Functionality and Movement

The July/August issue of Mens Health magazine is the Body Issue, which confused me because I thought that every issue was a body issue. Issue theme aside, it was a welcome surprise to see that when choosing which men to feature in the “body issue” they opted for ability and functionality, instead of aesthetics. Rather than cover model bodies and hollywood stars, Men’s Health have put together a list of Olympic rowers, strong men, cyclists, runners and ballerinos.  To be fair, all the men featured look good aesthetically, but all in their own way, and all very different from one another.

The men, and their training habits, featured in the current issue Mens Health seems to be part of a larger trend in mens fitness, away from free weights and bulk for the sake of bulk, and towards functionality, ability and movement. This trend has been quietly gaining momentum for years. While Conor McGregor has helped bring bodyweight and movement training more into the spotlight, fellow UFC competitor Nate Diaz commented;

“Everybody nowadays is like there is this new movement setup that Conor is bringing to the table but that was already around. That’s what inspired us to begin with…….all that movement stuff they’re trying to preach, we already got.”

A few years ago I went to my first movement based exercise seminar. At the seminar my free-weight built muscles were exposed as largely useless. It turns out my free-weight build muscles were only good for lifting more free-weights. I quit the gym and replaced it with running, Rushfit, boxing, barre, olympic rings, crawling, parallettes and more. I do still own a set of 7.5kg dumbbells, but I incorporate them into full body movements. I drop elements of my training and bring in new pieces all the time, which keeps it interesting. In the Summer months, like now, I can train outside in the sun and fresh air. Below is a video of me doing some free movement, its far from perfect and I have a long way to go, but I feel fitter and even though Im getting older, I’m becoming MORE mobile, long may that continue!



Underdog Boxing

I decided to try my hand at a boxing inspired fitness class, a bit of a change from the Ballet inspired fitness class I tried before.

IMAG1033The set up at Underdog is great. Lockers, showers, reception, waiting area, and the gym in general is well looked after, and well kitted out, with heavy bags, speed bags and a boxing ring. At my first class I noticed that most of the other people had brought their own boxing gloves, I learned why when we were asked to glove-up and I put my hand into a very sweaty glove. I decided if I wanted to continue with this class I’d also have to buy my own gloves, which I have. Aldi were conveniently selling boxing gloves so I bought them with my weekly shop.

The classes are pretty intensive, lots of jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers. These are exercises that I’m more accustomed to from the Rushfit I do, so I figured I’d make it to the end of this class pretty easily, but when exhaustion set in and I looked up at the clock, we were only 15mins into an hour long class! I knew then I was going to get my moneys worth.

The “boxing” element of these classes comes from the heavy bag work. You work with a partner if its busy, by yourself if its not, and you alternate from IMAG1019exercises like burpees and mountain climbers, to hitting the bag, and the class carries on like this for an hour with variations in the exercises throughout. Hitting the bag is what I found most fun, but by the end, I was hitting the bag a lot softer and slower than at the beginning. Its a shoulder workout like no other. One of the new instructors is adding in more boxing combinations which is a nice change from the standard one-two. A choice quote from the instructor when he asked us to improvise the combinations, “just hit the bleedin’ thing”.

The boy-girl ratio is about 50/50, but it varies on class by class basis. I’ll keep going to this gym from time to time, its a fun element to add to my workouts.

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