Functional fitness has been a buzz word for many years. For many it means using body weight or “functional” training equipment such as a kettlebell or a TRX to do exercises with. Back in the day I fell into this trap and thought because I used different training tools and got my clients to do funky/functional exercises I was a functional trainer, I WAS WRONG.
I’m going to use Nick Compten – English Cricketer to illustrate my point.
I met Tim in July 2015 and had heard he was a functional fitness trainer. His first session consisted of him assessing the way I moved. Having had previous injuries I had always been taught to move in symmetry with correct alignment. Tims assessment was nothing I had experienced before and I found it very challenging and insightful.
For our next session he brought a cricket bat and had me play some shots. We then talked about the movements I went through during a game and he then began to build exercises to improve those movements. 30 mins into my session I was broken but my body was “feeling” better, it moved better and I seem to be better at doing the things I needed to do for cricket. I’m still not entirely sure what he did but he certainly opened my eyes to a new way of thinking with regards to functional fitness training.
~ Nick Compten
What is Functional Fitness?
Functional fitness in its truest form means training to improve the way your body needs to move for a specific function. its technical and it requires education on the trainers part. Whether its weight loss, improving mucle tone rehab or being better at a sport functional fitness covers all aspects of exercise, after all if your body moves better you will be able to perform better which will lead to faster results, something we all want.
Is Functional Fitness Right For You?
Personally I would always suggest functional training over traditional strength and conditioning methods it allows your body to move more freely and is generally a bit more varied and fun than lifting lots of weights. However, it should be done with caution. Functional fitness can be more prone to injury simply because of the demand on your body and even more so in a group environment.
In an ideal world work with a personal fitness trainer that has studied functional performance and movement. You should always check the qualification of who ever are training you, especially in a group environment.
Probably the best advice I can give to anyone is pay attention to how your body feels when you are training. Know when you are doing an exercise where you should be feeling it and if its working for you change the exercises, change the movement or seek professional advice. The no pain no gain approach doesn’t sit with me well, exercises should be specific for you, it should be hard for your body, but throwing a kettlebell around or doing hundreds of random movements for an hour with no real direction will yield limited results on the whole.