Gym fads and trends come and go but the bottom line is, fitness should be functional. By that, we mean, at the most basic level, our fitness training should mean that we are fit enough to take all the physical demands life throws at us.
Functional fitness for everyday life
This ranges across a whole gamut of activities. You might be aiming to do an endurance event; you may want to ensure you remain fit enough to work in your garden; perhaps you want to join a sports team and be fit enough to play matches; you might want to play basketball in the park with your kids. Everybody’s motivation is different but the aim of functional fitness is the same – to be fit for all the things we might want to do.
Unlike some gym workouts that involve repetitions of the same, linear movements, functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together as one moving part. It is the difference between a bicep curl and lifting a Bulgarian bag. The first trains your bicep, the second engages a range of muscle groups to lift an unwieldy object.
Functional fitness prepares our muscles for daily tasks. It does this by simulating common movements you might do at home, work or in sports. While using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional fitness exercises also emphasise core stability.
For example, a squat is a functional exercise. It trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. 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 exercises can be done at home or at the gym. For example, you can use resistance bands or dumbbells at home, or do body weight movements such as pushups, situps, planks and squats.
In the Outlooks Gym we have an area dedicated to functional fitness. In a space separate from the gym, anyone looking to do a functional fitness workout will find equipment that will work every muscle. While kitting out the area, we researched the best equipment to hit as many muscle groups as possible. Our fitness instructors can give you plenty of advice on how to get the most out of the various pieces of equipment.
What’s in the gym?
In the functional fitness area you will find: squat racks; pull-up and dip station; monkey bars; TRX station; a punch bag; a 25m turf track; a Wattbike; a Nautilus Glute Drive and glute-ham raise (GHR); kettle bells; powerboats; slam balls; Bulgarian bags; a Plyo box and a tyre.
Of course, you can combine workouts, spending time in the main gym doing cardio and weights before moving to the functional fitness area to really stretch yourself.
And it is not purely about the physical benefits of a workout. There is also an increasing link between good physical fitness and a healthy mental state too. It stands to reason: if you feel fit and able to cope with life, then we feel better in ourselves too.