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Functional Fitness continued...

"Functional fitness is what you need for getting through your everyday life -- picking up that can of paint, getting down on your knees to get the dog's ball when it rolls under the sofa, taking your grandchild out of a car seat," says Black.

Personal trainer and fitness author Jeff Rutstein agrees.

"Fifty years ago, people were more active in the course of their daily living, so we could do all these things. Now we are a sedentary society, so as we age, we have to reteach our body some basic moves just to be able to do things that make up daily living," says Rutstein, author of Rutstein on Fitness.

This same low-tech approach has helped to build the Navy Seals into some of the nation's most powerful warriors, says Black.

"When you're deployed in jungles, deserts, and mountains, there are no Nautilus machines or Lifecycles," says Black. "We had to rely on body-weight exercises, like push-ups and squat-thrusts, and I think we proved they really work."

As macho as all this sounds, personal trainer Sarah Lurie, CPT, RKC, says activities that promote functional fitness may be even more effective for women than for men.

"One of the goals of functional fitness is to build core strength, which for women can be very empowering, simply because it enables us to do things that maybe we could not do before," says Lurie, director of Iron Core, a functional fitness center in La Jolla, Calif.

From flipping a mattress to moving furniture, she says, women love the power functional fitness workouts can provide - as well as the fluidity and flexibility they offer.

Low-Tech Doesn't Mean No Tech

Of course, even with a back-to-basics approach to exercise, you can get a little help from the fitness industry. Here's a rundown of some of the newest low-tech workout aids to help improve your functional fitness:

"You can quench your urge to gamble and get healthy at the same time."

1. Kettlebells. Based on a principle first used to train the Russian military, the Kettlebell is a piece of weighted iron shaped like a cannonball with a handle. The goal is to use the Kettlebell to build functional fitness, restore core strength, and tone every muscle in the body, all with a few simple moves.

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