Monday, February 08, 2016

Review: TRX and TRX Training and TRX Tactical Tactical Gym and App

During fall 2014, Jamie and I invested in our first piece of exercise equipment. Both of us are pretty disciplined about our fitness and health, and Jamie had first discovered TRX through her job as an exercise physiologist working in aquatic rehab at Healthworks in Morgantown, West Virginia. Healthworks functions as both a rehab and fitness facility and had three TRX bands in its fitness area. Jamie and I had experimented with the equipment a few times and we were really impressed with the ability to use body weight resistance as well as resistance, mobility, and stabilization around rotational forces to focus on core strength specifically and functional strength in general.

During summer 2014, while conducting a site visit for an up close look at our work in Kenya with Nuru International, I started talking with our team leader on the ground, Alex Martin about what he does to stay physically fit while working in remote, rural Kenya. Alex is a USNA grad and a Force Reconnaissance Marine platoon commander (similar to Jake), who, previous to working with Nuru, was part of an incredible hostage rescue off the coast of Somalia. When I asked Alex about his fitness regimen, he quickly replied, “I use the TRX.” My limited experience combined with a respected peer review—and a visible witness that the equipment was portable and could really be used anywhere, led us to purchase a TRX.

So enough background, let me tell you about this piece of equipment. It is essentially  custom designed and stitched webbing and caribiners that allow a person to mount the straps to just about anything (doors, decks, trees, etc.). We purchased our TRXForce Tactical for a couple of reasons. It was advertised as a pretty lightweight and packable piece of equipment (it came with its own small bag), and it also came with an iPhone app that included a pretty rigorous twelve week workout. Separately, we wanted a piece of equipment that was simple, not super-gimmicky, and focused on functional strength as well as core stability. In addition, I was pretty impressed with the fact that Randy Hetrick, a Navy SEAL had come up with the concept for TRX as a way to keep his teams fit and mission ready while in the field, and that his company gave back part of the purchase price of the TRX to charity. Solid all around.

Separately, Jamie and I had just finished our second consecutive Marine Corps Marathon, and had come to the conclusion that while we were able to train effectively for the distance, to take our running and conditioning to the next level we really wanted to develop a stronger core. Plus, we felt like the TRX would be a useful tool for improving posture as we strengthened stabilizers in our back and core.

We have made working out with the TRX a part of our workout regimen for a little over a year now. We have taken it on the road as we travel together for Nuru. After one month we performed the USMC Standardized Fitness Test and did a comparison to baseline form the day we started using the TRX. Conveniently on both occasions we entered 5K races. We were able to shave nearly two minutes off our time, and we did not do any other cardio training (not that I’m advising our exercise plan—just wanted to give the facts). We both felt like we were running stronger, we had a stronger core, and we showed marked improvement in both pull ups and flexed arm hang respectively.

The TRX Force SuperApp and the TRX force itself are excellent training tools I would highly recommend based on my own experience with them. TRX focuses on functional strength and core strength, it is easily portable, and it removes at least some of the excuses one generates for not working out while traveling. That being said, any workout or piece of exercise equipment is only as good as the work you put into it. I know of far too many people who, with the best of intentions, have spent a lot of money and cluttered their homes with exercise equipment. If this is you, before you jump in with both feet, just focus on getting a consistent workout regimen. (Although one additional attribute I appreciate about the TRX is that it doesn’t really take up a lot of space).

If you are looking to take your workouts to the next level and looking for a lightweight, easy to transport piece of equipment to offer an added dimension to your fitness regimen—check out the TRX Force. The TRX ForceSuperApp also includes videos that show all of the exercises along with different levels at which they can be performed, so you can better assess whether you are doing workouts correctly.

Here’s hoping you can crush your fitness goals in 2016 and beyond. Get strong, get focused, and keep moving forward!

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