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Functional Training Defined

Movement may be the most unifying language in the world. And yet, while spoken languages—English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, etc.—have principles and rules that form and guide their respective semantic systems, the language of movement has not been categorized in this way . . . until now! The Gray Institute has taken upon itself the task of creating functional nomenclature that can accurately define and describe all movement.

To better understand functional nomenclature, it is best first to understand applied functional science. In applied functional science, physical sciences, biological sciences and behavioral sciences converge to create a scientific system for functional assessment, training and conditioning, postrehabilitation, and injury prevention for the entire movement industry. Here are a few of the primary principles:

  • Movement is affected by the ever-present force of gravity.
  • Movement occurs three-dimensionally.
  • Movement follows the path of least resistance.
  • Movement is task driven.
  • Movement triggers a Chain Reaction&trade throughout the body.
  • Movement is individualized, as people are different.

The above principles, along with many others, serve as a foundation for numerous strategies that we, as trainers, can use to create the right movements for the right reasons—and ultimately to enhance the lives of the clients we serve. The principles pave the way for millions of exercises (techniques) that can serve this purpose. On the one hand, this is exciting. On the other hand, a daunting question arises: “How does one identify, let alone describe, all exercises?” The answer is found in functional nomenclature.

Functional nomenclature is a simplified system that uses the principles of applied functional science to describe and organize all movement. This involves identifying and understanding the environments in which movement occurs; the many positions, drivers and actions of the body; the three-dimensionality of muscles and joints; the subconscious Chain Reactions™ throughout the body triggered by movement; and so on. Functional nomenclature takes the above information into account and systematically arranges it into a format that allows the movement industry to recognize, comprehend and speak the same language. With imagination comes an infinite array of movements; having a language in which all movement can be described allows for a limitless world of imagination.

Personal trainers can learn more about this concept from Gary Gray and Doug Gray at the IDEA Personal Trainer Institute™, February 25-28, 2010, in Alexandria, Virginia, where they will provide a comprehensive overview on functional nomenclature in their session “Are We Speaking the Same Language? Functional Nomenclature Defined.” For more information or to register for the fitness event, visit the IDEA website.



Gary Gray, PT

Gary Gray, PT, is the originator and developer of many nationally-acclaimed educational programs, including the ÔÇ£Chain ReactionÔÇØ series of seminars. Often referred to as the ÔÇ£father of functionÔÇØ and the leading pioneer and authority in rehabilitation and training, Gary is a respected physical therapist, trainer, educator, author, coach and successful inventor.

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