Functional Training The Buzz Word Of Fitness!

Its always nice so have a fresh start doing something exciting and have a new challenge!

So are you tired of your current fitness regime, why dont you try something different?

Have you ever heard the term functional training? Well, you can be forgiven if you haven’t but it’s certainly all the rage amongst personal trainers involved in the fitness industry. Now there will be some who will claim that this is nothing but the latest personal training gimmick that promises maximum gains for minimum effort. Well, we’d have to take issue with that. We feel functional training has the potential to offer our clients more than other traditional training methods ever could, and here’s why.images

So what exactly is functional training? Well, the dictionary definition won’t really help there we’re afraid. Functional training is defined as ‘a spectrum of activities that condition the body consistent with its integrated movement and/or use, and an exercise continuum involving balance and proprioception, performed with the feet on the ground and without machine-assistance, such that strength is displayed in unstable conditions and body weight is managed in all movement planes.’

We think you’ll probably agree that’s about as clear as mud: it certainly says everything and nothing at the same time. So, here’s our definition: a functional training programme is, as the name suggests, ‘functional: it’s a means to an end. It focuses on the ultimate goals of the fitness programme so that the methods used to achieve these goals can be reached. So rather than helping you get fit so that you can reach your targets, a functional training programme will set the targets first and adjust and adapt the training regime accordingly. Confused? Well, read on and hopefully you won’t be for long.

Because functional training programmes are target-driven, they are each unique. Every programme will be tailor-made for an individual client. However, each individual programme is constructed using the same methods and principles. A functional programme needs to cover every possible factor that can affect overall performance. The personal trainer will need to look at every factor when designing and planning this programme.


A functional training programme must have a goal. The programme is based on helping the client reach this goal. You cannot plan a journey unless you know where you want to finish. So every phase of the plan will be directly intended to helping the client achieve this ultimate goal.

Physical training

Physical training is a huge component of the overall programme. The chosen exercises will mimic as closely as possible the relevant movement patterns of the task/goal at hand. For example if we are training for improved performance in a rugby player, we will plan for movements that replicate the demands placed on a player during a game. These factors are then considered when planning the appropriate exercises: they’ll include things like the range of movement patterns, the frequency of movements, the duration of movements, the rest periods between movements, the rate of force production and the total force production. When all of these factors have been considered it’s then important to pick the correct type of equipment to perform the exercises with. Sitting on fixed machinery would be inappropriate for somebody who performs in an unstable multi-planar environment. So, we’d look at the use of kettle-bells, sandbags, ropes, medicine balls as well as other pieces of functional kit to help to provide the correct training stimulus.


The correct mental state will have a huge bearing on the results. Focus, clarity of thought and calculated expectation are all beneficial in achieving long-term goals. Visualisation can improve performance markedly.


Fuelling the body appropriately is critical to achieving success. In weight or body fat related challenges, tailored nutrition is pivotal to success. With other aims it is still important to provide the body with all it needs, so it’s important to avoid intolerances, or foods that complicate the digestive processes. Providing a measured calorie intake that contains the correct macronutrient balance dramatically affects the body’s response to exercise. A week to week, day to day, meal to meal plan is the best way of maintaining a solid nutritional plan.

Postural correction and maintenance

We all suffer from physical imperfections of one sort or other. These imperfections can lead us to alter our posture, which can reduce performance or increase the likelihood of injury. A daily routine of correctional stretching, mobilisation and correctional strengthening will help to reduce this potential for injury.


There needs to be a plan, bit it’s important to break this plan down into stages. Each training period will differ in content, duration and intensity, dependant on the goal and the condition of the individual. Each training period should allow for calculated overload, adaption and progression. The constant measurement and evaluation of the training cycle prevents plateauing and ensures that the client stays focused on the ultimate goal.


Factors outside training can have a huge influence on the end result. If you’re training for a couple of hours a day, then it’s important to consider what you’re doing during the other 22 hours. What you do during these times can impact on training and on the results. Personal trainers will consider factors like sleep, stress, and other external activities. For example we often see in individuals that remain seated for long periods that they develop postural deficiencies related to an imbalance in certain muscles. Making people more aware of this and trying to help them avoid these situations, will help to reduce any negative effects on the training, and improve the chances of success.

