Application of Functional Movements, Part 2

An Overview of CrossFit

C. Functional Movements and Aging

The young human body and the old human body have the same mechanics, minus any injuries the old body has garnered over the years. CrossFit is designed around body mechanics and scaled according to personal ability. Following this, the same programming is used for everyone. Adjustments are made to scale the workout down based on age, injury, or lack of strength, flexibility, nearly any aspect one can think of. CrossFit workouts function around each individual’s ability at that time. Strength or athleticism is required for traditional programs, but not for CrossFit. An example of the adaptability of functional movements is Mary Conover. At age 69 Mary started CrossFit. She decided she needed a fitness program because she couldn’t pick up her 13 pound granddaughter and couldn’t get out of a chair without grabbing at furniture to help her up. After doing CrossFit for more than 3 years, with the occasional setback, she states, 

The elderly obviously don’t have the potential reflexes, balance, or strength of a young person. However, CrossFit workouts do improve every one of those functions. I feel stronger… my bone density reads “Normal Young” now, and, in a world where few people notice an old lady, I enjoy the genuine acceptance, youthful camaraderie, encouragement, celebration, and love that permeate the CrossFit world” (CrossFit Grandma 1).

Mary can now lift her 4 year old granddaughter off the floor for a hug and confidently squat to a 10 inch box and get up without hesitation or straining. Both of these improvements have vastly affected her quality of everyday life and her longevity of healthy living. Bodybuilding or other traditional programs would not even be considered an option for a person of Mary’s age, but CrossFit training improved her performance in the areas that matter to her, without violating natural body mechanics. Maintaining proper movement patterns is even more apparent and important in the elderly because of the slower healing process they have and longer recovery time they need after workouts.

D. Additional Examples of Functional Movements

Gymnasts are another good example of the successful use of functional movements. They rarely use weights, yet are some of the strongest athletes. Examples of the functional movements gymnasts use are movements like the muscle up, handstands, pirouettes, planche, etc. The strength to bodyweight ratio in a gymnast is much greater than that of a bodybuilder or Olympic weightlifter. This is readily apparent and one can see this fact just by watching a gymnast manipulate his or her body on the high bars, pommel horse, or even the floor. Gymnasts also possess unmatched coordination, flexibility, balance, and agility, developed through simply moving their own bodies. By incorporating hanging rings, pull-ups, short parallel bars, and climbing ropes, CrossFit athletes work to develop similar skills.