Monday, March 26, 2007
My friend Alex sent me the recent NYT article on "suspension" training. I looked at the website for the TRX straps and couldn't find any images of someone using the Inkaflexx straps to get a better idea of how people are using these things. Basically they are rings, but with flexible slots that allow you to easily support the legs as well. And you can take them anywhere. That's a good thing, in my book.
Again, we have a "new" product that the personal fitness industry is all abuzz over. And of course, it is "sexy" because it was "invented" by a former Navy Seal. Hey, we'd all like to say we aspire to the physical capabilities of a Navy Seal, right?
It sells, baby.
Like some of the people quoted in the NYT article, I don't feel most "fitness oriented" people are prepared to use this equipment. They have trouble controlling and perceiving their own bodyweight in modified positions on SOLID surfaces. But hey, regular push ups and lunges aren't sexy. And they can a little boring after a few weeks, months and years. But the point of basic or high level fitness and athletic development isn't about doing the most exotic moves. It's about first mastering the most basic movements and then pushing the envelope training for a higher level of capacity. Even the most elite athletes practice and refine the most basic movements over and over.
Then there are those people who are ready and they enjoy some variety. Certainly the CrossFit community and the popularity of parkour have brought back the appreciation for basic gymnastic skills and bodyweight strength/endurance skills. There's some good stuff in this type of training, although it doesn't always emphasize quality of movement, just the quantity of movement. Lots of inane activities can raise your heartrate for 50 minutes. Again, I like to get the quality of the base movement established and an understanding of its purpose, prior to going balls-to-the-wall with developing work capacity or making surfaces unstable.
Bodyweight training should be the foundation of all rehab, general fitness and athletic development. But it isn't sexy and it doesn't necessarily require special toys. (Warning: MY SOAPBOX) And that makes it hard to sell, unless you package yourself well and have the backing of say, the NSCA speaking circuit, the ACE PR machine, the Perform Better speaking circuit, and/or you are lucky enough to have one of the transient acquisition editors from Human Kinetics ink you for a book deal. Or you can be appointed a guru by Ryan Lee. Then people might listen to and buy your materials or services. Exit Soapbox.
So, to answer your question Alex, I think suspension training can be fine for some and a little overwhelming and inappropriate for many. But it is hip and it is cool for now. Clubs and personal trainers will market it and people will become certified instructors and many will make money; clients will be entertained for a while. Time will tell if it is just another functional training fad that gets taken to the inevitable absurd end.