By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 7, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's functional fitness community continues to grow and, for many participants, results and camaraderie provide continuous motivation.
Setting and shattering goals has been the driving force behind 17-year-old Natalie Banda's functional fitness addiction.
"I love to feel myself getting stronger," Banda, military family member, said. "It feels great to set a goal like increasing weight and then crushing that goal."
Denae Barajas, military spouse, agrees that results are a driving force behind the appeal of functional fitness.
"You can tell you are getting stronger from week to week," she said. "The movements are natural and mirror day-to-day activities. I enjoy seeing the results."
Moriah Harmon, military spouse and frequent workout partner for Barajas, said the camaraderie of the functional fitness community plays an integral role in her continued success and progress.
"I love the friendly, competitive spirit of the community," she said. "The camaraderie is amazing. We all push each other to be stronger."
According to Zea Urbiztondo, fitness program specialist, the functional fitness area allows patrons to perform exercises and movements that are multi-planar and multi-joint, mirroring movements that are performed in everyday life.
"You are not restricted to a machine that forces you to perform isolated movements," she said.
The functional fitness area originally opened with a few pieces of equipment, but has since grown to accommodate a wide range of exercises.
"Right now, there is a 20-yard (area with) artificial turf with six lanes for sprints, tire flips and sled use," Urbiztondo said. "We have a 14-foot rig that houses three adjustable squat racks, multiple height pull-up bars and rings. There are two lifting platforms, two power racks, weighted bars, kettle bells, medicine balls, slam balls, eight rowers, four assault bikes, four spin bikes, sandbags, two 20-foot climbing ropes and two free-standing heavy bags.
"In addition, workouts are posted Monday through Friday, designed to improve speed, power, agility, strength, mobility and aerobic endurance," she added.
Equipment availability grew rapidly and, according to Urbiztondo, the functional fitness area now contains six Olympic lifting platforms, four power racks, two TRX rigs with suspension units, rogue sleds complete with towing harnesses and ropes, battle ropes, tires for tire flips, plyometric boxes, Brute Force tactical sandbags, and agility equipment. The indoor artificial turf has also been extended to 65 feet.
Functional fitness may be a new concept for some, but Urbiztondo said its purpose is straightforward and beneficial to Soldiers.
"Functional fitness involves exercises designed to improve an individual's performance of daily tasks and/or activities by training muscles to work together in simulated common, repetitive movement patterns," she said. "It is beneficial because it trains muscles to work simultaneously, safely and efficiently. It also focuses on core stability and injury prevention, preparing the body to perform well in a variety of situations, and improvement of quality of life. When paired with tactical training, functional fitness can vastly improve performance as a Soldier."
Urbiztondo is available Mondays-Fridays from 5 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. for any assistance or questions that patrons may have. If there is a piece of equipment or exercise that a patron is interested in, she is available to assist the person in learning about how to use the equipment.
"The biggest thing that a lot of people lose sight of is the quality of their movements," she said. "It is not about how heavy you lift or how fast you move if your form is poor. Too often, people rush to get through their sets and reps and compromise good form in the process.
"Because functional fitness focuses on mirroring every day movements outside the gym, you want to make sure that the quality of your movement inside the gym counts," she added. "By utilizing good solid form when performing exercises with weights, you are training your body to perform the same quality movement in any situation."
For those patrons interested in trying functional fitness training for the first time, Urbiztondo urges them to step outside their comfort zone.
"There is nothing frightening or scary about functional fitness," she said. "You are simply taking things you're doing on a normal basis, and adding an element of strength and power to it. Do not be hesitant to step out of your comfort zone because everyone can benefit from functional fitness, regardless of their fitness level."
For more information, call 255-2296.