After the publication of his book, A Mysterious Something in The Light, a biography of Raymond Chandler, author, Tom Williams, is on a mission to get back in shape! Here he puts TRX Training to the test at Lifehouse Spa and Hotel!
Books should come with a health warning. Not for readers, but for the people who write them. You see, it takes a long time to write a book – in some cases a very long time – and much of that involves sitting at a desk staring at a screen. Though it requires a considerable amount of mental exercise to write, it’s not the sort of activity that burns calories and so, the simple truth of the matter is that writing can make you fat. Last year, my first book was published and I suffered from this exact correlation of circumstances. Once the publicity work was done, I decided to do something about and so in 2013 I am determined to exercise more and bring some balance to my life but, because I like a challenge, I set about trying some more unusual training methods, the first of which is the TRX system.
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel is a beautiful place and, as part of the gym offering, they offer TRX training. Hearing this I was on the next train to Essex. Approaching the main building, with its white exterior and clean lines, it feels like you’ve stepped through a tear in space and time and been magically translated from the lush green of Essex to some part of Scandinavia. Inside, berobed people wander about with beatific smiles sucking on beetroot juices. I was immediately jealous. But this was not why I was here. I was here to sweat and so it was to the gym floor that I headed.
Once there, the personal trainer, Steve, met me there and introduced me to the TRX itself. Essentially, it’s a very long adjustable strap with a handle at either end that you attach to the wall. It looks a little like the sort of thing that you might hold onto when waterskiing which is not surprising when you consider it was invented my a member of the US special forces who wanted to be able to have a full workout in limited space. His prototype used parachute webbing.
But the simplicity of the device is deceptive. If I thought this was going to be easy, I was wrong. Steve lined me up for my first exercise, talking me through and demonstrating a suspended press up. I held the handles of the TRX in each hand, placed my feet against the wall and, here’s the odd part, leant forward so that I was suspended at a 45 degree angle from the wall. I looked liked a half-open Tower Bridge. It feels weird at first, your core has to lock everything into place so that you can balance for one thing, but then you have to do your press up. It’s hard but effective work. This was followed up by some ab work, some suspended squats and some shoulder presses. The idea is to do as many of each exercise as possible in 30 seconds and then move on. If you want to increase or decrease the resistance you can change the angle of your body. With Steve by my side ensuring my technique was correct we moved through the routines, had a brief rest and went back to the beginning performing three sets in about 30 minutes. By the end of it I felt as if I’d been through the wringer, but in a good way. It was a mix of tough resistance with intense cardio at time. Bouncing up and down, hanging on to straps, can really raise the heart rate.
After our session Steve sent me off to the spa area to get blasted by warm water and steamed. It gave me a chance to reflect, briefly, on the TRX. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular: it’s a fun, effective and efficient form of exercise. You can pack it into your bag on a run, take it to the gym, or use it in a hotel room. That said, it’s worth getting a trainer to take you through the basics (technique matters here). That all done, you’ll enjoy the experience and I, for one, can’t wait to get my own.
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