As we enter into a new world, where “balance” is becoming the favourite word, its is appalling to see that, “balance”, literally, is hardly focused on, as an intrinsic part of the standard health club workout routine. The 3 pillars of fitness – Strength, Stamina and Suppleness, have been and still are focused on, as a priority, with other essential components like reflexes, agility, balance, co-ordination, power etc. hardly finding any place or importance.
As my friend would put it, “What is the use of a bulky & muscular or chiselled body, if you can’t run for your life, in case a dog runs after you!” True enough the fitness industry witnessed a paradigm shift, when the concept of “Functional Fitness” arrived on the scene.
Functional fitness, simply put, means focusing on those areas, which come into use during activities of daily living, on a day-to-day basis. For example, a house-maker who does activities like sweeping, mopping etc. will need to strengthen and improve the flexibility of her lowerback muscles, hamstrings and legs muscles, as well as work on her endurance levels. She benefits more by training these, on a priority rather than focusing on biceps, triceps, forearms muscles.
Functional fitness also has components like balance & co-ordination training, agility training, explosive power training among others. What makes training these components of Fitness even more important, is the fact that these tend to deteriorate with age! Our reflexes, co-ordination and other components also follow the ‘Use it or lose it” principle of Fitness.
Starting the discussion with training your Reflexes- this must focus on speeding up the reaction times and the response times. Remember, the game ‘dodgeball’ we used to play as kids! Reflexes are needed not just for sportspersons, but also in day-to-day activities like crossing the road, walking through traffic or a crowded place or may be catching something that is thrown to us or just slips our hand! Reflexes tend to dampen with age or due to not being used enough and become an important area of focus for the elderly populations too.
Another component, very close to reflexes is Agility – which refers to ability to change direction quickly with speed, but at the same time maintaining power, balance and co-ordination.