As I lay in bed after a day of training on the TRX [workout training equipment], I cried from being so sore. This soreness hit me by surprise. As a professional dancer, I was used to the experience of training all day, and although I have not been training professionally for the past year, I was in utter shock by just how sore I felt. Every muscle in my body, particularly the ones responsible for stabilization, like my rotator cuffs, ached with fatigue. I was having so much fun performing these movements that I didn’t realize just how hard I had been working.
“So what is functional?” the teacher Chris McGrath asks us. The room was filled with professional personal trainers, gym managers, and one guy recovering from knee surgery. Mr. McGrath points out that dysfunctional is when “the parts don’t work together correctly.” Functional training must be effective, efficient, and work the body in all three planes of motion. It is not about the tools we are working with but rather about how the parts work well together.
So why, when this is a course on how to work with the TRX, would we get lectured to on the definition of functional training and how it has nothing to do with the tools you are working with.
I guess the reason lies in responsibility. Just because you are working with a tool that provides great potential for a highly functional workout, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily design the workout well enough for it meet your goals.
However, creating a functionally sound workout routine on the TRX is very possible.
This became more apparent as we were put through the TRX ropes. It is effective at training the body by utilizing one’s own body weight as its resistance. You can change the degree of resistance by changing the angle of your own body in relation to the TRX, thus tailoring the level of difficulty to the individual. It is efficient because it is easy to transition from one exercise to the next, targeting many different forms of movement and muscle groups in a short period of time. Plus, the TRX creates an environment of instability, forcing the exerciser to work their stabilizers and core muscles throughout any given exercise.
What will appeal to frequent flyers and non gym-goers alike is that the TRX only weighs two pounds and is easy to mount anywhere, be it hanging from a tree or connected to a door.
Plus it is fun! I love a good challenge, and I found it playing with the TRX. I also enjoyed watching in awe, as a couple of very muscular men performed gymnastic-like movements then quickly changing their routine, reminding me of two young boys playing on a jungle gym.
U.S. Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick developed TRX. The SEAL teams needed to find a way to stay in shape anywhere, be it on a ship or an urban safe house. They would use a few lengths of parachute webbing hand-stitched together using boat repair tools. Mr. Hetrick created a prototype of the TRX, making it more comfortable and user-friendly for the public. The U.S. military continues to use the TRX prototype. In fact, part of our class was lead by Amy LeBrech, who works to incorporate the TRX Suspension System into all the military programs.
If you are thinking of purchasing a TRX for yourself, beware: It is challenging and requires basic skills. If you do not know how to work your body well, you may not get the most out of the system. However, a few lessons with a well-versed personal trainer familiar with the system may help. If that is not an option for you, they do have some great DVDs. They are very clear, explicit, and well shot. The speakers are experts in their fields and give very systematic, easy to follow instruction. You’ll be fit as a Navy SEAL in no time, and I just found a new hobby!