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Additional Insights from Professionals on Functional Fitness


Picture 1Mad Dogg Athletics

The mode of functional fitness is an exercise method that aims to improve the energy and neuromuscular systems responsible for the activities of daily living and/or occupational activity, by performing exercises transferable to these movements and energy demands. The state of functional fitness is being in a physical condition that supports the energy and neuromuscular systems relevant to an individual’s daily activities or occupational demands.

Striving to achieve functional fitness extends beyond the treadmill, elliptical and other sagittal (linear) movements. We move multi-directionally: Therefore, to attain functional fitness one must incorporate a variety of multi-planar, multi-muscle movements to stimulate the body systems responsible for executing strength, endurance, balance, agility, power, reaction time and flexibility, to name a few.

Advertise complimentary seminars through social media outlets, promote goal setting and assist members by measuring metrics such as tracking the number of push-ups one can achieve to fatigue, each week. Challenge members to create their own functional protocols that can be shared amongst the members. They can then vote on the best workout, and the winner gets a free month’s membership. If your facility has the resources, post videos of functional protocols on the club’s website or social media page.

If possible, beginners should start with one-on-one training to master complex exercises and skills. After establishing a solid foundation, small group training is a great way to bring variety and promote member camaraderie.

Functional training should not be confused with sports-specific training. Functional training can span multiple energy systems and muscular training modalities. However, sports-specific exercises impose demands that mimic the movements and neuromuscular characteristics of that sport, while training the particular energy system(s) pertinent to achieve the skillsets required. For example, running long distance is not specific to baseball, but sprint repeat drills would be relevant.

For more information, contact Shannan J Lynch, PhD, CSCS, HFS, CISSN, the Director of Education for Mad Dogg, at slynch@maddogg.com or 310.740.8830.

Marc Lebert.

Marc Lebert

Lebert Fitness

I think functional fitness means something different to every single person. It is anything that trains a member or client to reach their goals, whether that is running a faster 40-yard-dash, or being able to get out of a chair and walk with greater ability. If a young man wants to have bigger biceps, then doing barbell curls would be functional fitness to him, but generally speaking, functional fitness is not just about throwing heavy weights around in order to get bigger biceps. When I think of functional fitness, I think about training the body as a whole unit and how training can help my clients and members through their day-to-day lives, with grace and power.

It is important that members train for functional fitness. Of course, all the basics like pushing, pulling, squating, lifting and rotating are key to place in any routine, and for clients to understand and become competent with. From there, you can increase the intensity, increase the variety of exercises and make everything more specific.

I think the messaging around functional fitness should be about living life the way members want. Depending on the audience, you can talk about being a better athlete or just being better at walking past the pharmacy! The key is that you are promoting fitness specifically designed for them — functional fitness for their goals. It’s not always just about weight loss; it’s about quality of movement that will help you perform better in classes or in your training, so that you reach your goals faster (which may involve weight loss).

Of course, having a trainer will lead to a more personal approach, and the focus on the client’s individual needs will be there. I think in a group training environment you can still incorporate many “functional” moves and skills that will benefit and supplement members’ training. Group X instructors know their class best, so there is a great opportunity to design moves that will be functional to them. Then they can educate and talk to members about the additional training. Your members will be happy you want to give them more and care enough to think about their needs.

For more information, contact Marc Lebert, the Owner of Lebert Fitness, at marc@lebertfitness.com or 905.785.0626.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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