You know that old saying “sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees”?  This morning I was reminded of just “how deep in the trees” I am. 

 

One of the guys I see at the gym quite often approached me this morning and asked me about some nagging knee pain he’s been experiencing.  He said it’s been going on for 4 weeks now and getting progressively worse. I asked him the usual questions and he told me that there hadn't been any impact to the knee itself, he hasn’t felt any decrease in stability, mostly that it’s just been a growing problem over the past several weeks.  It’s gotten to the point now where he is unable to enjoy his usual cycling and running.  In addition, after sitting for long periods of time, standing up is quite painful, though the pain decreases after moving around for a bit.

 

I asked, “Do you do any self-myofascial release”?  He said, “What’s that”?  I said, “Let me show you."  I then proceeded to demonstrate how to do it using my Energy F/X Tube so that he would feel a decrease in the knee pain he was having.

 

While I was demonstrating the techniques it hit me...

 

I take for granted that many people don’t know about the benefits of self-myofascial release.  In a nutshell, self-myofascial release is a type of self-massage using a hard roller, tube or ball.  It helps break up scar tissue and increases blood flow to the affected area.  Not to mention it can increase your range of motion and improve performance.

A lot weekend warriors and sedentary people end up feeling stiff and hurting, and mistakenly believe there is something wrong with their joints that might require surgery.  In fact, most of the time all they need to do is regular self-myofascial release.

 

Before you give up hope and think the only alternative to being in pain is surgery, check out the videos I've posted on my website that demonstrate how to use self-myofascial release techniques to get out of pain.  It's simple to do, and literally doesn't take more than a few minutes a day.  

 

As always, let me know how these techniques worked for you.  And if you need to buy the Energy F/X tube, go to http://energyfxfitness.com/_product_78512/Energy_FX_Tube to order it.  

As I discussed in part 1, we can all admit that when we are under a great deal of stress it is difficult for us to commit to our healthy eating plan.
 

I discussed the hormones Cortisol (the stress hormone) and Serotonin (the feel good hormone) and how they each play an important role in food cravings, and fat storage.  In part 2, let’s take a closer look at stress and ways to manage it so that it doesn’t sabotage your weight loss goals.

 

Stress is a part of life.  Whether it’s the baby crying, the irritability of a loved one, the endless deadlines at work, or the constant flow of bills, stress is a part of all of our daily lives.  But not all stress is bad.  In some cases stress actually assists us in being our best selves by increasing our awareness and attentiveness to a situation. As a practicing psychotherapist for 7 years, and a fitness coach for the past 14 years, it has been my experience that the main culprit when it comes to stress sabotaging weight loss goals is chronic stress.

 

 

 

Stress is defined as a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences affecting physical health, usually by increased heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression.

I want to be clear; a “stressor” is the precipitating event or situation which can cause a response of “stress”.  Thus, a stressor is only stressful if you deem it to be so.  How you handle, or fail to handle the stressors in your life is what determines your stress level and your ability to maintain your commitments to your weight loss goals. 

 

There are two types of stressors:

  • Acute stressors which are similar to the flight or fight response, where you have an immediate physical response to the event, situation, or request and
  • Chronic stressors which are directly related to long term exposure to situations in which you respond to in a stressful manner.   What we need to understand and remember is that stress is as individual as styles and tastes of clothes.  What one person finds intolerable, another person may not be bothered by at all. 

     

     

    The first thing to do to learn to manage your stress level better is to start taking notice of situations that cause you stress.  What type of unique response do you have and to what types of situations?  Begin to notice your internal dialogue.  What is it saying?  Is it encouraging you to move forward or is it negative and self-defeating?  This first step is important because once you effectively identify your stressors you are now empowered to change your reaction to them.

 

The second step is HUGELY important.  Because believing that you are capable of making the changes necessary to enjoy a better, less stressful life begins the process of healing.  Ask yourself, can you avoid the stressor altogether or at least minimize your contact and/or length of time with the person or situation that creates the stress? 

 

Once you begin to believe that you can in fact change the way you respond to a stressor you can then begin to make the small adjustments towards experiencing less stress.  You can look at whether you are viewing your stressors in exaggerated terms. Are you trying to please everyone?  Are you being too rigid in your expectations?  Are you dealing with an all too familiar situation and expecting a different outcome? Then take some deep breaths to slow your heart rate and help clear your thoughts.  Look at these stressful situations as something you can cope with successfully.

