By: Jaclyn Frishman

I have been hearing a lot of buzz about functional movements and training… but what exactly does that mean and how can it pertain to me? The word functional means, designed to be practical and useful. According to Mayo Clinic, functional training is intended to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, by training your muscular and nervous system to work together. Everyday activities such as carrying groceries, walking up and down the stairs or even playing catch with your child can be extremely difficult with muscle weakness or stiffness.
When asked, Dr. Tessa Koschel, Fitness Coordinator at the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center she explained, “functional movement should be the foundation of ALL workouts.” This is for all ages not just the elderly, which most people seem to think this type of training is aimed at. Many people do not have time in their week to make it to the gym on a regular basis and that is what is so great about functional training is that exercises can be done at home or in the gym. Don’t focus on targeting specific muscle groups, but rather focus on movements patterns, such as pushing, pulling, lifting, stepping, walking, and jumping, through all three movement planes: sagittal (forward and backwards), frontal (side to side) and transverse (trunk rotation). Examples of exercises include “squats, lunges, push-up, pull-ups, planks, twists and anything emphasizing balanced posture and alignment. It is all about sticking to the basics” Koschel said.
She broke it down for us by age group, how each benefit from functional training and should incorporate it into their everyday lives.

  • Adolescents- used to develop symmetry in strength, agility and flexibility as the body changes into adulthood.
  • Young adults – used to maintain physical fitness benefits and to fix alignment issues stemming from a sedentary work lifestyle.
  • Expectant Mothers – used to maintain alignment, balance and strength throughout gestational changes and aid in physical preparation for labor and childcare.
  • Adults – used to maintain necessary strength, balance and flexibility to maintain an active lifestyle with or without children and to reverse the effects of a sedentary work life.
  • Elderly adults – used to maintain alignment, balance, strength and flexibility necessary for fall prevention, independent living and longevity.