As originally published in the Yorktown News:
For most of us, our first thought when we hear “fitness” is either a big burly man in an ill-fitting tank-top doing bicep curls, or a lady wearing neon spandex jumping around an aerobics studio. However, that really hasn’t been the case for quite some time now. These days, people are doing everything from hiking with loaded ruck sacks, attempting Olympic lifting movements, to packing into dance studios to get their fitness fix. However, one thing that seems to be getting neglected in the gym, is life outside of the gym! We’ve all seen them; the girl with the bulging biceps who can’t pick up her groceries without a back ache, or the guy who can jog for hours but gets winded walking up a flight of stairs. Looking and feeling great for the hour a day that you’re in the gym is all well and good, but don’t you want to look, move, and feel better for the other twenty-three? That’s where functional fitness comes in.
Popularized around the country by Strength & Conditioning experts like Mike Boyle and Grey Cook, and spearheaded regionally by the likes of Massi-Machado Strength & Conditioning; the functional fitness movement emphasizes overall health (and training the way you live, work and play) over any one particular result. Participants in such programs focus on refining and mastering specific body movement patterns to first improve and/or perfect joint mobility and stability before moving onto a more complex strength and conditioning program. Everything from a simple pattern squat to an all out interval sprint routine is encompassed under this system; as it aims to improve every aspect of your health, including your individual energy systems. When administered by a seasoned coach or qualified personal trainer, such a system results in a person who not only looks their best, but feels their best, moves their best, and finds themselves in the best overall condition they’ve ever been in.
They say that in fitness, “one size DOES NOT fit all”. However, there’s not a single person who can’t benefit from being more functionally sound. Through a series of progressively more complex movements and/or regressions (more simple movements), a functional fitness program can be tailored to and specified for anyone from a high level athlete to a work-from-home parent. “We all need to move better. Whether those movements are complex power lifts and on-field lateral patterns, or just picking up our kids; Everyone can benefit from having clean base movement patterns and eventually even cleaner complex movement patterns.” said Matt Cascioli; head Physical Therapist at Haven Physical Therapy in Peekskill. Everyone, has different goals when they walk into the gym, but we should all have one in common: live our lives better; whatever those lives entail. Functional fitness aims to help us get there.