So if your local to the Stockport area and fancy changing your boring fitness routine give em a shout ill be happy to help, thats why im here!

Are we taking the wrong approach to obesity?

Are we taking the wrong approach to obesity?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), obesity is now classed as a ‘disease’.


With as many as a third or more of all adults being so overweight that their health is affected, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be more overweight people than ‘normal’ weight people, sadly including children.

There is no doubt that being significantly overweight is bad for just about every aspect of your health, but with the increase of cosmetic weight-loss procedures (gastric bands, gastric balloons, endobarriers & gastric sleeves to name a few), and a row upon row of expensive diet pills on the shelves that promise to help you drop a stone in a week, are we being lazy and taking the easy option by treating the symptoms of obesity rather than addressing the cause? The cause generally being a result of eating too much, eating the wrong foods, and being too sedentary.

Fitness writer Patrick Dale of Ultrafit points out that Western medicine is by and large ‘allopathic’. This simply means that when you go to see your doctor, they ask you what’s wrong, and give you medication to control these symptoms.

Beta blockers and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure, benzodiazepines for insomnia (I myself have been a culprit of giving into such medication to knock me out at night) Feeling stressed? No problem, there’s a medication for that too!

 Granted not every doctor takes this approach, but it’s certainly notable when comparing our approach to Eastern medicine, which is more homeopathic in nature. Where Western medicine treat symptoms, Eastern medicine treats causes.

A homeopathic approach to lowering blood pressure would probably combine diet modifications, exercise and stress management techniques to address the cause.

 That’s not to say that Western medicine doesn’t have its place, and without a doubt if I were to be diagnosed with a serious disease or injury, I’d be at the front of the queue to be treated, however, are we going about treating obesity in the right manner by using medicinal ‘quick fixes’.

For me, my insomnia (which I’d been addressing with sleeping pills), bad skin (for which I’d been prescribed various ineffective creams & gels by numerous dermatologists) and low energy levels have been hugely impacted by dramatically altering my nutrition. It turns out I was nutrient deficient, despite me thinking my eating habits were relatively healthy.

And more recently, meditation has helped reduce my stress levels, which undoubtedly were contributing towards my insomnia and poor skin, which, in turn has reduced my comfort eating!

 If you’re one of many who are carrying extra weight as a result of overeating and simply not exercising enough, (as I myself have been the past) transforming your body is about taking personal responsibility for making the changes you want; a journey that will take commitment and discipline, along with support and education from appropriate resources. Start thinking out of the box and investigate WHY you may be overeating…..

 Are you an emotional eater, or find yourself running to the fridge at times of high stress? If so, think about trying out meditation or yoga to help improve your mood, bring your blood pressure back down, and in turn may help to reduce the risk of mindless munching.

 Do you rely heavily on ready meals and take-always because you’re short of either time or culinary skills (or both!) If so, then why not look into investing in a short course of ‘quick, healthy cooking lessons’ that will benefit the entire family. A skill that will last you a life time, and one you can pass on to your children to ensure they develop healthy habits too.

 A lack of sleep can also have an effect on your body’s ability to store fat……why are you lacking sleep? Can you adapt your evening schedule by switching off the TV or PC on an evening & making it a habit to  go to bed earlier, or are you lying awake at night because you’re stressed, in which case, how can you alleviate your stress…..?

 Delve a bit deeper, look at your lifestyle, and develop skills and practices to help you on the way to an holistically healthier lifestyle.


What is a ViPR?


So I’m sure many of you have seen these colourful, plastic tube with handles around your gym? Sometimes on a stand, lying on the floor or just stored in a corner? Ever thought what they might be or why people flip them, slam them, twist with them or carry them as part of their gym routine. read more >>

What is post-workout nutrition?

Post-workout nutrition is an interesting topic and rightfully so. The basic idea is threefold:

1) The body deals with nutrients differently at different times, depending on activity.

2) What you consume before, during, and especially after your workout is important.

3) By consuming particular nutrients after your workouts, you improve your body composition, performance, and overall recovery. read more >>

10 Reasons to drink water

1: Helps you lose weight – it reduces hunger & is an effective appetite suppressant which has zero calories. It also flushes out the by-products of fat breakdown.

