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I recently started my second season of TRX training.  Not exactly ground breaking news – until you consider the fact that two weeks into the last season of TRX, I had decided that there had never been anything on this Earth that I hated more than TRX (ok – it still isn’t ground breaking news, but maybe it is at least slightly more interesting?).

I started January really excited about TRX and was really looking forward to the classes.  But to my surprise, I really struggled with the first couple of classes.  The workouts were so much harder than I expected (which I know is a good thing – but it can be hard to remember that when you are rolling around like a fish out of water trying to get your heels into the TRX straps).  And despite the fact that I had an awesome trainer helping me through the class (thanks Tracy!), I felt demoralized after the first few classes.

But I decided that TRX was something I really wanted to do and I made myself stick with it.  I formulated a strategy to get myself through those first couple of weeks and I’m really proud that it worked.  Now, I still have a long way to go before I master the TRX (I love the TRX motto of “Make Your Body Your Machine”!) – but I happily signed up for a second season and now when I’m done with a TRX class I leave the gym inspired (well – inspired, sweaty and tired).

I’m sure someday I’ll face a new fitness challenge (like when I finally work up the courage to take boxing!) and I’ll end up feeling like I did after those first few TRX classes.  So I decided I should document my strategy – and I thought I’d share it with you.

  1. Do not pay attention to or compare yourself to anyone else in the class.  Every person is at a different fitness level and has different strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Remind yourself that no one else in the class is paying attention to or judging you – and if they are, then they aren’t working hard enough (so they don’t count!)
  3. Once you get over any hang-ups you have about how you are faring in comparison to the rest of the class (or am I the only one that neurotic?), remind yourself that you are most likely in the company of some awesome women (shout out to Tracy’s TRX team!).  Support them and let them support you.
  4. Talk to your trainer/instructor and don’t be afraid to ask for (and use!) modifications.  I probably should have put this one first.  Tracy helped me few modifications I could make when I was having trouble with certain exercises.  Once I used them (a got over feeling weak for needing them), things became much less frustrating.   We have amazing trainers – we shouldn’t forget to use them (even if I do occasionally roll my eyes at them when they ask me to do burpies…).
  5. Set a date for yourself and commit to continuing with the workout (no matter how much you think you hate it) until that date and then give yourself permission to never do it again if you get to that date and still hate it.
  6. When all else fails, fake it until you make it…

I’m feeling in need of pithy, clichéd sayings because I’m battling the impulse to throw in the sweaty gym towel.  Not when it comes to the gym in general mind you – just when it comes to my dismal performance in TRX TEAM training.  From a rational point of view, I know that it is perfectly fine that I’m struggling with TRX TEAM.  It means I have plenty of room for growth and I know that the challenge is good for me.  I know that if I stick with it, I will get better (and stronger!) and I will once again be in love with TRX TEAM.  However, if my rational point of view was always in charge, then I would be able to say that I have never once spent an entire day eating pizza and watching bad TV – and I can’t truthfully make that claim.

So I find myself battling the evil voices in my head telling me that I should just give up (side note:  why do the evil voices *always* manage to yell louder than the nice ones).  It has been so long since I’ve fought this impulse (that is, to just give up an exercise that is too hard) that I’d thought I’d totally conquered it.  When I first started seriously working out, I dealt with it a lot.  There was a six-month gap between my first and second BURN classes because I just decided I couldn’t handle BURN classes after the first one (and it took me six months to get back up on the horse – well in this case the treadmill).  And now, even when a BURN class leaves me wondering where the nearest AED is, I still love it.

So I know that I can work through this.  It is just really hard to focus on that fact when I’m struggling to get the TRX straps around my feet and then I’m barely able to do even one atomic pushup or when I fall out of the TRX while trying to do a one-legged squat (oh yeah, did I mention I fell flat on my butt in the middle of the gym?  That was awesome).  And it is especially hard to keep the proverbial “can do” attitude when I start comparing myself to the awesome ladies that are rocking the TRX on either side of me.  That kind of comparison I something that I firmly believe should be avoided in pretty much *any* circumstance – but this time I just can’t help myself.

Luckily, the TRX instructors at Healthworks are amazing and Tracy manages to keep me in the game even when I feel like my only option is flee the gym and never look back.  And I was so excited about starting TRX TEAM that I know all of the amazing things about it. And I know, to bastardize Eleanor Roosevelt, that no workout can make me feel inferior without my consent.  So, I’m going to keep at it.

My plan for this to not pay attention to how well anyone else is doing (unless I’m doing it to be inspired by their awesomeness) – I’m just going to focus on my own progress (no matter how incremental it is).  And I know that in a few weeks, I’ll be writing a post about how I can’t believe I ever thought I wanted to give up on TRX.

I’ve been struggling lately with my enthusiasm level when it comes to working out.  Usually, I genuinely look forward to my time at the gym and my mood suffers noticeably if anything gets in between me and my workout.  But this fall (aside from my constant love of my Making the Cut classes), I have found myself having to really force myself to go to the gym.  And then when I get there, I sometimes end up slacking off quite a bit.  Last week I remedied this situation by meeting up with a fellow Healthworks member and working out together.  And this week I attempted to shock my workout life back into action by shaking up my actual workouts.

