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Functional Fitness: What it is, Why it is Important

There are plenty of reasons people go to the gym and work out: sports conditioning, strength, physical looks, social time, better health, etc. Regardless of the reasons for going to the gym and working out on a regular basis, one common factor or goal should be addressed and be part of any exercise program: Is what I am doing making my daily life easier and better?

This concept is called functional fitness and it has several different components. We will focus on how functional fitness relates to health and movement.

According to the Mayo Clinic, functional fitness exercises train the muscles to work together and prepare the muscles for daily tasks. It does this by simulating (copying) common movements that may be done at home, at work or in sports.

Take a minute to think of something you do every day that affects your knees, ankles, hips and back. Did squats come into your mind? Squats are one of the most-common daily movements we do. Most people squat in some form or fashion more 100 times a day! Whether getting in and out of the car, to sitting down on a chair, we are squatting. In fact, in China while waiting at a bus stop they will sit in a squat instead of on a bench.

When squatting, we use our lower back, abdominal and leg muscles, as well as our hip, knee and ankle joints. Often, the arms are used in this action, so that means we are also incorporating our upper back, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. Without realizing it, we are activating nearly every joint in our body and multiple muscle groups. Squatting properly this many times per day can increase our strength and flexibility; doing it improperly can cause pain, fatigue, soreness and even injury.

When working at a gym that specializes in functional fitness, you will learn to strengthen your muscles and make sure your joints are in proper position while doing these everyday movements. Squats are just one example of functional fitness items. Other great movements include dead lifts (picking things up from the ground or shoveling), step-ups and step-downs (walking up and down stairs or hiking), burpees (falling down and getting up), push press (putting heavier items above your head), and much more!

One of the other great things about functional fitness is the reduced time spent at the gym. Since functional fitness requires multiple muscle groups to work in concert together, there is less need to do single-muscle exercises (If you are a body builder, this would not be enough, but for the average person, this is more than enough).

Also, because of the multiple muscle groups engaging at the same time, the stabilizing muscles of the core (lower back, abdominals and glutes) are also getting a workout. Will functional exercise get you the “six-pack abs” many desire? No, but it will build a strong core to help protect your spine, increase balance and stability and improve posture.

Finding a gym and personal trainer that concentrates on functional fitness will help provide numerous benefits for everyday life.

Remember, not every gym is right for everyone, but there is a gym that is right for you. True Fitness Center offers free sessions for potential members so that each person can determine if our gym and trainers are the right fit. FBN

 By Preston Gilbert

Preston Gilbert is the owner of True Fitness Center, located at 5200 E. Cortland Blvd., in Flagstaff. Gilbert has more than a decade of experience working as a fitness trainer, boxing instructor and athletic coach. He trains people of all ages and all fitness levels. Gilbert is a certified CrossFit Trainer and USA Certified Boxing Coach. To learn more about True Fitness Center or to make an appointment with Gilbert or a member of the True Fitness team, visit TeamTrueFitness.com or call 928-707-9558.


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One Response to Functional Fitness: What it is, Why it is Important

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