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Quarantine vs. Weight Machines

I know, we are all probably sick of reading posts related to coronavirus and quarantine, but this one is actually positive. And, regardless of your views on what is going on, it has undoubtedly affected your life and your workout routine in some way.

To some point, there was a fitness revolution in the early 2000's as CrossFit became popular - people moved away from the traditional view of a gym and single body part training and moved towards a more functional approach to fitness. However for many, their gyms and workout routines still looked something like this -

A row of machines set up to make it easy for you to focus on back and biceps on Monday, chest and tris on Tuesday, skip legs on Wednesday, etc. I would say this divide shifted back and forth for the last ten years or so going from "what is this CrossFit thing?" to "Crossfit is a bit dangerous and expensive" to " I want to go to the CrossFit games" to "well, planet fitness is only $10 a month" to "I go to a functional fitness gym - like CrossFit, but better" and so on and so forth until.....


For most of the US and a good part of the world, sometime in March 2020 gyms closed their doors, unsure of when they would open. For the first week, many people enjoyed a rest and some family time, but soon realized they would have to come up with a strategy to stay in shape at home. By April 1, Amazon and other retailers were pretty much wiped out of workout equipment, and used gym equipment was being posted on the web at 5-10X market value. Online workout classes popped up everywhere, and people who normally just "went down the row of machines" began to adopt "functional training" in a matter of weeks.

**Disclaimer - I dislike the term "functional training" as I think it has gotten a reputation for including things like squatting 300lbs on a BOSU ball while standing on one foot with your eyes closed - but for the purpose of this article I am defining functional training as - exercise centered around the basic movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, carry)

As most gyms tried to offer online workouts to justify charging members or just to stay relevant, I think the Crossfit gyms had the big advantage. Their members were used to these types of movements, and they could either rent out equipment or modify with household objects. As you can imagine, it is a lot more feasible to rent out a barbell and some kettlebells than a leg press or a cable column.

So the question is - as things reopen will the traditional gyms remain as relevant? Or will people be looking to stick to this more functional training style? Also, even as people do return to the big gyms, it is pretty obvious that they will have a disadvantage adhering to some of the regulations while providing a "close to normal" experience. At least at the beginning, people will no longer be able to come and go as they please (likely have to sign up for time slots to allow for cleaning) and may be weary of some of the equipment (harder to clean the more complex equipment).

People have also probably realized some of the benefits of a functional - full body approach to training. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and generally quicker than working each muscle separately.

Despite the cause, I am happy to see this shift in training. From a body resiliency and injury prevention perspective, I think this style of training, when done right, is a better answer. If we need to carry heavy objects or lift things off the ground, what better way to prepare to do so by carrying objects and lifting them off the ground. Although having some base level of strength in each muscle is important, and sometimes isolated training is necessary to correct imbalances, generally speaking our muscles don't work in isolation, so why train them that way?

Having trouble starting/maintaining a fitness routine at home or want to learn more about functional fitness? Email me at to get started.

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