2: look younger with healthier skin – helps replenish skin tissues, moisturises skin & increases skin elasticity read more >>

Eliminating all processed sugars and artificial sweeteners

One of the messages I try and get across to my clients is that you need not look for low fat foods when you are purchasing your weekly shop, as they quite often contain high levels of sugar and/or salt to preserve the food to give it shelf life.

In fact it is Sugar which makes you fat not necessarily fat, as eluded to on an earlier blog your body actually needs essential fats to perform properly and to signal tissue repair and aid stored fat loss. This is because everything we consume is pretty much turned into glucose (sugar) for our bodies to use as energy. Anything our bodies doesnt use will be stored away in our fat cells.

So, it should make you stop and think that it is not fat that will make us become bigger through larger fat stores but SUGAR.

More to the point, refined sugar causes large amounts of weight gain and is one of the leading causes of obesity in the world. Sugar is also extremely addictive (causing feeling of highs and lows in the body similar to most drugs).


Fortunately for those looking for a lean, defined body, once you stop eating sugar, your addiction will quickly disappear. People who are “on” sugar crave it all the time. People who are “off” sugar, don’t even miss it.


Unfortunately, many times when people decide to give up sugar, they quickly resort to artificial sweeteners, but artificial sweeteners are not the answer.


Sorbitol, saccharin, aspartame and sucrolose may actually be worse for you than sugar itself.


Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain by disrupting your body’s natural hormones. So it is equally as important to eliminate any food that contains the above mentioned sweeteners. (A detailed list on how to find sugars and sweeteners in your foods is found on the bad list).


Instead of an artificial sweetener, if required then, I would recommend using Stevia. A natural plant extract, and it’s a great alternative to sugar. 

You can find further information on stevia by visiting


The following words all mean “added sugar”


Hint: the words “syrup”, “sweetener”, and anything ending in “ose” can usually be

assumed to be “sugar”. If the label says “no added sugars”, it should not contain

any of the following:


• Corn Sweetener                            • Dextrose                 

• Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids • Dextrin

• Dehydrated Cane Juice               • Fructose

• Fruit Juice Concentrate               • Glucose

• High Fructose Corn Syrup          • Honey

• Invert Sugar                                    • Lactose

• Maltodextrin                                    • Malt syrup

• Maltose                                            • Maple syrup

• Molasses                                         • Raw sugar

• Rice Syrup                                      • Saccharose

• Sorghum or sorghum syrup        • Sucrose

• Syrup                                               • Treacle

• Turbinado Sugar                           • Xylose


How to spot other artificial sweeteners

Sucrolose (Splenda)                                   Saccharin (Sweet n Low)

Aspartame (Equal)                                       


Remember, your body doesn’t care what the label says. It’s all just “sugar”, and you should try and avoid these as much as possible!

What are the right fats for health and fat “loss”?

Many people through marketing in the mass media think that fat is bad for you.


This is true of man-made fats which your body finds difficult to absorb and use, however, it may intrigue you to know that fat is actually vital for hormone production and hormone “signalling” – i.e. sending messages to the cells of the body to “express health”.

Fat also contains and helps absorb essential vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, & K, and a family of nutrients called carotenes or carotenoids), as well as minerals such as calcium. In addition, fat provides us with essential fatty acids (EFAs) e.g. Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9 fats, for literally thousands of chemical processes in the body that relate to circulation, cell function, and immunity.


Some fats are very advantageous, in fact crucial, to the mental and physical functioning of the human body. These “healthy” fats include many of the unsaturated fats found in foods such as olives and olive oil, oil from oily fish, avocado, raw nuts such as almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, chia and salba seeds (both relatively new foods to hit the scene), sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and some animal foods such as eggs, milk and meat from flax-fed or grass-fed animals.


As previously stated, there are however, some really “ugly fats” to avoid at all costs if you can and let’s face it, most of us can!

These are called “trans fats”, and are manmade from commercially applied oil processing methods (hydrogenation, refining, bleaching, and deodorising). These chemical processes can turn good fats into fats that are extremely harmful to your metabolism and health. 

