As human beings we are born with a desire to ‘move’ and then explore the world around us with the freedom of movement and the joys, wonder and happiness that brings.
But how far have we come as a species when a large portion of us (and not just in the west these days!) sit for long periods of the day, working on computers and enjoying hobbies that also have us sitting? And all of this at the expense of socialising with our friends, families and neighbours.
This sitting comes at an expensive cost to our wonderfully made bodies that do not act alone but in tandem with the mind via a mind-body connection where our thoughts and emotions feel the brunt of how we live our lives in a burgeoning world of convenience, fast food and frantic options.
Thinking about movement has become an obsession when this really should be an impulsive thing to do. Yet due to our equally driven obsession to be comfortable and not ‘push ourselves’ to exercise, the balance is out of whack and that is partly due to our adoptive and adaptive mentality to get to what we want as quickly and painlessly as possible – in other words ‘the easy road’.
Some may say ‘that is a generalisation’ or an insult or perhaps the honest person would find validity behind such accusatory claims
Self-flattery aside, our approach to fitness needs to be an integrative, wholesome approach that caters for individual needs and differences that arise out of a desire for functional movement
Functional training strives to involve the person with a mind and body connection, to be engaged with their body and revel in the joys of ‘Movement’.
As humans we love variety, being challenged and having fun along the way. Functional training achieves this and much more.
Take the wonders of a kettlebell for instance. This functional tool can suit a novice, an expert, young or old, male or female. People can achieve wonderful results across many areas: neuro-muscular, strength, cardiovascular – in other words, the entire body and brain. There are physiological benefits to skill-acquisition and neural adaptations that underpin the influence of positive emotions through the release of endorphins but the whole body, the whole brain, the left and right hemispheres – it’s all being affected positively. The more neural connections we have, the greater capacity we have to achieve overall health benefits for the mind and body.
The recent studies of early childhood and the exponents of this in the functional fitness realm such as Tim Anderson of Original Strength and Gray Cook, founder of ‘Functional Movement Screens’ are forging a path in the fitness industry for trainers to get their clients thinking, feeling and doing ‘Movement’ freely and joyfully.
Those lost in a sea of fitness gadgets, gimmicks, big clunky cardio and ‘body building’ machinery, simply keep your mind open and you may find you are drawn to functional training. In all its diversity, it strives to unite the mind-body in joyful interplay, bringing exercise into a fun and challenging sphere of our everyday life.
By Tarek Chouja
Director of Australian Institute of Kettlebells