Thursday, February 17, 2011

The spectrum of interpretations of functional fitness

Photo: Motor City CrossFit Michigan

Functional physical fitness is bigger than any of the for-profit banners that try to "own" it. Some of the big names in the game are GymJones, Art of Strength, MonkeyBarGym, RossTraining, MilitaryAthlete, and of course CrossFit. Each of these is strikingly similar, though some of their "creators" might want to distance themselves from the other competiton. CrossFit is by far the biggest, most profitable, most popular, and most criticized.

Because of its popularity, I will use CrossFit as an example. CF is very misunderstood, even by many of the kool-aid drinkers who follow the mainpage to the "T." There is not ONE CrossFit style. There are actually many "interpretations" or "expressions" of CF. The Workout of the Day posted on the mainpage crossfit-dot-com is only ONE expression. Many gyms actually cater to a specialization or a "bias" to a sport or modality. For example, there are a few CF gyms that do a lot of StrongMan events. Another gym began as an indoor rowing facility and has expanded into a CF haven. One CF trainer is an expert on joint mobility and fixing certain imbalances in the limbs. Another gym has a rock climbing wall in the same facility. These blends of CF and sport/specialty are gaining popularity. Some of the "biases" I see are:

  • Kettlebelling
  • StrongMan
  • Gymnastics
  • Mobility
  • Parkour
  • Rowing
  • Olympic Weightlifting
  • Powerlifting
  • (Rock) Climbing
  • (Endurance) Multi-Sporting
  • Mixed Martial Arts

Each of these nicely compliment functional fitness. The gyms who have a bias or specialization towards one or more of the above topics intrigue me. The trainers tend to take out some of the randomness (whether perceived or actual), and regularly schedule in some sort of skill practice. They each interpret constantly varied functional movements done at high intensity a bit differently.

While I follow a CrossFit program that holds a bias towards Oly lifts and Powerlifting, I also do my best to work on Mobility, StrongMan, and VERY BASIC Parkour. It's a lot of work to find a balance, but the journey is fun!

I suggest you each do your own research into the world of functional fitness. Find a trainer who can clearly and simply explain his/her program and method - and whose goals AND INTERESTS match yours. Don't let your equipment dictate your workouts - invest in the tools that will help you reach your fitness goals. If you like, enjoy, or need a certain bias -- find it and follow it! Don't fall into that bullshit that we specialize in not specializing.

The spectrum of functional fitness is wide and colorful. And confusing. Education, reading, and research helps clear up the fog. If any of the above listed biases strike you, shoot me a message and I will point you at a few programs that fall into that category.

No comments: