Sportsmith Blog

What is Functional Fitness?

Functional training is growing in popularity as more people besides weightlifters and high-performance athletes are hitting the gym. In the past, strength training was used mainly by bodybuilders and power lifters to increase muscle size and strength, according to the training manual, “NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training” by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Today, people with fitness goals other than bulking up - such as weight loss and general fitness - are trying strength training. Research sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) indicates that functional training is particularly useful for older adults, but functional training is truly for everyone. Functional training provides a practical training method for benefits that extend out of the gym and into daily living.

General Benefits of Functional Training

Functional training utilizes exercises, equipment and programs that translate into the strength and flexibility that people use in every day life. Activities as simple as stepping up and down off a step or doing bicep curls standing on one leg can be functional exercises. These might not give a person huge biceps or a six-pack, but true fitness is not only what makes a person look better, according to the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Functional training produces benefits to assist people in activities of daily living, such as walking up stairs, carrying groceries, and picking objects up off the floor. Functional training accomplishes this with such benefits as:

* Stronger Core Musculature

* Increased Flexibility

* Increased Strength

* Better Dynamic and Stationary Balance

* Improved Agility

* Improved Cardiovascular Endurance

* Better Posture

* Stronger Joints

Older Adults and Functional Training

As people get older, it is expected that they will lose muscle tone, flexibility and balance. This reduced strength and capacity for movement makes the need for functional training even greater for older adults. A study conducted in 2007 at the La Crosse Exercise and Health Program of the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse observed the effects of a functional training program on men and women between 58 and 78 years of age. The participants who engaged in a functional training program gained significant improvements in upper and lower body strength, balance, shoulder flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. John P. Porcari, Ph.D., and Denise Milton, M.S., conducted the study that was later published in the July/August of 2007 issue of “ACE FitnessMatters.”

Improved balance also reduces chances of a potentially debilitating fall. Additionally, increases in functional strength make seniors more independent as they are again able to perform more of the tasks that they once could do without assistance.

Other Populations and Functional Training

Older adults are not the only people who need functional training. Most anyone can benefit from building a strong, flexible and agile body. The average person benefits from functional training because it slows or eliminates the potential loss of strength and mobility that comes with age. Despite some misconceptions, children and teenagers also benefit from strength training, according to ACE. This population has little need for heavy weight training or advanced sports-specific training, making functional training a more practical and enjoyable choice.

Goals and Tools of Functional Training

Functional training makes the physical aspects of life easier. The goal of functional training is not to lift as much weight as possible, known as maximal strength, or to drastically increase muscle tissue size, known as hypertrophy. Therefore, extremely heavy weights and weight machines are not the tools of choice for functional training. Instead, functional training involves resistance and core training using bodyweight, free weights and balance trainers.

Bodyweight exercises and free weights including kettlebells, dumbbells and resistance bands are effective for functional training because they require the body to lift weights without the support weight machines provides, thereby mimicking real-world scenarios. Even soup cans and water bottles can be effective functional training tools. When a person needs to lift a heavy box or raise their body up off the floor, there are no levers, pulleys or adjustable seats that control the weight and support the body as when using weight machines. Without the unnatural support of machines, functional training also improves body awareness.

Another popular functional training tool is the TRX Suspension Trainer. The TRX has two ropes with handles for the hands or feet that hang from the ceiling. This allows a person to use their own bodyweight as resistance for various exercises. The TRX is simply the latest trend in bodyweight, or body leverage, functional training. Yoga, Pilates, boot camp classes, and even fitness pole dancing are also examples of functional training programs.

Balance trainers also work for functional training. They are small tools that create an unstable surface on which a person can stand, kneel, sit or lie upon. For some individuals, standing on one foot is enough of a balance challenge, but for others there are balance trainers such as the Sportstep and Step360. A Sportstep has two sides, either of which can rest on the floor.  One side is half of a stability ball and the other is a flat platform. Both sides wobble when a person lies, stands or sits upon it. Balancing while standing on an unstable surface improves proprioception, which is the body's ability to discern where its parts are in physical space. Increased proprioception translates to better balance. Balance training also requires greater recruitment of core muscles, which is why crunches on a round, inflated stability ball are harder than regular crunches on a flat, unmoving surface like the floor. Even a pillow or folded towel can serve as a balance trainer.

Functional training may be receiving more attention now, but it has always been part of exercise in some form or another. Gymnasts, soldiers and yoga practitioners have been using functional training to build better bodies for years. Gym goers or home exercisers benefit from functional training with little financial investment and only a few days a week of functional workouts.


