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What is Functional Fitness

While some people work out to reshape their bodies or improve their strength, others look for a different approach: functional fitness. That’s because when everyday life throws unexpected physical activities your way, you want to be prepared!

You want to do things like:

  • dig your car out after the snowplow blocked you in
  • run back up the stairs in a hurry because you forgot something
  • help a friend move their couch (well, maybe…)
  • lift your sleepy, too-old-to-be-carried kid into bed
  • climb a ladder to hang decorations

Depending on your fitness level, these types of activities could range from no big deal, to a potential source of accident or injury, to simply impossible. 

And this is where functional fitness comes in!


Functional fitness is the type of fitness training that addresses the day-to-day demands on your body in your physical environment. The goal is to build mobility, strength, flexibility, and balance so that you are equipped to handle real life as it comes at you, by replicating and practicing those very same movements. Think of activities like running, jumping, bending, pushing, pulling, throwing, and kicking – essential movements for a healthy, responsive and capable body.

Try a functional training class today!

Downtown Madison fitness classes available Monday through Friday


Traditional fitness routines involve isolating parts of your body and using weights and machines to build strength or endurance. This is what people are doing at the gym as they participate in things like weight lifting, group classes, and bodybuilding. 

Functional fitness training differs from traditional fitness training by having all the muscles work together in support of the whole body. This trains the body to move correctly and efficiently. Compound exercises, which require more than one muscle group to work together, replicate how the body naturally moves. A functional fitness routine is more likely to make use of free weights rather than machines, encouraging the body to maintain balance and control of objects the same way you do in real-world movement. 

Common movements in a functional training class might be:

  • squats
  • lunges
  • bear crawls
  • planks

Functional fitness trainers would recommend going on a hike over using an elliptical machine, or assisted pull-ups rather than bicep curls. You might work on your handstand or swing kettlebells. All of these movements purposefully lead you to higher physical performance in everyday life.


Functional fitness training is for people coming from any fitness background or ability level. Old or young, weak or strong, the training begins right where you are today.

  • Athletes looking for a well-rounded regimen, terrific core strength and decreased likelihood of injury while doing what they love.
  • People who recently recovered from an injury or accident, looking to rebuild basic strength, balance and joint stability.
  • Older adults looking to stay flexible and remain independent for as long as possible. 

The benefits of including functional fitness in your training are far-reaching. They improve your everyday life in very noticeable and practical ways. You’ll find that you have increased mobility, improved balance and posture, and a reduced risk of injury.

Finding a functional fitness trainer in Madison, WI will help you experience much more enjoyment and fun in the physical movement of life!