Twist it, rock it, and tone it up.
Many times when exploring new workout routines, I am fixated on cardio-intensive exercises. I need to pull back the reins and remind myself to tone it up. It’s beneficial to partner all the hard work and burning up the fat with a regime that focuses on building toned, lean muscles.
Perhaps I have found the golden ticket.
So what exactly is TRX? It sounded cool when I first discovered it but I couldn’t exactly make out what it was. Was it a device? Was it a routine?
I soon realized that it was born in the U.S. Navy SEALS and further developed by Fitness Anywhere.
Suspension Training® is a method of leveraged body weight exercises where you can set up the portable TRX Suspension Trainer anywhere and work out hundreds of different moves. The workout helps you increase strength, flexibility, balance and choose your own intensity level. I thought if this had any connection to the Navy, then it was going to be tough; and I am always eager to conquer a fitness challenge.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy lifting weights and doing my fair share of lunges and squats. However, I think we can all agree this gets monotonous when done time and time again. So, I needed a “shock to the system” as I like to phrase it.
Before hitting up the gym, I hit up the computer and carefully searched for an unconventional and innovative approach to muscle building. To my surprise and excitement, I found a gym called Trainer Daddy. (The first thing that popped into my head was “who’s your daddy?”) A little curious as to what I would find when I clicked on the site, I was pleasantly surprised. This personal trainer focused on TRX Suspension Training workouts to tone and strengthen his clients’ muscles. I immediately gave him a ring to get the details on this workout.
So I chatted it up with Trainer Daddy owner, JR. We made an appointment to see if this TRX business was all it was cracked up to be. After our conversation, I became slightly obsessed with researching the workout so I could be as prepared as possible for our training session. I didn’t want to run the risk of having a surprise trick move thrown at me and not knowing what to do with it.
I arrived at the trendy uptown location in Dallas and was greeted by a beast of a man. I mean that in a positive, complimenting way. This guy was ripped and I felt like a frail little child. Throughout the workout, I constantly repeated how strong this guy was, like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. At one point, I might have broken into song, singing “No one fights like Gaston…” from the musical.
I am sure he was thinking that I was the strangest client he ever had. But sometimes you can’t help it when you are overcome by a song.
Anyway, I was confident this guy knew what he was doing and would help me whip it in gear. I was surprised to see how simple the TRX Suspension Training system was set up.
A lot the research I did showed huge classes where all participants were lined up in a row executing the resistance moves. The setup with JR was not nearly as intimidating. It was just the TRX equipment suspended on some type of steel workout apparatus. It had handles on either side and I could only imagine how I was going to have to contort and suspend my body to get a killer workout. Now JR certainly didn’t go easy on me, but he did allow me to start off the burn session with my feet on the ground.
This was much more comfortable than flying through the air on a trapeze.
When lifting weights at a gym, the pressure is on to load up that bar with as much weight as you can and pump to impress. However, with TRX, you are using your own body weight to master the moves. Depending on the muscle group and position I was focusing on, I simply had to shift my body weight and was able to work at a higher intensity level. If I felt that I physically could not perform the move, I adjusted my posture and was able to accommodate the exercise.
Easy as pie, right? Yeah tell that to my shaking arms. There was one point in the session where I was feeling mighty confident with my TRX success and was approaching a new move.
Now let me paint you a picture of this scene. I am in a plank position and am instructed to put my feet through the straps and suspend my body up in the air. My first thought was – no offense to my ass – but I got some junk in the trunk; how am I going to hold my entire body up on my ankles? They will snap!
But, I trusted JR and forged ahead.
As I was getting ready to assume the position, I thought here goes nothin’ and hoisted myself up. I collapsed immediately and burst into laughter. Like the positive personal trainer JR is, he encouraged me to suck in that core and give it a go again. So, I conjured up every bit of strength I could muster and sure enough, I was hovering above ground.
My entire core was shaking and I desperately wanted to come down from the pose. But, oh no, I was just beginning.
