Dys- Functional Training

I took over the Haka Instagram account last week. I held out for a long time. But it is clear that Instagram can be a great vehicle for sharing our message and giving people real information about health and fitness. Oh, how it pains me to say that...

Clearly, we need to have some discussion about Functional Training, Movement as Medicine, and Food as Nourishment in the pursuit of Enjoyment and Fulfillment.

I've been scrolling through the 'Gram a lot trying to figure the whole thing out and understand the weird "culture" that is growing there. I look through fitness pages and rehab pages and just regular pages and I see a lot of pictures that look like this....

(Although I DO look good, right?!?)
And This...
(Ok, this was really hard but I nearly broke my face)
And This...
(Again, HARD, but it required a lot of people helping.
So, unless the workout fairies are with you, don't try this one)

Everyone seems to be missing the fact that the gym is not the event. Rather, your time in the gym doing formal exercise is the time to be training skills that allow you to be human and experience life.

What exactly IS Functional Training?

If you based it on the most popular YouTube Videos and Insta-Pics, you might think Functional Training requires death defying balance feats coupled with superhuman strength, and be sure to follow that with some odd usage of some apparatus. The more outrageous, the better, right? Admittedly, many people use the term "Functional Training" to describe what they do. They pair neat-o exercises that they've seen or make a super cool little circuit. But to the trained eye, it is obvious that the workout has no direction or purpose.

The very definition of FUNCTIONAL gives us a clue.

** designed to be practical and useful, rather than attractive **
Practical and useful. You know what that means? It means that it has to SERVE A FUNCTION in your life. If your focus is to get huge, then the functional exercises for you are going to focus on a lot of heavy loads and a lot of rest. If your focus is to run injury free, that's a whole other set of exercises that serve the function of keeping you balanced from a specific set of inputs. Maybe your purpose is to relieve stress, jump higher, do a pullup, keep up with your kid, have some fun, learn something new, or lose some weight. The Functional Training for that purpose is going to be the right workout for YOU!

Functional Training for the Human Experience -- Say what?!? 

I'm going to make the argument that aside from whatever purpose you may have hashed out for yourself,  most people have the common goal of experiencing life more fully. I also think it would be safe to add "with less pain, in general." The Human Experience is all about feeling good enough to HAVE FUN and DO THINGS with the people you love. With that purpose in mind,  the most important parts of your FUNCTIONAL TRAINING are the parts that restore the movements and mobility that are predicated by our anatomy- running,  jumping,  crawling, rolling and hanging. When these primary Human Movements are patterned and perfected,  the whole landscape of anything you want to try is wide open. In other words,  YOU,  friend are FUNCTIONAL!

 

The Functional Middle Finger

The next time you see the words "functional training" take a second to ask yourself "What IS the function?" and "Does it serve MY purpose?" Nothing says you can't try these bizarre exercises, if you want. Think of them as skills work in your general practice for the game of Life, much like a basketball player will work on foul shots but not at the expense of actually playing basketball. Make sense? You can stop performing circus acts (unless being a performer is your goal) and you can feel ok about doing the workout that serves YOUR individual purpose!