 

Stress creates many different reactions on a hormonal level, mental level and emotional level.  I believe you are capable of sticking to and achieving your weight loss goals.  Here are a few tips to keep you on track in the face of stress and cravings:

 

By taking the time to read this valuable information, you have already demonstrated that you are ready to achieve your weight loss goals.  You have the information, now it’s time for action!  To change, one has to move.  You are now ready to handle stress, rather than it handling you.  Move to a place of power in your life. I know you can do it!  If you have any questions or have a unique situation let me you would like help with, please contact me.

Here's your FREE-- Checklist_to_Reduce_Stress.pdf

 

May
21
2010
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I hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed my newsletter.

One of my clients had a great question that I’d like to answer here. She expressed concern that the carbohydrates (carbs) in the last recipe, on the newsletter, seemed a bit “high”.

 

The first thing I would ask you to remember is that one meal, slightly “high” in carbs, is not an issue.  What’s of bigger importance is the total caloric intake of protein, carbs and fat over a 24hr period.

 

We’ve all watched the media bounce back and forth between low carb, high protein, fat-free, and an assortment of other inaccurate and short sited responses to losing weight and keeping it off.

 

I personally don’t believe in the “one size fits all” type of philosophy when it comes to nutrition. I genuinely believe that each person is unique in their metabolism, fitness level, time they have to spend exercising, as well as how many calories they burn just doing their daily activities. That is why I take a body composition analysis on each of my clients, as well as find out what a “typical” week of exercise looks like for them, before I create a customized nutrition program.  That way I am sure that the nutrition program meets their individual needs and lifestyle.  And to be quite honest, if the “one size fits all” philosophy worked, we’d be seeing a better improvement in the overall health of our population.

 

With all of that said I can give you a general rule of thumb when it comes to creating your meals.  My reading is leading me to believe that perhaps portion control is really the key to losing weight and keeping it off (for those that do not want to measure their food).  What I mean by that is: picture your plate, now divide it down the middle so that you now have two halves. Half of your plate should be full of fresh vegetables (preferably leafy green). Divide the second half into to two equal parts.  In one of those halves you would have a lean protein source (eggs, fish, lean meat, poultry), and the remaining space would be filled with carbs (starchy – brown rice, whole-grain breads, etc.).  Does that make sense?

 

The second general rule of thumb is: if you tend to start your day “high” in carbs, be sure to taper your intake of starchy carbs throughout the day.  The thinking behind this is that you give your body the rest of the day to burn off the starches you’ve taken in during the early hours of the day.

 

Remember, one size fits all does not work.  Find out how your body works by getting a body composition analysis and that information along with your “typical” week of activity, should help put you right on target and ready for summer swimsuit season!

 

As always, please let me know if this information was helpful.

Just this week I had the opportunity to work with a client that was suffering from painful wrists. Her wrists were so painful in fact that holding a fork to eat a full meal was a difficult task at best.

As usual, I went through my assessment, asking about her daily activities, type of work, how long the problem had existed, as well as the usual gait analysis, posture analysis, etc. What I found was that she worked in an office where she sat at her desk for most of the day. She spent a good deal of the day in her chair at her desk, even eating lunch at her desk on many occasions.

Her posture showed the damage that hours at a desk can do. Her shoulders and head were slumped forward, and her hip flexors were tight causing her glutes (butt) not to activate properly when walking (or running, her choice of exercise).

So I went to work to first open her chest muscles and get the shoulders pulled back into position.  I shared with her the "shoulder stretches" I posted for you all in a previous post on shoulder pain.

I then went to work on her wrists, after all, though that may not be source of the pain, I had to get some movement back in her stiff wrists while at the same time working on her tight shoulders.  Below I've included the sheet I provided for her.

Try the stretches out if you're having wrist pain or if your wrists are just sore and stiff. 

As always, let me know how they work for you.

WristandFingerStretchSheet.pdf

I usually like to spend these posts sharing ways for you to combat pain and discomfort. Because honestly, it seems like most everyone I speak to is experiencing some type of pain or discomfort in their body. But today I was approached by a couple that asked a very interesting question, “Does stress really affects a person’s ability to lose weight?”

 

By all means, YES, stress does play an important roll in how effectively you lose weight.

