Functional Fitness: A Personal Shift, A Paradigm Shift

By Evan Manee

Almost two years ago I walked into Functional Fitness to meet Sam, only to tell him that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a personal trainer anymore. This is not exactly the attitude that usually leads to employment.

What came next was a long, loud, and fairly Italian conversation about how frustrated and disappointed I was with the fitness industry and what a nasty monster it can be. Sam assured me that I was not crazy, but simply paying attention. I spent the next six months following Sam around like a puppy, learning everything that I possibly could. I still do this today. I realized my frustration with the world of fitness stemmed from feeling unqualified and unable to help my clients to the degree I knew they deserved, while simultaneously watching millions of people spending billions of dollars on lies, gimmicks, and false “fitness idols.” Sam and Functional Fitness was the answer.  I knew it immediately.

Before coming to Functional Fitness, I was blessed to grow up in sunny Santa Barbara, California. This meant enjoying numerous privileges like phenomenal schooling, learning to surf from my step dad a local surf legend, and getting to play thousands of rounds of free golf on the world’s most exclusive and private golf clubs just by working as a bag boy, and being on high school and junior golf teams. I was always picked first on sports teams, like club soccer and basketball, and with rare exception was the tallest kid around for my age measuring 6’ tall by the age of 13. When I moved to Boulder, I fancied myself as a pretty strong athlete. I began to climb rocks and 14‘ers, snowboard, slack line, whitewater raft, and in true Boulder fashion quickly escalated my fitness goals to include marathon running. What seemed great before, in Boulder now seemed lacking. I found myself doing more and more hard core activities, and pushing the envelope more often. It seemed like the Boulder thing to do!

Just after working at Functional Fitness for about a year my lower back started to hurt and the pain wasn’t going away. This really surprised me and I was not sure how it happened. After 30 years of doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, I was in pain.  Then like so many of my clients have done right before my eyes, I started to piece it all together. It dawned on me that I had taken well over 600,000 golf swings in my life and to no surprise had a large imbalance in my hips. Then I looked back over my training logs and realized that I was running no less than 60 miles a week on concrete and pavement for just less then two years training for and running marathons. This calculated out to be around 4,000 miles of pounding the pavement and explained IT band and foot problems. But what really capped it off was finally becoming aware of a lifetime of poor posture and daily movement habits as a tall, lanky and long limbed person. How I washed my face in the sink, bent over to pick things up, slumped, and rounded forward with regularity was clearly not helping. Nagging lumbar pain was now  not only making sense, but I was surprised my injures weren’t worse!

The funny thing was, that I thought I had gotten away with it all. Call it the arrogance of youth or an invincibility complex, but I realized that for far to long I had been making myself an exception to the rules that I felt others should obey. Even the rules taught at Functional Fitness. When I started to really apply Sam’s teachings and fix my back my personal shift happened, and this lead to an even larger paradigm shift that guides my work at Functional Fitness today. I saw how the story of my back pain was just like the stories of how so many Functional Fitness clients and millions more have been injured. The short sidedness of our current model of thinking around sports, fitness, and everyday posture is clearly setting us up for pain and problems all over the body. Luckily, that where Sam’s Fitness Longevity Paradigm© and entire system come to the rescue. I feel immense gratitude and pride to be apart of the Functional Fitness team, a team that not only changes the lives of individuals but is starting to change the entire paradigm of how the world views health and fitness.