Formulating functional fitness for everyday people

Mon Sep 5, 2011 5:12am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A mother-to-be hoists a rubber cylinder overhead. A 70-year-old balances on a wobble board and a firefighter grips a medicine ball while lunging across the gym floor.

Called functional training, workouts mirroring the activities of daily life have become a cornerstone of personal training sessions and group fitness classes, even if daily life can encompass anything from lifting a baby to scaling a burning building.

"Functional fitness has moved beyond the trend stage, and is simply one of the driving forces for many of the 50 million health club members," said Meredith Poppler of IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association).

It's basically exercise aimed at improving the quality of life and movement.

"Functional fitness is exercise that mimics everyday tasks," explained Frank Salzone, a trainer with the Equinox chain of fitness centers. "I always put my personal clients through functional training."

Salzone noted that while functional fitness has always been around, it has gained steam since the image of a healthy body shifted away from the bulkier body builder to today's leaner look.

"Body builders tend to use power moves, power lifting. They only do three or four repetitions at a time," he explained. "Functional training uses higher repetitions with fewer breaks so it boosts cardio vascular levels as well as strength training."

Bootcamp classes, which use light weights or one's own body weight, he said are among the most popular functional fitness classes.   Continued...

<p>Women participate in exercises in New York in this picture taken March 28, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>