HEALTH & FITNESS
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Trainer Laura Kiesser uses the TRX Suspension Trainer, medicine ball, stability ball and BOSU with her clients.
Functional training integrates exercise into regular lifestyles, rather than making fitness an annual goal
Every year Americans resolve to lose weight or get fit, yet much of the country is still overweight or obese. Fact is, we're losing the battle of the bulge and the well-intentioned resolutions are usually ill-fated.
This year, start a different journey. Make fitness a lifestyle, not a resolution. Don't focus so much on losing weight; concentrate more on leading a healthy and active life. Weight loss will be a byproduct of the pursuit of fitness.
But where to start?
First, let's start with a relatively new theory called Functional Training. It's designed to train the body as a whole, not in parts, for the functions of life. Does a teenage dancer need to do leg presses? Does a 50-year-old golfing executive need to do chest presses? Does grandma need the leg-curl machine when what she really wants to do is climb the stairs to her friend's condo for their weekly cribbage game?
To that end, there are some tools that are practical, mobile and not partial to age or fitness level that will help you build a leaner, stronger, more functional body. They are the stability ball, medicine ball, BOSU and TRX Suspension Trainer. Individually, they've all been around a few years, but now folks are using them together to formulate a functional training regimen.
Many of us may have a stability ball -- probably deflated -- somewhere in the house. "I have a ball at my house," said Greg Thomas, 55, of Kaneohe. "The kids usually bounce around on it. Then when my trainer brought hers out for me at one of my workouts to do leg curls and crunches, I laughed and thought it was silly. I wasn't laughing after the first set, I really felt it."
The BOSU is kind of a half-ball, dome-shaped object. Its innovative creator simply looked at the spherical stability ball and had an idea to cut it in half and put a flat platform on one side, enabling the piece to be used on both sides as a balance trainer. So you can stand on the dome side and do squats or flip it over to the platform side and do push-ups, hence the name BOSU, "BOth Sides Up." "I nearly fell off the thing on my first set of squats" said Julie Owens, 77, of Kaneohe. "Now I'm confident with my balance in everyday life."
Simplest of all functional equipment, the medicine ball is just a weighted rubber ball (leather versions also remain in use). It's easy to grip and carry with both hands, enabling the exerciser to add friendlier, non-dumbbell resistance to any movement. "I use the medicine ball to improve my core strength, so I have more power when I play tennis," said Gary Tanaka, 47, of Hawaii Kai. "My serving is definitely stronger now."
The TRX is the youngest sibling in the functionally family. It's a simple set of non-stretchable straps that suspend overhead. A Navy SEAL created it a few years ago when ordinary push-ups, pull-ups and squats were not enough to keep him and his cohorts fit while they were deployed on ships or submarines. The TRX is used for what is now called Suspension Training. With the TRX hanging overhead, you can perform numerous exercises at various angles using your body weight as resistance as you grip the handles or put your feet in the cradle. "The TRX is terribly deceiving. You think it's easy, then you discover muscles you didn't even know you had" said Maile Lindsey, 29, of Kaimuki. "But I love it because I just pack in my carry-on and take it whenever I travel."
The best part about these tools is that they all can be combined to create a never-ending series of exercises that will keep you challenged and intrigued, never bored.
"I used to train myself very traditionally with machines, and I used to train my clients the same way," said Laure Kiesser, a personal trainer in Manoa. "Now I use functional equipment to train my clients and myself and see much better results. What's more important is that my clients really look forward to every session, it's never boring for them now, they love working out."
is owner of Fitness Together, a training studio at the Manoa Marketplace. Contact him at 306-1485 or at email@example.com