x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Train like a Navy Seal with TRX, a suspension system

We check out TRX, a suspension system many trainers favour over fixed-weight machines.

Guillaume Mariole of the Ignite Fitness and Wellness Club in Dubai demonstrates how the TRX straps can be used.
Guillaume Mariole of the Ignite Fitness and Wellness Club in Dubai demonstrates how the TRX straps can be used.

What it is

The TRX training system was developed by Randy Hetrick, a squadron commander with the elite US Navy Seals who, while stationed out in the field, observed that long periods of inactivity and lack of access to gyms were seriously affecting his team's health.

So, during a particularly mundane overseas deployment in South-East Asia, he sought to remedy their falling fitness levels by fashioning some self-made equipment. He happened upon a box of unused parachute harnesses, then went about sewing them together into a Y-shaped strap. By attaching one end to a door frame, holding the other two in his hands and using his body weight for resistance, he discovered his device made curls, squats, press-ups and other exercises extremely rigorous.

After leaving the armed forces in 2001, Hetrick founded the Fitness Anywhere company to market the TRX (an abbreviation for Total Resistance eXercise) system. Since then, his products have become one of the hottest trends in the health industry.

The workouts consist of gripping or hanging the legs in the straps and then performing the moves, of which around 300 have been developed. In fact, many personal trainers now completely eschew the use of traditional, fixed-weight machines in favour of TRX. Also, as the device weighs less than a kilo, it's easy to carry around, making it popular among amateur fitness enthusiasts.

How it works

The advantage of suspension training, say its advocates, is that you can't help but engage your core muscles while using it.

Guillaume Mariole, a Dubai-based Australian personal trainer, is one of numerous fitness experts who now teach TRX classes in the UAE.

"What's good about it is that it works more than one muscle group. The more muscle groups we engage, the more calories we burn," he says. "Trying to engage as many muscle groups as possible is really the future of training. Instructors seem to be going back to basics, using your own body weight instead of fixed weight, and the TRX fits in with this."

However, critics warn that the instability of the straps mean that those with inadequate core strength, or a history of muscular or skeletal pain, could do themselves a serious injury.

Because of this, Mariole insists that proper instruction is a necessity before anyone uses the straps.

"If you train at home without going to any classes before, you could injure yourself. But if you've been properly trained, you should be fine," he says.

Does it work?

The surfeit of successful athletes who use TRX these days would suggest it does. Trophy-bagging sports teams, such as the 2012 English Premier League champions Manchester City and last year's American football Super Bowl winners the Green Bay Packers, have been reported to hone their players to peak fitness with TRX.

Meanwhile, numerous laypeople here in the UAE are exponents of the equipment.

One of these is Ibrahim Baig, a 36-year-old British entrepreneur from Dubai, who has TRX straps and a frame set up in his house.

He says: "I've been a gym fanatic for years, but as I got older I wanted to have cut muscles rather than bulky ones. Because the TRX hammers your core, your legs and your arms all in one shot, it's perfect for making you more cut. Honestly, I wish I'd learnt about TRX years ago, rather than wasting all this time messing around with normal weights."

Where you can do it

  • Mariole offers TRX training classes costing Dh280 each, or Dh2,800 for 10 lessons. Call 04 448 7142 or visit www.ignite-wellness.com for more information.
  • Fit Studio, next to Jones the Grocer near Muroor and 15th Street, Abu Dhabi, runs regular TRX classes throughout the week, costing Dh60 each. Call 02 445 3395 or visit www.fitstudio.ae for more information.
  • Haddins Fitness gymnasium has a full TRX frame and straps set up at its gym in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Call 02 403 4233 or visit www.haddins.com for info on classes and training.