One common mistake people make is getting too caught up with the entire aesthetic focus of fitness and forget the purpose of exercising in the first place---to build a strong and able body. While any form of exercise is better than none, there is only so much you can do for your body through running and weight-training. To build a body that is able to reach its full potential, a portion of your training regimen needs to dedicate to functional movement/fitness training.
Functional fitness training enables the body to be strong, mobile, and flexible. It also increases the body's recovery time, allowing it to do more while at the same time reducing the risk of injury.
In this article, we review some of the best functional movement programs online.
Functional/Mobility Training Comparison Chart
Difficulty Level (1-5)
GymFit TV by Gymnastics Bodies
Yes - One Week
$29.99/mo or $239.88/year
Yes - One Week
$295 once or three payments of $99
Yes - One Week
$19.99/mo or $199.99/year
The Ready State (Mobility WOD)
Yes - 14 days
$14.99/mo or $155.88/year
Yes - 7 days
$13.95/mo or $150/year
GymnasticBodies.com is a program that was kickstarted by Coach Christopher Sommer – who is a world-renowned coach for gymnastics. He developed athletes for Olympics caliber – some of which were part of the US National Gymnastics team. Coach Christopher Sommer has over 40 years of experience.
They recently have done a rebrand that included changing the name of their program to GymFit TV by Gymnastic Bodies, while also revamping their pricing structure. They now offer 4 integrated plans at $225 each. They also have 4 shorter series (fundamental, restore, stretch, and handstand) that are available for $99 each. However, if you want the whole 9 yards (4 integrated plans and 4 series), you can now get it all for $29.99/mo (billed monthly) or $19.99/mo (but billed yearly). There is a 7-day free trial available on both payment options.
As you can see, the dashboard is clean and intuitive. But they have four different programs, so it may be confusing to know which one to start with. With that, they created a series of questions to determine your current fitness level - that will recommend your ideal fitness program. Below is the video of the short quiz:
The new pricing structure of Gymnastic Bodies MIGHT lead them to a new audience as the old pricing structure shy away from people who did not want to throw down $100.00 (or more) for a fitness program. Breaking them up into payments makes it more affordable in the short-term.
If you want to do this program in its entirety, you may need to invest in extra fitness equipment. At most, you will need a dumbbell and gymnastics rings (or TRX bands) in the intro workouts. But at the more advanced levels, some of the stretches and exercises do use stall bars and other gymnastics-related equipment. But any equipment that is needed can be easily procured online or can be substituted with traditional gym equipment that you can find at any gym.
- A very well-laid-out plan that is generated according to your current fitness level
- Lead by world-renowned gymnastics Christopher Sommer, with over 40 years of experienced
- Tons of tutorials along with an option to upload your own videos to website to be critiqued
- One week trial offered
- Four different levels with pre-populated (but modular) programming for different levels of fitness
- Extremely linear approach with structured sets that are progressions prior to moving on
- Very challenging program, even for those that are fit
- Video quality on some of the videos is less impressive than other programs. Some look amateur-ish, like they were filmed quite a bit ago on a non-HD camera.
GymFit TV by Gymnastics Bodies is made for those who want to go above and beyond everyday bodyweight exercises. This is one of the toughest programs on the list and is designed to challenge even really fit people. The program is mobility training on steroids. If you work through it, not only that you will be stronger and mobile, your body will also be more defined.
Best program for those already fit and want to work on next-level gymnastic movements
2. GMB Fitness
GMB stands for Gold Medal Bodies and they are one of vanguards of this online functional training movement. Their pricing structure is quite transparently available on their site.
Like Gymnastics Bodies, GMB Fitness offers an a la carte program broken up into four - Elements, Integral Strength, Vitamin, and Focused Flexibility. You can buy all four in a bundle or buy each program separately. Each of the four program focuses on specific elements of functional fitness. The program is at $95 each as of this writing. You may also opt to bundle all four programs at $295.
- You can select a la carte program for $95 each, or the full bundle for $295.
- Caters to all fitness levels
- Comes with one week free trial
- No monthly payment option
- No dedicated strengthening program
GMB Fitness is a program made for those that want to improve their mobility without the need for extra equipment or needing to be extremely fit. Unlike GymFit TV by Gymnastics Bodies, GMB is not a linear progression program. If can jump around the program and work on what you like. Like Gym Fit TV, there is an assessment you can take to see what the ideal starting program for you is.
