The goal of functional fitness is to prepare your body and brain to perform the activities that make up your life, whether it's domestic tasks like carrying groceries, doing yard work, or picking up a child, or more athletic endeavors in sports or nature. So it emphasizes foundational movement patterns that are the building blocks of how we move our bodies in the real world.
It also mirrors how we move in the real world by emphasizing compound movements (multi-joint, multiple muscle group exercises), and movements in multiple planes of motion. In contrast, weight machines are usually designed to put you into an idealized position in order to isolate larger muscles, and usually in just a single plane of motion.
Resistance training using compound movements to build "functional strength" is central to the idea of functional fitness. And strength training is important for everyone!
The many proven benefits of strength training include:
★ Longer predicted life span and improved quality of life.
★ Improved fat loss and metabolic health.
★ Maintaining and building muscle mass and bone density - and especially as we age.
★ Increased motivation and confidence.
Performing compound exercises requires your brain to control multiple muscle groups at the same time, often across multiple planes of motion. That develops proprioception - the "brain/body connection" - which leads to better balance and coordination, and reduces your risk of injury.
Multiple recent studies have found that functional training is significantly more effective than traditional strength training at improving balance and mobility.
Compound exercises often require you to engage your core (abdominal) muscles. That means you don't need to set aside time for dedicated core work. (But sometimes our Trainers still throw in some core-centric work for good measure.)
Functional training can be performed at a wide range of speeds, from "slow and steady" to high intensity interval training (aka HIIT). But cardio is "built-in" when you perform compound, multi-planar exercises, because engaging more muscles requires your heart to work harder - especially when you add in resistance training.
So in addition to helping you build strength, functional fitness helps strengthen your cardiovascular system, and you can burn more calories in less time than with traditional weightlifting.
Functional fitness is also a lot more fun than just doing circuits on strength training machines.
In a group exercise class or Personal Training session you might use any combination of equipment, including dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, the CrossCore bodyweight trainer, medicine balls, resistance bands, cardio equipment, battle ropes, plyoboxes, step benches, swiss balls, landmines, TerraCores, and more. And of course there are a million exercises you can do using just your bodyweight.
Sometimes it feels more like play than working out!
On top of that, there are numerous different ways that functional training sessions can be structured depending on various factors, including the goal on the workout.
All that variety has some major benefits. It keeps things interesting, and helps you avoid plateaus by continuously challenging your brain and body in different ways, and it also improves adherence.
Don't worry if all of this sounds a bit foreign or overwhelming. Our expert staff will teach you how to safely and effectively use our equipment and execute the workout. They'll also explain "the why" behind what you'll be doing. So you're also learning - not just exercising.
Our clients come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and range in age from late teens to 80+. Some are super fit. Others are earlier in their fitness journeys. More than a few have to work around old injuries or other signs of "mileage". And everyone fits in.
So "meeting clients where they are" is central to our approach. Our staff are experts at providing harder and easier variations of exercises (aka "progressions and regressions") - or alternative movements if someone needs to work around an injury or limitation.
That means we can have clients with a wide range of strength, mobility, and conditioning levels all in the same class and still make sure that everyone gets a great - and safe - workout.