If you think about fitness, does function come up anywhere in those thoughts? Not for most people.
Can you guess the top 2 fitness goals?
That’s right, losing weight and building muscle. Out of all the millions of people doing “fitness” and trucking their asses to the gym a few times a week, the top reasons are focused on toning the body to look good. We want to see those muscles that are buried deep and feel good when we take our clothes off in front of the mirror.
This is why the world of fitness is shaped the way it is. In any traditional gym, the bulk of the space is filled up with machines. Machines focused on 2 main purposes: Cardio (for losing weight) and Strength (for building muscle). After that there is usually a bit of a free weight area (still for muscle) and likely a smaller open area for “functional fitness” and weirder things like stretching something with rubber bands.
THIS is what makes up fitness and this is where we spend our time. Hours and hours of cardio and weights to get ourself to some future point we can call fitness. Harder, better, faster, stronger!
However, the thing that makes me cringe is watching the technique and movements of the people chasing this dream. Half the time I think they’re going to injury something long before they start to see those vertical lines that could one day frame the elusive 6 pack they are working so hard for. They are putting “fitness”, the goal of a certain physique or amount of weight they can lift, over their ability to function. They care so much about the end result, that they don’t really care what they sacrifice to get there.
Imagine you have a pickup truck to move a whole bunch of dirt and rocks for your new front yard. As you go to put the first shovel of dirt in the back, you realize the tires are completely flat, down to to the rim. Do you say “awww fuck it” and just load up the truck anyway? No you don’t. Because you know that’s just going to make things worse because that’s not how the tires are supposed to function. You need to fix that issue so that they function properly BEFORE you start loading up the truck with extra weight.
The same is true with your body. If you’re trying to perform some squats or even go for a run but your knee can’t stay straight or your hips don’t allow you to last very long without pain, we’ve got a problem. These are your personal “flat tires”. To continue to train, or even worse to add weight to the movement just means that you’re setting yourself up for bigger problems.
If you’re body doesn’t function the way it’s meant to, BEFORE you start challenging it with exercise, you’ll actually be moving away from your goal rather than towards it.
We get so caught up in this end goal that we skip over the part that will build the foundation to not only get us there, but keep us there for a long time after we achieve it.
I challenge you to start making your function a higher priority if you want to be fit and healthy for the rest of your life. Search out the flat tires and the weak foundation so that you can build something that will actually last for many many years to come. Research good technique or get a trainer to assess yours. Put function over fitness, or better yet consider function to equal fitness and I can guarantee you’ll be happier with your results for a long long time!