They are found in most processed foods high in fat and sugar. Look on your food labels for hydrogenated fats. If they are there – bin the food, and vow never to buy the product again!


For optimal health, and also effective fat loss – it’s:


OUT with processed foods high in trans fats (hydrogenated fats), and also too much cooked fat/oils


IN with the fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and olives… and a little milk, butter or cheese.


Foods naturally rich in fat or oils contain many essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are vital to the physical and psychological health of the body.


Foods such as “oily” fishes, all variety of raw unsalted nuts and sesame/pumpkin seeds, avocado, and quality “extracted” oils contain many Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for “optimal health”.


The 2 main essential fats that we must absolutely get from food are called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA (the Omega-3 parent fat) and linoleic acid or LA (the Omega-6 parent fat).


These unsaturated and “unstable” fats (while essential to health) are very sensitive to light, oxygen and high temperatures. Ideally they should be consumed fresh, and cold, i.e. unheated and uncooked. E.g Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Many fats become damaged or “rancid” when they are fried. Ideally they must be refrigerated and kept in the dark, and used reasonably quickly.


Remember that fat present naturally in food is protected by other plant substances, is fresher, and therefore “safer” to the body, and better utilized by the body, than the “extracted” oils from food.


So, vegetable oil to cook with is out and coconut oil is in (available from most health food shops)


As a general “portion” guide, you can “safely” eat a small handful of nuts or seeds everyday, have ½ an avocado in a salad, have a portion of oily fish 2-3 times a week, and feel at ease to use a spoon of quality extra-virgin GREEN olive oil, or cold flaxseed oil, coconut oil or organic butter over your vegetables.


Introduce these foods into your diet regularly – that means daily if you so wish, and remember GOOD fat is essential to you, your body and your metabolism. Healthy fats in wild fish and nuts like walnuts are some of the best oils for the human body. Unfortunately we would have to consume a large amount of salmon and walnuts everyday to get the necessary amounts.


Introduce a high quality Omega 3, 6 & 9 Supplement


An easier approach is to supplement your meal plan with a high quality complex Omega 3, 6 & 9 supplement.


The Smartest Fat for Health and Weight Loss, Quite simply, every single person will

benefit from adding a high quality fish oil supplement to their diet!


Omega-3s “burn body fat in 3 different ways”

“First off, they allow the body to burn fat in situations where fat burning is

turned off, such as after a high-carb meal or after high-intensity exercise

(where the body preferentially burns glycogen).”



“Secondly, high amounts of omega-3s increase insulin sensitivity. If your body is sensitive to insulin, less insulin is produced after a meal, which means less fat is stored. Similarly, if the body is released and incinerated each day.”


“Thirdly, omega-3s increase the heat of your cellular “furnaces”, which are otherwise known as the mitochondria and the peroxisomes. Omega-3s thus help you burn more and more energy, thus turning you into a fat burning machine.”


Furthermore, including more omega 3, 6 & 9 in your diet is considered one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce inflammation. This doesn’t just mean in relation to sports injuries and is also applicable to everyday muscular aches, chronic joint pain, arthritis and poor exercise recovery, even headaches.


Hydrate and bring your workout to a whole new level!

In my eyes water is the number one thing that gets me through a workout, if I didn’t have it before and during my workout I wouldn’t even attempt it! It would be like trying to drive my car without petrol, I just wouldn’t get anywhere! But a lot of people don’t realise how important it really is! Have you ever had a session where you think “I just can’t go on anymore and I have only just done my warm up, HELP!” Chances are is you are just dehydrated! read more >>

Why do we eat and need to eat?

The only reason we need to eat and drink is to give our body energy and the right amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibres, water, fats to stabilise our hormone balance and nutrients to stabilise our nervous systems, so that our bodies function to its optimum level and to fight infections, diseases and boost our immune systems.

  read more >>

Don’t easily give in to hunger pains!!

If you are feeling peckish, when you are watching TV, or sitting down relaxing, then sip a pint of water instead and eat a piece of fruit or handful of mixed unsalted nuts & seeds, and maybe do an activity. The thirst/hunger receptors in your brain are very sensitive and they can often become confused.

  read more >>

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