Previ Fitness: Why Functional Fitness?

plank NataliIt seems the term “Functional Fitness” is the new catch phrase. You see it everywhere. So what really is this method of training?

Functional Fitness started out as a tool for Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists to rehab clients. The concept being: instead of using gym machines, which are often isolating one muscle at a time, utilizing various muscles in both the upper and lower body while also stabilizing the core to focus on retraining a client’s muscle to move in the correct pattern. It trains muscles to work together to prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements that one might perform at home, work or in a sport. Many proponents say it is “working out for real life”.

While traditional workouts focus on building muscle it is important to remember movement patterns are vital.  Altered body mechanics and the resulting movement compensations often lead to injury.

How does this tie into Functional Fitness?

When designing a workout, instead of only considering the imminent injury or compensation and how to singularly fix it, our PreviMedica exercise specialists consider how the person’s entire environment might be contributing to these movement limitations or adaptations. As Dr.Gary Gray (considered the “father of function”), said in a recent post, “in my opinion, if the individual doesn’t have a past medical history or pain with movement, I would encourage you (the Personal Trainer, Physical Therapist etc.) to change the environment first.”

If you consider the person’s environment as a combination of lifestyle and the fitness program they prescribe to, do trainers regularly inquire about lifestyle factors? For example, does the person sit at a desk all day, wear high heels, or are they constantly on a telephone? Our PreviMedica  exercise specialists make it a point to view each client as a whole and take all of these (and more) daily activities into consideration.

In a study published in May of 2010 in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”, researchers found that men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less. That statistic is distressing but what was astonishing was that the risks were relatively unrelated to how much the subjects exercised. Many of the subjects worked out often, but then sat for hours and, despite the intermittent exercise, their risk of heart disease increased. The study showed their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of prolonged sitting. In other words, adding the positive habit of exercise was not enough to counteract the negative effect of sitting for extended periods of time.

To truly make positive changes, our PreviMedica team looks at not just adding positive habits, but removing negative habits. In addition to working out, some suggestions for small sustainable changes are:

  • Getting up every hour and taking a brisk walk break,
  • Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • If your job allows, invest in a standing desk which increases your heart rate and in turn, burns more calories versus sitting.

Our PreviMedica exercise specialists conduct movement assessments at your first fitness session to isolate limitations and recommend exercises that focus on function and moving more authentically. This will help stop your body from compensating with inefficient movements which most often decrease performance and increases risk of injury. Every little bit helps in the quest for health!

To learn more about functional fitness and get your own assessment, schedule a consultation with an exercise specialist by contacting us at 855-773-8463 or emailing

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