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What is Functional Training? Fitness for the Real World

In the ever-evolving landscape of fitness trends and routines, one term has gained significant traction in recent years: functional fitness. You might have heard it in the gym, seen it advertised in fitness classes, or even stumbled upon it in online discussions. But what exactly is functional training, and why has it become such a prominent aspect of the fitness world? 


Functional Fitness Class

What is Functional Training? 

Functional training is a philosophy that encompasses a holistic approach to physical activity, focusing not only on building strength and endurance but also on enhancing overall functionality and quality of life. At its core, functional training seeks to improve your ability to perform everyday activities efficiently and with reduced risk of injury. 


One of the key principles of functional fitness is functional movement patterns. These are fundamental movements that people perform regularly in daily life, such as pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, twisting, and lifting. Functional fitness programs are designed to train these movement patterns, helping you develop strength, stability, flexibility, and mobility across multiple joints and muscle groups. 

 

Unlike conventional workouts that often isolate specific muscle groups or focus heavily on aesthetics, functional fitness emphasizes movements that mimic real-life actions. Think about squatting to pick up a heavy box, reaching up to a shelf, or carrying groceries up a flight of stairs. These are the types of movements that functional fitness aims to enhance and optimize. 


Through customized personal training programs, this can be taken a step further to include exercises that enhance your ability to perform in your career, sports, or hobbies. For example, if you work a job that requires a lot of physical labor, a functional fitness coach could provide a workout plan that would help prepare your body to better meet the specific demands of your job.  

 

Benefits of Functional Training 

Functional training seeks to provide a well-rounded fitness experience. Some of the unique benefits of functional training include: 

 

Adaptable & Accessible Exercises 

Another hallmark of functional fitness is its scalability and adaptability to individual needs and abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or someone just starting on their wellness journey, functional fitness can be tailored to suit your goals and fitness level. Exercises can be modified by adjusting variables such as intensity, duration, and resistance, making them accessible to people of all ages and fitness backgrounds. 

 

Building Stability Through Core Strength 

Functional fitness places a strong emphasis on core strength and stability. The core muscles, which include those in the abdomen, lower back, hips, and pelvis, play a crucial role in supporting the spine and transferring force between the upper and lower body. By incorporating exercises that engage the core effectively, functional fitness helps improve posture, balance, and overall body mechanics. 

 

Improving Coordination 

Furthermore, functional fitness promotes functional training equipment that mirrors real-life movements, such as kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, and suspension trainers. These tools not only add variety to workouts but also challenge the body in dynamic ways, promoting coordination, proprioception, and neuromuscular control.  

 

Real Results That Last 

Beyond the physical benefits, functional fitness fosters a mindset of functional longevity. Instead of solely focusing on short-term goals or aesthetic outcomes, functional fitness encourages individuals to prioritize health, performance, and well-being over the long haul. By investing in functional fitness, individuals can enjoy an improved quality of life, greater independence, and resilience as they age.  

 

Start Your Functional Fitness Journey 

Functional fitness is more than just a workout – it’s a commitment to improving your life through exercise. It’s about empowering yourself to move better, feel better, and live better. By embracing the principles of functional fitness and incorporating them into your exercise routine, you can unlock a world of possibilities and unleash your full potential, both inside and outside the gym. Ready to start your functional training journey? Our fitness coaches are here to create your custom fitness plan!

  




 

Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Fit Societe. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.


Reviewed By: Scott Ryan, CSCS, *RSCC, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC, Director- Fit Societe

A professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.


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