TRX is basically suspension training, and the program I took was a 9 week small group training program with a trainer that works out of my gym. Suspension training leverages gravity and your bodyweight to perform different exercises and allows you to control the level of challenge somewhat by adjusting your body position. The main piece of equipment required is a TRX Suspension Trainer (which apparently originated from a military fitness use) and somewhere to anchor it off of. The set-up at the gym is sort of a swingset looking metal A frame with multiple suspension trainers anchored off of it. Typically, each group will be made up of 8 people, 4 per side.
Program description: Our first day consisted of learning a few exercises, primarily those that would be used for testing (baseline on this day, and finish line on the last day). We did a shorter workout and then moved into baseline testing. You work with a partner and work through a series of 5 exercises that your improvement will be measured on at the end of the 9 weeks. After that first day, each session generally focuses on either lunging or squatting and either pulling or pushing movements. You are introduced to new exercises, or variations on ones you’ve already done on an almost regular basis, which I really liked. Each session generally consists of three rounds of exercises with intense cardio drills in between, ending with a one-minute challenge and some partner and/or team work before a nice stretch. You have a dedicated trainer for the 8 of you who shows you the exercises, instructs and corrects your form along the way. The program gets progressively more difficult, and the interval length for which you do the exercises gets longer as you move further along in the program.
What I liked: Results, results, results! I signed up for this program because I felt weak and like I needed to improve my overall strength. When I say results, I don’t mean weight loss or inches, I mean an increase in strength. It was really motivating to see my strength improve on various exercises throughout the program. I could barely do one suspended pike when I started, and now I can manage a few before needing a break. I learned that my core is exceptionally weak so that is something I need to focus on, while I have pretty decent lower body strength.
The aspect of testing gave me a tangible measure of how I had improved.
As you can see from the above photo, I was able to increase my performance on 4 out of 5 tested exercises including doubling on my atomic push-ups (one of my most loathed exercises is now becoming one of my favourite). I didn’t move on the low row, which I think just means I need to work more on my pulling strength and maybe challenge myself a bit more on these moves.
What I didn’t like: It could sometimes be crowded on either side of the apparatus, which makes it difficult to do things where your arms and/or legs need to be extended out to the side. If you have someone next to you that you might hit, its best to figure out a way with them beforehand to avoid hitting each other.
Waiting for others to be ready when setting up particular exercises or waiting for those to finish could sometimes be a pain, and I found it especially embarrassing when I was the person people were waiting on. This is something you kind of get used to, and as the workouts get harder, you appreciate any opportunity you might have to take a little extra break.
Cost: $299 + tax for members of Goodlife. I believe it is about $100 more for those who are not members, but also gives you access to the gym on the days you are TRXing, which is a pretty sweet added bonus. You can also buy a TRX trainer for your home for about $200 which comes with a few workout options, though you might want to try it with a trainer first to get the hang of things.
Levels recommended for: Any level from beginner right through to fitness machine could benefit from this as there is a lot of variation in how much you challenge yourself just by the way you position your body. If you’re a beginner or injured, you can do things to make it easier for you. If you want a challenge, there are lots of ways to push yourself further.
- Bring water!
- Pay very close attention to your form, especially at the beginning. A key to a lot of the exercises is proper form and it can take awhile to nail it down. Though your trainer will be there to call you out when your form is incorrect or at risk of hurting you.
- Be prepared for muscle soreness, after each and every class. No pain no gain!
I actually liked this so much that I’ve signed up for the next session. I love the feeling of getting a little strong every week. Now I’m just worried about not losing that strength on the two week break between sessions!
Disclosure: I’m a Goodlife Fitness member and have been for years, thus I pay for my membership and receive no incentive for posting about their classes.