The future of Functional Fitness and the fitness industry – PART I

I have a dream…ok, I’ll take it down a notch. I do have a vision for the future of the fitness industry and I want to lay it all out before my readers (all 4 of you). 

PART I:  The history of the local gym and Functional Fitness – where we are now

Historically gyms were created for specific athletes. Boxers had gyms, bodybuilders had some gyms, and other athletes had gyms. Eventually gym and fitness centers hit the mainstream. Some folks trace this back to the late 1940’s early 1950’s in Santa Monica, California. In either case, the 1950’s and 1960’s brought in the mainstreaming of the gym. And now there seems to be some type of fitness facility on every corner, especially if you include the YMCAs that became popular with the Village People song.

You know you just sang the song in your head!

When it comes to what we have available to us, there are very diverse programs throughout the country in the local fitness centers. However, we are still far from where I believe with all my core (pun intended) we need to be. For example, when a person, who knows nothing of fitness, walks into their local gym, they have essentially two options. They can learn how to use the machines and weights or they can learn about the various cardio-based programs. You think weight lifting and cardio work is the best fitness for the masses?  Read Functional Fitness Defined and then see if you still feel that way.

Since you either quickly read the free ebook from the link above or you are already understand the benefits of Functional Fitness, we are now going to move forward. I will assume you agree Functional Fitness is the way to go for the majority of people who want to live long, healthy lives and who want the agility, strength, timing, balance, coordination, stamina, power, and endurance to play with their grandchildren and do projects around their home.

The first truly popular Functional Fitness gyms around the United States was Crossfit. Ex Navy Seals (among others) created the program, which helped bring Functional Fitness to the forefront. I was quite excited to see this, however, many Crossfit gyms are still tailoring to the “elite” and many view Crossfit as a sport in and of itself (watch the Crossfit games sometime). Further, Crossfit can be intimidating for many and so the options left are to join a yoga class, Pilates, or go to the local gym for your….yep you guessed it….either cardio program or weight lifting training.

Don’t believe me? Take a survey of the fitness places in your neighborhood.  You have a boat load of cardio-based programs such as Zoomba or Spinning or the latest craze. Or you go into other places and it is full of benches, weights, and machines.

I think having options such as Spinning classes available are great. Crossfit gyms are also awesome for elite athletes or those aspiring to be one. On a side note, there are great programs to do at your home such as P90X, or of course, Kemme Fitness. However, this discussion is about the local gyms where folks who don’t have 10 hours a week to exercise want to go. The options are simply not vast and all-reaching. We still are either “pumping iron” or “doing cardio.”

Since we all agree (right?), we know cardio is a great part of a program, but should not be your only goal. We also know that isolating muscles to make them bigger and stronger is for athletes called bodybuilders and should not be the focus for the masses who simply want to “get into shape.” Either you are a bodybuilder, want to be a bodybuilder, or you should not be on the machines and benches!

Since I clearly am not happy with the current state of affairs, what do I have for a vision of the future?  Stay tuned for PART II. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments and join the discussion.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Bare Lee

    Although I don’t practice ‘functional fitness,’ I like your program, but you seem to have a skewed idea of what weight-lifting is all about. Most of the standard exercises are multi-joint exercises. Truly isolating exercises like bicep curls are not that common, and in any case, are still beneficial. And you most certainly don’t need to aspire to be a body builder to do free weights. If you want to spend minimal time becoming reasonably strong, free weights are the way to go. I like the way functional fitness packages everything together–makes sense for people with limited time and modest fitness goals, but I prefer to work on different components of fitness individually. It’s just a preference.

    Most importantly, if you believe in your product, there should be no need to present a distorted picture of the alternatives. In the end, it’s pointless to try to decide what approach to fitness is best. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. The main thing is to find something you enjoy that keeps you coming back for more. For consistency is the key to any successful fitness regimen.

    1. Kemme Fitness

      Well said, I do sometimes come across as anti-weight lifting, although is not my goal. I do believe in “my product,” although product implies I am selling something – everything here is free. It is hard to express exactly who my targeted audience is I suppose. It would not be somebody like you, who appears to have a good knowledge of fitness concepts. I just worry about folks who don’t know where to begin and get steered into weight lifting programs in order to get strong, while neglecting many of the other facets of fitness. Or you think all they have to do is jog on the treadmill to be in great shape.

      Your point about consistency is the truth. Every program has its advantages and if somebody wants to be a runner or a weight lifter or wants to focus on their strength alone, then go for it. However, if a person doesn’t understand all the concepts and doesn’t have a particular interest then Functional Fitness would be my suggestion as the place to start. Later, if they lean towards strength training or working up to a finishing a marathon, then fine. Functional Fitness is just, in my opinion, a more well-rounded fitness style than the others, so why not start there.

      Thanks for keeping me in check – good comments!


  2. Bare Lee

    Agreed, for general fitness, it would be hard to top your program, especially for beginners. And I would like to incorporate more high intensity stuff into my routine, it’s just that I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m sticking with what I know, and focusing, for the most part, on improving my running.

    I remain a little skeptical however, of the concept of attacking all areas of fitness all the time. It seems extreme in the same way that my present routine tends to be extreme in its isolation of fitness components (it focuses separately on strength, mobility, and stamina, and has no real agility or balance component). Besides working in some functional fitness and/or HIIT-type workouts, I would also like to practice a sport or martial art once in a while as well, but there’s only so much time in the day . . . My present routine is nice because I can do it alone–out on the road or in my garage–anytime that fits into my schedule.

    I used the word ‘product’ because you do actively compare yourself to other programs that are sold as products. No offense intended, although it seems like you’re entitled to market your ideas as much as the next guy or gal, if you so chose.

    Anyway, thanks for replying, and all the best.

  3. Kemme Fitness

    Sounds like you do some fun stuff though and I think there are a growing number of folks who prefer to workout at home due to cost and time (myself included). I some some at work, but that is only because my day job has a full gym for us (I know I’m spoiled). If you aren’t familiar with Crossfit, they have a great deal of resources that discuss the research behind Functional Fitness type programs. I also cite quite a bit in my ebook, Functional Fitness Defined, which you can download for free on the website.

    A great deal of my workouts are intense, but not all of them. K-Basic is a great place for people to start. I wouldn’t suggest it for you though, as you would be past that. Maybe K-Fit or even K-Challenge would be a fun place to start if you are curious. But like you said, not enough time to do everything. Personally, I work out about 35-45 minutes a day, no more than 4 times a week. I tweeked other programs to create mine in order to reach my goals of getting the most bang for my buck with my time. Whatever you settle on, I am confident a stronger core will assist you greatly in your martial arts.

    Keep it up,

    1. Bare Lee

      Yah, besides the scheduling flexibility, with a home gym you never have to wait for a piece of equipment to free up, or deal with other people’s sweat, although I miss the occasional eye candy once in a while, and gym rat camaraderie.

      Hmmn, I thought I had your email, but I don’t see it. If you like, I could email a one-page outline of my weekly routine. It would be nice to get your feedback.

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