I make a lot of friends at the gym. I’m not sure why but a lot of random people come up and start talking to me. Maybe people just want to know who the crazy girl is going all out on the elliptical while acting like she can rap to Eminem. Who knows? Some of my favorite comments are “Are you training for something or do you just like working that hard?” Another is one day after 50 minutes of sprint intervals on the bike, someone asked me “Are you warmed up yet?”. Anyway, I’m always glad to meet new people and this week I made a new friend who introduced me to a gym that happens to be across the street from our condo. The focus of this gym is functional fitness.
Functional Fitness is one of those fitness buzzwords that I’ve been hearing a LOT lately. My new friend kept telling me today that I should really check this gym out because their approach to functional fitness, might really help me with my running injuries. I wasn’t exactly sure what defined functional fitness so I decided to look into it tonight.
Functional fitness focuses on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine.
“Conventional weight training isolates muscle groups, but it doesn’t teach the muscle groups you’re isolating to work with others,” says Greg Roskopf, MS, a biomechanics consultant with a company called Muscle Activation Techniques who has worked with athletes from the Denver Broncos, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz. “The key to functional exercise is integration. It’s about teaching all the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.”
Some of the benefits of functional fitness include a stronger core, increased flexibility, increased strength, better dynamic and stationary balance, improved agility, improved cardiovascular endurance (yay!), better posture, and stronger joints. As an injury prone runner, I think I could use some improvement in about all of these areas. Functional fitness exercises steer clear of the weight machines and instead are more likely to include TRX, kettle bells, exercise bands, and your own body weight. I think I can get down with that…
I looked up the gym’s website that is across the street from us – Studio Revolution. There are 8 main areas that they focus on and they are listed below (Maybe I’ll win the lottery so I can have a running coach AND go to this gym…):
- Dynamic movement prep: Fundamental movements to activate and lengthen muscles and elevate core temperature to prepare the body for the workout ahead.
- Corrective exercise: Exercises that address imbalances in the body, for example, limited mobility in the scapula (should blades) would affect the body’s ability to properly perform pushing and pulling movements. Corrective exercises are the cornerstone to create a healthier body with a solid foundation.
- Pillar stability: All movement comes through pillar – the pelvis, front and back of the spine, and shoulder blades. An unstable pillar can result in back, knee and hip problems. Improving pillar stability in turn improves performance in all other movements. (Note: “old school” would call this “core development;” however, cutting edge sports science explains that core is not limited to abdominal muscles, but extends from shoulders to hips.)
- Resistance training: The manipulation of a load, or heavy weight, to create power and strength in the body, for example, performing lunges or squats while holding weights. The definition of a “heavy weight” is relative, based on the client.
- Power and elasticity: Plyometric exercises, such as jumping or any ballistic movement that shortens a muscle and then releases the muscle very quickly with the goal of improving power and elasticity in the body.
- Metabolic training: Anaerobic conditioning that combines strength and conditioning working simultaneously with a high, elevated heart rate.
- Energy system development: Understanding and training within the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, understanding lactate thresholds, and training at specific levels for focused cardiovascular development to affect specific change.
- Regeneration strategies: Support of the soft tissue with foam rolling, massage, trigger point work, and nutrition to enhance the body’s recovery from a workout. The most important and most often overlooked element, regeneration strategies help the body to recover from a training and return to train again, avoiding injury and burnout.
Any of the above areas, I’m not really going to work on that much by myself. Maybe that’s why I get injured? I thought I was going a good job of strength training and stretching, but apparently it hasn’t been working. I’m open to new ideas, and that includes functional fitness. I’m hoping to go by and check out the facility tomorrow after school. Maybe a Christmas present and early birthday present?
Happy Trails and Happy Running,