Saturday, March 10, 2012
The definition of functional strength the ability to do everyday activities more easily and without injury. I have been dealing with an ACL tear for over a year, and for the first 6 months, I was in almost constant pain, barely able to walk across the room, let alone up or down stairs. With the inactivity I got more and more fat as I soothed my frustration with my immobility and chronic pain with food.
Finally I started physical therapy, and I became functional enough to be able to enjoy my trip to Japan. When I returned, I had regressed quite a bit with the injury, and I started a different kind of physical therapy, which included trigger point and Pilates. It’s been 4 months since I started that, and I am noticing every single day that I am doing things with ease and NO pain…the same things that would have been impossible or excruciating 6 months ago. I’ve also started training with kettlebell again, something that I LOVE, but I gave up over a year ago when I first injured myself.
For me, functional training is simply training to improve my everyday life. Going up and down stairs, carrying in groceries, loading and unloading supplies for conferences. I don’t care if I ever wear a single-digit size, or a two piece swimsuit, but I *DO* care if I’ll be able to be active and healthy for the rest of my life, including going zip-lining when I’m 70! My priorities and motivation for losing weight and getting fit have changed very dramatically.
Pilates and Kettlebell are the major components of my functional training and are noticeably leading to better flexibility, balance and stability, as well as amazing core strength. I hope to become certified in kettlebell before the end of the year, provided I can lose enough weight to be able to perform a “flexed hang” for 15 seconds. A flexed hang is basically hanging on a bar in the chin-up position for 15 seconds with your chin not touching the bar or going below it. I practiced a little at the gym yesterday on the assisted pull-up machine, and if I weighed 100 lbs I could pass that little strength test right now – *snort* My Pilates trainer has already agreed to exchange private Pilates training for private kettlebell training! LOL!
Something else that I’ve discovered to be true for me: standard resistance training machines like they have at the gym are of limited use for functional training – their fixed patterns rarely mimic natural movements, and they focus the effort on a single muscle group, rather than engaging the stabilizers and peripheral muscles, as Pilates and kettlebell do. They also caused my leg to flare up pretty bad, so I don’t do them anymore at all, except a few of them for upper body.
I am getting stronger by the day. Both physically and mentally. The stronger and more flexible I become, the more I truly believe that I WILL achieve my dreams: a strong and fit body that is no longer “plus-sized”, certification in kettlebell, and zip-lining and paddle-boarding when I’m 70 years old.
And THIS is what I am going to get to commemorate the occasion of earning my HKC!