 

RING! RING! RING! The alarm clock sounds and jolts you out of your peaceful sleep. The day has begun.  If you’re like most of my clients you whiz through the day stressed out from the moment we wake up.  It’s no wonder over 60% of the population is considered overweight.  So what do you do in a world full of growing commitments, bills, challenging relationships, and constant temptations of processed food?  And why do you crave that processed food anyway?

 

Let’s keep this simple, when you are under stress it is difficult for anyone to commit to a healthy eating plan. You begin your day in a whirl-wind just to get on the road and on your way to work, not to mention all the stress of dealing with traffic.  Once you are at work having to deal with the stresses of deadlines, annoying co-workers and demanding bosses; this is on top of the responsibilities you already have at home.  It’s enough to make anyone just want to indulge.

 

When you are stressed your body releases a chemical called “Cortisol” (known as the “stress-hormone”) into the bloodstream.


  • Cortisol levels rise in response to a perceived stress; real or imagined.
  • An increase in Cortisol means a decrease in Serotonin (think of a see-saw).
  • Serotonin is the hormone responsible for relaxed and content feelings and, no surprise, is one of the significant hormones that assist in helping us fall asleep at night. 

     

    Eating can often be a distraction, because if you’re focused on food, for however long that lasts, you’re not dwelling on the problem that is causing you stress. 

     

    The funny thing is that when you’re stressed (remember the see saw)

 
  • you may typically crave carbohydrate-rich foods, which when consumed, create feelings of relaxation and contentedness. In fact;

  • when you stuff yourself or binge on large amounts of carbohydrates you may notice a “sugar high”;

  • In fact, this stressful lifestyle is encouraging you to eat high sugar foods to regain that pleasant feeling of calm.  Sound familiar?

 
I want to make it VERY clear here that including exercise as a part of changing your physique doesn’t mean you have to join a gym! 
 


What it does mean is that you need to include physical activity into your daily or at worst weekly schedule.  Unfortunately everyone seems to be looking for the quick fix.  In this age of almost immediate gratification, few seem willing to take on the challenge of giving their body what it needs. . . . .  EXERCISE!  A good weight loss plan is built around the client.  That’s why when I create programs for my clients I am sure to ask them what types of physical activities they enjoy doing and then include those types in their weight loss program to assure success – and that doesn’t always mean going to a gym.  (Please contact me so I can help you find out what works for you to be successful in your weight loss goals.)

 

“SO WHAT DO I DO?” YOU ASK.

Great question.  In Part 2, I discuss the different types of stress that affects us all, and ways to manage that stress so it doesn’t get the best of you or your waistline.

Let's face it, being in PAIN SUCKS!!

I've had it and know first hand how uncomfortable it can be.
 
Being in PAIN puts you in a crappy mood and affects darn near everything -- from how you interact with your partner, friends, family, and even your co-workers.

Plain and simple -- being in pain makes you a PAIN to be around.  Sure you could take some aspirin or other "pain masking" agent, but that doesn't really solve the problem.  What you need is to kick that pain's butt and get it out of your life so you can back to doing what you enjoy doing.  Chances are your friends, family and co-workers will thank you for it.

The first thing I would ask you to do is figure out as close as you can, where the pain is located; is it in your lower back, shoulder, neck, the knee.  Now, the next I'm going to say is really going to throw you for a loop.  Chances are very good that the place where you are feeling the pain is not the actual problem.


Today, I'd like to use the shoulder as an example. Do you spend most of your day sitting at a desk hunched over? Do you stand hunched over? If you stand with your back to the wall so that your heels, buttocks, shoulders, and back of your head touch the wall, is this position REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE or challenging to do?

If this sounds like you chances are you having what known as Upper Cross Syndrome, where the chest and shoulder muscles have become so tight from the poor posture of leaning over that they've shortened. These muscles may even be pulling on your neck.

Here are some movements you can do while in your office to help you GET RID OF THAT PAIN NOW!


Let me know what you think. . . . did they work for you?
-------------------------------------

This is Stretch#1. Begin with your head, forearms, shoulder blades and butt against the wall.  Heels should be about 6-8" from wall.
Make sure there is minimal space between lower back and wall

Extend arms up and out into a "Y" position. Be sure to keep forearms and hands in contact with wall at all times.


Repeat movement 7-10 times

Stretch #2. Begin the same as Stretch #1.

Keeping arms (elbows at same height), rotate hands towards floor. Be sure to keep elbows and shoulder blades in contact with wall at all times.


