How To Brush Your Cat's Teeth : What Really Is "Functional Fitness?"

Have you ever brushed your cat's teeth? Someone reading this is raising that hand. I know you are.

At Rev5 Fitness, we offer a multi-tiered approach to helping people take back control of their long term health. It's not just group workouts. There's Health Coaching, Personal Training, etc. But - for now - I'm talking about the group fitness class deliverable.

Do our RevFit classes help you brush your cat's teeth?

In the Police Academy, I was told, "If you really want to know what it's like to put someone in handcuffs who doesn't want to go, then run half a mile and try to handcuff a pig in mud." (I'd like to interject that this is also appropriate for changing your child's diaper in the 12-24 month range).

The point is that there is always a training scenario that will prepare you for life's encounters. Does our product prepare you for wrestling your cat? Not really. I could spin a nice analogy, but the answer is still "not really." But our workouts do functionally translate into the majority of your everyday activities.

Components of Functional Fitness

The term "functional" is an adjective which means practical, useful, having a special purpose, rather than just attractive. Your body was created with the intention of having the joints, bones, tendons, and muscles all work together to accomplish various tasks. In our context, functional fitness means that it should have direct carry-over to your life roles, daily activities, and related physical demands. Your workouts should improve your strength, balance, power, range of motion, and body awareness/muscle engagement.

This is why functional fitness training has been around for way longer than a popular trademark. Brodie Schroeder wrote:

"Ancient humans hunted stuff and gathered stuff. That's how they survived. If they couldn't run fast enough to catch their prey or were not strong enough to wield their weaponse, they simply would not live...Our bodies adapted to our environment and what we needed to do to survive. By training for functional fitness, you are training your body the way it was designed to be used."

But functional fitness should also be inherently safe. Training movements that are dangerous and/or don't apply to real life expectations seems counterintuitive. You can't function in daily life if you are always hurt (notice I didn't say sore). You need to be able to walk, run, bend, turn, stand, twist, climb, carry, etc. And your exercises should be safely preparing you to do these at a moment's notice.

Functional Fitness Benefits

Understanding what functional fitness training is, how does it actually provide preparation for your day?

First, you're not only preparing to do daily activities more efficiently, you're reducing your risk of injury. By mimicking the daily movements during exercise, your body learns to adapt to that movement under fatigue. You increase the ability to adapt to the stress on the body when performing that particular movement. Then, when you need to repeat the movement in daily life without fatigue (or maybe still under fatigue), your body is physically ready for the demand.

Second, repeatedly mimicking movements during exercise also creates kinetic awareness, muscle memory. It's the same concept of swinging the bat before stepping into the box or practicing with a PVC. The more the movement pattern is engrained in the brain, the more the brain can harness the physical attributes of the body in order to perform the task. Strength can only get you so far without having technique, and technique can only get you so far without strength. By repeatedly mimicking movements during exercise, you are increasing the body's ability to perform the movement with greater efficiency and less demand on the body.

Third, you prepare yourself to better perform various tasks by making your overall health better. Functional fitness training provides a more well-rounded approach. Your balance and range of motion should improve. Your body awareness and proper muscle engagement should improve. Your body's resiliency should improve. Your aerobic capacity should improve. Your ability to battle stress should improve. Couple all of that with greater ability to perform the actual task in demand, and you are in a great spot!!!

Examples of Function Fitness Training

An article in Men's Journal by Joe Kenn listed "5 Functional Exercises You Need To Master."

  1. The very first movement is the Deadlift. It's hard to imagine a scenario in life where you won't need to bend over and pick something up. But it's more than a pursuit of absolute strength. Rather, it's about learning the proper sequence of positioning the body, engaging the body, and safely moving the weight. This goes for similar posterior movements, such as Kettlebell Swings and Slamballs. Ever lifted your child in the air for the sweet sound of hearing them laugh?!?!

  2. The second is the Power Clean. There's few movements that can compare to the total-body explosiveness of a good Power Clean. Coach Mash affirmed that in our podcast interview with him. Driving through the floor, aggressively extending the hips, then quickly repositioning the body to absorb the load is unrivaled. By why is it a functional movement? Have you ever lifted a heavy bag of dog food or mulch? Have you ever tandem-lifted a heavy roll of carpet into a truck bed? This movement pattern would have been the most effective and efficient method of performing that lift.

  3. Third is the Overhead Press. Unlike the popular bench press, any type of overhead pressing exercise is training you to apply force while standing. This means you must learn to properly engage your core and your glutes. It means you must lean to stablize and to consider range of motion in your shoulders. It means that you must put some focus on your posture. I understand there could be a scenario where you need to press a car off of you, but more likely is the scenario where you'll need strength and stability while standing.

  4. Fourth is the Front Squat. While the Back Squat is a safe, useful, effective lift, the Front Squat and it's variations translates more directly to everyday life. With this movement, you are strengthening your lower body while learning to be safely and actively positioning in a squatting position. More specifically, the load is on the front side of your body, requiring precise posture, tremendous core engagement, and an awareness of knee/foot position. Have limited mobility? This lift will expose it. Variations include Weighted Lunges, Box Step-Ups, and Goblet Squats. Next time your baby drops a pacifier and you have to squat down to get it or you have to walk up your stairs carrying all the groceries in a single trip...thank yourself for doing this functional movement.

  5. The final movement is the Pull-Up/Chin-Up. Bicep Curls may look pretty, but nothing strengthens the upper body like Pull-Ups and the related variations. That's why we program these and rows (DB/KB/Barbell/Ring) so consistently. You must have full body engagement in order to move your full body. If done correctly, you'll not only improved shoulder stability and posture, but you will still hit those Biceps! Whether you are climbing, dragging, or wrestling, these movements teach you to master your own bodyweight.

If you are a member of the Rev5 Fitness family, then you're using functional fitness training already. Hopefully now you have a better understanding of why we do what we do (and why we don't do what we don't). If you're reading this and aren't part of the Rev5 Fitness family yet, take a personal inventory. Do you have daily roles, responsibilities, and enjoyed activities? Are you exercising regularly? Does your exercise prepare you for those roles, responsiblities, and enjoyed activities as described above? If not, do you matter to you? Because you should. We can't help you better brush your cat's teeth, but we can help with this. Book a free No Sweat Intro today to get started on that journey toward long term health.