Ideal program for those who want to be able to become more agile and mobile, without a rigid training program or extra equipment.
3. Animal Flow
When you hear GMB Fitness, you will often hear Animal Flow being associated with it. Both programs are extremely similar in form and foundation. If you have tried GMB Fitness Elements and are wondering what the differences between the two are, watch this video below:
Animal Flow is created to be a free-flowing program with less structure than many of the other programs listed in this article. Like the name infers, Animal Flow's program is molded after natural movements of animals. They call it the ABCs of animal travel: Ape, Beast, and Crab. In other words, most of the movements will start with all four limbs on the floor.
The online "on demand" program is $19.99 a month after a 7-day free trial. They have made the program truly on demand as you can watch it on your Roku, Firestick, Android TV, or Apple TV, in addition to streaming it on your phone via mobile app or laptop via website.
When you first log into the program , you are presented with 5 options as seen above.
Tutorials feature short 3 to 8 minute tutorials that teach you how to do specific movements of your flows. As these movements are not common movements seen in the gym or fitness regimens, it is good to browse through this section first to get familiar with the movements. If you are familiar with breakdancing, you will find that many of these movements are similar. These are separated into sections according to difficulty. There are 38 videos in the Tutorials section as of the publishing of this article.
Flows feature a short 2 to 5-minute progressions of movements available in the tutorials section. These flows are separated into sections according to difficulty. Many of these are rapid progressions, much faster than yoga. Here is a short snippet of a sample beginner's flow.
Classes feature 10 to 30 minute recorded workouts that are organized according to fitness goals and fitness level. There are even HIIT workouts to bring up your heart rate to improve cardiovascular fitness.
Getting Started just features an introduction into the Animal Flow program and a 14-minute wrist mobility exercise video.
Flow of The Week is a single video per week featuring a specific flow.
If you are not interested in the $19.99/mo online "on demand" program, they have some other options for you to learn Animal Flow. They have videos available from $49.95 to $99.95. They also have an e-book tailored towards fighters called Animal Flow for Fighters.
- $19.99 a month is one of the more expensive options on this list
Animal Flow is a terrific movement program for those who want to strictly work on mobility and flexibility. A lot of these movements are taken from yoga, breakdancing, gymnastics, and mimic animal movement. If you are looking to get buff, this program may not be for you; however you will get stronger, especially if you are not used to moving in this way.
Animal Flow exercises are animal locomotion based, so you will be using your hands a lot to post against the floor. So wrist flexibility and mobility is essential . If you have weak wrists, you may want to dedicate sometime to their wrist mobility workouts. If you have medical contraindications that prevents you from overusing your wrists or hands, this program may not be for you.
Best for those who want to improve agility and gain the ability to do some cool movements.
The MovNat program works to teach customers about the fundamental technique behind simple exercises. These will then slowly increase in volume, intensity, complexity, and another variable. In simple terms, you will slowly be made physically ready to take on harder exercises. Aside from simple mobility training, MovNat also offers training with unconventional methods such as running barefoot on rocks, climbing trees, and lifting oddly-shaped logs.. The guiding principle of MovNat is to blend nature with movement, thereby staying true to the definition of natural movement.
MovNat has three intro programs in videos and ebooks that you can use for free. Here is a glimpse of the material they have for free:
They also have longer videos available for free too, such as this 23 minute restoration series:
However, if you are ready to immerse yourself fully into their program that has 7 full lessons that covers all of natural movement (ground movement, crawling, gait, lifting and carrying, throwing and catching, jumping, and climbing), then you can get their full online e-course for $399. The course is called Natural Movement Fundamentals and total 6 hours and 14 minutes of exercises and instruction. If you are not ready to shell out $399 for their course, you can get a quick gander of their philosophy by taking a look at the The Practice of Natural Movement book, which you can get online at Amazon.
If you are interested in attending one of their live workshops after going through their online program, you can go to this page and look at their schedule. For you martial artists reading, they also have a combatives workshop. They actually have legit fighters teaching the workshops, such as Carlos Condit. However, it seems as though the workshop is extremely limited in scope. Here is a testimonial from an experienced martial artist who took the combatives course:
Vic didn’t make any promises about turning anyone into a world-class fighter, but he delivers a curriculum on the fundamentals of human combat that every capable human should know. This course isn’t to craft UFC champions, it’s to make capable human beings, and from my years of martial arts experience and knowledge of biomechanics and physiology I can tell you MovNat chose the right bits to include.