Repeat 7-10 times

Stretch #3. Standing straight, clasp hands behind back.

Tuck hips underneath you, move clasped hands towards floor. This should create erect posture. Be sure not to arch-- keep hips tucked.


Hold for 7-10 breaths

Dec
02
2009
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I must be completely honest.  I guess you could say I’m kind of lucky – I get to spend the majority of my day doing what I love – helping people change their lives through changing their bodies by utilizing exercise.


For over 20 years I have been involved in the health, fitness and wellness industry either as a competitive athlete or weekend warrior.  When I left my position as a psychotherapist 12 years ago to concentrate fully on making Energy F/X Fitness Consultants a leader in health, fitness and wellness through utilizing my unique R.E.S.U.L.T. systems, I worked at a local gym.  Thus people had already made the commitment to exercise and were merely looking for my guidance.  As time progressed and my clientele all showed consistent results, whether it was for weight loss, rehab from old injuries or weekend warriors looking to improve their performance, I no longer had to “cold sell” the importance of exercise or my services to new clients.  They had come because they were ready to succeed in their quest to become their best.


Then like a ton of bricks, POW! Reality smacked me right in the face.  A long time female client of mine approached me the other day and with sincere earnest asked me, “How do I get my partner to exercise?”  She went on to describe how much she cared for him and how important he was in her life.  She continued, expressing to me that while he was mildly active she was concerned that his present habits were leading to a larger stomach and she was concerned about his health.

I realize this all may seem rather silly to state.  But I have not had to convince someone of the importance of exercise in their life for a long time.  For so many years I have had the luxury of actually working with people that already knew the importance and merely needed guidance.  Or needed help with their nutrition.  It’s been a while since I had actually had to convince someone of the importance of exercise.


And so here we are.  Why exercise? 


It is of the utmost importance to first understand the evolutionary purpose of the human body.   It was made to SURVIVE!  There is a reason we outlasted the dinosaurs, and just because the ideas of fitness and beauty have changed over the years, we still genetically speaking, are much the same and built for specific purposes. 


Initially, our activities consisted of using our body to survive.  That means avoiding predators, hunting, gathering, fending off predators, running, jumping, walking long distances, pushing, pulling things and occasional conflicts with nearby tribes for hunting rights.  The reason it is SO important to understand the purpose of the human body is because it is this understanding that should dictate how we go about taking care of our bodies.

 

For instance, we were not made to sit for long periods of time.  A casual glance at the amount of low back pain that exists in our society is evidence of this.  We weren’t meant to sit idle in front of computers, playing video games, or trapped in the car in traffic.  Neither were we made to consume high calorie foods with decreased activity levels.  A look at the rising obesity rate in the U.S. and worldwide is evidence of this.  Societal advances have created what I call “Syndromes of Living”.  These syndromes are usually characterized by weak lower backs, weak abdominals, tight shoulders, knee pain, etc., which are all the result of technological advancements without, physiological considerations.  Simply put, life got easier and we, typically got lazier.


Ok, so enough of that.  Why exercise?


Obesity perspective


I just finished reading some articles by the RAND Corporation that examined obesity and disability.  They defined obesity as any weight that endangers health because of high body fat relative to lean body mass.  Please see below for a general guideline for measuring obesity, called the BMI (Body Mass Index):


Measuring Obesity


HEIGHT

UNDERWEIGHT

NORMAL

OVERWEIGHT

OBESE

5’3”

103 or less

104 – 140

141 – 168

169+

5’6”

114 or less

115 – 154

155 – 185

186+

5’9”

125 or less

125 – 168

169 – 202

203+

6’

136 or less

137 – 183

184 – 220

221+

                                                                                                                           Rand Corp. 2007   

A careful note when utilizing this chart for reference, the BMI chart does not distinguish fat from bone and muscle mass, it can misclassify some people.

Simply put, what they found was that 1 in 5 U.S. adults are now classified as obese based on self-reported weight, and almost 1 in 3 when based on objective measures of weight.  Hence obesity is becoming a serious problem.  In fact obesity is said to affect more people than smoking, heavy drinking, or poverty in increasing one’s risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and strokes.

In addition, it was found that obese individuals actually spend 36% more on health care services and 77% more on medications. Not to mention that the obese have more difficulty managing the five basic activities of daily living; bathing, eating, dressing, walking across a room, and getting in or out of bed.

