No, Please No! Anything but That!
Photo credit: kevindooley
Photo credit: kevindooley
In a recent post I poked a bit of fun at the whole notion of "Functional Fitness." But you know how in second grade, little boys often go out our their way to tease and taunt the little girls they find intriguing? And that's because they have confused, conflicting feelings and they're too immature to deal with it?
Well, that's pretty much the story with Crabby McSlacker and Functional Fitness.
Yes, it's true. I'm perhaps flirting with the notion of adding a bit of functional fitness to my workout. Because while I Hate Change, I do know variety is good, and it's counterproductive to keep doing the same things all the time, blah blah blah. However, if I do decide to get more Functional, you can be assured it will be gradually and grudgingly.
And believe me, I still have have some doubts and questions. Can anybody help?
First Off, A Review: What is Functional Fitness Again?
For those of you who don't want to click back to the last functional fitness post, I'll just repeat what they said at WebMD: the idea is "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." And you're generally supposed to use compound movements rather than working individual muscles.
Since I'm the last health blogger on the planet to think about getting more Functional, you probably are all way ahead of me on this anyway. But, for a little more info, here's an msnbc article on functional fitness. You can also just google and get about a trillion hits.
Why Am I Finally Considering Functional Fitness After Stubbornly Ignoring This Trend for Years?
1. It's getting more and more mainstream and I keep reading about it one everyone else's blog and I feel left out.
2. I'm getting really, really, bored with my current workout.
3. Annoying Old People keep hogging my usual gym machines and I need alternative ways to exercise the same muscles. (When winter's over and it's time to move back to Provincetown MA, I won't have to contend with Annoying Old People anymore! Instead I'll be fighting with Annoying Circuit Queens).
4. Functional Fitness seems to involve toys, like jump-ropes, balls, bells, cones, and inflatable things. This sounds like a nice change from massive pieces of gym equipment and allows for a more portable workout.
5. Theoretically, I will be less likely to injure myself doing ordinary activities. As someone who once severely aggravated a back injury by bending down to tie my shoes, this might be a smart idea.
6.People who do lots of functional fitness exercises seem pretty kick-ass.
7. And speaking of kick-ass feats of functional fitness, did you guys catch that Whobody passed her SWAT test? Here are some of the requirements: "a mile and a half run in 12:18 or under.... Sprint 100 yards and drag a 160lb dummy with a weighted vest on in 28 seconds..." Editorial note: Accck!
8. Because cardio and strength training often happen at the same time, you can get more done in a shorter workout.
9. The final inducement? A friend of the Lobster is a personal trainer whom we visited when we were in San Diego. He knows his stuff, and he's all about functional fitness. He was very persuasive! This also means that the Lobster is interested in functional fitness now, and the Crab has a workout partner to play with. Said personal trainer gave us a starter workout to try.
Why Am I Still So Reluctant?
Here are some of my hesitations and concerns:
1. It's Not Obvious What You Should Do:
With traditional strength training, once you've gone through an orientation at the gym on the machines, you're pretty much set for the rest of your life. You move the pin to higher weights when you get stronger; you move the pins back down when you've been slacking. As to cardio? Put on your shoes and head out the door for a run! Or climb on a machine and start pedaling/pumping/trudging.
But "Functional Fitness" is all about mixing things up; there are endless variations of things you can do. Oddly enough, if you can't afford a personal trainer, all these options may flee from your tiny brain when it's just you and the cones and the kettlebells or whatever.
Alternatively, you can do Crossfit or Monkey Bar Gym or some other organized Functional Fitness Workout delivery system. This is great for people who don't have authority issues and who are enthusiastic, flexible, non-complainers. Um, do I need to point out that I am not one of those people? I don't like someone else telling me what to do if I don't feel like doing it. But I'm afraid I'm too lazy to research and design my own workout. Once we get bored with our "starter workout," will I be motivated enough to move forward on my own?
2. It's Also Harder to Figure Out How to Do It Right
This is another reason so many functional fitness folks seem to start with classes or personal trainers. Form is important; plus the equipment is not as adjustable as a machine in terms of targeting your particular body. You have to make adjustments for your size and strength by doing different versions of the exercises, or by doing a lot more or a lot less.
3. Functional fitness is supposed to make your muscles stronger, not bigger.
I keep reading this "reassuring" information as though I'm supposed to be happy about it. Functional strength training is NOT body building!
Just one problem: unlike most women, and many men, I want bigger muscles! Call me weird, but I like a "buffed" look, whether on men or women. I'm in no danger of ever, ever, approaching that exaggerated body-building-champ non-human look. But I worry that if I substitute running around flinging kettlebells and using my body's momentum, rather than slowly and miserably hefting conventional weights, I'll lose what little definition I've managed to gain.
Also, frankly, I'm strong enough for my regular life doing the old-fashioned kind of weight training. I can carry groceries in from the car and put my luggage in the overhead bin. If I need to move a large piece of furniture up and down many flights of stairs? I'm gonna hire a freakin' moving company!
4. The "Toys" are more expensive than you'd think! We went to a sporting good store and found out what ONE GODDAMN KETTLEBELL cost. We're seriously looking at the big plastic 14lb container of Kitty Litter with the handy handle and thinking... hmmmm...
But I'm Still Kinda Psyched to Try Something Different
I'm under no illusions that I'll totally embrace this functional fitness thing and abandon my traditional routine entirely. However, I'm willing to try swapping out one or two of my old workouts a week.
Because even I'm getting tired of hearing myself whine about the dreaded gym. It's definitely time to freshen things up a bit.
So the Lobster and I have tried a few functional workouts. There seems to be more of an inertia problem than when we stick to the tried and true: we keep finding excuses to pick a different day to do our Functional Fitness workout. But then when we do actually get out there and do it--it's, um, kinda fun!
Anyone else contemplating a change in your routine? Or got any advice on getting more "functional?"