COLONIE — Squat racks at the gym are tempting.
You walk up, load the barbell up good, go to put it on your shoulder and oh no, pain. You quickly ask yourself when’s the last time you moved this much weight?
If you’re not a frequent gym-goer or an athlete, the answer is probably not recently.
That’s where Best Fitness comes in.
The popular gym, which has several locations throughout the area, is introducing a program that highlights functional fitness — in layman’s terms, the fitness that you will actually use and keep in your daily life. Functional fitness is about increasing mobility, strengthening your joints, limiting injury and creating a life-long pattern of health for your body.
“Many people have become less active in the past year due to the pandemic,” Conor Lukacs, Best Fitness’ fitness director, said. “While many are gearing up to jump on those water skis or take that long hike, it would be wise for people to take stock of what they’ve done the past year so they don’t go all in immediately and end up with an injury.”
Functional fitness is about building more lean muscle mass; when the body has more lean muscle, your metabolism speeds up. Working on things like strength training, core control and balance helps ensure all of your joints are in optimal condition to handle the stressors exercise can put on them. Not only does functional fitness help facilitate the formation of lean muscle, but it also lowers risk of hypertension, lowers your resting blood pressure, improves cholesterol and decreases chronic inflammation.
“Athletes tend to have really great core stability already because it’s how the body is able to pivot quickly,” Lukacs said, “so what we want to do with those who aren’t athletes is work on moving those muscles so whatever they do in life, they are less likely to end up getting hurt.”
Lukacs said functional fitness is a goal that Best Fitness assigns its clients both short and long term. For those who are tackling larger scale goals, the gym’s staff works to create smaller, micro-goals so the client stays on track. As functional fitness increases, it becomes easier for people to execute the basics, allowing them to scale up their workouts. Lukacs said one of the biggest benefits of functional fitness is increasing the relationship between the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, as one cannot work without the other.
Functional fitness also increases when people exercise more often; Lukacs said 30 to 60 minutes of movement a day is recommended for adults. As with anything else, the more you do something, the more familiar it becomes; while jogging that lap might have felt really hard at first, you’re all of a sudden jogging three and feeling like you could finish that mile.
Lukacs also said functional fitness comes with the stuff you do for the other hours in your day: sleeping enough, drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces of water (so if you’re 200 pounds, you want to aim for at least 100 ounces of water a day) and fueling your body with nutrient-dense, quality foods.
“What we’re ultimately doing is making the body more optimized in the way it does things and creating a better output when you move,” Lukacs concluded. “When you’re already primed to do the activities you love, you’re more efficient when you get going.”
To take a functional fitness class, visit https://bestfitnessgyms.com/albany-ny-central/