Hello, and welcome to the new segment on my blog: Wellness Wednesday!
Every Wednesday I will be posting about a trending topic in the fitness industry based on thorough research.
Are you pumped? I know I am!
This week, I want to talk about something known as “functional fitness.” Many of you may have heard this term, or something similar. In essence, it’s working out in ways that improve flexibility, strength, and coordination. SELF.com published a list of “The 10 Biggest Fitness Trends of 2018, According to 4,000 Fitness Pros” in January of 2018. Functional fitness made the cut, and SELF sighted the definition of function fitness that the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) gives which is, “strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living.”
Functional fitness enables individuals to be physically capable in many areas of their lives. This kind of physical strength is not only useful, but essential for many. A lot of people only have themselves to rely on in order to keep things up and running within their household, i.e. moving the air conditioner up from the basement and into the bedroom as summer approaches. For others the motive behind improving fitness is more social, they want to be able to play a pick-up game of beach volleyball or go for a run with their dog on the beach. Whatever the reason, functional fitness is IN. It provides individuals with a versatile view of “working out.”
The idea of lifting weights in a gym, or spending an hour on the elliptical deters many from moving their bodies in ways that can increase strength and improve overall wellness. That is why education on functional fitness and the tremendous amount of benefits an individual can reap from practicing it, is so important.
I recently stumbled upon a YouTube video on Sarahs Day (ig: Sarahs_Day) channel where she talks about her fitness journey. Aside from it being a truly inspiring and informative video, it was also a great video centered around holistic health in relation to functional fitness. She discusses how her diet and workout have changed very much over the years and now she’s in a place where she listens to what her body needs. She came to realize her goals through visualizing the life that she wanted for herself. This vision consisted of eating whole foods and cooking from scratch, as well as being a force of power and able to move her body in “ninja”-like ways.
Sarah talks about how on Sundays she goes to the gym and all she does is handstands. I loved this and absolutely related to it, as I enjoy practicing acrobatics. It’s something that is so much fun! Now, I know what you’re thinking um how is hand standing anything close to functional? Well let me tell you, walking on your hands or being in a hand-stand requires a tremendous amount of upper body strength and core stability. That strength can in turn be applied in more seemingly functional ways, i.e. helping a friend who just got a new apartment move boxes.
I had my own experiences with functional fitness during the summer that I spent working on an organic farm in Maui, Hawaii through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Swinging a machete to cut down 12-15ft banana trees and chop up their fibrous trunks was DEFINITELY a workout. Harvesting bananas, digging up garden beds, helping with construction projects, and weeding were just some of the other ways that I sculpted a pretty impressive upper body that summer. Had I not gone to the gym regularly before arriving on the island, I’m sure I would have experienced intense muscle soreness as many of my co-workers did.
Another way that functional fitness is applied is to individuals in Occupational Therapy programs, so that they are able to preform everyday tasks, such as preparing their own meals and moving from point A to point B. Physical therapists, personal trainers, and fitness coaches also help individuals to implement workout routines into their daily lives that fit their practical goals, in addition to their aesthetic desires.
Helping people use their bodies to interact with the world around them in new ways and explore their potential is something that I personally look forward to as a soon-to-be CPT!
Here is a link to another blog post by GB Personal Training that gives examples, with pictures, of workouts that improve functional fitness. It’s a very interesting and informative piece! I’ve also linked below some examples of exercises that help build foundational functional fitness. I took the liberty of breaking these down into 3 levels based on the exercises I saw listed:
Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something! I will be posting again this Friday, since I have begun to post twice a week (yayy)!