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At Black Flag Athletics in Avon, Ohio, the atmosphere resonates with the rallying cry of “Be an athlete!” This mantra isn’t just for seasoned competitors; it’s for everyday individuals navigating the demands of work, family, and life. Why do we emphasize this? Because being an athlete isn’t just about competition—it’s about embodying the fluidity and grace of movement that athletes possess.

While many trainers focus solely on building strength within repetitive patterns like squats and pull-ups, we take a holistic approach. Yes, progressions within these patterns are essential, but so is developing the ability to move seamlessly through various positions and patterns, both loaded and unloaded. Functional fitness isn’t just about mimicking specific exercises; it’s about preparing the body for the challenges of everyday life.

Functional fitness, to us, means training movement patterns that mirror real-life activities. This includes not only moving well but also stabilizing, absorbing, and exerting forces properly — a recipe for enhancing overall durability and quality of life. Even if you’re training for a specific sport or event, incorporating General Physical Preparedness training across multiple planes of movement is invaluable. This approach fosters better muscular symmetry, increased mobility, and crucial stability, laying the foundation for long-term strength, power, and skill development.

True functional training involves movements in all planes bilaterally, unilaterally, contralaterally and ipsilaterally —forward, backward, left, right, diagonally, and rotationally—to enhance overall movement capabilities, strength and stability through these different patterns.

Research underscores the importance of strength, muscle and a high Vo2Max as we age. Strength training, particularly multi-planar movements with varied loading angles, is crucial for lifelong adaptations. However, functional training extends beyond traditional exercises like squats and deadlifts. It integrates elements like balance, coordination, and stability through single-arm/leg and rotational exercises.

Sadly, there is a large focus on building capacity in terms of high intensity over establishing balance and coordination, leading to long-term consequences like chronic compensations, overuse injuries, long-term stress responses and ultimately, overtraining.  At Black Flag Athletics, we prioritize refining movement quality, enhancing coordination, and promoting structural balance and stability to minimize these risks.

Our approach to functional fitness is incremental, with athletes progressing through multiple planes and loading positions. This comprehensive method enhances all aspects of fitness while minimizing compensations and overuse injuries, ultimately cultivating true resilience and performance—just like an athlete.

At Black Flag Athletics, we’re committed to helping you unleash your inner athlete and achieve your fitness goals sustainably and effectively. Join us on the journey to embodying the essence of functional fitness and living life to the fullest.

Yours In Fitness,

Thomas M. Rini, MEd.

CSCS | CFL3 | Fitness Specialist | Biomechanics Specialist | USAWL1 

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Owner/Head Coach – Black Flag Athletics