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FUNCTIONAL TRAINING


multi- functional


GOOD PROGRAMMING AND WELL-TRAINED STAFF CAN UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL OF FUNCTIONAL TRAINING AREAS FOR SPECIAL POPULATIONS, FINDS KATH HUDSON REPORTS


F


or the uninitiated, functional training zones can appear to be playgrounds for the fit, with balls, pulleys and mysterious-


looking equipment. The kit isn’t as intuitive as an exercise bike or rower, so is in danger of being bypassed by the self-conscious exerciser. Of course, this doesn’t need to be the


case. With their focus on training the body to cope with both everyday and sports-specific movements, functional zones are perfect for all types of special population user groups. At present, suppliers are not gener-


ally positioning their equipment with special populations in mind – neither are many operators using it to cater for this market. Nonetheless, the following case


studies show how powerful functional training areas can be in impacting the fit- ness of elderly people, children and those with limited mobility and weight issues.


MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS The Merlin MS Centre in Cornwall, which treats people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions, uses GRAVITY training on Total Gym equip- ment to strengthen and turn on core muscles and train functional movements. The variable resistance of Total Gym


equipment enables those with limited muscle control to work with as little as one per cent of their body weight, so strength can be maintained for as long as possible in the face of the degenera- tive effects of MS.


Confinement to a wheelchair com-


pounds muscle degeneration symptoms, as patients cannot engage their lower limbs, but exercising in a low resistance environment allows patients to use their muscles again: GRAVITY training allows for hundreds of different movements to target specific areas. Dynamic squats on the Total Gym equipment have even enabled some patients to regain enough muscle strength to transfer to and from their wheelchairs unaided. Exercise therapists at the centre have


Level 4 qualifications in exercise therapy, postural stability and fall prevention. GRAVITY training is also required to use the Total Gym equipment and apply the method to the special population. “Treating the physical symptoms of


neurological conditions is easy once the physiological and medical effects of the condition are understood,” says Helen Tite, exercise therapist at the Merlin MS Centre. “Balance is often lost due to these conditions, but also as a result of medication. If you understand and consider the symptoms when devising a programme, the physical issues that can be treated with exercise are the same as for any able-bodied person.”


SAQ offers an air-filled functional training mat suitable for use by children


The Merlin MS centre uses GRAVITY training with its patients


CHILDREN SAQ International is currently running a number of pilot projects with indepen- dent organisations, children’s centres, nurseries and school-based Special Educational Needs teams to assess the effectiveness of Aerofloor – SAQ’s new air-filled functional training mat – in children’s health.


52 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital Issue 1 2013 © cybertrek 2013


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