Let's get FUN-ctional!


Words: WarriorRic | Contribution to article: Jean-Pierre Nortje, OCR & Fitness Trainer | Photos: WarriorRic iPhone5s & Jean-Pierre Nortje

When I witness athletes preparing for or performing at an event, I am amazed at the beauty, finesse and strength of the human body. The body works so well together as one streamlined machine. This is due to rigorous discipline and intense focus on specific goals. For most of us, our aim may not be to win the next Comrades Ultra Marathon or to take the prize at the Cape Epic, but there are some key principles we can learn from competitive athletes to help anyone interested in maximising the benefits of an active lifestyle, including looking great.

WarriorRic and daughter Kiara, stretching hip and groin before a body weight workout


Hip and obliques stretches.

The thought of doing anything repeatedly, in a consistent manner, can seem boring, even before getting started. However, a well-rounded fitness programme that adopts best practices in a gradual fashion towards specific goals is not only rewarding but fun as well. Just remember, until you get started it will seem difficult. However, half the battle is simply showing up. Once you get into a proper routine, good habits and consistency (with a bit of fun) will motivate and accelerate your efforts towards your esteemed goals.

The following is geared to help you reap the benefits of exercise, rest and healthy eating. Be sure to consult a medical doctor before attempting any form of exercise or nutrition programme.
1. Training schedule
2. Diversified workouts
3. Body-weight routines
4. Rest
5. Balanced diet

Training schedule

Once you have set your goals, be it weight loss, reduction in body-fat percentage, cholesterol, glycemic index count or the like, you are now ready to create a schedule of when to train. Goal setting is vital to identifying your specific type of mission. Following ‘Joe's body-building workout regimen’ from your neighbourhood gym, while you are targeting weight loss, can be disastrous!

These days, we are busy with so much in our personal and professional lives, and for this reason it is important to be realistic with your schedule and identify alternate days of training. You can find as many excuses as you like, but results don't come from excuses; they come from actual training.

For best results, target a minimum of three and a maximum of six days per week of at least 20-30 minutes of exercise per workout. Remember, exercise is not necessarily going to the gym. Walking, jogging, calisthenics and stretching all count, but you want to vary your programme, as we'll discuss later to make it fun and to maximise your efforts. The gym does have the advantage of protecting you from the elements outside and providing motivation from its members. So, having a local gym membership close to your home or work is advantageous to meeting a demanding schedule while inspiring you to follow through regardless of what may arise during the course of the day.

Diversified workouts

'Chest Day', 'Leg Day', 'Shoulder Day'. This type of weekly routine may be fine for body builders targeting areas of the body based on a regimen of growing mass and to address mandatory rest days for muscle groups, but most of us should create a ‘FUN-ctional Day’ of training as part of our weekly programme. Pick a day to power walk to work or to stroll out to a lunch date. Choose a time when you can throw a ball around with the kids or toss a frisbee to the dog in the park.

With enough exertion and consideration of how long you engage in the activity, you will not only take advantage of doing functional movements, but you will build muscle and burn calories, which will help you meet your goals while enjoying everyday life.

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), Fitness Trainer and General Manager of WarriorFit Gym, Jean-Pierre Nortje, describes functional training like this, "Functional training is patterns to create movements. By that I mean, exercises to make daily living, such as race preparation, learning to walk, neurological stimulation, etc., more comfortable and better for your physical well being."

Jeep Warrior Race recently launched South Africa's first WarriorFit Gym in Silver Lakes, Pretoria. Unlike most gyms that contain only free weights, cardio equipment and circuit training machines, WarriorFit is loaded with obstacles just like at the races hosted by Jeep Warrior Race. It is the perfect spot for OCR enthusiasts to prepare for their next race, but also a good opportunity for anyone looking for a unique way to enhance FUN-ctional fitness in their programme.

"Obstacle races across the world are becoming really popular. I have found that most people at our Jeep Warrior Races want to train smarter and harder to complete obstacles that they struggle with during a race. A small innovative obstacle course in a gym format simulates an OCR event for technical training, and an awesome workout," says Jean-Pierre.

WarriorFit boasts walls to scale, ropes to climb, monkey bars to traverse and tyres to pull, amongst other obstacles.

All in the name of fun and fitness, you have the opportunity to enjoy the challenge that can also benefit you in everyday life. You'll have so much fun doing it, you'll forget that you're actually training. It is a real grownup's playground.

"WarriorFit Gyms will be offering sessions for kids and team building. This will be a good precursor to an entry-level fun race, like Jeep Wacky Warrior, which sees kids as young as six-years-old enter,” says Jean-Pierre.

Jaco Lourens demonstrating the awesome technique of climbing the Salmon Ladder Obstacle at WarriorFit.

Body weight routines

It may not come with the glamour of fancy innovative machines or the latest technology, but the simplest of exercises that utilise your own body weight are ideal to get a full body workout, and to gain a physique that’s well balanced, like the competitive athletes we admire.

To achieve functional movements effectively requires strength, flexibility, balance and working your body in unison as one unit. This will deliver more symmetry to your body and help require less effort in accomplishing a task.

Typical body weight routines include, but are not limited to squats, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squat-jumps and, of course, burpees. These types of exercises are good at getting the heart rate up and exercising multiple body parts to achieve a full body workout without the stress on ligaments and tendons often suffered in attempting similar movements with free weights.

"Free weight training is always good for any type of endurance athlete. Most common injuries only occur when using isolated muscle activation, whereas with kettle bells, rope, medicine balls and general obstacle training, you develop a much more balanced body and injury-free life," according to Jean-Pierre.


This aspect of your programme should never be overlooked, and certainly not replaced by additional training sessions. For muscle repair and to relieve stress, nothing is better than rest. Besides yielding diminishing returns, ‘over-training’ can lead to serious damage to the body.

Rest can be achieved in short intervals of minutes, overnight sleep and over a period of weeks. It relates to naps, meditation, relaxation or any other activity that allows the body to recuperate and ultimately rejuvenate. Do not let your passion for exercise get in the way of rest and miss the opportunity for your body to show you its appreciation.

Balanced diet

Eating a variety of good foods, with the right amount of proteins, good fatty oils and carbohydrates, is essential to achieving optimal energy levels, repairing muscle and feeling good. To get the most out of your programme, it is vital to prepare your food in advance and not get stuck without the right food at the right time.

To know what to eat, when and in what portion size, is a delicate balance. Just like 'Body Builder Joe's exercise regimen, every diet is not the same for each individual. It is dependent on your goals, current health scenario and what you like to eat. There is nothing better than finding nutritious food that you love to help you meet your goals. Consult a qualified nutritionist for a programme and advice on how to best meet your requirements.

Final thoughts

One-dimensional workouts have been replaced by multi-dimensional FUN-ctional training that takes advantage of various types of exercises, such as long, slow-burn workouts, like jogging, along with short, impactful, increased heart-rate sessions using your own body weight to achieve optimal results.

So, set your goals, get consistent and enjoy the dividends of commitment to your health and wellness. Oh, and don't forget to have fun while you're at it!

More information
WarriorRic is a motivational artist and change agent helping people to live their dreams by setting goals and creating a personal vision that overcomes challenges that arise from work, school, sports, recreation and life in general. Look out for his articles regularly in DO IT NOW Magazine.

WarriorFit is South Africa’s first obstacle course training gym and located in Silver Lakes, Pretoria. Operating hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. For further information, contact / +27 82 551 2522; or / +27 79 884 2708

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Welcome to the 21 November 2014 issue of DO IT NOW Magazine.