I have been hearing so much about this “new wave” in exercise that I turned to my favorite fitness guru—the effervescent and ageless Joanie Greggains, who co-wrote the Fat Flush Fitness Plan with me. Joanie was the pioneer of TV workouts with her long-running TV Exercise Show, Morning Stretch and became a household word with her popular #1 Talk-Radio show, The Joanie Greggains Show on KGO Radio in the Bay Area. Add another 15 Exercise Videos which earned her 9 Gold and 6 Platinum Videocassette Awards and you can see why I always turn to Joanie for her expert and inspiring advice.
So Joanie, tell me all about functional fitness?
Functional Fitness is training for life. What good are abs of steel if you can’t run for a bus without knee pain, or pick up your child without hurting your back. Functional Fitness exercises train your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently.
Functional Fitness isn’t really new. Before the industrial nation took hold we were a nation of farmers; so, don’t you think 12 hour days performing all sorts of total body movement patterns was functional fitness—their lives depended on it. It’s all about preparing real people to handle real life situations. Functional Fitness describes a process, not an end result. It’s 100% relative to your specific needs.
I don’t want you to confuse Functional Fitness with sports specific preparation. Each sport has intricate skills that need to be met. Functional Fitness is about teaching all your muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you had a great workout, you bench pressed more weight than ever before, and pulled enough weight on the seated rowing machine to set a record.
Fast forward to the next day…you lift a 40 pound suitcase to carry it downstairs—and you throw your back out.
How did this happen? Looks like you’re not paying enough attention to your Functional Fitness. You might be toned, tight, looking good, but are you ready to lift your child out of the car or carry the groceries upstairs?
The key to Functional Fitness is integration. It’s about teaching the muscles to work together rather than isolating them to work independently. Using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time emphasizes core stability and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. For example a squat to a bicep curl is a functional exercise because it trains the muscles used when you pick up an object from the floor or table. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of common situations.
Functional Fitness often involves standing on your feet while supporting and stabilizing all your body weight on your own without the help of a machine (strong core). Functional Fitness trains the body as a whole, and as a result balance, coordination, flexibility, power agility and strength improve. That way when you have to hoist that heavy bag into the overhead bin on an airplane you won’t throw your back out.
To be effective, a Functional Fitness exercise program should include a number of different elements, which you can adapt to your individual needs or goals:
As you add more functional exercises to your workout, you will see improvements in how you look, improvements in your ability to perform everyday activities, and improvement in your quality of life! Remember no matter what, “never lose your sense of humor!”
One more thing—If you’re over 40, haven’t exercised for a while or have health problems, I suggest you check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program—same goes if you are pregnant.
Functional Fitness Exercise Programs can be found in the following:
The Fat Flush Fitness Plan by Ann Louise Gittleman and Joanie Greggains
Follow Joanie on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/joaniegreggains
Learn more about Joanie at http://www.joaniegreggains.com