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What is Functional Fitness and how to choose a Functional Fitness Trainer?

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I have written before on how to pick a quality personal trainer. Let’s take it a step further and talk about choosing to work with someone who specializes in Functional Fitness.

First let’s define what Functional Fitness is? Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries, getting up out of a chair, getting in and out of the car etc. Functional fitness can be done indoors or outdoors, in a gym/ facility or in your own home.

Not every Personal trainer is certified in Functional Fitness. Does that mean that one can’t learn on their own through research and trial and error, No, but there are extra courses that one needs to take to have a true understanding of how to incorporate Functional Fitness with clients in a safe and efficient manner.

With any trainer, you are going to want to work with someone who accepts you for who you are and does not judge you for your past behaviors or choices that led you to your current situation.

You should never feel ashamed working with a trainer who is patient, supportive and sensitive.

The trainer is respectful of you and your time, including your view of the world. You want to work with someone who you feel is trustworthy.

You both want to have clear expectations of the workout and relationship.

The trainer does not believe in failure only feedback. The trainer needs to be committed to providing timely and specific feedback of your progress.

Do they explain what skills and capabilities are leading to your success? Do they provide periodic assessments of your goals?

One key thing to look for is: Does a trainer give you a proper physical assessment of your posture and physical imbalances before you begin any program? If not, MOVE ON!

You would be surprised how many trainers, especially at big box gyms, just jump right into the exercises without knowing more about your personal body mechanics.

Many would argue that a Cross-Fit, Obstacle or similar workout is Functional Fitness. Sure, our ancient ancestors needed to lift heavy rocks, climb trees, jump across ravines etc. However, in today’s mostly sedentary lifestyle with more and more people deconditioned and unwell, I would argue that most people do not need to do these complicated, potentially dangerous exercises.

Now, if you are training for some specific event or goal, sure, we can talk about how those can fit into your lifestyle. If you are keen to exercise at a gym, then I suggest you seek out a trainer there that has had specialized training as I mentioned above. Talk to the gym management to identify who these people are.

Now for a variety of reasons, many people whether they be women, the elderly, time constrained or resource constrained, just do not like to nor have the time to go to a gym.

So, for the purposes of the rest of this article I am going to focus on those people who want to work out at home or office and in a minimal amount of time.

I feel for the vast majority of people, there are only FIVE Functional Movement exercises that one needs to do. Sounds simple right? Well it is in a way, but let’s not forget that proper form and your safety is of upmost importance. That is why it is imperative to seek guidance from a trainer who has had this specialized training, at least at the beginning until you feel confidence in your own skills and body mechanics.

There are many ways to make these five exercises harder or easier, such that anyone at any level of fitness can complete them for satisfaction and development.

With any imbalances that may be identified during your personal assessment, your program would be modified, but the five key functional fitness exercises are:

A Pushing Motion, ex. Push Up (helps you get out of bed or off the floor, helps close doors etc)

A Pulling Motion, ex. Row (helps you grab groceries out of the car or grab something off the top shelf etc)

Squat (helps you get out of a chair or off the toilet)

Lunge (helps you climb up stairs or get in and out of your car)

Plank (helps build and maintain core strength)

Seems too simple right? Again, tempo, intensity and modifications can make these five exercises accommodating to the beginner or those injured to very challenging for those progressing or advanced.

Having a trainer who knows how to incorporate these into your lifestyle with your individualized body mechanics is key to your enjoyment, safety, progress and overall health.

While I take a holistic approach to working with my clients and address: The 7 Pillars of Health, Performance and Longevity. This includes Functional fitness that plays a role in your health moving forward. Contact me to learn more.

Your EXCEPTIONAL YOU is waiting to come out and achieve your EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS. I would love to be a part of your journey.