Don't you love the idea of Functional Fitness? According to Web MD, Functional Fitness means "building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine."
Functional fitness is supposed to be better than the usual, dysfunctional fitness we've grown accustomed to, because it uses compound movements rather than working individual muscles. The muscles then learn how to work together in harmony instead of being all aloof and snooty with each other. (And if you listen really, really closely after you're done, you may even hear the song "Kumbaya" emanating from your muscle fibers.)
Functional Fitness seems like a great idea? Trendy, sure, but it's also
down-to-earth at the same time. Instead of using huge cumbersome weight
machines designed to isolate muscles, functional fitness is more likely
to call for
expensive personal trainers to show you what the hell you're supposed to do
simple equipment like free weights, wobble boards, stability balls,
elastic bands, or kettlebells. Or better yet, you can use nothing but
your own body weight, with exercises like push ups or pull-ups.
Totally makes sense, right, to exercise your body in ways that are natural and practical, rather than artificial and frivolous?
Kelly at Fitness Fixation, who is a fan of functional fitness, once wrote an amusing post explaining how incredibly useful many of these exercises can be in real life. She lists typical scenarios in which they come in very handy. For example, on pull-ups:
"In your secret agent job, you end up doing battle with the evil villain on a flying helicopter... the villain pushes you out of the copter...you grab onto those bottom landing thingies and manage to pull yourself back up into the craft while dangling above the Golden Gate Bridge. Thank god for those pull ups, or you’d never have the upper body strength to do that!"
(Other scenarios start with "A clown car drives up..." "A gigantic boa constrictor drops out of the foliage and lands on your shoulders...").
So yeah--some of these functional exercises aren't all that similar to real life needs. For example, I can't remember the last time I was required to balance myself on a big round inflatable object. Call me crazy, but when I need to reach somewhere high, like to change a light bulb, I climb up on a chair or a ladder, not a stability ball.
Exercises for Real Life
What would be more practical? Well, how about some exercises that more closely resemble real life challenges?