We met with the founder of TRX, Randy Hetrick, who came over from the US to launch his new ANYBODY, ANYWHERE campaign, proving how TRX’s suspension trainer is one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment out there! If you’re a member of a gym, you’re probably familiar with the bright yellow suspension trainer, you can’t miss it! When chatting with ex-Navy Seal, Randy, it was fascinating to learn about the journey of the suspension trainer from him being laughed at by his coworkers to having the suspension trainer in 50-60 thousand gyms across the world! Randy’s passion for this invention is truly inspiring and has changed the game of at-home fitness making getting an incredible total body workout accessible to all.
H&H: How did the TRX come about?
Randy: Back when I was a navy seal, I was looking for a way to train the climbing muscles (upper body). I came up with the idea to use a jiu jitsu belt I just so happened to have with me, to allow me to lift my body against gravity. After being mocked by my coworkers, they immediately wanted to try it out themselves, so we started experimenting with these crazy straps and all the different ways the body can move which resulted in literally thousands of variations of movements to work the body. The straps have now dramatically evolved from what I initially envisioned them as. I envisioned them as a particular tool for a particular set of people but it really has turned out to be the ultimate exercise tool for literally anyone, no matter your size, shape, orientation. Anyone can find a way to use the suspension trainer to suit their needs. It is amazing that I, of course, made the initial design and purpose, but it has become so much more. After 20 years of using the TRX, I constantly meet new TRX trainers and enthusiasts that show me a completely new way of using it and I just think ‘damn that is clever!’
H&H: Who is the TRX for?
Randy: The whole purpose of our new campaign is to show that TRX is really for everyone! It started out as a tool for elites, first with soldiers which then quickly spread to elite athletes. We’ve worked closely with Liverpool and Manchester City football clubs, demonstrating how the TRX can be used at the highest level of sports. But then it started to be adopted, initially by different kinds of health professionals. For example, physiotherapists have a set of clients with specific needs, they started playing around with the straps to find out ways to benefit their clients. Now fast forward 15 years, the suspension trainer and everything else produced by TRX is designed to be both aspirational and attainable to anyone. That is the magic formula for us because we really thrive to be as inclusive as possible. Over half our user base is now female, age range stretches from 9 years old to 90 years old and includes people that are big, tall, small, able-bodied and challenged, you name it. A lot of the time, for people with physical challenges, the straps are the one tool they can actually use and modify to suit their needs. We build content to help all different user levels and user goals to assist everyone and show them that TRX is for them. Whether you’re an athlete or just your average Joe going to work, the TRX can help you move better, improving your quality of life.
H&H: How can people benefit from the TRX?
Randy: The ideal outcome when somebody is asked ‘what did you train’ right after a TRX class, is for them to answer ‘strength training, cardio and mobility’ because the TRX really can benefit all these areas at once. The other benefits of the suspension trainer is time efficiency. You cannot do a TRX class without your heart pounding, your muscles screaming and improving your flexibility. These are all the things we program in our workouts, using big multi-joint, core integrated, balance integrated movements, all under a load. It’s kind of like the swiss army knife of fitness!
H&H: How has the product evolved since you first made it?
Randy: I first created the tool to fit a particular need, I was very lucky as it turned out the tool had a lot more utility than I realised. The original strap was 12 feet of nylon webbing in the shape of an upside-down Y, no handles, no adjustments. Over time, I realised the experience would be better if it had hand grips then foot cradles so you can put your feet in and train your core, or your heels in to train the legs, glutes and lower back. Then we realised that if it could adjust the suspension trainer, it would be more customisable for people of different sizes. So we’ve added a lot of features in to make it better and better and it still keeps evolving over time. Some of the things we are exploring now are how we could integrate technology into the straps. Another thing we are really proud of at TRX is the development of TRX education to ensure trainers are well equipped to use the TRX with clients. We have really grown our knowledge base, education and content as much as we have grown the actual features of the product itself.
H&H: Can a TRX be used at home?
Randy: We are in 50-60 thousand gyms across the world, so many people first see and use the TRX in their gym, and don’t actually realise the product was initially designed for the home! It is amazing that it has become so popular in gyms but that is not what it was made for, the idea is that it is a complete gym that can be used anywhere. It is tailor-made for at-home fitness, the product comes with a variety of different anchors that can be used to hang the TRX from different places in the home, for instance, you can hang it over your door and you’re in business! You can also wrap it around a railing, fence, a tree, whatever you have got! I honestly believe the suspension trainer is the most versatile home fitness tool there has ever been. The other great thing is it takes up hardly any space, when you are finished using it you can put it completely out of sight, no bulky weights cluttering your home!
H&H: What does a typical workout involve for you?
Randy: Well, it usually involves the straps, no surprise! At the ripe old age of 54 and having put a lot of hard miles on my body as a Navy Seal, I used to throw around a lot of iron, not necessarily focusing on my mobility and not focusing nearly enough on my core and so during my thirties, I had way more physical issues than I do as a 54-year-old dude and I am sure that is because I transferred most of my training onto the straps and started working on a lot of mobilisation, using big multi-joint movements, lots of core integration, a lot of joint stabilisation. So over time, even though I have old injuries from years as a Seal on my shoulders, I’ve managed to maintain strength and mobility through my shoulders and haven’t had to have surgery. I like to mix up my workouts. I’ve gotten smarter about how every workout doesn’t have to be epic, it’s ok to squeeze in just 20 minutes and not to be so critical of yourself. I like to mix and match because I’ve learnt variety is the spice of life and I try to average a few days a week to running, a few days a week where I put in some time on the Concept 2 rower. I try to be on the straps or any of the other TRX tools including kettlebells and slam balls around 2 days a week. If you mix that together it’s a pretty good routine where 4-5 days a week I’m using my body…so far it is serving me well!
H&H: How has the TRX transformed your workouts?
Randy: One way the suspension trainer has transformed my workouts is that it allows you to train single-sides of the body in a way you don’t often do. A lot of equipment in the gym trains the body bilaterally. The great things about the straps are that they allow you to train one side at a time to create balance and help you realise which side is your strong side and your weak so you can work on balancing this out. A lot of everyday movements happen when you’re not exactly symmetrical. If you don’t train to support the way you live, that is when injuries come in. Another great thing about the suspension trainer is that every movement you do integrates the core. We define the core to be everything from the knees to the chest, we don’t think of the core as just the abs. Your glutes are arguably one of the most significant core muscles in your body because they stabilise your spine. The straps allow you to train your core 360 degrees from your knees to your collar bone which is critical to everyday life.
Want to give a TRX class a go? Check out Body Machine Performance Studio and book onto one of their signature TRX classes.