SPORTSMITH™ Launches 2010 With Warehouse and Catalog Expansion

Sportsmith Catalog 57

Tulsa, OK -- January 6, 2010 -- SPORTSMITH™, the nation’s largest fitness products and  equipment parts  supplier, today announced the release of its expanded 2010 Winter Edition Catalog. Concurrently, SPORTSMITH™ completed its expansion into an additional  20,000 sq. foot office warehouse. A new company blog and user forum, accessible through, has been designed and introduced to enhance the user experience. Customers still receive same-day delivery on products and equipment parts purchased online and through the company’s 192-page direct mail catalog.

“We’re extremely proud to launch our massive 2010 Winter Edition Catalog,” explained Brad Schupp, President of SPORTSMITH LLC. “We developed this publication to act as the ultimate facility maintenance reference tool for Health Club operators, complete with maintenance charts, equipment diagrams, fitness equipment parts, functional training products and maintenance information for the most popular fitness equipment brands including Life Fitness®, Star Trac®, StairMaster®, Schwinn®, Precor® and Landice®.”

The new catalog encompasses the largest selection of fitness equipment parts along with strength and functional training products and the latest eco-friendly yoga mats, blocks and straps. Notable additions include:

Life Fitness® Parts and Equipment:

  • T-Series 91T, 97TI and 90T Treadmills
  • 95X Elevation and 95Xi Arctic Silver Cross Trainers
  • 95 Se and 93S Steppers
  • 95R Elevation Indoor Recumbent and Upright Cycles

Star Trac® Parts and Equipment:

  • E-Series E-TRE and E-TRxe Touch-Screen Treadmills
  • E-Series E-TR, ETRx and E-TR Generation 1 Treadmills
  • S-Series S-TRc and S-TRx Treadmills

Matrix® Parts and Equipment:

  • T3x, T3xi and T5x Treadmills
  • Treadmill Running Belts, Rollers and Decks

True Parts and Equipment:

  • CS1.0, CS4.0, CS6.0 and CS8.0 Treadmills
  • CS 8.0 and PS 900 Indoor Cycle Parts

Cybex Parts and Equipment:

  • LCX-425T, CX445T and CX455T Treadmills

Precor® Parts and Equipment:

  • EFX C576i and Amt C100i Elliptical Replacement Parts
  • C966i Treadmill Replacement Parts

Nautilus® Parts and Equipment:

  • T912, T914 and T916 Treadmill Replacement Parts

The SPORTSMITH™ 2010 Winter Edition Catalog also features additional savings on the most popular commercial model OEM and SPORTSMITH™ brand treadmill running belts, decks and rollers along with an expanded selection of sports performance training equipment from Agility Dots, Agility Domes, Mini Hurdles, Agility Ladders and Lateral Power Trainers.

Group exercise products now incorporate Polar® heart rate monitors, SportStep, the Original Health Club Step™, SPORTSMITH resistance bands, medicine and stability balls, yoga and exercise mats. Functional training product selection has been expanded to include specialty items tailored for balance and stability, speed and agility, sports-specific training, fitness assessment and weighted resistance.

To further boost interactivity and knowledge-sharing, SPORTSMITH™ has also established its new website blog and user forum. These features are available to anyone free-of-charge at The company blog will provide readers with up-to-date industry and company new stories, announcements and articles of interest to health club owners, journalists and health-conscious individuals.

The new SPORTSMITH™ user forum provides a real-time, moderated platform for discussion on various industry topics. Threads will include advice and dialog on topics of interest to subscribers including health center business operations, facility marketing, industry trends, employee hiring and management strategies.

“Our latest innovations reaffirm our commitment to supplying the most popular and functional fitness equipment parts and personal training products in the industry,“ Schupp explained. “SPORTSMITH™ is proud to offer the added advantage of hassle-free customer service, 24/7 online ordering and express same-day shipment.” All SPORTSMITH™ fitness equipment parts meet or exceed OEM specifications and include the full SPORTSMITH™ warranty.

For more information, call 888-713-2880 or visit


Founded in 1995, SPORTSMITH™ is the nation’s largest supplier of fitness equipment and parts for health clubs and health-conscious individuals. The company is recognized for its superior quality, express same-day shipment on all orders, comprehensive selection of more than 40,000 individual items and overall value, with products 10 to 30 percent below competitive retail prices. The company serves customers through its 20,000 sq. foot state-of-the-art office warehouse, with orders placed by mail, fax, phone or online via its direct mail catalog and secure ecommerce website.