JR commanded me to begin moving my legs and hips from left to right, in a pendulum motion. Suspended about a foot off the ground, sucking my abs in for dear life, I began the slow, rocking motion.
My abs felt this move so incredibly deep. I thought I had already dug down and discovered every muscle in my core area, but I was mistaken. After what felt like an eternity, JR granted me to come down. I was so grateful that specific exercise was over; however, I was very excited that I didn’t give up and I kept going. Instead of being scared that I would look stupid and like a weakling, I kept on truckin’ and walked away with a sense of accomplishment.
Some other favorite, yet torturous, moves I encountered were bowler’s lunges with an overhead triceps press. Talk about feeling it from your head to your toes! I also enjoyed an amazing move that was aimed at tightening the buns. With this move, you laid on your back and placed the bottom of your feet through the rings. Lifting up the lower half of your body allowed you to focus on toning the ham strings, quads, glutes and abs. It was like a 4-for-1. Talk about wasting no time at all and multi-tasking.
After about an hour, I guess JR thought I had had enough. All my muscles felt tight, like I had just completed a body sculpt or muscle pump class. I was also surprised when I realized my heart rate was beating pretty fast and I had definitely broken a sweat. We cooled down walking on the treadmill and then JR made sure I stretched out sufficiently before he sent me on my way. I told him how I always seem to put stretching on the back burner after jamming out a workout. He said this was a no-no and encouraged me to be sure to thoroughly stretch daily, especially after a muscle toning workout.
I confessed to JR that I was often intimidated and nervous to have a personal trainer. I think a lot of us share this notion. Either we don’t want to disclose our body weight, we are afraid we will fail to make the commitment, or we worry about what they think if we can’t complete the workout. But after facing this fear head on with an ultra-strong brute, I now realize they are a cheerleader more than anything.
JR also encouraged me or anyone else looking for a personal trainer, to find someone who complements your workout preferences. If you are a fan of tough love then go for a more militant, strict trainer. However, if you don’t respond well to the intimidation factor, request a chipper type who will encourage you with positive affirmations and enthusiasm. The bottom line is it’s your money and your body so design the plan how you want it.
Be sure to check out pictures of my TRX session to see the variety of the full body moves JR put me through:
Follow the link to Fitness Anywhere to learn more about the TRX Suspension Training System. The element I was impressed with about TRX is that some gyms offer fitness classes centering around the mechanism, or you can purchase it and do the workouts in your own home. I even told JR I could take it to work with me and bust it out in the cube during my lunch break. Perhaps I won’t go that far but it could definitely tag along on a trip, tucked away nicely in a suitcase.
So maybe it’s not the TRX system you try. Maybe you attempt a muscle toning class at your local gym. Even if you don’t belong to a gym, print off a free guest pass online, grab a friend and take a whack at it. You might be surprised at how wonderful your body feels after the class and the improvements it could potentially have on your posture, balance and strength.
* – Gaston image credit: Disney-Clipart.com
About the Author
Kimberly Westphall is the author of Blogging Fitness and a regular contributor to Midwest Sports Fans. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas where she majored in Journalism. She participated in a podcast with Jerod, which will help you get to know her even better.
While at KU, she was an anchor and online web producer for Jayhawk Sports Talk. Kimberly made her MSF debut in 2009 discussing the fight between Kansas’ basketball and football teams and also had her column about the Dallas Stars Ice Girls featured at Dallas Sports Fans.
She has a passion for fitness and is on the lookout for emerging fitness trends and workouts. Her favorite group exercise format is kickboxing, which she discusses in her first Blogging Fitness post today.
When she’s not hitting up the aerobics studio both as a participant and instructor, Kimberly is training for the 2010 Washington D.C. Marathon with her best friend Jackie.
Midwest Sports Fans (MSF) Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that MSF makes a small percentage of anything purchased upon a click-through. Additionally, Kimberly received a free training session during her research for this article. That said, MSF only writes about stories that we believe will interest our readers, and we only link to and endorse sites and services that we would use or have used ourselves. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”