This past weekend was one that I will not forget anytime soon. I spent the entire day on Saturday out in Wood Dale taking an all- day TRX workshop. Unfortunately, my GPS broke down on me and I ended up taking the wrong exit and going about 5 miles out of my way. I made it just in the nick of time, running through the door at exactly 9am. Had I been late, I might have not been allowed to take the workshop as it was very intensive and every moment counted. I was very grateful because it was to become one of the most beneficial workshops that I would ever take. In recent years, TRX has become increasing popular mostly because it is a form of exercise that can be done by literally everyone, no matter what your current fitness level happens to be. It is great for beginners, but let me tell you, this workshop had me panting and also left me with a good amount of muscle soreness for the next two days. Throughout this article I will be explaining exactly what TRX is, how it’s performed, and some of the many benefits that it has to offer.

Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick is the founder of TRX. He was looking for a way for him and his teammates to stay in peak condition, but the surroundings of their missions did not offer traditional fitness equipment and their space was limited. The TRX suspension Trainer evolved as the answer. Originally made with parachute webbing, Hetrick and his teammates quickly developed an entire series of bodyweight exercises specifically designed for this unique training harness. Before he could barely blink an eye, Suspension Training had emerged as the newest, ground breaking form of exercise in the world of fitness. What makes TRX so great? It builds true functional strength and improves flexibility, balance and core stability all at once. It has a very strong carry- over into our activities of daily life and sport. It has become the world’s first performance training apparatus designed to facilitate an enormous range of bodyweight training movements for the entire body that can be performed anywhere, anytime, by anybody.

Some of you may be wondering what Suspension Training really is. Let me explain. The exercises that are performed using the TRX Trainer are unique in that the user’s hands or feet are generally supported by a single anchor point while the opposite end of the body is in contact with the ground. When a body hangs from an overhead support point, its center of gravity seeks the lowest point to the ground. Exercising on the TRX utilizes gravity and movement, generating neuromuscular responses to changes in body position and mechanical advantage. This is why literally anyone can benefit from TRX. By simply moving closer to or further away from the anchor point, resistance can be immediately increased or decreased significantly. It’s a beautiful thing.

There are many benefits of Suspension Training, some of which I have already mentioned. Not only can anyone benefit from it, but it can also be utilized anywhere: in the gym, in your home, in a hotel room, and yes, even outside. In fact, many boot camp instructors are starting to utilize TRX for their classes. Also, the most fundamental benefit of TRX ix that the core is constantly challenged, even when other parts of the body are the targeted muscle groups. The center of gravity for each person is located just above the hips along the midline of the body. Changing the position of the body shifts the center of gravity, but within most daily activities, it remains within the confines of the torso. Suspension training exercises are specifically designed to displace the center of gravity, activating the core musculature during every exercise. TRX workouts develop core strength using functional movements and dynamic positions, which is a nice departure from the typical “lying on the floor face up” approach to abdominal training. The glutes are also considered part of the core, and let me tell you, when I woke up the next morning, my glutes were sorer than they have been in a long time!

A highly functional benefit of TRX training is that it allows us to train in all three planes of movement: sagittal, transverse, and frontal. In traditional exercise (both aerobic and anaerobic), most movements are performed in the sagittal plane while the frontal and transverse planes are largely neglected. There is nothing wrong with this except that it does not have much carry- over into the activities of everyday life and sport. This is what gives TRX such a tremendous edge. It is a great outlet to train in all three planes of motion, thereby enhancing not only our physical strength and stamina but also our daily movement. This is also what makes it such a great tool for sport specific training. In other words, it allows us to train like we live.

I also believe that training with TRX can ultimately lead to injury prevention. Not only is the core constantly being challenged, but other stabilizing muscles are also called in to action. Often, it is these smaller stabilizing muscles that are not trained effectively and can therefore lead to injury if one is not careful. The fact that many of these exercises are performed standing and that most are multi- joint movements performed in all three planes of motion will ensure that the entire body will be trained effectively. Improved posture is another added benefit that comes from this type of training.

The TRX Suspension Trainer is complex and care must be taken to learn how to use this tool effectively and properly. I could try to explain it within the confines of this article, but believe me, in order to fully understand how it works, it must be experienced in a live setting. Therefore, if you are someone who is interested in training with the TRX Suspension Trainer, I highly recommend either taking a TRX class or hiring a trainer who has been trained in how to work with it. I definitely do not recommend watching YouTube clips and then trying it on your own.

The fitness world is evolving at a rapid pace into the phenomenon of functional training. TRX training is the next step in that direction and I for one could not be more thrilled about it. Make no mistake- I am not saying TRX is the only way. It is just another tool in the library of fitness and in the end, variety is the ultimate key to seeing results. Traditional lifting and aerobic exercise of course must also be included in a well- rounded fitness program. But this is not a passing craze. TRX is here to stay.