Not all that long into a workout session led by a seriously fit instructor, I stop to ask a question.
How long does this usually last?
Without slowing in the slightest, she informs me:
“Gimmie a second,” I say, trying not to wheeze too heavily. Then, in reply to her look of consternation, “Oh, I’m fine. I just need to go back about 40 years.”
A time machine to the ’70s won’t do much good, though. The workout I’m undertaking – the TRX System, which stands for Total Resistance Exercises – wouldn’t be invented until 1997.
That’s when Navy SEAL Squadron Commander Randy Hetrick, while deployed in Asia, started using a jiu-jitsu belt and parachute webbing to suspend himself while exercising. And when he returned stateside, he earned his MBA from Stanford and started his own company.
The TRX Suspension Trainer, trademarked, consists of a pair of sturdy straps that hang from a ceiling, with their adjustability allowing for users to perform a wide variety of exercises, no matter what their fitness level.
And my fitness level certainly isn’t what it was when Jimmy Carter was president.
The instructor for my beginner’s sessions is Candice Rush, a Mt. Lebanon High School graduate and Upper St. Clair resident who has opened Endure Barre, a fitness studio in Carnegie. The name refers to an increasingly popular type of workout using ballet barres. After she shows me how to grasp the TRX straps property, we start the session in standing positions.
“You’re going to walk your feet out wider than your hips, sink down nice and low,” she says, “and bend and tap starting with the right foot.”
It takes me a few tries to get the hang of it, but I’m off and tapping, so to speak.
“Kick your heel back toward your glutes, so you’re turning on your hamstring. There you go. Four more right here. Here’s four. Three. Two. One more.”
We’re working out to the beat of some lively pop music, Candice effortlessly, me not so much. The contrast between our fitness levels becomes increasingly evident as the session continues, with her picking up the pace and me falling behind.
Eventually, we transition to floor-based exercises, which involves me stuffing my size-14 shoes through the strap loops. I attempt something called a straight-arm plank. Something goes wrong, and I collapse, moaning and groaning, onto the mat below.
“Don’t hurt yourself!” Candice exclaims, half in alarm, half with laughter. I’m sure I present quite the spectacle.
Again, I’m OK, at least for now. I try a few more exercise, but avoid some of the ones Candice describes.
“There’s a lot of more advanced stuff that people do on here: handstands, headstands and all that, too.”
All righty, then!
Seriously, even though I ended up doing a seriously abridged version of Candice’s usual workout, I can see where someone who eases his or her way into the world of TRX can become as fit as she is.
Just bear with her for that full 50 minutes.