By Carrie Myers
Many devoted fans of TRX® suspension training have been anxiously awaiting the release of the TRX® Rip™ Trainer. But can this latest training device live up to its predecessor’s reputation?
TRX has helped shaped the face of functional training with its simple, yet effective, TRX Suspension Training system. Now the birth of their latest creation is generating buzz as well. The TRX Rip Trainer is a 40-inch, commercial-grade bar with a sheathed elastic resistance cord attached to one end (the other end attaches to the wall). While time will be the real test of its popularity and effectiveness, many fitness professionals, professional athletes, and strength and conditioning coaches are already touting the TRX Rip Trainer as a beneficial training tool for both personal trainers and group fitness instructors. But what sets it apart from all the other fitness gadgets and gear out there?
For starters, says Pete Holman, creator of the TRX Rip Trainer, unlike many fitness tools, it doesn’t use gravity for resistance, which creates loads primarily in the sagittal and frontal planes of motion. The Rip Trainer’s lever bar and elastic resistance (which is available in three tension levels to accommodate beginning to advanced exercisers) loads the body in multiple planes of motion, including the transverse plane, focusing on rotational training.
“The Rip Trainer is also unique in that it uses an unbalanced asymmetrical load,” explains Holman. “This unbalanced load forces core muscle activation in order to maintain proper posture and balance. The lever bar also gives users the ability to simultaneously push and pull on the bar creating a striking movement.”
A Moderate Learning Curve for Some, Steep for Others
With any new gear, though, comes a learning curve, which is easier to explain when working one-on-one with a client. Needing time to explain technique and body mechanics in a class setting, however, has a tendency to slow the energy down.
Training the Trainer
TRX initially educated personal trainers on using the Rip Trainer with clients, but recently rolled out a training program for group fitness instructors. While it is not mandatory for an instructor to be TRX-trained to teach Group Rip Training, TRX recommends fitness facilities only hire qualified TRX group instructors to teach TRX classes at their facilities. You must also be a TRX Professional Education graduate to be listed in their directory, which makes it easier for students and clients to find you.
“We believe this is one of our best courses to date,” says Holman. “[Being TRX-trained] will maximize member results and ensure a safe and fun experience.”
“Everything I do is on a 30-minute model,” explains Ryan Halvorson, group fitness instructor at Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, Calif., “so I appreciate equipment and movement patterns that require very little explanation. For recreational exercisers not used to this type of equipment, the Rip Trainer can feel awkward and I have little time to explain all of its nuances. But like any other piece of equipment, the more I use it the better able I will become at providing effective and succinct explanation.”
Halvorson suggests that group instructors provide simple, basic exercises, then offer “upgrades” or more challenging variations for those individuals with greater athletic ability. You can also offer a separate mini-clinic on how to use the new piece of equipment to cut down on time needed during class, or request that participants arrive five or 10 minutes early to class to go over the new exercises.
“Overall I’ve found the Rip Trainer to be an excellent addition to the fitness products industry,” adds Halvorson. “Many of my participants share this sentiment. Several have told me that they find it to be challenging and appreciate the added variety it provides. Those who possess good body awareness and athletic ability really enjoy using it.”
Whether your class or clientele is made up of athletes, casual fitness enthusiasts or more serious fitness buffs, they will most likely all appreciate the core workout the Rip Trainer provides. As Holman explains, the combination of asymmetrical loads with rotation and speed, gives you what TRX has coined as its mantra: “All core all the time.” Beyond core strengthening, the Rip Trainer can also provide a whole-body workout, including cardiovascular benefits, while also challenging balance and sharpening speed and ballistic power.
Space, Budgets and Other Logistical Considerations
While this all seems very athletically oriented, Halvorson mentions that the basic cord may not be enough for more experienced students. “For my stronger participants, the basic level Rip trainer does not provide enough resistance. I train at a studio where fitness levels are all over the place. We have limited space and budgets, which are prohibitive of buying a great number of Rip Trainers of varying resistance levels.”
Holman explains that the Rip Trainers can be mounted on the wall using their TRX X-Mounts or by using the Rip Group Station (which resembles the Core Pole), which accommodates up to 10 users at once. But if you’re short on space and/or financial resources, neither of these options may work for you.
