In most fitness circles the term “functional training” often gets thrown around, typically in a biased way towards their specific fitness background. But is there truly any form of physical activity and fitness training that isn’t functional? In today’s society fitness enthusiasts have a variety of popular training methods to choose from: Olympic sports, endurance sports (like marathons), extreme sports, adventure sports, martial arts, traditional weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, CrossFit, strongman training, dance/aerobics, outdoor activities, and tons of niche activities like Parkour and obstacle racing.
But with great options come great confusion, and an everlasting stalemate debate about what form of training is most efficient. When you become involved in a sport or particular type of training you begin to develop a sense of pride, fellowship, comradery (BROTHERS IN IRON!), and in some cases start to believe that other forms of training are inferior. The truth of the matter is: any form of training has the potential to be functional. The best form of training is the kind that works best for you and your personalized goals.
A lot of people get overly fixated on the “work” part of working out, and forget that it should be enjoyable as well as challenging. There is also a tendency for some people to become so goal-oriented that they forget about the “fun” part of functional training. In order to find success, reach your goals, stay motivated, committed, and disciplined in all aspects of life, you must enjoy what you do!
Making dietary sacrifices, not regularly going out for drinks with your friends, reserving junk food for cheat meals, waking up at the crack of dawn, or going to the gym after a long day of work is a lot easier when there is a passionate desire to. Some people dread going to the gym, and continue to go day after day holding on to a sense of obligation, but their lack of passion and mental focus will always interfere with them achieving the results they seek. It’s hard to accomplish much of anything when you enter into it with a bad attitude.
Being fit is a combination of being strong both physically and mentally; we must believe in what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it in order to find great success. When deciding what routine is best for you to stay fit and healthy, there are a few factors that should be considered:
Goals: Fat lose, muscle gain, become flexible, sport specific performance, endurance, general health and wellness, competition.
Comfort Level: Training alone, training with friends, classes/boot camps, one-on-one or group personal training sessions.
Commitment Level: 1-7 days a week of training, early morning training, late night training, multiple times a day training, competition training, meal service/meal prepping, clean eating, eliminating/minimizing alcohol consumption.
Fitness Level: Don’t under or overdo it, be mindful of injuries and medical conditions.
Schedule: Working around your career, family life, and social life can be difficult. Depending on your activity of choice availability can be a factor as well; some classes/ activities are only offered in the morning, afternoon, or night, and not all three.
Interest: Sports, group classes, dance based workouts, outdoor activities, martial arts, bodybuilding, agility training.
Body Type/ Strengths: Use your natural gifts and abilities to your advantage (height, size, balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, speed), some body types and abilities have their advantages and disadvantages depending on the activity you choose.
Financial Investment: How much you’re willing to spend on monthly gym fees, supplements, workout clothes and equipment, healthier food options, and education (magazines, books, subscriptions).
The best advice for functional training is to write your own story. In the beginning decide what your goals are as well as what changes and sacrifices you are committed to making in order to achieve them, then try out different activities and choose one or some that will give you progressive results, a challenge, satisfaction, and enjoyment.
Really there is no end, fitness is a lifestyle and every accomplishment makes room for more improvements, and improvements makes room for newer and bigger goals! At the end of the day training is what you make of it, and all fitness is functional as long as you’re making progress and training with a purpose.
Work hard, have fun, keep sweating and smiling, and you’ll be amazed by how your mind and body will be transformed.