Functional Fitness – Training to Get Fit for Life

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At Bonfire we recognize and advocate that being physically fit is one of the major cornerstones of being healthy.  Physical fitness does, however, incorporate a wide spectrum of concepts, theories and elements.

In addition to the many, many benefits that being physically fit creates within the realm of being healthy, we also recognize that life is filled with unpredictable physical events that require simple to complex body movements at any given moment.  Not only do we want our bodies to be able to handle these unpredictable life events without injury, but we want our level of physical fitness to enable us to negotiate them with great success throughout our lives, as did our fit ancestors.

The term functional fitness is one that simultaneously defines, describes and includes the “holistic” physical fitness objective within the Bonfire Program, which could also be called “life fitness.”  It means doing exercises or activities that imitate “real life,” full body movements through wide ranges of motion. It could be described as Compounding Fitness.  It is a form of fitness designed NOT to isolate particular muscle groups or body parts. For example, rather than performing a “bicep curl” on a machine, a functional movement exercise would be to lift a weighted object off the ground from a squatting position to a standing position, holding the object overhead – all done with careful attention paid to safe and proper body biomechanics and posture techniques.

“Functional movements are  natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. Functional movements are compound movements – i.e., they are multi-joint. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly. We believe that preparation for random physical challenges (i.e., unknown and unknowable events) is at odds with fixed, predictable, and routine regimens.” [http://www.crossfit.com]

Finally, a fitness regimen incorporating functional movements can be had by anyone, at any level, and at any age.  It doesn’t require elaborate equipment or facilities; it does, however, require effort.  Functional fitness is not, contrary to popular belief, confined to elite athletes or “strongmen.”

Here are two more great articles on this subject:
Being Fit vs. Being Healthy: The 10 Facets of Physical Fitness
Short Interval, High Intensity Exercise

Varied Approach to Fitness

by admin

When you look at the incredible design of the human body, you can’t help notice how perfectly we are crafted to move.  We have feet that are engineered to evenly support our body weight and absorb shock when we walk, dance, run and jump.  Our muscle fibers are built to respond to stress when we lift heavy objects, then rebuild themselves to become stronger for next time.  Our lung capacity has the potential to increase, and so does the size of our heart by performing cardiovascular-type exercises.  Your spine has many tiny receptors in each individual joint, and when they are stimulated by movement, it literally charges your brain and gives you energy.  Your body is a truly amazing organism that is constantly being redesigned and molded through use.

However, most of us spend a great deal of our time in office cubicles, cars, school desks, and on living room couches.  It is for this reason that we must supplement exercise in our daily routine to stay healthy and avoid movement deficiency.  Most people are aware that exercise is a necessity, but are confused about what kind of movement they are supposed to be doing.  Let’s clear up the confusion.

If you are regularly committing time to exercise, give yourself a pat on the back.  That is the first and most important step.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, who shaped our genetic requirements for movement, moved their bodies every day for survival.  The concept of supplementing exercise to them would have been ridiculous.  Our ancestors played, ran, hunted, gathered, lifted heavy objects, walked long distances, and exerted all-out efforts on occasion (when there was danger or combat).  This means that they were always ready for dynamic challenges of the unknown and the unknowable.  And so, you should be too.

Your regular activities should include:

• Daily movements where you can hold your pace for a sustained period of time, such as walking, stair climbing, hiking, gardening, shoveling, etc.

• Lifting something heavy once in a while

• Occasional high interval, short intensity efforts

• Learning new skills and sports or activities

This varied approach to your fitness is what you need for optimal health and to stay functional throughout your entire life.  Make varied fitness a priority.