One potential solution is to use the Rip Trainer as a part of the class, without making the entire class about it. For instance, make it a station in a circuit class. This cuts down on both necessary space, as well as cost, as fewer set-ups will be needed. This also allows participants a chance to get to know the Rip Trainer, so that when larger classes are held, more people are already familiar with it.
If you choose to hold classes specifically for the Rip Trainer, it is helpful to keep them smaller and more manageable. Marketing these smaller classes as small group training and limiting attendees to no more than four or five, makes participants feel like they are a part of a more intimate group that will receive a higher level of attention. This may also allow you to profit more than you would from a group class, since you can often charge more for small group training. This format ensures that you, as the instructor, can more closely observe your participants’ techniques and answer questions they may have. As these classes grow, team teaching with at least one other instructor is a great way to make sure everyone is properly instructed and gets the attention they need.
So, is the TRX Rip Trainer a tool worth adding to a trainer’s toolbox? Yes, says Holman—but he compares it to a carpenter getting a nail gun after they have used a hammer for years. “They still have use for the hammer, but the nail gun is new, fun and powerful.”
This workout takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and should be performed two to three times per week for best results. It challenges balance, core strength, explosive power and general movement patterns used in many sports. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds per side for the number of rounds given for each fitness level; rest for 60 seconds between sets.
Beginners: 1 round
Intermediate: 2 rounds
Advanced: 3 rounds
Rip Paddle Board Row
Grip the Rip Trainer with the left hand, palm up, and with the right hand, palm down. Stand facing the anchor, with the resistance cord on the right side. Place feet in a symmetrical stance with the Rip Trainer pointed at the anchor. Squat down and bring the bar past the right leg in a paddling motion. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Rip Squat Overhead Press
Grip the Rip Trainer with both hands, palms down, with the resistance cord on the right side. Stand with your back to the anchor. Place feet in a symmetrical stance with arms extended overhead. Squat down and bring the bar to the chest; stand up and press the bar overhead. Repeat for 30 seconds; switch sides and repeat.
Grip the Rip Trainer with the left hand, palm down, and with the right hand, palm up. Stand facing sideways, with right side to the anchor, and the resistance cord on the right side. Place feet in a symmetrical stance and position the bar perpendicular to the torso. Squat up and down while arcing out a circle with the end of the bar. Repeat for 30 seconds; switch hand positions and repeat for another 30 seconds.
Grip the Rip Trainer with both palms down, resistance cord on the right side. Face the anchor, place feet in a symmetrical stance and squat down; reach the right hand toward the anchor. Extend the hips and drive the bar up and back, just above the horizontal plane. Keep eye-gaze forward to avoid over-rotation. Repeat for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Rip Samurai Strike With Step
Grip the Rip Trainer with the left hand, palm down, and with the right hand, palm up. Stand facing sideways, right side to the anchor. Place feet in a symmetrical stance while holding the bar in a horizontal position. Initiate the movement by driving off the right foot and throwing the right hip toward the target. Step toward the target with the front leg while pulling the left hand to the ribs, and pushing the right hand toward the target in a striking motion. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Rip 90-Degree Hop Press
Grip the Rip Trainer with both hands, palms down. Stand sideways, with the right side to the anchor. Place feet in a symmetrical stance and hold the bar against the chest. Jump 90 degrees to the left, while simultaneously pressing the bar off the chest and landing in an athletic stance. Repeat for 30 seconds and then switch sides and repeat.
Rip Hockey Slap Shot
Grip the Rip Trainer with the left hand, palm down, and the right hand, palm up. Stand sideways, with the right side to the anchor and the resistance cord on the right side. Place feet in a symmetrical stance, right arm cocked at shoulder-height. While rotating the right foot, knee, hip and shoulder toward the target, aggressively pull the left hand toward the ribs and push the right hand toward a target approximately 8 to 12 inches off the ground. Repeat for 30 seconds and then repeat on other side.
The TRX Rip Trainer Basic Kit retails for $189.95 and includes The Rip Trainer Basic Training DVD, which features a 30-minute real-time workout as well as set-up, safety and use instruction. This kit also includes a 25-page, 18-exercise workout guide, a protective foam door anchor and a lightweight carrying bag. Additional cords of varying resistance also are available for purchase.
Carrie Myers is owner of CarrieMichele Fitness, author of Squeezing Your Size 14 Self into a Size 6 World: A Real Woman’s Guide to Food, Fitness, and Self-Acceptance, and presents, teaches and trains in N.H. and Vt.