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Functional fitness – what is it and how do you get it?

Are you someone who exercises on a regular basis but throws out your back when lifting something like groceries or a child? Have you ever been on a plane and struggled to lift your suitcase above your head to place it in the overhead bin?

If so, you know what it means to be functionally UN-fit.

Functional fitness – defined

Fitness professionals consider “functional fitness” as exercises for everyday life. Functional exercises focus on preparing your body to do normal, everyday activities. In real life, weight doesn’t move along a track and isn’t guided by a wire, like it does on a machine found at the gym. In real life – there are curbs, cracks, bumps and other inconsistencies in the sidewalks and roads that you run on, unlike the treadmill.

Being functionally fit means that you can perform the everyday physical tasks in your life without increasing the exposure to injuries. It even means being able to handle unforeseen events such as a slip on ice or a fall in the bathtub without serious, or even a minor injury.

So how do you get functionally fit?

Many people exercise with a particular goal in mind (such as losing weight, bulking up or even training for a race), but oftentimes this type of training leaves us unfit in other important ways.  In order to be functionally fit, you must become comfortable in moving your body in ways that your body was meant to be moved.

The key to becoming functionally fit is to vary the way you do your exercises.  For example, hold a 10-20 lbs dumbbell in one hand and nothing in the other, while doing lunges.  This extra weight on one side, causes the center of gravity to shift, which engages the core more and causes all the muscles performing the exercise to work extra hard to maintain proper form.

Another example to try:  Start with shoulder presses with two dumbbells extended over your head, however, perform all the reps with one arm while holding the other in place (over the head).  Then switch before taking your break.  By training your muscles to work independently, you increase your functional fitness.

Sounds difficult to do?  It’s really not – with the right training regimen and guidance.

How does boot camp promote functional fitness?

Functional fitness is one of our primary areas of focus at our boot camp program , and there are two primary benefits to using boot camp to get functionally fit:

Benefit #1 – Variation

One of the most common problems our clients run into BEFORE they join boot camp is boredom.  This occurs before they are generally stuck in a rut of doing the same exercises over and over again the same way every single time.  At boot camp we cure this problem but creating unique exercises and more importantly unique ways of doing them!

Benefit #2 – No Machines

At boot camp, there are no machines, no pulleys, no wheels or guides.  This means it’s you pushing your body and using your muscles, your core, your balance and stability to get the job done.

Varying not only the exercises themselves, but the types of exercises being done will help ensure you build a functionally fit body.  So, next time you slip on some ice and do that unexpected deep knee lunge, you WON’T hurt anything but your pride!

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