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Experiment Results: Suspension Training is Fun!

Posted Dec 02 2008 2:58am

So I spent most of November just hanging around the gym. Literally. As in from cables suspended from the ceiling (or the chin-up bar, or the cable machine, or my really tall friends...). I think my favorite part of the Suspenion Training Experimen t besides the massive amounts of weird looks we got - seriously, one man would just follow us around the gym floor with the express purpose of rolling his eyes at us. I don't think his body got a lot of exercise but I bet he has the strongest eye sockets in the midwest! - was what people thought the TRX actually was.

"Now don't hang yourself!" (a noose.)

"Can you do an Iron Cross on those thingies?" (gymnastic rings.)

And my personal favorite: "Can I borrow your sex swing?" (ahem.)

It even earned us a first in Gym Buddy History: our own personal warning sign! After working out for several weeks on the TRX, using both my own and the identical one that the Y has, the Gym Buddies and I were greeted one morning by a sign that read " Equipment in this room (a studio open to the gym public, I might add) is for use only with a personal trainer after the proper training. Sincerely, Gym Management."

It might as well have said " Dear Charlotte and Allison, we fear you and think your crazy antics will land us in a law suit. If we knew a better way to get you kicked out of the gym we'd do it, but in the meantime we're hoping that you don't see this sign so we can catch you doing something naughty (like *gasp* exercising!) and give you the boot. Sincerely, Gym Managment."

I didn't do it but I was sorely tempted to tack on a post-it note replying, " Dear YMCA, I would like to say that the TRX is probably the least risky piece of equipment in the gym. You could do more damage to life, limb and property with an improperly wielded 50-lb dumbbell than a couple of straps with handles on them. If you want to get worked up about something, how about cracking down on folks who sit on the locker room benches starkers? Now that's a health risk. Sincerely, The Gym Buddies."

Now that I've left you with the image of nude 80-year-olds lounging on benches burned into your retinas, let's discuss how the TRX fared as an actual workout. Since the TRX replaced only our weight lifting (we kept our cardio the same), I didn't expect a huge change in body composition and I was correct. My weight, body fat percentage and measurements all stayed the same.

The Good
But where the TRX really shone was in its adaptability, portability and flexibility. Quite honestly, if I were interested in setting up a home gym - which I'm not because then who would leave me passive-aggressive signage to brighten my day? - this would be the first piece of equipment I'd buy. Yes, even before a set of kettlebells. Since suspension training uses only your own body weight and gravity as resistance, it is very light and therefore super portable. You can work every muscle group to failure with just a couple of nylon straps. I love the simplicity. In addition to being able to shove it into a carry-on, it is very easy to set up, adjust and take down, whether it be in your hotel room, spare bedroom or even outside attached to a telephone pole.

Not only is it good for traditional type strength training, it is also great for stretching and some pilates moves. Pretty much every move engages your core because of the instability created by the straps. I've never been so sore in my torso and I think I've got a pretty strong core.

It's easy. Easy to set up. Easy to figure out. Easy to learn the new moves. Very low maintenance!

The Bad
The main thing I didn't like about the TRX is you are somewhat limited in the moves you can do. I suppose some of you are more imaginative than I am but I tried every single exercise that came on the DVDs or the website and there were a few bodyparts that left me stymied as to alternate exercises. After we were banned (for our own safety, I'm sure) from using the second TRX, the Gym Buddies and I moved out to the weight floor where we incorporated the TRX with some barbell and floor work to make a circuit which all of us enjoyed very much. So my opinion is that if you have the option, using the TRX with other forms of exercise equipment is preferable to the TRX alone. But really, that's not much of a downside.

Also, the "shoe loops" are kind of small. I have normal sized feet for a woman (size 8 US) and could barely cram my heels in. Gym Buddy Mike couldn't do it at all. The instructions say to wear "low profile shoes" but we had to strip down to socks to get enough room for everyone's tootsies to fit. But you don't have to tell me twice to workout barefoot - my piggies love their freedom!

It's spendy. The basic package starts at $149.95.

This has got to be one of my favorite pieces of gym equipment ever. I'm in love with it. And if you are interested in trying it out, right now Fitness Anywhere is offering 20% off all their TRX products plus free ground shipping! Just use the coupon code SAVEBIG08 at checkout! Happy swinging!

Any of you try this? Thoughts??

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