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Functional Fitness Training for Life

If you're not a professional athlete, chances are you don't need the specialized fitness training that level of athleticism requires. You want something that's going to keep you fit, help you stay on top of your game (whatever game that may be), and lead a healthy life. The problem is that many of today's popular workout routines, while they may help you be more fit than you'd be without them, tend to isolate muscle groups and encourage repetitive actions. Think about it: your day is full of multidirectional movements; is your workout routine?

Functional fitness training is a very safe, effective way of achieving your fitness goals without risking injury or causing unnecessary stress responses in your body. It engages muscle groups in both the upper and lower body at the same time, simulating motions you would do at work, home, or in sports. It has unique focus on core strength and balance, optimizing both to protect your body during work and play. It can be incorporated into any existing workout routine or can become a routine by itself. Functional fitness trains your body's muscles to work together in a stronger way to support your daily activities.

Sure, parkour incorporates lots of upper and body movements, but we did say that safety was a key issue. The potential for injury in high intensity training grows as the stress to the body increases. So while parkour, bootcamp, and triathlons may be fun activities, they're not going to be a lifelong path to health and fitness for the average person. In the right environment and with the right equipment, functional fitness training can be enjoyed throughout life. Let's take a look at what this means.

Any activities that incorporate multidirectional movements, such as Qigong, pilates, and yoga, can be part of a functional fitness routine. Adding different combinations of resistance to the movements of these practices can potentially increase their benefits, but should be done gradually to minimize the potential for injury. If you haven't exercised in a long time, you might want to stick with just your own body weight for resistance in the beginning, just to be on the safe side. If you're going to the gym regularly already, you might check for classes offered specifically in functional fitness or classes that incorporate functional training in their routines.

The key? Well, the whole idea of functional fitness is to strengthen your body to handle what you want it to be able to handle so you don't throw your back out doing yard work on Saturday even though you did three spinning classes and a bootcamp during the week. You want the physical security that comes with a workout tailored to your lifestyle and the key to this is going to be safety. Don't add weights prematurely or beyond necessity. Don't push - the whole no-pain-no-gain thing is right out the window. Make sure you're working out in a safe environment: the ceramic tiled bathroom floor is not the place for push-ups or lunges. A stable, padded floor will provide the best surface for workouts involving movement. It will absorb shock and stress to your joints while supporting your body weight in a balanced manner. Don't cut corners here: you wouldn't buy cheap weights or hire a personal trainer who flunked Stretching 101, so for Pete's sake, don't do your home workout on shag carpeting.

We recommend a large surface area fitted with EVA foam mats at least 1/2" thick. Any kind of weight-bearing exercise, even if it is only your own weight to start with, puts stress on the ligaments and tendons holding your body together. A shock-absorbing, anti-fatigue floor will reduce the stress your body has to endure and produce more positive results with less injury and fatigue. If your workout is faster-paced and requires even more shock-absorption, take a look at the 3/4" thick mats. Remember, this is the only body you get: nothing wrong with a little TLC!

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