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Every few years, a new “buzz” word catches on to describe the latest craze for the fitness industry. At one time, that word was “aerobics”; fairly recently, all we heard about was “core training”. The latest in a string of these words is “functional training.” But, what is it?

If you were to Google pictures of functional training, it would return with pages of pictures of people balancing on Swiss balls with one leg or holding bands in one hand and a kettle bell in the other while jumping rope. For some reason, somewhere along the line, functional training has been linked to the kind of equipment that is used instead of the actual training being performed.

In essence functional training can be defined as training the body in the gym the way it was meant to be used in real life. This means we get away from isolating muscles and instead train the entire body using movement patterns. The body isn’t made up of small isolated muscles, so why should we train it that way? All of the body’s muscles are tied together working with each other for a specific purpose. With this in mind, functional training programs include Pushing (Horizontal and Vertical), Pulling (Horizontal and Vertical), Core, Hip-Dominant or Knee-Dominant Leg Movements, and Rotational Movements.

Functional training isn’t about the equipment as much as it is what you do with it. For example, a dumbbell can be used in a manner that is functional or non-functional. A great example of a functional dumbbell movement is the Dumbbell Deadlift. Deadlifting is the process of picking up an object off the ground and bringing it up to the waist. Think about all the times you have to do this motion in your everyday life, for instance, picking up a case of bottled water or a heavy box left on your doorstep. Doesn’t it make sense to understand how to lift an object off the ground properly without throwing your back out? Functional training is the best way to build an efficient, injury-free body that is capable of performing everyday tasks with ease.

Functional training is also a great way to build lean mass as well as burn body fat! It all comes down to how your program is structured. Don’t get stuck in thinking that you can’t turn your body into a lean, pool/beach ready body. Just about every professional athlete with a chiseled body uses functional training in their regimen.

While some fads in the fitness industry may come and go (think of Tae-Bo or Zumba here), functional training will not. When looking for a training program, look to the professionals who really understand how the body works. Trainers who understand what your goals are and who use functional training as the cornerstone of their methodology.

Always remember it’s not the equipment that you have in the gym, it’s how you use what you have that makes all the difference.

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tim By Tim Lyons, Owner, Pulse Fitness

A Little Bit About the Owner |

Growing up in Arizona, Tim found athletics as a way to compete and develop his interpersonal skills. Graduating from Dobson High School in Mesa, AZ, Tim competed in several sports such as football, soccer, baseball and track & field. He earned a Varsity Letter 7 times in sports beginning as a Sophomore earned Team Captain and All-District Honors in Football and still holds current school records for weightlifting and shot-putt. He found his calling in Football, played at Scottsdale Community College and later earned a Division-1 scholarship to play at the University of Louisiana (Monroe, LA) earning Team Captain, Academic Athlete of the Year and starting his 2 years on the team at Fullback and Defensive End against some of the toughest teams in the SEC, WAC, Conference USA and Big 10.

Earning his Bachelors of Science with Honors (GPA 3.7 +) in Business Management from ULM, Tim quickly found a position with a commercial construction company in Irvine, CA, he then later relocated back to Arizona in 2004. Keeping his passion for fitness and athletics on the front of his mind, Tim earned his Personal Trainer Certification and he and his wife Erin put together the initial plans to open up Pulse Fitness in late 2007. Tim wanted to create and environment not found in the commercialized big box gyms found all over the United States. He wanted something different, a place that focused on Personal Training and helping the fine members of his community achieve their fitness goals.

Pulse Fitness opened in August of 2009 and has essentially has changed how training is done in the local area. Pulse Fitness’ methodology is structured around Functional Training, getting clients up on their feet moving in multiple directions and using the body the way it was designed to be used. Staying away from isolated movements and training the body functionally allows the opportunity to fix movement patterns and reduce/eliminate injuries while delivering the most efficient workouts and programs found in the industry today.

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