The TRX Experiment

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

by Jacqueline Judge, Athleta Copywriter

When Michelle, our social media expert, arrived at my desk to ask if I’d be interested in taking a TRX class and writing an article about it for our chi blog, I immediately said, “I’m beyond down,” or some other silly exclamation that, in hindsight, was a very transparent indication of my naïveté surrounding the sheer difficulty of the TRX Suspension Trainer. But, in my defense, my gung-ho bravado was not completely without merit: I was classically-trained in ballet until age 16, I’m an avid runner with two marathons under my belt, I regularly practice Ashtanga yoga, and recently I’ve been playing around with Budokon, and Insanity workout DVDs, the latter of which is definitely not for the faint of heart. So to me, the TRX did appear challenging, but not overly daunting. How little I knew.

With all the nuts and bolts for our experiment in place, five TRX first-timers arrived at Club One in Petaluma, eager for the opportunity to try something new. Charlene, our powerful-looking trainer, greeted us with a firm, almost jarring handshake (honed from hours on the TRX, I couldn’t help thinking). Her plan was simple: rock us until our bodies dropped. Or at least that’s the way I viewed it after watching Charlene whip out a few rounds of highly impressive moves that involved flexing her obliques to curl and twist her legs from side to side, extending them straight, at one point, for icing on the impressive cake. In any regard, it was like dangling bait, because after that we were raring to go.

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

Given there were five of us, and only three TRX units, Charlene set up three other stations in a circuit training format so we could all participate at once: a jump rope, Bosu, and kettleball station were added. For the first round, I had to perform a basic row with the TRX; to do so, I held onto the strap handles and leaned back with arms outstretched, contracting my muscles to lift into a row position.

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

To increase the difficulty, all I had to do was step my feet further forward, making the angle at which I was leaning more severe. I was fresh and feeling strong, so I completed my rows without a hitch.

To my left, I could see Tracy’s triceps contracting as she lifted and lowered into a string of pushups, a look of discombobulated surprise dawning on her face. She looked as if she and the pushup had just been formally introduced, with awkward handshaking and everything. After Charlene yelled “Switch!” I understood why.

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

My muscles quivered and my hands shook at odd angles, shooting forward and to the sides as I concentrated on leaning into the straps and lowering into a pushup as smoothly as possible. Tracy had let out a few surprised exhales during her round, but I was unprepared for a pushup harder than… well…  a pushup. By the end of the first round, though, we were feeling good and full of adrenaline. That’s when Charlene broke the news: “Did you like that? Good, because you have seven more rounds.” Our faces fell.

For the next rounds, Charlene introduced increasingly challenging moves while Michelle acted as photojournalist, snapping shots all around. The second round included a deep, one-legged squat from side to side that made me feel like Jackie Chan, while the next rounds involved pike…

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

And my personal hell favorite, the chest fly. An Athleta model is featured in our Spring catalog showing off a dramatic TRX chest fly where she hovers nearly parallel to the ground.

I brought this up to Tracy, a buff triathlete herself, and she said, “I knew it was a hero shot, for sure, but now I have a whole new level of appreciation for that image.” No kidding. We all managed something that at the time felt feeble, shaky — a move that deteriorated any shred of ego we had left, but the photos indicate otherwise. Hey, photos can lie – we were dying in those pictures.

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

It was around the time we started doing mountain climbers that everyone was exercising in complete silence — probably screaming on the inside, from frustration or pain I don’t know, but silent regardless. In between rounds of one-armed rows and exhausting squats on the Bosu, we were all running to the fountain, jostling limbs and stumbling along the way. Our hair was frizzy and undone and our eyes clouded over, but we were so immersed in the workout that stopping wasn’t an option. Our dedication must have been apparent, because Charlene enjoyed watching us, calling us “a strong group.”

Athleta TRX Suspension Training

The last round was celebrated with a jock’s version of uncorking champagne: we coiled up our last reserves, pushed out a final rep, and then with an almighty flop we fell to the ground, bubbling out a sigh of relief, our heart pulses slowly returning to normal. We each received a high-five from Charlene, the slap reverberating in our Jell-O muscles much more keenly than it did in the morning. Sweat still freshly beaded on our skin, we looked at each other, taking in all the pain, the shaking, the feeling that despite our individual athleticism, we may not finish.

What was the general consensus?

We’d do it again.

In a heartbeat.

