But what about our bodies? Fitness professionals have for several years now been using the word "functional" to describe a specific type of exercise and regimen that advertises optimal levels of fitness. Hmmmm...interesting. I was curious. And so, I took a good, long look at what this actually entails and even went so far as to experiment with several of these "functional" fitness programs. What I found, ironically, is that fitness too has often become a costly piece of this "functional" puzzle. The programs tended to include the purchase of the newest, quickest, best gadgets, dvds, and costly equipment that claimed to deliver the ultimate exercise and best looking bodies. Fast. So...if you buy the ab roller, the perfect pushup system, the P90X dvds, the shoes, the compression shorts AND the high end vitamin supplements, detox juices and energy bars and gels, you'll achieve perfect, functional fitness? Sounds suspiciously just like the rest of our lives---gotta keep up with the latest and greatest.
Okay, I'll admit I've used some of these crazy gadgets and systems in my training. I like kettlebells, jump ropes, and medicine balls and use them regularly in my exercise regimen. And I think a lot of the sports and workouts that use them definitely have a good, solid foundation in developing successful levels of fitness. But I can't help but wonder...how is it that after all these fancy contraptions, equipment, and programs, we're STILL fighting extraordinary rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease ? How are we NOT healthier?
Well, think about THIS... the moment we became sedentary in our work AND play, was the moment we had to invent gadgets to make it easier to take care of our bodies. Flash back to our hunting and gathering ancestors who spent hours upon days upon weeks devoted to moving their bodies---running, jumping, catching, climbing...to SURVIVE. Pre-TV, pre-motor vehicles, pre-phones, pre-processed, scientifically engineered food, pre-rubberized, gore-tex, specialized shoes, pre-treadmills, pre-wii sports, battery operated, computer animated exercise world. Today, we are dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into our health. And we're getting FATTER. Our hospital bills are growing larger. We're DYING. We're NOT surviving at all!
I've been thinking a lot about my own survival and I'm pretty sure a treadmill or an ipod or a pair of fancy running shoes won't save me in a crucial moment of life or death. So...Do I have what it takes to survive a major disaster? Could I defend myself in a moment of danger?
To me, this is what "functional" fitness really means. Moving my body in a way that achieves the natural strength, energy and endurance I need to survive anything from walking down icy steps in winter to climbing up and over a wall or fence if I were being chased by a predator. It also means I can defend myself against illness, injury, and the little, every-day battles we endure just by living. Now I'm not saying there's not a place in my life for a yoga mat or a pullup bar or a medicine ball. But what I AM saying is that these things aren't the TOTAL package for my ultimate survival kit.So I'm conducting a little experiment. A few days a week, I've been taking a minimalist approach to my fitness regimen and rather than dumping more and more money into equipment and gadgets, I've been using what I already have---my body. My ENTIRE body. As is. No fancy stuff. Just me and the ultimate playground--nature! Climbing trees, sprinting up mountains, jumping off rocks, crawling, swimming, rolling, bounding, flipping, running, pulling, pushing---the way my body is MEANT to move. Functional. The way our ancestors moved every day...to survive. This hasn't changed! Our bodies are STILL designed for this! We are not meant to be motionless or sit in front of computers and video games and TVs. Moving is BASIC, and EASY and requires no gym membership or special device or website to tell us how. You don't need special clothes, or shoes or energy shots or music to make movement happen. What would happen if we actually LISTENED to our bodies instead of our ipods? Or if we PAID ATTENTION to our heart rate instead of strapping on an expensive monitor that tell us what's going on in our bodies?
Maybe it's just because I'm a kid at heart and want my body to respond the way it did when I was young. But truly---I think it's completely possible. And so does Erwan Le Corre. He's become a bit of a hero to me. Check out his video below. This guy is truly AMAZING and I'm completely mesmerized by the way he moves and how fluid and natural it is! Inspirational. And I'm pretty sure this guy can survive anything!
This is NOT a new concept, by the way. But wouldn't it be interesting if fitness took a turn--BACK to this natural movement approach? I, for one, sure wouldn't mind!