Whether you’re in love with functional fitness or admit it’s the sport you love to hate, you can’t deny its impact on today’s approach to physical training. Functional fitness provides constantly varied movements at a high intensity (this can be scaled for all levels) to ensure that by not specializing in one specific movement or sport, participants are prepared for all life’s challenges, from military and police careers to weekend warriors and young parents. While functional fitness has expanded beyond its roots as a simple blog in 2003 that allowed anyone to begin training using the published daily workout, it maintains an approach that fits well with both independent training and a group environment.
Functional fitness at home or at the gym
While you don’t absolutely need to affiliate with a local gym, the combination of community, coaching, and programming offered by a local expert is tremendously helpful in getting started. Most gyms will also provide the opportunity to participate in an “on-ramp” or “fundamentals” program that can get you started safely on the more complex lifts and movements and evaluate your form to allow you to safely workout on your own. You’ll find that the training environment of a good functional fitness gym feels more like small group personal training session than large group fitness class or traditional gym environment. With options for all levels, members tend to be very encouraging of each other, while striving to improve their performance and scores for each workout.
Tips for getting started with Functional fitness
Functional fitness is a powerful but scalable approach to increasing the intensity of your home workouts. You use your home workouts for active recovery and endurance focused training sessions or invest in a little basic equipment that will allow you to begin regular daily exercises. If you are just getting started in weightlifting and strength training, bodyweight exercises that accompany workouts on your home rowing machine, treadmill, and elliptical machine will take you a long way in preparing for the more intense functional fitness workouts. As you add equipment, a few resistance bands, a rowing machine, and some dumbbells will get you started. If you are able to add in a pull-up bar and heavier weights, in time you will be able to add a lot more variety to your workouts.
When you’re ready, visit Part II to go more in depth with common functional fitness exercises.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.