Outside of my duties as Founder of Sweat and Flow, I moonlight at several local studios and gyms as a yoga and group fitness instructor. At one particular gym, I teach a yoga class with a predominantly "older" crowd, which is followed immediately by a "senior" yoga class led by another instructor. I use "older" in quotations because my students range from early boomers to well past retirement age, with nary a millennial in sight. Despite this not being my target demographic, I have continued to teach this class for nearly a year because it challenges me as an instructor on so many levels - but also because it has reminded me the importance of functional training when it comes to our body and aging.
After my first time teaching this class, I learned very quickly how vocal this group was going to be - I was immediately told what they liked (the restorative cool-down) and what they didn't (vinyasa, down dog, warrior 3... and, well, the list could go on). I experienced reverse ageism for the first time ever, in the form of, "you wouldn't get it, you're too young. I can't balance on leg," or, "your class is too hard, but I don't want to do senior yoga." Every time I get this feedback, what I really want to say is, "but that is why you need to balance on one leg. So you can." But I don't. I smile politely and I continue to teach them tree pose week after week.
Functional training is not about just standing on one leg... it's about training for everyday life. It requires simulating common movement patterns that we use in daily activities, using the upper and lower body to work together simultaneously - ultimately strengthening the body to allow for graceful aging. Functional training helps you to carry your groceries up a flight of stairs (or three), or to pick up your children or play catch with them in the backyard. And as we age, it allows us to continue to enjoy our leisure activities, whether that's biking, gardening, or even yoga. Most importantly functional training emphasizes core stability, which will prevent falls (and potential injuries) as we age.
When it comes to functional training, all you ever really need is your own body weight. But one of our favorite new "toys" is the Kamagon(R) Ball. When working with the Kamagon(R) Ball, you first need to fill it with water in order to create the weighted element. This is one of our favorite features because it allows you to customize your equipment based on your or your client's fitness level, without having to purchase multiple sets of weights. Because the Kamagon(R) Ball is filled with water (a moving mass within a mass), it utilizes Hydro-Inertia technology, ultimately increasing muscle fiber recruitment to complete each move. When it comes to creating instability within a workout, most modalities involve manipulating the stability of the ground. With the Kamagon(R) the instability comes from the top down making the exercises transferable to everyday life.
Here are a few of our favorite functional training moves utilizing the Kamagon(R) ball.
Move: Single Leg Deadlift with a Single Arm Row
Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, Glutes, Core, Traps (Back)
Move: Reverse Lunge with Oblique Twist
Muscles Targeted: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps. Core
Move: Squat Press with Knee Drive
Muscles Targeted: Hamstring, Glutes, Hip Flexors, Deltoids (Shoulders)
Move: Russian Twist
Muscles Targeted: Obliques