Why Functional Fitness is the Best Workout for Beginners
Gyms have officially opened up and maybe you’ve realized that starting a fitness routine is the best idea for your future health. The problem is you’re scared. It’s been years since you’ve done any kind of physical activity and you don’t even know how to work those machines at the globo gym.
You know you want to lose a couple pounds and now that you’ve thought about it, packing on a little bit of muscle isn’t a bad idea. You’ve heard about those bootcamp workouts in the park, cycling studios, and of course the classic globo gym. These all seem like great options, and they all have their place but they all have 1 thing in common.
Lack of individualized coaching. In each of these scenarios you would be on your own when it comes to movement technique and any issues you might encounter during your workout. The bootcamps and cycling classes are so large that the coach cannot correct everyone individually. This then leads to improper movement patterns and injury over time.
Now, I am not here to bash other forms of fitness, they all have their place and I have respect for each and every one of them. But when you’re a complete beginner I do not believe they are the ideal starting point.
I know the word CrossFit makes some people cringe. Especially as a beginner you think you need to be in shape before you can even attempt to start. You’ve seen the ads and competitions on TV of the huge muscled up males and females lifting ungodly amounts of weight and think “I could never do that”. These people are doing CrossFit the sport.
At Optimus Strength we are practicing Functional Fitness, not CrossFit the sport. Functional Fitness is a style of training that prepares and strengthens the body for everyday movements. Things like pulling, pushing, squatting, and jumping. Strengthening these areas of movement allows the person to continue to live independently and successfully navigate the physical encounters in everyday life.
Functional Fitness classes and facilities differ from bootcamps in very specific ways. The ways that they differentiate themselves allows them to be the most conducive to beginners looking to start their fitness journeys.
Here is what you’re going to get when joining a gym that practices functional fitness.
Smaller class sizes that allow for individualized coaching
Functional Fitness gyms are usually small, individually owned businesses. They are not franchises. This allows them to create their own systems, processes, and rules for running their facility. Most of these gyms have small class sizes, at Optimus Strength our current cap is 6 participants (due to Covid-19). Normally our cap is 12. A smaller class allows the coach to see each participant clearly and know each person by name. The coach can adequately correct each person individually and ensure they are moving well and understanding the workout.
Proper Movement Patterns
Functional Fitness classes are set up differently than bootcamp or boutique fitness classes. The entire workout is written on a whiteboard at the front of the room. The coach will explain what is on the board and then lead the class through each piece starting with the warmup. Classes are an hour long and broken down into warmup, strength or skill work, conditioning (cardio), and cool down. Each of these pieces along with the small class size allows the coach ample time to demonstrate proper movement technique and enforce correct movement patterns for each person.
Exposure to different aspects of fitness
The thing about Functional Fitness is that it actually encompasses most aspects of other training styles. In a functional fitness program you will learn weightlifting, body building, gymnastics basics, mobility basics, strongman basics, powerlifting, and much more. You will run, row, and bike during some classes. At Optimus Strength we even throw cone drills into our warmups and skill work sections. The exposure to these different aspects can help you learn what your favorite type of training could be. You will figure out what you’re naturally skilled at and what interests you most. You’ll see what is most fun for you! And in turn, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on what you would like to stick with long term.
Lifestyle and nutritional advice/coaching
A large component of the functional fitness movement is the nutrition and lifestyle changes that come along with it. Most functional fitness gyms offer some aspect of nutrition or lifestyle coaching. At Optimus Strength we have a nutritional program that includes check-ins and body scans to track progress. We also offer goal setting check-ins with every member who is interested. The culture in these communities usually revolves around improving the lifestyle of each member, not just throwing hard workouts at you everyday.
Variety of measurable progress markers
Possibly the greatest thing about functional fitness is the variety of performance markers that show you are improving. You can test and re-test most movements and show improvement if you have been working towards that improvement. At Optimus Strength we test workouts and movements in 4-6 week cycles. The programming in each cycle is designed to promote progress in the modality that we are focusing on during the cycle.
The functional fitness community is known for its inclusivity. The culture in the gym is supportive of the lifestyle changes that each member is trying to make. Everyone understands that they all started as beginners and wants to see others succeed as they have. You will be welcomed and supported from day 1 by the coaches and the members at Optimus Strength.
Don’t be afraid
The entire point of this blog is to ease your fear of joining a functional fitness gym. There is no reason to be scared; the judgement you are worried about will not happen here. Everyone starts somewhere and we all want the best for our fellow OS family members. When you walk in the door you will be greeted by a coach and introduced to the rest of the class. You will be coached by name and each new movement will be broken down thoroughly. The coach will modify the weights appropriately so that you get a great workout but still want to come back the next day.
Our focus is your journey. Your success is our success. Your renewed confidence is our purpose.