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Functional training exercises compete with machine-based workouts [news]

As they do every January, people are cramming into gyms to lose weight. But this year, some gyms are also working to slim down -- by excising rather than exercising. Instead of love handles and jiggling arm flesh, their problem area is the equipment loaded with stacks of hefty plates meant to work a single muscle.

"The day of isolated movements on machines is over," predicts Doug Jeffries, Washington. Although the traditional 15-piece circuit won't vanish at any of his clubs, Jeffries and his team are removing duplicates and dedicating the newly open space to what is called functional training. The idea is to place front and center the exercises that mimic the tasks of daily life, such as squatting and grabbing something off the floor and standing on an unstable surface without falling.


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