Functional Training and Holistic Fitness
In this age of endless information, it is sometimes very confusing to try to figure out not only how much to exercise, but what exercises to do. Many of us end up "going for a run" or "pumping iron," which usually involves heading out for a set number of miles or doing some random assortment of bench presses, curls and whatever machine happens to be open for us to use. We work up a sweat and call it a day. While this approach is certainly preferable to sitting on the couch watching television, it can leave us disappointed with the results of our efforts and unsure of what we are trying to accomplish.
There has been a shift in recent years away from a general exercise experience like "going for a run" or "pumping iron" toward functional training and holistic fitness. This trend started among physical therapists focused on rehabilitation and has spread to personal trainers, coaches and athletes representing a wide variety of sports and activities. A key indication of this trend is seen among manufacturers, who are now selling many more functional training equipment, foam rolls, balance pads, weight benches and ground-based machines and fewer standard strength-training machines.
The benefits of functional training and holistic fitness are many and not limited to a select group of people. There are options available to all of us, no matter our age and experience level, for employing these concepts to improve our overall health and well-being. While it is possible to build a strategy on our own for achieving powerful results, it is often wise and useful to seek the kind of distance-away-from-self and expertise offered by personal training.
Functional training is a way of making our exercise goals unique to who we are and what we do. It takes into account our lifestyle, job requirements, hobbies, passions, health history and much more to create personal training that makes sense for us as individuals. This approach takes thoughtful planning, patience and dedication in order to maximize benefits and improve overall satisfaction. A professional trainer can introduce us to the interconnected ways of the body and the purposes of its various parts while having a clear long-term vision for our body's functional improvement.
At the heart of functional training is the understanding that our bodies are designed to move. If we have spent many years of our lives sitting, or if we have only tended to use particular muscles while ignoring others, we may not even realize how good it can feel to have well-balanced fitness. We may also be unaware of our potential to think and concentrate beyond what we have always experienced. A healthy, functional body can have a positive impact on all other areas of our lives.
Lastly, as our lives change, our approach to training should change as well. It can be difficult to see ourselves as we really are and to adjust our expectations accordingly when we are in the midst of the process of change and self-discovery. Another voice, with years of experience, can help guide us to making good decisions in our training journey and to keep us on a positive track.
Though it is tempting at times to compartmentalize our lives by completing tasks, checking boxes, and thoughtlessly moving on to the next thing, it is generally wise to recognize that the mind, body and spirit are symbiotically linked. If we exercise well, but forgo balanced nutrition or proper amounts of sleep, we have upset the balance of our entire being. We, as humans, are good at rationalizing trade-offs, when in fact it is often in our best interest to not be so open to making a bargain. Thinking of fitness in a holistic sense helps keep us mindful of a larger context.
It is often easy for us to only think in terms of what we have become accustomed to. Many of us do not realize that it is possible to feel really good most of the time. Instead, we feel how we have always felt and, because we don't know anything different, we are unaware of the possibilities. Opening ourselves to an integrated approach to fitness can help teach us how to make feeling balanced and content the norm.
There are many factors that go into creating a comprehensive approach to our well-being. This can involve weight training, balanced nutrition, body strengthening, functional movement, yoga, deep breathing, meditation techniques, burnout prevention, flexibility training and more. How we approach the process of shaping our bodies, improving our mental balance and gaining higher spiritual awareness depends on where we currently are as individuals and figuring out where we would like to go.
We have more tools and information available today than at any other time in history for changing the way we approach fitness. The exercises we do can help improve our minds, bodies and souls, and a capable mentor can help us along on our journey.