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Fit For You: TRX Suspension Training

You might have noticed in your gym that some floor space remains clear except for some straps hanging from the ceiling, a frame, or even attached to the wall. They're yellow and gold, with handles, and are called TRX suspension trainers. Although they look pretty simple, they can be confusing if you've never used them before.

Personal trainer and group exercise instructor Kathy Quatrochi says that while they may look intimidating at first, "they're so easy. They're for beginners all the way to professional athletes - anybody can use them."

Invented by Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick to maintain peak physical condition while on deployment, early versions of TRX used a jujitsu belt and parachute webbing.

"TRX stands for total body resistance training - and it is. Your body is fully engaged when you're doing it," says Quatrochi.

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
Kathy Quatrochi demonstrates a rowing exercise on the TRX

She says the training is so versatile because it uses only your body weight. Using the two cables with your feet or hands, the muscle groups you work as well as the intensity of the workout all depends on the positioning of your body relative to the cables.

"The closer the person steps to the A-frame, the harder it is. The more of an angle your body is at, the more weight you're going to pull up," Quatrochi explains. "So you can go from standing up straight all the way to almost on the floor."

Although the straps are anchored, the exercises are all stability work according to Quatrochi. Compared to traditional weightlifting or using machines, TRX exercises allow for proper form to really shine. Outside of the muscle training and endurance, TRX can also prove to be an effective cardiovascular workout as well. Again, it all depends on how high you take it according to Quatrochi.

Credit Audrey Nowakowski
Kathy Quatrochi

"I really feel and I truly believe that TRX and weight training is a really good marriage," she says. "Because TRX tweaks those muscles that you may not really get with the free weights, and it's just a really good workout. I just love it."

If you are still hesitant about trying TRX, Quatrochi recommends you first ask for assistance from a trained gym staff member or refer to a poster near by to get comfortable with the basic exercises and build from there. But from her experience working with people ages 13 to 83, she says the best way to start is to "just grab the handles and just start rowing."

Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.