Navy SEALs are hardcore. Fact. And this funny little nylon strapping device you see here was invented by one; it too is surprisingly hardcore. The contraption was created in the late 1990s when Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick found himself deployed in cramped areas such as ships, submarines and safe houses. Randy and his squad needed a way to train (hard) without the need for space or heavy equipment, so he developed a rather nifty contraption from parachute webbing and a fitness craze was born.
The TRX (Total Resistance Exercise) gear is essentially two handles with straps that you can anchor against a door, a tree or any similar object, ensuring you can work out almost anywhere. The bodyweight workout is apparently more effective than heavy weights machines and, because you’re suspended, you’re unable to correct your posture, therefore you have to use your core muscles to stabilise your body as you exercise.
It’s also popular because the difficulty employed is so variable. For example, a push-up is a lot easier when performed against a wall, and a lot harder when performed parallel to the ground. With TRX you can perform push-ups at any angle in between by simply hoisting your legs a little higher up the pulley – you don’t have to account for gravity.
This means your training can be tailored to your exact needs. Mere minutes into my TRX workout, my muscles are shaking and I’ve worked up a sweat. Without a doubt, the hardest move I try is a dynamic plank with my legs suspended in the air (above) – this exercise highlights, rather embarrassingly, just how weak my core is because I can’t ‘cheat’ like I can with weights and sit-ups. TRX trainer Ahmed Ateek also shows me some gentle back-stretching exercises that are a relief after the plank, and feel better than any yoga move I’ve ever tried. Why? Because I can stretch as far as I want without toppling over – I have the ropes and trees to hold me up.
I’d definitely try TRX again, although if you’re new to exercise and want a gentle start or suffer from joint problems, you may find it particularly difficult. Also, don’t expect to be able to master all the moves on your first session. ‘I have 18 clients, and only one can do this,’ Ahmed says, demonstrating push-ups in a vertical handstand, his legs suspended in the air. Move over Bruce Lee.
One-on-one sessions with Ahmed cost Dhs350, but he’ll also train small groups for the same price (050 343 1832). Group TRX classes cost Dhs50 and run on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 6.30pm at The Aviation Club, Garhoud (04 282 4122)
Benefits: Calorie burning, muscle sculpting and stretching are the main physical benefits, and you can also take your gym anywhere.
Calories burned: 350 per hour for beginners, 450 for intermediates and 600 for advanced.
Trainer: Ahmed Ateek, 29, Egyptian
His motto: ‘Unleash your inner animal. An elephant weighs a lot more than us, yet he can run. Use your body weight as your fitness tool and try to move as much as you can in your day. This will help you psychologically, too.’
Need to know: Ahmed has just trained in new free-weight fitness craze ViPR (which looks like a huge pugil stick), and is now the first trainer to offer it in the UAE.
The ab crunch plank: Start off in a plank position with your head pointing away from the TRX gear. Your back should be poker straight. Move your knees in towards your chest and straight back out again. This will kill your core, while also working your arms and chest.
Try it for free!
Trial TRX class for Time Out readers
Ahmed is so passionate about TRX that he’s offering a free trial class to any Time Out reader keen to try the discipline. Just call him on 050 343 1832 and quote this article. Keen to buy the equipment? Local company MeFit Pro (www.mefit.net, 04 323 3232) sells all the TRX gear.