The term “functional” has become a very popular descriptive word over the past few years in the fitness community. At the most basic level functional fitness refers to any exercise that improves your everyday activities. This could include carrying the grocery bags in from the car or even a simple task like picking up dirty laundry off the floor. If you’re like most average Americans you probably have some pain or difficulty throughout your day with tasks that once seemed simple. Functional training is geared towards improving your life and though it may differ a little for each person the overall goal is to help you move better, smarter and easier.
As you may have guessed the exercise products promoting better functional movement have also become very popular over the years. Kettlebells, suspension training straps and resistance bands are some of the top ones used in our facilities. Each one has its own benefit which we’ll discuss more in detail below.
Kettlebells are typically cast iron that is shaped into a ball with a single handle on top. They are great for promoting stability similar to dumbbells but with a different hand placement which makes the load of the weight a little more challenging. The unique handle grip on the kettlebell forces your body to react differently when you grip it or swing it. Kettlebells can also be a great alternative to those with a busy schedule. You can use the versatility of a kettlebell to knock out a heart-pumping, muscle building workout in 30 mins or less. Here at BAC we incorporate the kettlebells into a few group fitness classes with one of the more popular ones being Kettle Belles. Our Kettle Belles class is offered every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 am in the women’s only classroom (sorry guys). Our trainers also incorporate them into custom workouts so if you’d like some 1-on-1 help just stop by to set up a session.
The suspension straps are another great alternative for incorporating functional fitness into your routine. The brand we have at BAC being the more popular commercial variation of the TRX Suspension Trainer straps. These straps can be anchored to the ceiling or a stand-alone frame. The strap heights can be adjusted to each user to make the workout a little more personalized to your body type. They are ideal for total bodyweight workouts no matter what your fitness level. You control the difficulty by simple moving closer or further away from the anchor point and the ease of transition from each exercise makes it another good alternative to those on a tight schedule. We offer suspension training classes at our Nashville road location on Monday nights at 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm and also Wednesday mornings at 8:30 am. Be sure to pre-register as these classes fill up fast.
The resistance bands come in all sorts of different lengths, thicknesses and handle options. A light resistance mini-bands can be placed just above the knee and used during lateral walks as a way to warm up the glute muscles. The thicker and longer resistance bands are ideal for more weight resistance exercises. Quite a few members use them for assisted pull-ups or as a way to strengthen the hamstrings with banded leg drops. Resistance bands are a cheaper investment compared to the other exercise products above which makes them a great place to start if you want to incorporate more functional movements into your workout routine. We do offer our members the option to check resistance bands them out during their visit if they don’t already have their own.
What tips would I give to someone that is new to functional fitness? Consider what you do on a normal day. If you’re constantly on the floor with your kids I’d recommend improving your flexibility and hip mobility. Both will make it easier for you to get up and down. If you lift heavy boxes for hours a day you might want to incorporate kettlebell workouts to increase your movement and stability through your core.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to stop by one of the clubs. We’ll even get you set up on a free 3-day pass if you mention this article (must be 13 years or older with a local ID).