Monday, October 07, 2002

Multiple muscles in motion

Center moves to functional training

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

        Ten exercise stations, 10 exercises and only 20 to 45 seconds to complete each one. Sound like exercise “musical chairs?” It's functional training, among the newest additions to Greater Cincinnati's fitness scene. And, it's fun.

Rita Robertson takes part in FIT training at Midtown Health and Fitness in Columbia Township.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        “Functional Integrative Training is strength training that works multiple muscles at the same time,” says Scott Goodpaster, performance coach at Midtown Health and Fitness in Columbia Township. “It's not like sitting down at a machine where you isolate just one muscle.”

        A F.I.T. class is divided into several “circuits” or rounds of 10 exercises each. Each exercise or “station” is different and often incorporates exercise “toys” usually found in aerobics classes, such as stability balls, medicine balls, bands, light dumbbells and mini-trampolines.

        The participant moves from station to station, doing the assigned exercises at his own pace and intensity within the given time limit. An instructor announces when it's time to move on.

  Classes are 11:45 a.m. Monday, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday and 8-9 a.m. and 11 a.m.-noon Sunday at Midtown Health and Fitness, 5400 Kennedy Ave., Columbia Township. Cost: Midtown members, $8 per class or 10 sessions for $6.50 per class; nonmembers, $10 per class or 10 sessions at $8 per class.
  Functional Training Workshop, (C.E.U. credits available to strength coaches, physical therapists, personal trainers, performance coaches.) open to the public, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Midtown Health and Fitness. Cost: $45.
  Registration: 351-3000, Ext. 4.
        Mr. Goodpaster has been doing functional training with individual clients for six months, and in September he introduced it as a one-hour class.

        He learned F.I.T. at an internship with Juan Carlos Santana,

        CEO of the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Fla.

        Mr. Santana has written numerous articles, books and videos on topics involving optimum physical performance.

        “Functional training is an old term. People used to do this before they started using sit-down machines,” Mr. Goodpaster says. “Santana just renewed it and added flavors to it.”

        Indian Hill resident Alice Mack, 49, takes the class twice a week.

        “It's a ton of fun,” she says. “It doesn't seem like hard work. I feel completely energized afterward.”

        Functional training can improve your balance, stability, coordination, strength, power and agility, Mr. Goodpaster says. It can prevent injuries of the back and limbs and enhance performance in tennis, baseball, skiing, walking and running.

        Each exercise works the core or trunk muscles of the body and incorporates one of Mr. Santana's “four pillars of movement” - standing and locomotion, level changes (squats, lunges, stair climbing), push and pull, or rotation.

        According to Mr. Santana, rotation is the most important pillar because the body is meant to rotate.

        “Open up an anatomy book and look at the core muscles,” Mr. Goodpaster says. “Ninety percent are rotational (wrap around the body).”

        Dennis Roberts, 54, of Loveland, has added functional training to his weekly workout schedule, recently completing his second class.

        “I already do strength training three times a week,” he says. “But this works your hips and your legs together in combinations that result in sore spots that you never knew you had 1/2hellip 3/4 I'm pleasantly surprised by the difference I feel already.”

        “Movement strength is very important in real life,” Mr. Goodpaster says. “The brain doesn't know muscle. It knows movements. If you go grocery shopping and pick a gallon of milk from the shelf, you work multiple muscles at the same time . . . and that's how we train you.”

        He recommends 75 to 80 percent of strength training be functional, with the balance being isolated or for aesthetics.

        Another advantage to functional training is that the exercises can be modified. Everyone in the class does the same exercises, but some may do them differently (easier) because of their strength level. Nevertheless, this class is not for people with orthopedic limitations.

        Nancy Nielsen, 33, of Pleasant Ridge joined the class to supplement her varied exercise routine.

        “I get bored with (the weight room) so this is something else I can do that's fun,” she says. “And I've noticed improvement in my balance when I do other activities like aerobics and spinning.”

        Mr. Goodpaster feels functional training will catch on.

        “Every magazine you open, it's functional, functional, functional. It's just a matter of time.”

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