Photo Gallery

Comments

  1. KristieS says:

    Perfect timing on this post! I tried TRX for the first time on Friday, and I LOVED it! It was hard than I expected, and my arms indeed felt like Jell-O afterward.

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  2. Lauren R. says:

    I love TRX. I have be taking TRX classes twice a week for 6 months now. I love it so much that I bought a TRX unit for my home. Couldn’t live with out it.

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  3. sylvia says:

    i just hooked up with a personal trainer at my health club last weekend and guess what she incorporated into my strength training workout?? TRX!!! looking forward to doing this, and would love a way to set it up at home :-) hey, Lauren, where did you get it and what do you need?

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  4. Marva says:

    Looks like a fun challenge. TRX is not in my area yet. :(

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  5. Chris Hanenburg says:

    I PT in Colorado getting ready to take my 1st TRX class. Really looking forward to some quivering arms. Keep you posted!

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  6. Terri Fox says:

    I received certification in training on the TRX back in September. The midwest is always many months behind the coasts!!! I couldn’t believe the amount of work that was exerted using 2 straps. I have been training clients on it ever since. I have a couple of ladies that ask to be trained on it at least once a month. These ladies are in their 60s. Their strength, balance, coordination, self-esteem and range of motion are all better. These are amazing women. I incorporate the use of the TRX in many of my training sessions with clients. It will always be a staple in my training whether I am training 1, 2 or a bootcamp of clients. I use it myself in my workouts.

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  7. Shannon says:

    TRX is awesome…..great for strength training, balance and coordination. Always amazed at what I am able to accomplish…never thought I would ever be able to do a chest fly. I was so afraid of falling on my face….fears are gone and look forward to the next challenge my trainer has for me.

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  8. anne Marie says:

    I’m glad to see you’re giving a shout out to both TRX & how crazy hard the reality of that TRX catalog pose is!!;)

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  9. Meghan says:

    Wow! I’m feeling the burn just looking at them!

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  10. Charlene Hubbard says:

    You guys were an energetic and fun group come on back anytime. Seriously you were strong and worked really hard

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  11. Julie says:

    Great article! I finally started using my husband’s TRX this past year and wished I had tried it sooner. A great workout that can be modified in all sorts of ways. It closes easily in the top of a door…it’s so easy and great for travel, although you can do some additional exercises if it is mounted so that you can workout straight below it.

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  12. Julie says:

    Forgot to mention that I love to stretch with the TRX as well!

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  13. mary says:

    tried TRX at BODY F/X in east islip absolutely awesome !!!

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  14. Meaghan says:

    I’m a physio and have a TRX in the clinic for patients. Love it!!! It’s a great tool for return to sport training and challenging people in ways other equipment can’t touch!

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  15. Nancy says:

    I have been using TRX for months now and have it for home…LOVE IT!!!

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  16. Lily says:

    Jacqueline- Realistic and totally inspiring piece !

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  17. Daphne says:

    Ladies, even if you don’t have a gym or a personal trainer to go to for TRX training, there’s always the DVDs, their website and ofcourse youtube. I have owned the TRX for four years now and it is definitely a must own tool for every athlete. The DVD selections on their website offer ample opportunities to get in shape and challenge yourself! My recommendation is to start out with the basics and then when you’re ready, hit the bootcamp DVD. Enjoy.

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  18. Michelle Tobin says:

    Last year we introduced TRX in our rock climbing center. The climbers love it as a add-on! It’s been incredible watching the transformation in strength and build of the guys who have stuck with it! We’re introducing our first ladies-only TRX clinic this month! Rock on!

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  19. Donna says:

    Who is the model/athlete doing that lovelyamazinggorgeous TRX chest fly on page 3 of the Spring Catalog? I’m mesmerized by the photo – it’s up on my wall as inspiration right now.

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  20. michelle says:

    Donna, this article will answer your question: http://www.athleta.net/chi/2011/01/25/from-dani-to-daniquin-inspiration-takes-form/

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  21. Carol says:

    I love TRX…with my personal training group we focus a lot on TRX and ropes! I hope to share more with you if I am selected as the next Sponsored Athlete for Athleta.

    Thanks,

    email: healthyw.Carol@gmail.com

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  22. Maturity is the ability to reap without apology and not complain when things don’t go well. Jim Rohn

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  23. Angela says:

    I absolutely love that picture of the athlete model with the Trx. She also looks absolutely fantastic. I love athlete!

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