Gym & Weights vs. Pilates & TRX Suspension

I used to throw heavy weights around quite easily.  I remember taking pride in loading the leg press with 2X my body weight and comfortably working my legs.  At the same time, I also worked my body diligently in a Pilates studio with a Master Teacher or two, on a regular basis.  I called it functional, cross-training and had been doing it for about ten+ years as my lifestyle approach to fitness and health.  Now, as a Pilates teacher & studio owner and with my new found love of TRX Suspension, there is no longer a need for weights.  In fact, I haven’t touched a weight or its equivalent in 3+ years.

Clearly it is time to change your protocol when the training methods you use fail to prevent injuries , and actually potentially cause them.  It is time to change your protocol when you notice your joints, tendons and ligaments screaming at you after each bend, twist or turn.  It is really time to change what you have been doing when you end the evening and begin the morning smelling like camphor and menthol or can’t start or end without an anti-inflammatory.  Ageless, graceful living requires mindful conscious changes and adjustments.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have reminded a student to “work*within their current body* and *toward their future body*” rather than remaining frustrated with the inability to retain yesterday’s body.  Yes, our bodies are self-healing systems. Our invincible, youthful selves are thankful for that reality.   The older we get, the more care, attention and maintenance we require.  The older we get, the easier it becomes for the disparate parts of our bodies to breakdown from overuse, wear and tear.  That youthful, invincible play with life and activity comes back as a formidable haunt of the body system.

This is one of the main reasons that I walked completely away from the use of the gym in the last three years.  Vanity made me a “gym rat” from my late 20′s thru my late 40′s.   I introduced myself to yoga in my early 40′s and sporadically used it to stretch while maintaining a “serious” workout regimen 3-4x weekly in the gym.  At mid-40s, I began working with clients as a private trainer and at 45 years of age, I competed in a Body Building contest and won 1st Place as Lightweight Body Builder.

The rigor of training the body and the tight and constricted feeling of my muscles and joints along with my subconscious awareness that “I could not physically do this for the rest of my life” helped me find and embrace Pilates and the formidable change it made in my life and body.  Pilates replaced my use, love or even desire to go to the gym.  The mental-physical connections required for training with Pilates, in addition to the myriad of other functional, cross training tools of my studio; TRX, BOSU Balance Trainer, resistance bands, stability balls changes lives, bodies and flexibility.


Body Resisted Training

The TRX System was developed by a U.S. Navy SEAL as a revolutionary method of leveraged bodyweight exercise allowing one to perform hundreds of exercises building power, strength, flexibility, balance, mobility at an intensity level chosen by the user or led by the instructor.  While it may not be new to gym rats or personal trainers, it is a unique tool for Pilates studio owners and teachers and is so complimentary to the healing movements of Pilates.

Body resisted training with the TRX allows one to move easily with the equipment, maximizing the body and mind’s training and minimizing the injury to joints and overworked muscles.  Using the equipment with a “pilates-frame of reference,” creates a delicious, dynamic, functional training workout that is exhilarating and incomparable.  I believe that cross-training, particularly with the TRX Suspension equipment and Pilates-based movements, can lead to better muscular balance and joint stability.  This is due to the fact that Pilates with the use of TRX emphasizes the body’s natural ability to move in three anatomical planes of motion.

While stationary equipment/machines can sometimes be safer to use, they restrict movements to a single plane of motion, an unnatural form of movement for the human body. When stationary equipment is essential, students are moved to the floor or the Pilates Reformer to begin safe movement exercises.  As strength and mind-body connections are attained, additional planes of motion and movement are added into the exercise regimen and program.

Quite a few people erroneously equate strength training with gyms, weights and bodybuilding. Challenge them with a Pilates sequence using the TRX and eyes will be opened to a new world of bodywork. Pilates and Pilates-based movements make a great choice for creating adaptive training workouts that build strength with length and flexibility.

Post Author: Gina Jackson

Gina Jackson, Director/Owner, Pilates4Fitness Movement Space, West New York, NJ, has been teaching, coaching and training for more than thirteen years and loves the challenge of helping others find their center with Pilates. Certified by Power Pilates, New York, NY, you can connect with Gina via Twitter [], Facebook [] and her website [].