Functional Movement Is the Fitness Trend We Need

It’s time to relearn how to move properly through the world

Allie Volpe
Elemental
Published in
8 min readNov 25, 2019

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Credit: Caiaimage/Trevor Adeline/Getty Images

MyMy guilty pleasure is sitting. I’m slightly ashamed at how much I enjoy it: Sitting on couches, sitting in coffee shops, sitting, finally, after a long run. If I’m not working out or sleeping, I’m probably sitting.

This propensity for sitting might be why I feel like a beached whale, laying on my side doing leg raises while simultaneously trying to point the toes on my elevated leg toward the ceiling. I’m at a stretching-meets-physical-therapy class in an Inwood office building, in the hopes of undoing all the damage modern society — and my near-constant sitting — has inflicted on my mobility. The one other person in my class, a woman who appears to be in her fifties, is silently circling her left foot in the air while propped on her right side, hips stacked. She’s better at this than me, but not by much. Throughout the nearly two-hour class, we’ll slowly roll a tennis ball under our feet, lay on our backs, and pull one leg over the opposite side of our body, and use a strap to stretch out our hamstrings while splayed on our backs.

Movement specialist Patrick Hogan leads the class, which he’s dubbed Good Moves, designed to help people of any age and physical ability restore mobility and flexibility in order to improve their balance, gait, and alignment — natural ways of moving through the world that we’ve lost through years of walking on flat concrete surfaces and, yes, sitting all the time.

“We spend a huge amount of our time sitting,” Hogan tells me. “We’re putting our body in the same position all day long... so much, that our body starts to maintain that shape.”

Our bodies are equipped with hundreds of joints meant for crouching, jumping, and pushing, says Hogan. Human feet, for example, have 33 joints. “They’re designed on purpose so our feet could conform to the contours and the shape of the ground we’re walking on,” he says. “It helps with our balance, our ability to tell where our body is in space.”

Shoes purposely constrict our feet, and as a consequence, prevent some of these joints from doing their jobs. And like the saying goes, if we don’t use it, we lose it. “We end up with solid blocks for feet that…

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Allie Volpe
Elemental

Writes about lifestyle, trends, and pop psychology for The Atlantic, New York Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Washington Post, and more.