a functional position - yep, that'd be standing.

A great comparison is the bent over row using free weight versus the seated row using weight machines. The bent over row has you lifting while bent over - how many time a day do you lift things bent over? From teaching rehabilitative Pilates for years, I can tell you just bending over correctly is an art unto itself. Add some free weights into the mix and you are training your entire body (legs, core, back and arms) for real tasks. The seated row using a machine will just isolate specific muscle groups without integrating them into real movement.

I like to think of a workout, or a Pilates session for that matter, as time in a body laboratory where you can train your body in a controlled environment to have good movement patterns while strengthening your muscles. So when you are out in the world and something unexpected happens, your body knows how to deal with it.

Fit's Tip: If you are shopping for a trainer ask if they work on functional fitness and go to them with certain daily tasks that you would like to make easier. Be it lifting the hood of your car or running with your two year old thrown over your shoulder, a good personal trainer will help these tasks become easier.

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