FUNCTIONAL FITNESS By Cord Prettyman, MPT
I’ve often wondered what the actual body count was for the fitness industry back in the 1980’s. How many people were injured and/or turned off to exercise for life from the moronic “no pain, no gain” mentality that was pervasive during the industry’s infancy?
When I began personal training in 1988, I opted for a different approach called “functional fitness.” Then and now, I ask my clients these questions, What do you do at work? What do you do at play? What injuries have you suffered? What surgeries have you had? Do you have any disease processes? What do you find hard to do? With that information, I design comprehensive exercise regimens addressing those functional issues.
If in the process, the men developed big biceps and the women achieved tight buns, good for them – that wasn’t my goal. I was more impressed when they reported being higher functioning at work and play. That they had more energy, slept better and suffered less aches and pains.
Some thirty years later, functional fitness is a hot topic in the fitness world. The December, 2017 issue of Harvard Health Letter asked the question, “Are you functionally fit?” The lead-in to the article states, “You may think of exercise as something you do to keep your heart and lungs healthy or to maintain your weight and those are great benefits. But exercise is also important to keep you functioning throughout your day.”
When we fitness geeks gather and talk about functional fitness, we’re referring to your ability to carry your groceries from the car to the kitchen and put them away. Can you garden and golf? Are you able to climb stairs without grimacing and play basketball with your children or grandchildren? Can you bend, squat, lunge, rotate and push and pull – pain free.
If you’re not strength training and stretching, the answer is probably no.
The lost of muscle mass – known as sarcopenia – begins for most in their early thirties. This is a deleterious process that results in a loss of strength making it harder to do chores around the house and everyday activities.
Sarcopenia can lead to stiffer and less flexible muscles making it more difficult to turn your head as you drive your car. It can, also, result in arthritis in your hands, knees and hips making it more difficult to dress, bathe or walk. And loss of muscle mass can inhibit your sense of balance and increase your risk of falls.
There are seven basic movements you need to be able to do all your life. First, you have to be able to sit down and stand up to use toilet. Second, you need to be able to bend over to pick things up off the floor. To vacuum the house, you need to be able to do multi-directions lunges. You have to be able to rotate your trunk so you can lift and twist simultaneously. And you must be able to climb and push and pull.
The exercises that will enable you to be functionally fit are the deadlift, squat, variable direction lunges, trunk twists with weights or a medicine ball, step-ups on an aerobic step or use a step machine and chest press and standing rows. If this reads like Greek to you, pick up your phone and call Woodland Fitness, Snap Fitness or Powell’s Gym in Woodland Park and ask to talk to a certified personal trainer. It’s an investment that will last a lifetime. But first, talk to your primary care doctor to get clearance for an exercise routine.
It’s time to get functionally fit! Summer is just around the corner!!
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.