Misconception about Functional Fitness

February 5, 2012

I work in two fitness centers and assist with rehabilitation in both clinics at those locations as well. In one office there is a dominant population that consists of an older population while in the second one there are many younger individuals although there remains plenty of the elderly population as well. The differences in the way fitness training occurs in these two facilities are quite different. I realize that much of this is due to age, but I also much realize that much of it also has to do with a lack of knowledge and misconceptions that come into much of it.

Both of our facilities are full of selectorized pieces of equipment because they are simply the easiest thing to teach a new member and easiest for them to use. The problem is these machines are not “functional” at all and they are big and bulky.

Most people would say that these machines are the best thing for an individual to use. Things such as kettlebells, TRX Suspension Trainers, and other things that are considered “functional” are not beneficial to the elderly population or most working-age people. And that is completely false.

The great thing about the TRX Suspension Trainer is that is it incredibly variable. There are literally hundreds of movements that can be done with the TRX and each individual can change the difficulty simply by adjusting the angle and the length of the straps. Kettlebells are a little more difficult, but they can still be utilized for a large variety of activities and since they come in so many different weights, you are sure to find one that you can use!

Here’s another example of the scaling you can do to fit the age and ability of the individual. Yesterday when I was in the gym working out I was doing loaded RFESS. A co-worker of mine wanted to do something similar, but she swore she could not do the same thing I was. That’s fine; we can easily adapt and find something that is going to let us build up. So we tried just a simple split squat without weight and she was holding on to a rail. It’s a start and a place to build from!

I think many people get scared away from trying those types of exercises because they look difficult. They just don’t realize that you can’t start with those movements, but instead you need to start smaller and easier until you can build up that strength and balance to complete the more complex movements.


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