Needing to maintain peak physical condition while on deployment, Navy SEAL Squadron Commander, Randy Hetrick, used parachute webbing, a jujitsu belt and creativity to develop the initial version of TRX in 1997.
By 2004 Hetrick officially launched Travelfit, Inc. and began selling Travel X (the precursor to the TRX Suspension Trainer) out of the trunk of his car in San Francisco. Two years later, TRX was being sold internationally, and shortly after TRX Force was created and adopted as a major component in U.S. Marine Corps training. Today TRX classes are offered at most gyms.
Celestina Blok, fitness instructor at the Fort Worth Club for more than a decade, took TRX classes for years before becoming certified as a TRX trainer. “TRX forces you to slow down and concentrate on the movements. Tightening your stomach is a must, or you'll feel unstable. So your core muscle groups benefit greatly, providing greater power and strength in the movements. Many times folks using handheld weights or even machines fling the weight around with no control or stability or lift the weight with poor posture. The weight is also often too heavy for their strength level,” Blok says. “I see it all the time in the gym. This can result in not only injury, but also a total waste of time because the body is compensating in all sorts of ways just to ‘pump iron,’ and the targeted muscles aren't really being activated.”
One of the biggest benefits of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere there is a doorframe or other secure structure to hang the tension straps. Instead of dealing with sets of weights, TRX utilizes the resistance of one’s own body weight.
Though it can be beneficial to anyone, Blok emphasizes that a trainer should be involved (especially with beginners) to demonstrate the exercises step by step. “A person inexperienced with using the TRX straps might tend to arch their back at first on many moves and then quit the workout because they feel pain in their back. If the exercises are done correctly, the person will brace their abs constantly. A trainer is crucial to talk them through this, especially if they suffer from any sort of injury,” Blok says.
What makes TRX so effective is that smaller, stabilizing muscles have to kick in to help support the larger muscle groups. This results in more strength with a consistent routine. Blok says, “Stronger core muscles can help prevent injury, alleviate back pain and provide more power in everything from a golf swing to picking up a child.”
People typically burn 400 calories per TRX session, which is at the top of the American Council of Exercise’s energy expenditure goal for a typical workout.
ABOVE: TRX Home Starter Kit TRX junkies can stay fit at home, in the office and on vacation with the Home Starter Kit. For less than $200, it comes with suspension trainer straps, anchor, workout guide, the TRX app with four total-body workouts, and a mesh carrying bag.