- The have a lot of free material you can use
- The program aims to teach customers about the fundamental technique behind simple exercises.
- These will then slowly increase in volume, intensity, complexity, and other variables
- The program blends nature with movement, truly offering training on natural movement
- There is no option for monthly payments for their online course
- The online course is expensive, coming in at $399
MovNat is a free program that aims to bring back natural movement through easy-to-do exercises. They have built quite a big community through the years
Best program for those already fit and want to work on next-level gymnastic movements
5. The Ready State (Mobility WOD)
This mobility and movement program is created by Dr. Kelly Starrett, well-known in the world of sports and functional fitness. As per Wikipedia, he is a CrossFit trainer, yet "The Ready State" is a non-Crossfit course. It is a program to prevent injury and increase mobility/flexibility in those that participate in sports (such as Crossfit).
This program has specifically designed areas that intersect with scientific disciplines such as exercise, ergonomics, metabolism, nutrition, and behavior analysis. All of these combine to form the Movement and Mobility 101 course.
The program focuses your efforts on mastering posture and then accumulating the exercise to maximum reps. The program has a 14-day free trial and it consists of 4 modules and about 77 videos – which means over 10 hours of instructions. The course is broken into three sections, Workout, Pain, and Daily Maintenance.
The Ready State doesn't seem to have any linear progression to the course. It is really pick-you-own-adventure with The Ready State. In the Workout section, you pick the workouts or sports you are going to do, and then it will direct you towards exercises you can do before and after the workout/sport for you to do to get ready. In the Pain section, you pick the specific part of the body you are feeling the pain and it will direct you towards exercises you can do. In the Daily Maintenance section, it has a lot of videos ranging from 10-30 minutes of stretches and exercises you can do to maintenance your daily flexibility and mobility. There is definitely no shortage of content in The Ready State course.
Overall, The Ready State aims to be a course that attempts to teach athletes and fitness enthusiasts low impact exercises to increase mobility and flexibility while working to prevent injury.
After the free trial, you have the option of paying $12.99/mo (billed annually) or $14.99/mo billed monthly. Which makes it out to $155.88 or $179.88 per year, depending on how you want to be billed.
This program is great for those who want a low impact program, and don't want to necessarily improve agility and don't care about wanting to do acrobatic movements.
Best program for those who want a low-impact program that lets you go at your own pace.
This streaming video-based product has been aimed at the audiences to teach them about flexibility, breathing, mobility, and increasing performance. This audience comprises of Olympic athletes, CrossFit athletes, and people who are generally looking to improve their ranges of motion for muscles.
The workout videos are very effective and casual users will find that the videos have been beautifully filmed, well-thought-out, and well-narrated. Access to this program will cost users $13.95 every month (or $150 a year) for personal use after a 7-day free trial.
In this course, you are presented with a workout-of-the-day (WOD) everyday. These workouts consists of videos anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour. Aside from the WOD videos, there are also short videos (less than 1 minute) showing you specific exercises and movements. Each routine will also feature a long version and a short version so if you crunched for time, you can still complete a truncated version.
After going through the program, I have to say a lot of these exercises and routines are yoga-inspired. But that's not to say it is easy. Some of the workouts are actually pretty challenging from a flexibility standpoint. Many of these WOD videos involve 4-7 static stretches and do not include much plyometrics.
Overall, ROMWOD is a yoga-inspired flexibility program. But instead of a full hour yoga class where you go through many progressions, you get a shorter program which focuses on 4-6 main static stretches that really increases mobility and flexibility. However, I would say this product is extremely useful for anyone who participates in athletic endeavors that is hard on the body, such as martial arts, weight training, or Crossfit. It will bring a nice balance to the beating your body takes.
- A lot of static stretching, not enough movement training
ROMWOD is a program consisting mostly of static stretches. Each WOD will be sure to loosen many of your tight muscles up. Not a good program for those looking for increasing agility and proprioception through movement exercises.
Best program for who want to improve flexibility through static stretching
So there you have it, some of the more popular mobility and functional fitness programs on the internet. Mobility training and functional fitness is a very large umbrella that encompasses a lot of training modalities. On one extreme, you have programs that use hardcore bootcamp-style workouts and on the other extreme you have programs that focus on long static stretches. And then you have everything else in between. So what we are trying to say is that the program you choose should depend on what your fitness goals are.