The Circus is in Town

Too often this happens:

Exercise is overly complex and difficult to do <—– person equates overcoming a difficult obstacle with success/ progress——–> difficult exercise’s value is given credence.

Such thinking is a logical fallacy:

Appeal to Novelty

Appeals to novelty assume that the newness of an idea is evidence of its truth. They are thus also related to the bandwagon fallacy.

That an idea is new certainly doesn’t entail that it is true. Many recent ideas have no merit whatsoever, as history has shown; every idea, including those that we now reject as absurd beyond belief, were new at one time. Some ideas that are new now will surely go the same way. – Logical Fallacies

Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile.



I honestly can’t see a use for either of these, but they are novel and would both be hard as hell to do.

For a while about 5-10 years ago this type of jackassery was all the rage, considered “cutting edge” and was unfortunately, erroneously termed “functional training”, as if it was functionally more applicable to moving/ performing in the real world and has stuck around because of that.

Thing is, what the hell is “REAL WORLD” about standing on an inflatable moving surface while squatting?


Unless, of course, you live on an inflatable planet.

Seriously, this isn’t training anything other than emergency room surgeons.

What, Had Happened Was: A Quick History of This Jackassery

Beginning of time – 1975: People lifted real weights, got HUGE and STRONG.

But barbells and weights are cheap.

1980-1990: Modern gym culture emerged

AKA: Rise of the Machines. Barbells fell out of fashion and “safer”, “more effective”, expensive, shiny, machines we’re brought in. <—–and equipment companies made millions.

Barbell and 400lbs of weight = $600 <—- Hard to make a living selling these….they’re relatively cheap and don’t break

Leg Extension Machine = $3000 <—-this means a nice commission, and service calls! replacement parts!

Everyone got small, weak and fat.

1990 (or so): Someone realized athletes don’t get to perform sporting movements in nicely padded, fixed plane, seated position so they got rid of the machines and brought some of the real weights back in.

Athletes got jacked and better…..”old school” was the way to train.

1995: This “new” type of training, with free weights that actually makes you better is termed “functional training”.

Too Much of a Good Thing:

2000: Well if a little bit of instability/ challenge is good (machines <——> free weights) more must be better (free weights <—-> unstable surfaces)…

Lets stand on wobbly things!

 9Ankle-istock2431311Medium-211x300lower extremity review .com

And that’s how good “functional” training and got hijacked and  turned into the jackassery we see today.

A good definition of “functional training”:

Functional training is any type of exercise that has a direct relationship to the activities you perform in your daily life- Science Daily

What’s My Beef?

Despite all of the science to the contrary we still have people promoting this junk as a viable form of performance enhancement in healthy people. <—— it is appropriate for the injured rehabilitation population, that’s part of the problem.

“Improvements in postural stability from balance training without resistance can improve force output which can then lead to a training progression involving an amalgamation of balance and IRT leading to higher load traditional resistance training.”- Behm

Hell, training on these probably make healthy people worse in the long run:

“in the end, these devices may not only have little positive effect on functional outcomes, but may actually disrupt movement mechanics and place people at an increased risk of injury”

So why are people still using jackassed stuff unstable surfaces to “balance” on when we know that they’re not getting anything out of it?

“it is not uncommon for highly specialized clinical applications to become trendy practices in the fitness domain, where despite the lack of scientific support, they are continuously used in a mainstay fashion.”  Paul M. Juris Ed.D

The Point Is:

Only bears in the Russian Circus should be doing tricks on inflatable balls.

The rest of us should be engaging in actual “functional training”.

“Every exercise has a function, therefore all exercises are functional”- Vladimir Zatsiorsky

Even if you don’t play a sport you should be doing stuff in the gym that makes us more awesome in the game of life.

This usually means lifting ground based free weights….think about it:

Sitting down to drop a deuce: Squat

Getting up from lying on your stomach: Pushup

Standing up from sitting on the floor: Split Squat/ Lunge

Picking up something: Deadlift

Climbing over a fence to evade the Zombie Apocalypse: Pullup <—–it could happen


These, basic ground based free weight movements are what’s functional for the vast majority of people.

That’s what “functional training” should be about.

Not, new, novel or difficult, just to be difficult exercises but instead…

Creating better (stronger, more efficient) human movement….improving the FUNCTION of the body.

Not performing stupid human tricks.

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