What is Functional Fitness?
In Simple terms, Functional Fitness is ANY type of fitness that supports your everyday life. It includes walking, pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, and strengthening the core (not just the pretty muscles, either).
A History of Functional Fitness
Functional Fitness has been a buzzword in the last several years, but it’s not a new thing. The latest history research shows us that our ancestors, the earliest hunter-gatherers, date back over 2 million years ago. These ancient civilizations hunted and gathered. They dug, cut, created, built, lifted, and climbed things that we today use machines for (how amazing!). But, our bodies were meant to be active and move in a way that helped us survive.
What is it?
In simple terms, it is ANY type of fitness that supports your everyday life. It includes walking, pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, and strengthening the core (not just the pretty muscles, either). It is the type of fitness that is rooted in all of us. Today, our bodies don’t usually require the speed and agility to run away from tigers but get away from new age predators, compete in a race, save a life. These all require an amount of running ability. Imagine if you trained and were prepared? Or, how about getting in and out of that desk chair when you’re 90? Let’s squat! Picking up that bag of compost for the garden – get deadlifting! Our bodies were developed so that all of our muscles work together to accomplish specific tasks.
“It trains your muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you may do at home, work, or in sports.”
– Mayo Clinic
Outside of supporting our bodies and developing incredibly well-functioning humans, functional fitness is no stranger to benefits.
As we’ve learned in earlier blog posts (“What’s your Why?“), it’s helpful to enjoy at least some aspect of physical activity to create a new routine. Welp… it’s easiest to do that through functional fitness. Research shows that those who participate in a functional fitness routine often find it more “enjoyable” than other types of fitness. The reason, they can see improvements in their daily life. Carrying the groceries in the house somehow becomes more effortless. Keeping up with the grandkids becomes a regular treat. This fitness improves your overall quality of life.
Reduce Risk of Injury
Participating in Functional Fitness gets your body moving like it was designed to do. You are essentially putting the best gas in your car, allowing your body to move and exist in the most suitable way possible. These actions reduce the risk of injury. Not only that but all of those little tiny tendons and ligaments that literally keep your body together are strengthening to take on the occasional yard sales and ankle sprains. Your body will recover faster and be more likely to bounce back after accidents.
Greater Muscle Memory
Anytime you learn something new, your brain lights up. It activates neurons, glia, and other brain cells that increase electrical signal speed. The more muscle memory you build, the quicker your brain shows up for you. Your body is forming stronger connections with an existing network. By participating in functional fitness, you are not only training the muscles you’re exercising your brain too!
Yes, there are many ways to do this. Many different exercises will allow you the space to become more mindful. But, functional fitness does it in a way that can optimize your sense of self. Your body is being told to rely entirely upon itself. From this we become more in tune and responsive to our bodies. The techniques that develop and new skills that are learned will give you greater awareness and increase your self-understanding and respect!
While functional fitness can be a very broad term, there are some specific gyms and phrases to look out for when you’re on the search. CrossFit is one of the most widely known functional fitness regimes and can be scaled and adjusted to individual needs (this is a critical component of functional fitness). Facilities that offer TRX training or OCR/Ninja Warrior training often rely heavily on “full-body workouts” and “bodyweight training.” These again are excellent terms when searching for a new workout home.
If there is one thing we have learned from our ancestors, it is that we don’t need barbells, stationary bikes or or even kettlebells to be functionally fit! A goal of ours at TABATA+ is to make functional workouts as accessible as possible. Regardless of how little time, space and equipment you have, we have workouts that will keep your body pushing, pulling, squatting, hinging, and certainly strengthening your core!
Of course, the easiest way to ensure your jumping on the functional fitness train is to join us at Tabata+!