To make it plain, being significantly overweight not only affects your health, it affects your pocket book.


Quality of Life perspective


If we remember what the human body evolved to do, it is clear that doing the opposite is only going to cause discomfort and a decreased quality of life.  We were made to SURVIVE!  And during the most significant times of our evolution, survival meant we had to move.  Thus if you want the quality of your life to improve, you’ve got to include some type of physical activity in your daily or at least weekly schedule.  To ignore this important need is to ignore a major component of the quality of life you were meant to enjoy.

Do you find yourself easily out of breath after climbing a few flights of stairs? 

Do you find yourself completely exhausted at the end of the day? 

Do you like what you see when looking at yourself in the mirror? 

Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or difficulty sleeping?

Do you have aches and pains that just don’t seem to go away?

There are huge volumes of studies touting the importance of exercise and the benefits it provides.  I realize listing them is not what you need to read.  Instead let me give you a list of some that I find to be the most important.


  1. General improvement in quality of life. 

Believe it or not you are fighting a battle everyday you get out of bed.  It’s called the war against gravity.  Whether it’s to carry your own body weight around more easily everyday or to help with the daily chores of life, exercise makes day to day living easier and less stressful on your body.


  1. Trouble Sleeping? 

Exercise has been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep as well as deepen your sleep.  And goodness knows a good night’s sleep feels great!  Not to mention a good night’s sleep also allows the body time to repair. Talk about counter-productive, The Journal of American Medical Association found that sleep loss: 1). Makes you feel hungry even when you are full, thus potentially increasing overeating and 2). Increases fat storage, due to inhibited ability to metabolism carbohydrates.



  1. Trouble climbing those few flights of stairs?

That’s a sign that your body is not working as efficiently as it should.  Regular exercise will help your body work more efficiently by working your heart, circulatory system and lungs.  And when they work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.


  1. Loosing your interest in sex or not having the experience you’d like?

You may find that exercise is just the ticket.  Often when we don’t feel good about how we look it can inhibit our ability to be physically intimate. Regular exercise can improve what you see in the mirror as well as promote an increased feeling of wellbeing.  Not to mention since exercise works the heart and lungs, it improves circulation – which can lead to a more satisfying sex life.  Men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction, especially as they age. And lastly, sleep loss has been shown to decrease testosterone and libido.


  1. Feeling overly stressed?

Exercise helps to de-stress you by allowing you a way to release all that pent up frustration, anxiety, and general bad mood.  By moving, you allow the muscles to let go of all the tension that is pent up in your body.  Not to mention that exercise releases feel good hormones often referred to as endorphins. And that’ll make you more pleasant to be around.


  1. Is your blood pressure or cholesterol high, or on its way there?

Regular exercise can help you avoid high blood pressure, or at least manage it more effectively.  Exercise actually helps you boost the high-density lipoproteins (HDL – good cholesterol), while it helps to decrease the low-density lipoproteins (LDL – bad cholesterol).  No matter how you measure it, exercise is good for you.


  1. Concerned about Osteoporosis?

Regular exercises, specifically weight bearing exercises, actually increases bone density, thus strengthening your bones and decreasing the affects of aging.

I’ve sometimes heard people state, “But I don’t have the time”.  I respond, “Start off small, doing something you like”. Perhaps 30 minutes before work or 30 minutes after your day to help you de-stress.  What matters most is that you get moving -- do something!


As I shared with you before, we were meant to move.  Exercise was a way of life; it was a means of survival.  The idea that it has to take place in a gym is far from the truth.  Exercise can take place almost anywhere.  Whether it’s a brisk walk on the beach, a few pairs of dumbbells and elastic bands in the garage, a bike ride, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or actually joining a gym, exercise can be done almost anywhere.  Give your body what it was made for.  EXERCISE NOW!

And if you need a little help getting started.  Please stop by my website at www.energyfxfitness.com and take a look at the various programs I offer to help get you on track to living healthier, happier, and longer.


