Pure Physio Blog

Functional Training – What Is It? May Professional Development

Published on
01 Jun 2018

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Written by
Anita McCrystal
Rehabilitation Physiotherapist

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May's continued professional development (CPD) took a different turn as we decided to learn more about activities that a large population of our clientele are getting involved in - functional exercise, specifically CrossFit and F45.

Both of these fitness approaches pride themselves on being ‘functional,’ so we wanted to delve further into what makes them relevant to human motion and movement requirements – and how they differ.

‘Functional’ exercise refers to movements that mimic everyday activities. Common examples include training squats because they mimic getting on/off the toilet or performing deadlifts with weights as it mimics lifting a bag up from the ground. Exercising in this way should help to reduce the risk of injury with everyday movements because it conditions the body to withstand loads in these positions/motions.

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We heard from Alex Cheong, coach and owner of Functional-U – a cross-fit based training gym in West Melbourne. He takes a multi-pronged approach to health and fitness, educating his members on everything from movement technique and mobility, to nutrition and mindset associated with keeping the body healthy and moving well.

CrossFit aims to practice ‘constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement’ in all of their workouts and can involve a variety of sporting elements including high-intensity interval training (HIIT), weightlifting, gymnastics and endurance. A typical session can include a group warm up, skill/technique development, the workout of the day (WOD) and then a group warm down.

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We asked Alex about options for people who are injured but still want to train or get involved in classes. He explained that there are lots of options in CrossFit to ‘scale’ exercises to vary the difficulty/loading/range but still work the target muscle groups of the set exercise. This is perfect for our patient’s to gradually return to activity after injury, or continue working unaffected areas while recovering from injury.

For the other half of our CPD afternoon, the Pure team went across to F45 Chinatown in Melbourne CBD to try out a class for ourselves! The ‘F’ in F45 refers to functional training, with the 45 referring to the class duration – 45 minutes! Their focus is high intensity, circuit workouts that change everyday and are pre-planned by their ‘athletics and peak-performance department’.

We went over and met with Hugh, head trainer of F45 Chinatown and some of his team and chatted about common injuries they/we see and how best to manage them. We discussed options for modifying exercises in the class for people who are injured, so that they can safely complete a session and get a good workout without risk of aggravating their injuries.

We then got into the class! The session was called ‘Pipeline’, which is a fun surf-based program that consists of HIIT plyometric jumps, core stability and a mix of strength and agility exercises which certainly put us all to the test! There were plyo box jumps, burpees, wide squats with bosu jumps, battle ropes, backwards agility running and more! It was really fun and also an amazing workout. 

By trying the class itself, it gave us a better idea of what our patients are going through in their exercise classes so we can improve our understanding of why they get injured and how we can guide them back to full activity – injury free!

We’re here to help.

If you are interested in, or currently participating in a functional exercise regime, get in touch! The team at Pure Physic can help you out.

Get in touch to book an appointment now.

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About the Author

Anita McCrystal — Rehabilitation Physiotherapist

Anita, known as Annie, developed a keen interest in sport and travel after her experiences competing nationally and internationally in artistic gymnastics and cheerleading.

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