Friday, October 17, 2014


Sometimes the mere thought of getting into shape or beginning and exercise program can be so daunting; it leads to failure before one even gets started.  There is the time commitment, the various clothing, shoes, electronics, and costly health club memberships not to mention which one to choose and then there is all the equipment. For many, this can be overwhelming enough that the easiest choice so to grab another bag of chips and opt for the couch and a marathon rerun of Seinfeld. Well at least it’s a marathon of some sorts, right?

It is true; exercising can be a complicated task if you allow it to be.  The cost of gym memberships, equipment, personal fitness electronics and clothing can add up, but the savvy consumer can get a great workout with minimal investment.  While functional strength training appears to be one of the most costly and involved, a TRX suspension training unit can provide an affordable, portable and highly effective strength training workout for the entire body.

So what is functional training?  According to Michael Risner with Life Time Training, functional training means moving your body the way it was meant to move—using all your joints and your full range of motion–so you can enjoy all the activities of daily life. We humans are designed to move ourselves through space, but our lifestyles don’t reflect this.  We sleep lying down, we sit down to eat, we sit down to drive, we sit down at work, we sit down to eat, we sit down to work some more, we sit down to drive home, we sit down and watch TV, and then we lie down to sleep.

A TRX suspension training system is ideal for increasing functional strength. While TRX (Total Resistance eXercise) might seem complex at first, the concept behind it is simple. Suspension training leverages gravity and the user's body weight to enable hundreds of exercises for every fitness goal. This straightforward concept of body weight vs. gravity is the definition of functional training.

So how does it work? Holding the body rigid in space against gravity forces the muscles of the core and back to work as they should to hold the spine in proper alignment. In addition to building strength, stability, endurance and balance, the TRX is also a great tool for increasing mobility and range of motion.  There isn't a muscle group you can't target using the TRX.

I'll often use the TRX to increase core stability and strength along with leg and upper body strength. The fantastic thing about the TRX is that the exercises are so easy to progress and regress to fit your needs. A simple shifting of the feet forward or backward can take a challenging exercise that can only be done with partial range of motion to an attainable exercise performed with full range of motion and proper form. You simply cannot achieve something like that so easily on a bench press.

While setting up the equipment is simple and easy to learn, it’s important to make sure the TRX is securely attached to its anchor point (a tree branch, pole, or door attachment). You’ll also need to adjust the TRX straps to varying lengths for different exercises.  A TRX unit costs about $175 dollars and comes with a DVD showcasing different uses of the equipment. There are also numerous video tutorials on TRXTV available on

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, USA Triathlon Level 1 Coach, Group Exercise Instructor, exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.