Functional Fitness

A “new” type of exercise is being promoted in gyms these days; it is known as Functional Fitness. According to, “Functional Fitness and functional exercise are the latest gym buzzwords. They focus on building a body capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions, not just lifting a certain amount of weight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine.”

 I am extremely pleased that the functional fitness concept is finally reaching members in local gyms across the country. This theory is something I have been practicing and teaching about for the past decade, if not longer! My definition for functional fitness, however, is more expansive than that of WedMD and varies slightly from the typical gym philosophy; yet the principles are the same. As a fitness trainer, mental health professional and interfaith minister, I have learned the powerful benefits of incorporating the functional fitness principles into all that I do; including my gym workouts. I suggest we take the functional fitness concept just a little bit further and apply it to the mind and the spirit as well. Let’s face it; we are more than just physical beings. It used to be a common belief that we are physical beings who sometimes have spiritual experiences. Yet many people are finally coming to the realization that we are actually spiritual beings having physical experiences. Functional fitness is not only applicable to the physical body. The benefits of being optimally functional increase exponentially when we make this theory all-inclusive and apply it to the mental-self, emotional self, and spiritual-self.   

 Allow me to enhance WebMD’s definition of functional fitness to be more comprehensive and holistically compete. You and I are obviously more than just physical beings. In actuality we have four distinct yet interrelated aspects of self: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Each has its purpose and unique method of getting “fit” or optimally healthy and well. Why then should we limit ourselves to being only physically fit? I am more than my body and so are you! You may look great in a bathing suit; have the ability to move heavy furniture; and carry your child all day without fatigue. However, what good is all of that if you are regularly engaging in negative self-talk? Not setting or attaining personal goals? How does it serve you to be physically fit, if you are left feeling emotionally unstable? How will your strong and sexy biceps elevate you spiritually?

 Please allow me to expand the current definition of functional fitness to include all the aspects of self.

1)      Focus on building a body, mind, and spirit capable of doing real-life activities in real-life positions and situations…  

2)      …not just lifting a certain amount of physicalweight in an idealized posture created by a gym machine, also include challenging your thoughts, emotional capabilities, and spiritual qualities (gratitude, generosity, compassion, empathy, etc.) as well.

 Using this newly expanded definition we can add more meaning to our workouts; we can now add exercise to our mental health practices, and begin to incorporate spiritual practices into some of our routine and perhaps mundane activities. By embracing functional fitness as an all-encompassing practice, we elevate ourselves to a place of optimal health, fitness, and wellness; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 I have been challenged over the years with self-esteem issues, low self-worth, body-dysmorphia, and a lack of spiritual essence. I have had my fair share of drug/alcohol related problems, and other “issues” stemming from my not-so-optimal childhood; similar struggles many people have in the world. I was able to heal much of those wounds using this method of Functional Fitness which I developed out of necessity. At some point in time I became aware of my inner-discordance and chose to make a conscious effort to heal my childhood wounds.

 I would like to share one of these methods hoping that you too can benefit as I did. I admit some of the practices I developed over the years may seem a little weird at first. However, like anything else in life; the more you embrace change and practice new techniques, the less of a challenge they ultimately become. I invite you to try AND STICK WITH this functional exercise for at least a month (or two) before you abandon the practice.

 Be willing to endure, be flexible, and strong; on every level! Many of the functional exercises I practiced daily for an entire year. Remember, non-supportive beliefs have been in place for many, many years; be patient and persevere. Non-supportive beliefs stem from a story that we (or somebody else) told us once upon a time. Unconsciously, you and I came to believe old damaging stories which may have negatively impacted our lives. Now is the time to consciously recreate a new story in the book of your life; a life-affirming story about yourself as a highly functional being: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually…Start now, and recreate the YOU you were meant to be!

 Functional Fitness Exercise #1 –

For the sake of explaining this functional exercise I’ll use the issue of low self-worth. You will need to personalize this exercise to meet your mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical need. This can be done in a number of ways; you choose the one that you will most likely stick with for a month or two (or a year).

EACH and EVERY TIME you walk up or down stairs, repeat silently in your head or out loud (depending on where you are): “I am worthy”; or “I am a valuable person”; or “I am Divine Perfection”, or something else along those lines. Make up a short meaningful positive comment to tell yourself many times daily. You can also add those words to walking/running on a treadmill or outdoors. In this way you make a mindless routine activity functionally meaningful.

 I have many other functional exercises to share. They are specific to mental health, physical health, emotional health, as well as spiritual health. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more, contact me at

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