Gear that'll get you fit, not killed.
October 7, 2011 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Home gym exercise filter. Feedback on TRX Suspension and similar gear?

I talked to a friend who uses the TRX Suspension Trainer and he's very enthusiastic about it. I do a lot of cardio, but I do need to start doing some muscle exercises, so I was quite interested. Unfortunately, he's a bit of a newbie to the exercise world, and has no points of comparison, so I googled around for reviews. Sadly there's a ton of spam and no reliable feedback or comparisons.

The one thing that worries me is the quality of the gear, and the reviews on Amazon are quite scary. A ton of people claim very poor quality of materials which can be dangerous in these situations - and that's for the real TRX, not the fakes.

What is your experience with the TRX Suspension Trainer as regards the quality of the product? Are there better products than TRX, that work along the same principles (straps)? Or is the only way to get decent quality is to make one yourself (looking at the product, it should not be very hard to duplicate using superior materials).
posted by VikingSword to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been using a TRX (bought from the company) for about 3 years, and haven't had any problems - during that time, it's been hanging outside, under the roof eave, so while it's been shielded from direct sunlight and rain, it certainly hasn't been pampered. IMHO, if it were a piece of junk, it'd probably have fallen apart by now.
I have put a drop of light oil on the hinge on the clamp when it got kind-of stiff (maybe once or twice). This is probably where the folks who had "clamp slipped" issues were coming from. That or dirt in the mechanism.
I agree that the reviews you linked to on Amazon are scary, but mostly because those folks sound like some serious crackpots who I wouldn't trust to tie their own shoes.

It is an expensive piece of kit, but it's held up great for me, and is also one of the more entertaining pieces of exercise equipment I've ever used. For me, this counts for a lot. If I'm bored, I'm probably not going to work out, so the fun-factor makes the TRX, exercise ball, medicine balls, kettlebells, and indo-board the only equipment that keeps me entertained enough to keep up my workouts.

You might also want to ask around over at http://www.reddit.com/r/fitness - most folks there seem knowledgeable and well-balanced.
posted by ScottInAustin at 3:03 PM on October 7, 2011


They have some of this gear at my gym. You may be able to call around and see if gyms near you have them, and then you can ask to see it and maybe even try it out. No doubt the gym will want to give you a tour and a hard sell for a membership, but you can always just say no.

FWIW, while I've never used it extensively, I have tried it out to see what the story was, and the workmanship seemed very, very good.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:12 PM on October 7, 2011


Ringtraining.com has some alternatives to the TRX (which I can't personally attest to, but their gymnastic rings are excellent quality and have ably supported my 210lbs arse, plus weights, for several years now).
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 4:20 PM on October 7, 2011


Thank you everybody - this is great feedback!

ScottInAustin, reddit doesn't look too good from this point of view - somebody submitted two days ago, a request for feedback on a newly purchased TRX, and there are zero answers :(

Ringtraining.com definitely looks interesting, though the item Freestyle Trainer Pro is out of stock at the moment.

Anyhow, I'm still interested in any further feedback anybody may have. So far, the comments here have encouraged me about TRX gear quality workmanship.
posted by VikingSword at 5:50 PM on October 7, 2011


I've had one for between 2-3 years, the 'Force' version. Not especially better than the 'Pro' as far as I can tell, just what I happened to find at the time.

I can't speak to their overall production quality or customer service, but the unit I have is doing fine. Other than a few scuffs here and there, and a few sap stains, it looks brand new. It does have one very small tear in the foam on one of the grips. It's holding up fine, and would be an easy repair, but I do wish they would stop using foam for grips. You don't see it in gyms for a reason. The material used for the straps is quite tough, nothing I'd ever expect to fail. I've never had any problems with the buckles either. Overall, it's well made. The only weak point I've noticed is where the long strap (with the grips) goes through the loop. If you let your technique get sloppy every day and saw the strap back and forth it's going to tear eventually.

Very handy piece of kit. I like having it around because it gives you a wide range of options in a very small package. Great for use in the backyard, small and light enough to toss in a pack for a trip or jog. Encourages a total body approach and many of the suggested exercises introduce a lot of instability, forcing you to recruit more muscle groups than a comparable free weight lift. Granted, there's very little you can do with it that you couldn't do with a well equipped gym, but it's a lot more versatile than the average single piece of equipment. Definitely a touch on the expensive side, but worth it to me.

I think it would be reasonably easy to make a homemade version. The concept is simple: a long strap/rope with a handle on each end, and some way to securely attach it to a fixed point. There's nothing especially revolutionary about the design. People have been doing it with chains hanging from beams, among other things, for ages. The tricky part is getting all the detail (adjustable straps, etc) with the same level of fit and finish. Just a question of how much time and effort you're willing to spend on it.
posted by vohk at 7:04 PM on October 7, 2011


Don't buy into the hype. All that you need is a pair of dumbbells (get 2 sets, 1 at a lower weight and another at a slightly higher weight), some elastic bands (get 2 sets with one band a little tougher than the other), a stability ball, some workout DVDs, and an exercise mat. All of this equipment should cost less than $100. With these pieces of equipment, anyone can get a great strength workout at home.
posted by candasartan at 8:14 PM on October 7, 2011


It's not bad for supplementing an already solid routine, but on its own is not really a basis for a well-rounded program.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 2:02 AM on October 8, 2011


Echoing Scott in Austin and Earl the Polliwog: Fun to use, light, durable, effective, convenient to keep and transport. But probably better as a supplement to existing free weights, not instead of.

My personal trainer has me use them maybe one or two of every three sessions--so, a lot of the time. My favorite is to put my ankles in them, my hands on the floor, my body starting in a plank position, and do pikes.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:33 AM on October 8, 2011


Thank you everybody, that was great feedback.

I've decided to buy the Lifeline USA Jungle Gym XT. It's about a $100, but price was not the primary consideration. I read numerous reviews, and it appears that the construction of the Jungle Gym is better due to better design elements (primarily handles). It also has better flexibility compared to the TRX, because you can use the straps mounts separately or together. I suppose I could've made my own, but frankly, the research and time involved wouldn't have been worth the small savings.
posted by VikingSword at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2011


ConsumerReports reviewed the TRX and didn't mention anything about low quality materials. So who are you going to believe? Fancy new media Amazon reviews, or the stodgy but true Consumers Union?
posted by earlsofsandwich at 12:14 AM on December 14, 2011


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