“Failure to exercise a minimum of 3 times per week for at least 60 minutes in duration each time is the equivalent of smoking one pack of cigarettes each day.  What that means is that exercise is no longer just good for you, it is bad for you if you don’t exercise”

Source: Released 1996

U.S. Health Facts:


59,000,000 Americans are considered clinically obese

  • 61% of the population is overweight
  • 15% of the children and adolescents are overweight
  • 15% of children and adolescents are in danger of becoming overweight

120,000,000 Americans suffer from chronic stress

  • 30 million Americans are under so much stress they are damaging their hearts
  • 50 million Americans have high blood pressure . . . . 30% don’t know it
  • 19 million Americans suffer from depressive illness
  • 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders

80% of disease is lifestyle related (poor nutrition, stress, smoking, etc.):

  • 70 million Americans have arthritis and/or chronic joint symptoms
  • 23 million Americans have heart problems
  • 20 million Americans have lower back problems
  • 37 million Americans suffer from high cholesterol
  • 10 million Americans are at risk for Type-2 Diabetes
  • 14 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year

 

GENERAL FACTS:

  • Not exercising makes a person 3 times more likely to suffer from depression
  • More than 60% of the population does not exercise regularly
  • 60% of Americans now say that regular exercise is more important than regular doctors visits
  • 89% of Americans say that “becoming more physically fit” is either essential or important to them.

Sources:  Surgeon General’s Report, CDC, NIH, IHRSA

Do you remember the show called the “American Gladiator”?  In 1996 I went to the open try-outs to become a contestant on what was then a popular show.  I thought after watching several episodes, “Heck, I could do that”.  Upon arriving at Universal Studios I was in awe of all the different body types, ranging from the larger than life bodybuilder types to the distance runner types.  We were asked to complete several test events to evaluate whether we would be appropriate candidates for the show. 

As I remember, the events included, 15 pull-ups with bodyweight, a 40-yard dash, an obstacle course of sorts, and a head to head competition where two contestants would face off; One would try to place a volleyball in a cylinder while the other contestant did everything they could to prevent it.  What fascinated me most was how poorly the larger than life types performed on the test events.   Many, if not most, had trouble completing the pull-ups, more than a few, pulled hamstrings in the 40- yard dash, and those that made it past the first two events had significant trouble with the obstacle course.  Though at the time I didn’t realize it, this was the most effective example I could have witnessed to the importance of having functional strength.  We now seem to be in the age of “functional” training, our next evolution in the Health and Fitness process.

I have been in the health, fitness, and wellness industry for over 20 years.  Drawing from my experiences in high school wrestling to National level Powerlifting to presently practicing Mixed Martial Arts, I have seen and experienced the benefits of functional training.  And unless you are specifically a strength athlete, there is NO ONE who cannot benefit from this type of training, regardless of the goal.  In fact even strength athletes are beginning to utilize functional movements more frequently in their training. I have taken my level of functioning as well of that of my clients to new heights by including functional movements in all training regimes.  I have been through the mill so to speak and had acquired strength at the expense of function.  So I know first hand the importance of a balanced body that not only looks good, but functions well.

Functional refers to the ability of an apparatus/ tool, or process that, when used, improves the efficiency and effectiveness, and perhaps the joy of the task at hand.  Sequentially, functional training refers to exposing the body to a process, through the use of all forms of training (bands, pulleys, free weights, stretches, balance exercises, cardiovascular regimens, etc.) that improve a client’s ability to do what they enjoy effectively and efficiently.  Whether you are an amateur athlete looking to improve your performance, a weekend warrior looking to breakthrough a plateau, or if you just want to improve the quality of your life so that you can better enjoy your hobbies such as gardening or playing with the children, functional training is your best bet.

Functional training, in many respects, is a philosophy that has grown out of the dysfunctional view that just lifting weights and getting bigger muscles was in fact improving the quality of one’s life.  Real world events, physical therapy, and traditional weightlifting movements are combined in functional training; for the purpose of increasing a person’s ability to function more effectively and efficiently in whatever capacity they choose.

Functional training has come about from observing that which makes all of us more similar than different.  Every knee joint is a hinge joint (no rotation), virtually every lower back originally had the ability to rotate without discomfort, and each hip socket typically has the ability to perform as a ball and socket.  These consistencies across people have allowed for certain commonalities in movement to be seen as foundational, and hence functional, as they apply to all human movement regardless of lifestyle or profession.


Lunge (similar to the fencing motion)

Squat or Deadlifts (bending to pick something up)

Rotation (rotating in either direction with feet planted)

Pushing (something away from the self)

Pulling (something towards the self)

It is the combination of these basic movements that make up all movement in daily life.

