TRX Training Review: A New Dimension to Practice or Just Overpriced Props?

Yoga and TRX Training Systems:

In a world dominated by high-tech gadgets and all kinds of elaborate, bulky exercise equipment, it’s nice to see that one of the hottest fitness crazes on the market today involves no power cord, buttons, or USB ports, and the equipment can fit in a small gym bag. The two systems offered by TRX are essentially nothing more than adjustable straps (for Suspension Training) and a bar with resistance bungees (for Rip Training).

If you’re a yoga enthusiast, you probably like the fact that all you need is your body, a place to practice, and a mat. Even the props you might use–blocks, straps, blankets–are decidedly low-tech, so there are no funky gadgets to dazzle you and distract you from the practice. Going through a TRX workout offers a similar experience, because it’s all about you and your body, and not about glitzy equipment.

If you go to the TRX website, you’ll immediately learn that TRX is beloved by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and other professional athletes, and has been embraced by the US armed forces as a training tool. But let’s take some time to see how the TRX system looks from a yogi’s perspective. Can TRX increase your strength and flexibility in ways that are helpful on the yoga mat? And if so, are the benefits worth the price you’ll pay for your TRX gear?

TRX and Asana

More and more health clubs are offering classes using the TRX system, including yoga “fusion” experiences that combine traditional asanas with TRX suspension straps—reminding me a little bit of the wall ropes used in some Iyengar Yoga studios. TRX also offers its own Yoga Fusion workout video, downloadable on the TRX website for $9.95.

A substantial repertoire of poses can be adapted to TRX, including Handstand, Side Plank, Warrior 3, Extended Child, Pigeon, Crescent Lunge, Boat Pose, and a series of reclining hip-openers.

Here are a few things I like about the TRX adaptations:

  • In certain asanas, you can take a more restorative approach, allowing the body to ease into the pose and open up. For example, a familiar pose like Extended Child can take on an entirely new quality with your hands suspended above the floor. Or maybe your hip will finally open up in Lord of the Dance pose with a little support from the strap.
  • You’ll develop great core stability. If you’ve finally stopped wobbling in Side Plank, challenge yourself anew by strapping in and allowing your feet to “float.”
  • Your balance will improve. Whether you’re in Warrior 1, Crescent Lunge, or any other pose in which TRX keeps one of your feet off the floor, grounding yourself will take on new meaning. And if you use the wall as a prop in balancing poses but find it’s made things too easy, the TRX suspension strap will provide support but allow for movement—maybe the perfect next step as you progress to prop-free asanas.
  • You can train your body to move with fluidity and precision. The straps keep your arms and legs moving in smooth, consistent motions, which can help create muscle memory that allows you to flow through your practice with less wasted or awkward movement.
  • Much like any prop, TRX can make more poses available to more people.
  • TRX is light and portable, so you can take your practice with you just about anywhere.

Of course, I also see some down-sides for the yogi using TRX:

  • It can be difficult to practice on your own. Many of these poses require a second person to help set you up, and you might even want a spotter on hand. Going solo can be awkward or even dangerous.
  • The gear could provide a false sense of security, encouraging some people to try poses for which their bodies are simply not ready.
  • If you like a practice that flows from pose to pose, the constant repositioning of the gear could become a real impediment to finding your groove.
  • Traditional yoga props—especially D-ring straps—can serve just as well as the TRX for a number of poses, making it a rather expensive prop at $199.95 for the basic Home Suspension Training Kit.

So…What’s the Verdict?

Yoga is an individual experience, so deciding whether TRX is right for you is as much a personal choice as the style of yoga you practice, the mat you use, and the teacher who guides you.

If it’s within your budget and you feel it will inspire you to practice more and become a better yogi, then go for it!

TRX also provides a great deal of product support and a boatload of workout routines that can improve your fitness separate from your yoga practice, but still complement it.

See if a nearby health club offers a TRX Yoga Fusion class, and see firsthand if it’s the right thing for you. But don’t expect it to be a magic bullet that makes you the next Seane Corn or Rodney Yee. As yogis, we all know that it has to come from within.