Functional Fitness: What? Why? And How?
Functional fitness is a way of training that prepares the body to move and function in everyday life without getting injured. Functional fitness movements and skills are meant to mimic activities we perform in everyday life. The movements that the general population perform daily include walking, pushing, pulling, bending, squatting, lunging and core movements. By incorporating these skills into our daily workout routines, we are training our muscles to work together and prepare our bodies for daily tasks by doing movements that we do at home, work and in sports. These activities will make movements such as squatting, reaching, pulling, and lifting easier.
Our bodies were developed with the intention of having all our muscles work together and support each other to accomplish certain movements and tasks. Isolating certain muscle groups to add mass was not what our bodies were naturally made for. So going to the gym to lift weights just to gain mass is not as beneficial as working our bodies in the moves we will be doing each day. Individuals can be strong but bend down to pick something up and pull a muscle. This is where functional fitness comes in.
Because these movements are so important to our overall health the original BOKS curriculum is based on functional fitness skills. Teaching kids at a young age these skills will set them up for a lifetime of positive experiences being physically active. The skills included in the curriculum include planks, running, sit-ups, push-ups, squats, burpees, jumps, lunges, donkey kicks. Squats are one of the skills we feel are extremely important as they focus on many muscles all at once. Squats force us to use our balance, large muscles in our legs and buttocks, as well as our core to keep our back straight and upright.
Squats are a skill that we use frequently in everyday life from picking up a bag to lifting things from one place to another. Squats require our muscles to be flexible enough to bend and lift objects. The muscles of our legs, buttocks, back and core are necessary to perform the skill correctly. Another important component of squatting is balance. We must be able to place our weight equally on both feet and bend without falling.
The proper squat includes setting feet shoulder distance apart, send arms up, butt back, squat down so butt is below the knees. Weight should be in heels and knees should be pushed out. Keep knees, ankles and feet all pointing in the same direction. Then stand up straight and tall.
Below are the key points to keep in mind when performing a squat as well as one of the many activities in our BOKS curriculum that incorporates squats.
The key points of performance when doing a squat are:
- Keep heels super-glued to the ground.
- Squat deep to get your pockets below your knees.
- Keep your back arched like a superhero.
Try this BOKS Burst Movement Break using squats:
- Kids perform squats with their feet and knees at particular angles. Trainers ensure knees should be over the feet when performing this Burst.
- On cue, kids are asked to do a zero-degree squat with feet and knees parallel and close together. Repeat ten times.
- Kids are then asked to perform a squat with feet and knees turned out in a 45-degree position. Repeat ten times.
- Kids are then asked to perform a squat with feet and knees turned out in a 90-degree angle.
- Repeat ten times.
- Trainers can change the angles and incorporate a slight jump in the squats by changing the angle. For example, trainers can ask for a 45 degree to a 0 degree to a 90 degree in succession and repeat and change the pattern as needed.