Now let’s consider the application of this philosophy of training.  First off, functional training encourages that you focus on training movements not body parts.  The idea being that if you first train parts of a total movement and then progressively work towards mimicking that entire movement in the confines of training, it will carry over to an increase in effectiveness and efficiency in the target activity.  Remember, this can be practically applied to everything from picking up the laundry basket and placing it on top of a counter, to improving one’s golf swing.  It is the movements one picks, with the target activity in mind, that determines the functional(ness) of the program.


Traditionally, it has been thought that machines increased effectiveness and efficiency.  But research shows that because the machine takes away the individual’s need to balance their bodyweight while performing a movement, machines in fact only increase strength as it relates to a specific body part and in fact do not, by themselves, increase the effectiveness and efficiency of movement.  And real life requires balance to effectively and efficiently perform movement (balance/stability + movement = integrated movement).  You can have all the strength in the world, but if you can’t direct it and control it, it is useless.  The unique aspect of functional training is that it encourages that you use your total body in an integrated fashion in a variety of planes of motion. 


What I have found with my clients is that whether its weekend hikes, playing tennis, or playing in a local basketball league, functional training allows my clients to do what they enjoy doing. . . . . only better.  The twisted ankles, sore lower backs, shoulder stiffness or lack of cardiovascular strength have all been improved by including functional movements as a part of each of their training regimes. 


Functional training then, asks the client to perform many of the same movements that traditional weight machines allow, yet with the added component of the 3-dimensional stability and balance.  For example let’s look at how functional training would look to improve two different types of clients’ quality of life. 


First let’s consider a person whose is looking to improve their performance in their hobby, the popular sport of tennis.  Obviously tennis is a technical sport requiring a person to be aware of many different things going on all at the same time; from the stance, to the swing, to the follow-through; a sport where multiple things are happening at once.  One of my previous clients was in fact a tennis player that presented with several aches and pains.  One of the major complaints was that of lower back pain.  After a thorough Lifestyle Assessment, range of motion evaluation, and injury history, I created a program to address this client’s aches and pains.  A program would be developed that kept in mind the goal, improving this client’s ability in his hobby, tennis.  Tennis requires a great deal of rotation to play it effectively.  So any program design should consider movements that strengthen the individual’s ability to effectively and efficiently rotate.  Perhaps one would first begin by strengthening the core, utilizing stable surfaces like a bench with which to perform certain abdominal work and then move to a less stable environment like a Swiss Ball. While working first on strengthening the core, I then would address the next component, rotation.  Once assured of the client’s growing core stabilization I would begin mimicking the movement of a tennis swing by using a medicine ball, and having the client rotate back and forth while keeping the feet planted.  Then, progressively, as the client demonstrates the ability to effectively and efficiently rotate for a certain number of repetitions and sets, a heavier medicine ball would be used and increased movement in the feet and hips would be allowed.  Eventually, the speed of the movement (so that it closely approximates the tennis swing) and the weight of the ball would be adjusted, to improve the ease with which the client was able to perform the movement of rotation.  Next, let’s consider another previous client. She didn’t necessarily have an athletic hobby, but on a weekly basis does many of the normal activities we all do.  Let’s consider taking groceries out of the trunk of a car and handing them to another person.  Isn’t this the same type of basic movement, rotation, that we considered for our tennis player looking to improve their game?  With the same goal in mind, improving the person’s ability to rotate, a thorough Lifestyle Assessment, range of motion evaluation, and injury history would be taken and a program would be developed and that would address this client’s need of improved daily functioning.  Many of the movements chosen would be the same.  The difference would be in the progressions chosen.  Since there is no need for this person to have the same level of strength or explosive ability, the speed of the movement chosen for their program would be much slower and a lighter medicine ball would be chosen to practice rotation.  It would be possible to state that the programs of these two individuals, with regards to improving rotation, would look almost identical.  The only difference being largely in the repetitions, sets, and load (weight) chosen.


Using these two examples as evidence of the importance of using functional training should make it clear that EVERYONE can benefit from this type of training philosophy.  Be it sport or day to day activities, life happens in 3-planes of motion, at various speeds, requires balance, and is integrated.  Take a moment and watch yourself day to day and see how many of these movements you do in any given day.  Would a functional training perspective help you?


These are real-life examples that I encounter daily.  If one these people sound like you, or you’re just interested in improving the way your body functions in life, contact me at kurt@energyfxfitness.com.


I can create a program for you to not only feel better, look better, but function better.