What is Functional Fitness?

First and foremost, functional fitness exercises can be done by anyone! Regardless of whether you have an existing injury, decreased mobility, are elderly, or simply don’t enjoy traditional gyms, functional fitness exercises provide a safe avenue for improving your health and wellbeing.

Functional fitness exercises use your body’s natural everyday movements, whilst either incorporating unstable environments, weights or resistance, to strengthen and support your body’s natural movements.

It is a slow and steady approach that works by gradually building up strength, flexibility, fitness, coordination and balance, while preventing future pain and injury.

The purpose of functional fitness is to train your muscles in everyday tasks. The exercises get your body moving and are designed to support and enhance your health and wellbeing so you can easily perform everyday tasks safely and efficiently.

Who Can Benefit From Functional Fitness?

Functional fitness exercises can be adapted to suit any age or mobility level, making them an effective approach for anyone wanting to create a stress-free body that moves freely, hurts less, and is able to live more.

Although everyone can benefit from functional fitness, these are some common comments we hear from new clients:

  • Feel old and tired
  • Have an existing injury
  • Not interested in a traditional gym
  • Too stiff to move the way I want
  • Have a recurring sore back or neck
  • Want more strength and endurance
  • Feel limited in mobility and flexibility
  • Prefer small group or one-on-one training

Examples of Functional Exercise

Functional fitness exercises are movements based on tasks we traditionally perform daily. These movements include activities like bending to pick something up, sitting or rising from a chair, standing on your toes and reaching overhead, gardening, vacuuming, and walking up or down stairs. Functional fitness exercises use these movements and incorporate resistance, weights, or an unstable environment to help strengthen and stabilise your body’s natural movements.

Functional exercises can be tailored to your individual needs by our experienced fitness trainers, including anything from free weight exercises that can be performed at home, to exercises using our top-of-the-range MedX machines.

Free Weight Functional Exercises

Functional fitness exercises such as squats, sideways and backward lunges, single leg stability exercises and steps are some examples of movements designed to enhance your body’s stability and strength. These can then be combined with weights for a higher intensity that burns more calories and develops greater strength.

These types of exercises can be performed in our studio, at home, or even on your lunch break in the office. It is vital however, that you are guided by an experienced trainer who can ensure correct technique and injury prevention.

Performing explosive movements help to increase power and strength. These will help you to move quickly in real life, when and if required. These may include power push ups, jumping lunges and burpees. When performed correctly with proper form, these functional fitness exercises will help develop speed and power.

Functional Exercises with MedX Machines

MedX equipment are expensive, specialised machines used by professional athletes and medical professionals for rehabilitation and performance optimisation. They lend themselves perfectly to functional exercised as they allow for a full range of motion, whilst effectively isolating and activating the areas you are targeting.

MedX machines are engineered to adapt resistance to your range of motion, eliminating the need to push through that hard ‘sticking point’. They provide a safer way to exercise, whilst also allowing for a more efficient, demanding and productive workout.

At OMC we have an extensive range of MedX machines ideal for individuals overcoming injuries, the elderly, or anyone wanting to genuinely improve strength, mobility and functionality without needing to ‘smash out’ a gym session.

Common Questions About Functional Fitness

How Does Functional Fitness Differ From A Traditional Gym?

Both burn calories, increase fitness and build muscle, but one is much more efficient than the other.

A lot of exercises performed at the gym target single muscle groups. You might be focussed on arms, abdominals, chest or legs. Exercises are then performed isolating muscle groups, such as bicep curls to exhaustion, to work the targeted area. This can be very time-consuming. Functional fitness exercises incorporate the whole body instead, mimicking everyday movements to increase performance, strength, agility, stability, movement and power. Exercises that utilise the whole body - upper, lower and the core - are much more efficient, and require less time for faster results.

In addition to being more efficient, functional fitness exercises can also keep you more motivated.

It may be hard to stay motivated and to keep going to the gym unless you have a specific goal, such as to lose weight or build muscle. Your goal for the gym may be to look good for summer, or an event such as a wedding or party. The problem with this approach is that once your goal is achieved, you often lose interest.

Functional fitness shifts our focus from training for an event, to training for function and performance. This shift in focus enhances your lifestyle, your motivation, and keeps you fit all year round.

This style of exercises also helps our bodies move at their optimum level. Gym equipment only allows us to move through a single plane, designed for safety. However our body does not function in a single plane. We are multi-directional beings. We move forwards, backwards, side-to-side, up and down. By tailoring our exercises to resemble these movements, we create a more functional body.

Incorporating functional fitness into your exercise routine will increase your stamina, range of motion, power and strength, whilst enhancing your everyday life. Strength training can be done safely and effectively with functional exercises to increase fitness, whilst reducing the risk of future or further injury. This is a critical part of injury rehabilitation and prevention.

Does Functional Fitness Help Injury Recovery and Prevention?

Absolutely yes! In fact, functional fitness exercises were originally created for injury rehabilitation. These exercises were designed to follow your body’s natural movements and rhythm, and to restore your body back to its original function.

Rehabilitation exercises repair the injured area and restore function by mimicking the body’s movements. Active rehabilitation speeds up the recovery process, however rehabilitation is all about breaking it down and starting slow. Getting your body moving is so important.

We have all heard the term ‘move it or lose it’. Functional fitness gets us moving again, at first with slow, gentle rhythmic motions and stretching with tissue resistance. After that comes endurance; more repetitions to get your body comfortable with loaded movements. When you have recovered, strength training can then be incorporated. This process may appear slow, however it is the ideal process to get your body moving and back to optimal condition after injury.

It is important to have guidance and assistance from an experienced trainer during this process to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly and to prevent further injury.

One of the biggest points of focus to prevent injury is to get your technique right. Do not be tempted to sacrifice technique for the sake of heavier weights or to pull off a more complex move. Once you are comfortable performing the exercises, then more resistance, weights and unstable environments may all be added to increase your body function. Functional fitness exercises are designed to get your body performing in peak condition, whilst reducing the risk of future injury.

How Can Functional Fitness Improve Sport Performance?

You may already be an athlete, go to the gym, play a sport or conduct some form of exercise. That’s great that you are already on your path to health and wellness.

We have however, seen or heard of professional athletes getting injured during a game, at the gym or whilst exercising. Functional fitness exercises are designed to develop strength, motion and power. They should be incorporated into your existing routine because they will not only enhance your performance, but reduce the risk of a future injury. These exercises can also be performed in the off-season to keep your body moving optimally, and give you a head start when competitive training resumes.

Functional Fitness can help you achieve the results you desire, give you the competitive edge to train harder, faster, stronger for longer, and reduce your risk of injury.

Consider functional fitness a life-long journey that goes way beyond just training for an event. You will be able to create a stress-free body that moves freely, hurts less, and allows you to live more.

Expert Trainers + MedX Machines = Life Changing Results!

I have been going to the Optimum Movement Centre for 10 weeks and under the guidance of their professional trainers have seen a vast improvement in my body. I was involved in an accident that resulted in a chronic injury to my back and even after years of therapy I would still have to spend 30mins every morning stretching so that I was able to get out of bed in the morning. I was restricted in movement and not able to lift anything over 10kgs. Having the back injury and being in constant pain took a strain on my job and held me back from fully participating in Arakan Martial Arts.
Going to OMC has helped me in many ways, I have increased energy levels and have become more flexible with reduced pain in my back. I highly recommend the Optimum Movement Centre to anyone.

- Amanda Robson

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