TRX is having a moment. And is it any wonder? As one of the best methods of resistance and body weight-training around, it fires up every muscle in the body to build muscle, burn fat and get that highly desirable lean, sculpted look we’re all after – fast. And the benefits don’t stop there. This simple two handle strap, besides helping you to look awesome also builds serious strength (the kind that’s very hard to replicate with regular free-weights) as well as endurance, stamina, balance, joint and muscular stability, helps to increase range of motion, flexibility and reduces your chances of getting an injury.
Invented by the Navy Seal Randy Hetrick, the TRX was born out of the need to be able to keep in shape anywhere at any-time whilst the seals were on deployment out on the high seas. So Randy knew a thing or two about needing to work-out in small, non-friendly exercise places and the beauty of TRX is that you can hang it up anywhere; at home, the park, the beach, at work, a hotel room. Once secure all you need to do is grab the stirrups and away you go! Experience a seamless transition between body blasting HIT cardio, to get the heart-rate up and torch calories, and then slower functional conditioning moves to build strength, overall achieving that effective after-burn hours after your work-out. The unstable environment caused by the strap suspension means that the core must be kept tight and engaged the entire time to stabilise you in all movements, otherwise you’ll simply lose balance. The wide variety of angles and planes the TRX allows you to exercise in in means that more muscle groups can be recruited simultaneously during each exercise. Speaking of the core, Hip and Healthy haven’t found a better, more effective method of training to hone those rock-hard abs we all want – simply slip your feet into the straps for some killer core work. Warning – ab moves on the TRX are challenging so if you’re trying it for the first time just sticking to holding a plank on the hands and elbows in good form presents enough challenge to start with. Plus the exercises you can perform on the TRX are endless meaning that you won’t ever get bored so you’ll be guaranteed to keep coming back for more!
With all this in mind, time to get strapped in with our pick of the five best classes for you to try….
This is the ultimate in TRX training. No work-out is the same and every time Claire and Adam make sure they push you to your max – whatever your fitness level and classes are kept small to ensure you can receive lots of one on one attention. A killer combination of cardio – pistol squats, kickboxing movements, power-hops, scissor lunges and mountain climber sprints all come together to get your heart-rate up. These are alternated with rounds of longer, isolated strength movements and contractions – press ups, rows, Y’s, I’s, T’s, – the slower you go, the more time under tension, and the more strength you build from each exercise; “Many women wouldn’t dream of lifting their own weight” says Claire, “but that’s exactly what they’re doing in many TRX exercises”. The studio offers a full flowing 45-minute session on evenings and Saturdays, which integrates an intensive full body conditioning with added extras – think HIT drills, kettle bells, sprints and a whole lot more. And for added convenience the studio also offers 30-minute morning fast classes, which you can easily fit it into your busy day. Don’t be fooled – in 30 minutes you work hard! With more focus placed upon high intensity cardio moves in this shorter session, results come fast. TRX is also incorporated into their Boxing and heart-rate monitored HiPer Zone circuits classes so you can get a taste for it.
A Hip and Healthy all-time favourite, time flies in this jam-packed strength class. Set in this sleek, Kensington studio Ania’s class focusses on killer core moves – a brutal mix of planks, pikes, side planks, mountain climbers, cross-body mountain climbers and single legged planks (where one of your feet is hooked into the TRX strap whilst the other is outside forcing you to kept it lifted and level with the other) come together in a timed circuit to really overload your abs and make them work to their limits. The rest of the class flows naturally building upon exercises and integrating cardio and strength moves – like a single leg backward lunge with one leg hooked into the strap, developing into a hop and a lunge, moving to a burpee and backward lunge and finally culminating to a burpee, press-up and backward lunge – no rest! Watch-out for Ania’s signature closing minutes – numbered count-down rounds of cardio blasting Jump squats, double arm rows and burpees that steadily reduce down to 12, 10, 8 and 6 and get your heart racing to leave class on the biggest high!
A TRX class is not what you’d expect from this Pilates and Barre mecca that is Paola’s Body Barre in West London. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough – so expect to sweat! Paola discovered TRX 7 years ago finding it was a great tool to emulate many movements she was already teaching on the Reformer. So when she came to open her own studio she knew that a TRX offering was a must. This class is non-stop high intensity work, incorporating plyometrics moves (think scissor lunges, burpees and squat jumps) with back to back with free-weight training and core moves like the frog press and plank. Emily takes you through each move with a demo so you do get time to rest and recover between exercises. Finish off with a time off the TRX with a killer round of bear crawling and forward jumps to really test your endurance. The TRX also facilitates a quick stretch session at the end. For those who find HIT cardio a real turn-off TRX can still be an effective piece of kit for you to use – “The TRX demands generating and controlling strength through functional movements in a dynamic sequence similar to that of yoga” says Paola so the TRX can become “the ultimate foundation to improving your yoga practice”.
This class is a great one for beginners. You don’t need any TRX experience at all – just a good level of fitness to enjoy this results-driven, varied class, which works on correct form and posture. The warm-up uses Pilates techniques to stretch and prepare the stabilising muscles, to get you ready for the more demanding circuit-based exercises to come. You work between 2-4 different stations at a time, focusing on different muscle groups to ensure the entire body is challenged, interspersed with periods of high intensity interval training. The session ends with a full cool-down stretch to aid muscle recovery and make sure you won’t stiffen up later. You’ll come out of class feeling tightened and toned and over a consistent period of time you’ll start to notice improved muscle tone and overall fitness levels.
Equilibrium directors Niko and Jay are passionate about TRX – “I genuinely think it is the greatest training tool on the planet” says Niko. And it is this incredible enthusiasm which comes through in every TRX class they teach. Experts in the field, Niko and Jay lead every TRX class themselves at the studio all the while watching, correcting and demonstrating to the class at any one time. Focus is upon building the correct form in performing exercises before becoming super strong and fit. The 45 minute sessions are high energy and varied to work the entire body. High intensity intervals are not the focus here but the pace remains fast-paced and well-balanced to make you feel that you’ve had a tough but effective work-out. Look out for their trademark move on Instagram – the TRX headstand. Now that’s something to aim for!
Heartcore’s class offers a challenging session with a variety of HIIT but all levels are welcome. You can take it up a level to the FITRX class which combines TRX-based strength training and heart-rate monitored HIIIT (high intensity interval training) so you can visualise your results in real-time and track your performance of heart-rate and calorie burn throughout the tough 55 minutes. Warning note – this is not for the faint-hearted!
words by Sophie Heywood – Twitter: Sheywoods – Instagram: Sheywood90s