Profiting from Functional Training

What is the future of the fitness industry?

Fitness center members are looking for functional programming and equipment. They now realize that form follows function. What good is having "cut" biceps if you can't lift a toddler without wrenching your back? That's the premise behind the evolving concept of functional fitness -- an approach that can transform the fitness industry toward lifestyle enhancements and increased profitability.


Training for real life

What Pilates, yoga and functional training do is train for life. They prepare the body so it can perform daily activities -- walking, bending, lifting, climbing stairs -- without pain, injury or discomfort. Functional training inclusive of balance, posture and coordination is critical for many older adults.

To receive the "real life" benefits of resistance training, exercisers should use multiple muscle groups in an integrated fashion. This counters to the idea behind machine-based weight training, which was developed to allow bodybuilders to isolate single muscle groups. The muscles get stronger using machines and free weights, which is an essential component of any fitness program, but the all-important synergy of the body will not be accomplished. By contrast, functional training, such as SAQ (speed, agility and quickness), Pilates and yoga, challenges the body to work as a whole, firing up the muscles in a sequential pattern.

Considerations for program development

In putting together each workout, trainers can choose from thousands of exercises, including more than 25 ways to perform a simple forward lunge. Mixing it up helps mitigate boredom and the exercise dropout factor that so often follows. It may be more difficult to choreograph and perform, but it will be more fun and beneficial to the member. Because of the integration of more muscles into the workout, functional fitness can also be an effective alternative to traditional training for those trying to lose weight. A good example is training on a stability ball. Every time the ball moves, the participant has to activate muscles deep in the pelvis, back, abdominals and hips. Because of the increased muscle activity, more calories are used, and more muscle activity is triggered.

To maximize human performance, trainers must have a good understanding of what affects performance. The factors that play the greatest role in performance are power (strength and speed), agility (flexibility, mobility, stability), cardiovascular and respiratory conditioning, sports skills (neuromuscular coordination and efficiency) and genetic potential.



Physiological benefits

Metabolism. A major fraction of total daily energy demand arises from resting metabolism, and it is, thus, important to document the resting metabolism of clients. Metabolism decreases by about 10 percent per decade after the third decade of life. One reason is the loss of metabolically active muscle mass, and a parallel increase in metabolically inert fat deposits.

Muscle strength peaks at around 25 years of age, plateaus through 35 or 40, and then shows an accelerating decline, with a 25 percent loss of peak strength by age 65. Muscle mass decreases, apparently with a selective loss in the cross-section, if not the number of, type II fibers. Other possible causes of functional loss include a deterioration of fiber recruitment, prolonged relaxation time and decreased velocity. Changes are greater in the legs with aging. Loss of strength progressively impedes everyday living. Muscle strength can be greatly improved by as little as eight weeks of resistance/functional training. Stronger muscles further enhance function by stabilizing joints, reducing the risks of falls, and improving balance and coordination. There is a progressive decrease in the calcium content and a deterioration of bone with aging. Changes are more marked in women than in men, due, in part, to hormonal changes and a lower intake of calcium and protein. Regular load-bearing exercise can halt and sometimes even reverse bone mineral loss through the eighth decade of life. Functional exercises reproduce appropriate bone stress associated with activities of daily living. Exercise training cannot restore tissue that has already been destroyed, but it can protect exercisers against a number of chronic diseases. More importantly, it maximizes residual function. In some instances, biological age is reduced by as much as 20 years. Life expectancy is increased, partial and total disability is delayed, and there are major gains in quality-adjusted life expectancy. Exercise is, thus, an important component of healthy living.


Lifestyle and lifetime changes

All the workouts in the world won't mean anything if your clients don't change the way they move on a daily basis. While it is important to The strengthen the core, clients and members also need to sit, stand and get out of bed in ways that don't strain the body. In other words, try combining functional training with changes in the way your clients and members function. The results could be with them for a lifetime. The fitness industry as awhole has to understand that they have been selling memberships instead of result for too long. The fitness club of the future is a place where knowledge is passed on through professional, tailored, coaching. Done with the ALL-IN formules, consumers want to have the freedom to choose the best option for them from a simple yet complete menu of services. Done with the idea of 'renting out' crosstrainers, bikes and treadmills for a monthly fee...'basic' clubs already offer that for a ridiculously cheap price. Nothing wrong with the very end, when you go skiing, or swimming, or when you play tennis, there are usually no coaching session included in the rent of the accomodation. Why should it be different when it comes to exercise and lifestyle? The huge success of private training studio's should push the whole fitness industry to re-think itself and convince club owners to make a clear choice: it is either low service and budget price or high service and adequate price. The grey zone is doomed to disappear.



About myself


As an independent fitness & health specialist I combine personal training for individuals/companies with professional education courses for trainers. In both cases is my aim to deliver the best possible experience to the participants involving them in exciting and inspiring training sessions.

Latest News


In November 2017 I will run the NY Marathon for charity to support the Mediclowns

Nov 4, 2017


The book "Wat is jouw excuus" that I wrote together with my wife is available in the best bookstores!

Feb 13, 2017

Get in Touch


Functional Training Lille

Houtzijde 103, 2275 Lille



Bookings: +32 (0)471.66.74.30

Copyright Max Icardi 2017 @ All Rights Reserved