Around five years ago a word starting circulating in the fitness industry that today would emerge as probably the most incorrect use of one word to apply to another area of unrelated cohesiveness and that word is functional. In some way functional fitness has managed to apply itself to the fitness industry in such a way that its a surprise to mankind how on earth we have managed to survive without it.
The dictionary definition
Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasize core stability.
The reality …
Between 70, 000 to 50, 000 years ago migrating homo sapiens humans migrated from Africa to influence modern man into what we have become today. That’s tens of thousands of years adapting to stress’s of world change, with wars, climate variations, famine, culturally and technological changes that have influenced our modern way of living to what we have become today. All of which in some bizarre way has manifested that in the last five years , exercise that can be manipulated into being called functional will in some way increase your ability to function better as human being. That’s five years of marketing basically as opposed to 50, 000 years of evolution to say that training has a functional element to it.
Functional Fitness as a workout
When looking at functional workouts these days I can see no evidence to suggest that mankind will evolve from this point forward into being a more efficient machine because in some way there has been a shift in what small proportion of the population exercise. In fact it could be argued that Functional Fitness has been brought around, by nothing more than a desire to create an influence of fear that if you are not performing functional movements you will in some way be cheating your body and that the course of your life will fall into a spiral of decay and waste and that the huge array of products and teaching that have been brought into the system to address the ‘non functional’ way of training has created an eager willing and grateful public who now feel saved because they are now functionally training.
Nothing can be further from the truth
If you are functionally training as some sort of saving grace to secure body movements, then I’m afraid you are wasting your money . It does not need to be done. You are however supporting a clever marketing strategy enabling you to feel as if you are becoming a more able person. When the truth is your body as it it is, is the perfect form body engineering designed already to be the most perfect machine to live a normal healthy life. You do not need to do anything to it. You do need to eat and you do need to exercise, but that exercise does not need to be functional, it needs to be practical or measurable.
Train for Performance not functionality.
Inactivity is now regarded as one of the biggest influences in premature death and has a bigger mortality rate then smoking, diabetes and cancer combined. So clearly this issue has to be addressed. But in what manner is acceptable ? If you look to Functional Fitness there is no measure of comparable results. You are being told that because you perform a certain exercise it will be functional and it will improve your lifestyle. Well you can go for a walk with the dog, run in the woods, throw sticks, cover terrain that goes uphills , downhills, and feel physically and emotionally enlightened and get the same results, what you won’t get is a performance relationship.
Performance - Time management in a gym.
Performance is more important then functionality. And for performance to be backed up by evidence, you need to record on a daily level the amount of exercise that you do and in my experience the most practical way to do this is time management. That is taking segments of the week and assigning a fixed amount of time to exercise with a pre prepared workout - that could be three or four times a week , with the emphasis on quality intensity as opposed to movement. And do this as a lifestyle choice.
Specific Physical Performance
Use the equipment in a gym to enhance your physical well being and look to performing better . A simple test would be a 2000 m row . If nothing else , just try to improve your time on a 2000 m row over one year and see how you increase your fitness .
Physical Performance will record the data to showcase your body is moving more efficiently and that you are becoming a better person with more capability to do more and be more practical in the understanding of your body in what it can and can’t achieve. As time goes on, and habits develop you will continue to see marked improvements and the incentive to be better and more capable physically then you were when you first started.