A back-to-basics approach may be edging out high-tech exercise trends, experts say.
Functional Fitness continued...
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
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.
"When you simply lift weights, you are isolating muscles and working
individual areas of your body," says Lurie, one of a growing number of
certified Russian Kettlebell instructors in the United States. "With
Kettlebells, you are using your whole body to move the weight of the ball, so
it gives you a superior workout to even a room full of fitness equipment. It
strengthens core [muscles and] increases heart rate, all without building bulky
muscles, plus it's very efficient for busy people."
The Kettlebells weigh anywhere from nine to 88 pounds. Most women use an 18-
to 26-pound version; men generally use a 36- to 52-pound version.
How it's done: Holding a Kettlebell in one or both hands,
you do a series of simple movements, such as swinging the Kettlebell between
your legs, lifting it to shoulder height, or putting it behind your back and
squatting. There are less than a dozen key moves altogether; each offers a
full-body workout in minimal time.
Cost: About $129 for one Kettlebell -- and one is usually
all you need. An instructional DVD will set you back another $15-$20.
Kettlebell classes are available nationwide; they vary in price according to