First up was an old friend that I hadn’t visited in a while – Burn.   For me, Burn is still the hardest workout around (this probably has something to do with the fact that no matter how much I try to love running, I *hate* it).  That being said, I pretty much never feel as good as I do after taking a Burn class (once the feeling returns to my legs and I stop seeing spots, that is).

On Friday, I tried something brand new and attended one of the TRX demo workouts.  I had done a few TRX exercises here and there while working out with trainers, but this was the first time I tried a whole workout with TRX.  I watch the TRX video on the Healthworks site during lunch on Friday.  It both inspired and frightened me.  I had the sound off, so I’m not sure I totally understood everything – but based on the exercise I saw the people in the video performing, I think that TRX has the ability to turn people into superheroes.  I couldn’t believe some of the things I saw people do. Turns out my inspiration was called for, but my fear was misplaced.  The demo class was amazing  (unbelievably hard, but amazing) and I really like the kind of workout you can get with the TRX (I also loved some of the stretches we learned using the TRX – after a week of dead lifts, the hamstring stretch I learned on Friday night quickly became my new favorite thing).  I loved the demo class so much that I’m going to do it again this week!

And the third kick in the pants of the week came from yoga.  I have never done yoga.  It intimidates me.  Based on what I’ve seen, people that do yoga are bendy and graceful.  I am neither of those things.  But after taking a yoga class – well, I’m still neither bendy nor graceful.  But I’m really glad I tried it and I very much appreciate the fact that the instructor just encouraged me to try what I could and stick to what felt right to me.  I may have been right about my lack of grace, but I was wrong to be intimidated by yoga!  So I’m calling this a successful week.  There is a unique pleasure that comes from trying things that are intimidating and I feel like I’ve hotwired my workout enthusiasm back to its appropriate level.  Let’s just hope this continues!

Nope – this isn’t a super late post about Halloween.  I’m taking about the holiday season and the endless party that kicks off at Thanksgiving and goes until January 2nd.  Fake blood and ghosts are nothing compared to the terror that lurks in these weeks.  It seems that this time of year there is no shortage of the pitfalls that await people (ok, me) who are trying to stick to nutritious eating and an ambitious workout schedule.  Between the cold weather, the busy schedules that just beg you to skip the gym, the gluttonous and delicious treats that pop up everywhere,  and the “it’s the holidays – who cares?” attitude, it’s like the perfect storm of weight gain.  Throw in those heart-warming holiday moments like your second-cousin twice removed (or something like that) stating that you have (and I quote) “fat legs” and then asking why you aren’t married and frankly I think it’s a miracle that I don’t just spend the last part of the year in a dark room with a box of wine and multiple packages of raw cookie dough (luckily for the offending relative, he happens to be a super cute four-year-old who also made me a car out of construction paper and wrote “I love Jen” on all of his drawings – but still!).  I read somewhere that the average American gains something like 6 pounds in the last two months of the year.  And frankly, I have above average talents in this area.  This all leads me back to my original point:  the potential for backsliding on my fitness goals at this time of year truly frightens me-  give me zombies and vampires any day!

In an effort to combat this fear, there are a couple of steps I know I need to take right now and I’m putting pen to paper (metaphorically, of course – but cursor to word document just doesn’t have the same ring) to make sure I follow through.

  1. I need to make sure I have a workout schedule in place.  I do very well when I know I have to go to the gym for a particular class/task/workout/etc.  I’ve been struggling this with September (I’m slow) when I lost my Wednesday and Friday workouts with Shauna.  I still have Making the Cut (which I erroneously always call Boot Camp) on Tuesday and Thursday – but I need to fill the gaps.  I either need to write out a plan for my non Boot Camp days every week or enroll myself in another class (I’ve been trying to work up the courage to take Spin classes and I also have my eye on those TRX contraptions they just put in upstairs at Healthworks Back Bay).
  2. I need to limit the holiday parties.  This one won’t be that hard because there really are not that many people who want me to come to their parties.  But my work party is a perfect example of something I should probably avoid.  It’s huge and loud and I never talk to anyone – I just eat my way around the room (whilst also skipping the gym) and then go home.  Now I know there are people that would tell me that in a perfect world, I would be able to go and limit my food choices to healthy options (or at least healthy portions).   I don’t think that’s true.  In a *really* perfect world, I could eat whatever I wanted and not have to worry about it.  And I would also have a job that somehow paid me to travel and read books – so I probably wouldn’t even have an office Christmas party to attend anyway.
  3. As kind of an addendum to point two, I also want to pick out a few events that I *do* want to attend and maybe allow myself a small splurge.  Keeping these in mind will make it easier to say no to the other temptations.  I’ve already got my eye on my friend’s Parisian-themed Christmas party and dinner at my favorite restaurant at my parents’ house (because nothing says Christmas like tacos in Omaha).  Of course, I’m not taking about going crazy – I just want to know where there a few occasions where I can indulge just a *tiny* bit.
  4. I need to make sure I continue to make time to do all my food planning and preparation on Sunday nights so that I have a week’s worth of healthy food ready to go.
  5. And perhaps the most fun….Find the joy and celebration of the season in places *other* than the bottom of a vat of mashed potatoes.  Even if it is just putting up some lights in my living room!

Stay safe out there….

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