Functional fitness is a versatile approach to training that adapts to individual goals rather than adhering to a one-size-fits-all mentality. The term ‘functional fitness’ has evolved through various trends in the fitness world, initially associated with complex gym circus tricks and unconventional exercises that pushed the boundaries of traditional training.
From balancing on air-filled discs to swinging kettlebells, the fitness landscape experienced shifts in focus, with rotational strength exercises gaining popularity. Eventually, the recognition of the functional aspects of fundamental lifts like deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, and barbell squats brought the fitness community back to the basics.
Understanding the cyclical nature of fitness trends is essential. In my years of experience in the fitness industry here at Chilltown FItness, I’ve found that many individuals enter the gym without a clear understanding of their goals. When asked about their fitness objectives, the common response is often a desire to ‘get strong.’ However, defining what ‘strong’ means to them can be a challenge.
In my interactions with a diverse range of clients, including professional athletes, children, seniors, celebrities, and those aiming for significant weight loss, it’s evident that everyone has unique goals, abilities, and lifestyles. A professional athlete’s training program will differ significantly from that of a parent wanting to play energetically with their children, just as my requirements as a touring metal musician involve stamina and strength for stage performances.
The key is to align your functional fitness routine with your specific goals. Whether you’re standing on one leg on a BOSU, swinging kettlebells, or incorporating rotational exercises with clubs and macebells, the effectiveness of these modalities depends on your objectives. There is no universally ‘correct’ exercise; it’s about finding what works for you.
For instance, if balance training resonates with your goals, exercises like one-arm, single-leg deadlifts, supported single-leg lunges, and pistol squats can enhance ankle, knee, and hip stability while reducing the risk of falling. On the other hand, rotational exercises, such as those involving Bulgarian bags and Indian clubs, can be enjoyable and improve grip strength, shoulder strength, and coordination.
Kettlebells, with their versatility, offer a range of functions, from cardiovascular drills to improving grip strength and posterior chain stability. Whether you’re into kettlebell swings, snatches, or cleans, incorporating them into your routine can yield various benefits.
Ultimately, the key to functional fitness is understanding your goals and tailoring your training accordingly. Embrace what works for you, and if a particular exercise brings discomfort or doesn’t align with your objectives, explore alternative approaches. Remember, there’s always another way to achieve your fitness goals without compromising your well-being.