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The Function of Fitness

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: If you're looking for a workout that helps you with your everyday life, functional fitness could be for you.

JEFFREY ANTENORE/The Orange County Register

TRX Suspension Training is too intense, the Pilates reformer machine requires too much coordination and the Wii Fit Plus uses too much technology. You're looking for a workout that's simple yet effective.

Consider functional fitness, which bases its workouts on real-life challenges. It differs from traditional workouts by exercising multiple muscle groups at the same time rather than isolating one muscle, as has been the norm over the years. It does, however, pull from a variety of fitness disciplines like yoga, Pilates, aerobics, resistance/weight-training, and cardio, to name a few. What it doesn't use is machines. Machine-based exercise doesn’t allow your body the full range of movement that is required of it when performing day-to-day activities, according to functional fitness proponents.

“Machines don’t prepare us for everyday life,” says Suzanne Andrews, occupational therapy practitioner and well-known functional fitness expert. One of her clients recently came in complaining that she frequented the gym three times a week and felt stronger than ever, but when she had to carry her suitcase on a recent trip, she hurt her back.

Andrews says there really is a difference between exercising on a machine and performing functional exercise. Tricep extensions performed with dumbbells on a bench are functional, for example, but seated tricep extensions performed on a machine are not because “machines end up doing most of the work and that movement doesn’t mimic real-life activities,” she says. “In real life, when you bend over to retrieve something, reach up to get something out of your kitchen cabinet or carry your suitcase, you don’t just use one muscle group to perform functional activities.”      

In essence, functional fitness is “prehab,” because it takes care of injuries before they happen. It is fitness training designed to mimic and improve the kinds of movements necessary for daily living; so that when we encounter these actions in real life, the body remembers and is more capable of handling the movement and  the possibility for injury is reduced. Keep in mind that many trainers offer functional fitness programs or some type of functional training in their workouts. You can also perform functional fitness in the comfort of your own home by training with household items like laundry detergent bottles, cans, chairs, your iron, and even pillows. But make sure to consult an expert before starting a workout so you learn the proper way to perform functional fitness exercises.

Functional Fitness in Orange County
OC Adventure Boot Camp
30245 Tomas, Rancho Santa Margarita

Private Fitness Training

OC Fitness Solutions
1 Corporate Plaza Dr. Ste. 100, Newport Beach

P.O. Box 8685, Newport Beach

I GYM Fitness
17811 Sky Park Circle Ste. E, Irvine

Positively Fit Personal Training

TMF/Training Made Fun
518 Simplicity, Irvine

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