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Functional Fitness…Use Your Body as the Machine

What happens if you don’t have a gym to go to or your gym is closed? Or maybe don’t have workout equipment at home. How do you stay in shape or begin to try and get in shape?

This is a real issue for a lot of people, especially right now in our current climate as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. I work with lots of people who either don’t own equipment or can’t find any due to unprecedented demand.

So what can you do about it? The answer is within each of us. It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for as long as humans have been in existence…


Our bodies are designed to move in certain ways that allow us to be healthy and strong. Unfortunately, as we age, a lot of us lose those innate movement patterns that came so naturally to us as kids. The good news is we can reclaim most, if not all of these essential movement patterns through some fairly basic exercises and practice.

Every exercise originates from four functional movement patterns:

  1. PUSH
  2. PULL
  3. HINGE
  4. SQUAT

Some examples of these movements include pushups, pullups, squats, and lifting items off the ground. Your body adapts to these movements quickly because it’s how we were designed to move.

You don’t have to look very far to see proof. Take your typical toddler, for example. Watch how he or she squats down to pick up a toy. You’ll see a perfect squat every time! Hips below the knees; feet shoulder width apart; weight on heels; knees over toes; chest up; and head in a neutral position.

So what happens if you’re 30 or 40 years removed from those perfect toddler squats? How do you regain that efficiency of movement? It’s simple. You need to start practicing that movement pattern again.

One of the best ways to relearn how to squat is to stand in front of a chair and sit back until your butt touches the seat. You should be looking straight ahead with your chest up and most of your weight back on your heels. As soon as you feel contact with the seat, stand back up. This exercise teaches your body how to squat down to optimal depth. If you’re not able to get down that far yet, raise the height of the seat or use a pillow. Then, over time, lower the height as your body adapts to the movement.

This is just one of many examples of a functional movement that will allow you to use your body in a way that will help promote strength, stability, and longevity.

Here’s to your health!