What is Functional Fitness?

What is functional fitness? A common misconception is the idea that functional fitness is defined as performing an exercise while standing on one leg or on an unstable surface.


A better question to ask is what does functional fitness mean to YOU? Here at NSS, we place a great deal of emphasis on goal setting. The reason for that is to determine the direction you will be going for your training.


Are you working towards a fat loss goal or is it a performance goal? Do you want to look better in a swimsuit or climb a mountain? Being functionally fit will mean different things to each of these different goals and it is important to understand what your goals are in order to progress in the right direction.


In essence, functional fitness could be defined as the ability to perform the activities YOU would like to perform.


Take for example a golfer. Improving one’s golf game is achieved by, well, practicing golf. Set-up, swing, short game, putting, etc. are all examples of the many components of golf that can be practiced to improve one’s score. However, exercise can also be beneficial for a golfer in order to be more resistance to injury and play the game well into old age. A golfer coming in to workout will want to improve balance, core and hip strength, overall power, and flexibility.


Next, let’s look at a 75 year old female coming in with a goal of living on her own for a few more decades! She needs to have strength to pick things up off the floor or carry a bag of groceries up the stairs, balance to avoid falls, and flexibility to keep her joints and muscles feeling young.



Finally, imagine a 40 year old male wanting to climb the 14,411 feet to the peak of Mt. Rainier. He will need stamina to cover the thousands of steps taken during the climb, full body strength to carry a 40+ pound pack to the peak, and balance to maneuver through the uneven rock, ice, and snow terrain he will encounter.



As you can see, there are a lot of common themes amongst the three examples listed above; however, the extent to which each component is addressed and how they are addressed will depend on the goal and vary from person to person.


The next time you hear the term functional fitness, think about what that means to you. It may be as simple as being able to walk up that epic flight of stairs without losing your breath or having the ability to effortlessly pick up your grandchild without pulling a muscle.

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