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It's All About The Ropes to Get In Shape

If you thought that ropes were only meant for skipping and jumping, then you will be pleasantly surprised. You can lunge, push-up, plank, squat andeven hang upside down. Using your own body weight is the key ingredient to this workout that promises to recruit some of your deepest muscles in a variety of movements to develop strength, flexibility, incredible balance and joint stability... all at the same time!

The suspension-training technique was developed by a former Navy Seal in 2002 who experimented by hanging a couple of large straps over a free-standing pole held together with a metal clasp; it became a prototype for the TRX® System. The Navy Seal realized how it promoted synergistic strength that left him exhausted but content with his workout in a very short amount of time.

Suspension units have evolved over the years and so has the teacher training, and group classes have sprung up nationwide. The method balances the body but also offers a decompressive component, aligning the joints. It strengthens the weaker links such as the neck, spine, low back, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles.

The ropes themselves barely weigh 3 pounds but deliver a workout that requires 80 percent of your core muscles and 20 percent of your willpower. Because of the unstable ropes, you have no choice but to activate your deepest muscles to make the ropes stable and still—putting a lot of effort into making it look effortless!

It’s all about controlling yourself with the ropes on various angles—making it harder or easier depending on your skill and intensity level. You are the one in control. Suspension training makes you concentrate on the present. It is an excellent exercise for people with ADHD or those who get bored with a traditional lifting or cardio class. I particularly love this system for clients who have forgotten to recruit those very important intrinsic muscles and rely solely on the superficial ones to do all the work. The delayed firing of the appropriate muscles typically causes most injuries. The deep stabilizers are the ones that should initiate every movement.

I often put a mind-body skeptic on the Core Suspend first so clients can feel how they can’t depend on just a few, powerful, big muscles.It’s a great tool to discover the power that comes from the inside first and allows one to move not just forward and back, but sideways and at various angles, which so many traditional exercises neglect. For instance, a push-up can be done many ways that progress from simple to more challenging: standing, facing the floor and all those angles in-between.

Skilled teachers can also utilize the therapeutic aspects of suspension training, primarily the off-loading principle. ‘Hanging’ has been an all-time favorite for creating spaces in the body. When there is space around all the joints, the body has the ability to achieve its maximum reach, its freedom of movement. Just the sensation of openness in the rib cage allows for better oxygenation in the lungs.

Modifications can also be made for injuries and special conditions such as multiple sclerosis, frozen shoulder or even stroke. These particular conditions need to constantly have the nervous system stimulated. The instability of the ropes can actually aid in prompting the brain to tell the muscles to activate.

Stretching is also a huge component of any good movement system. The Core Suspend makes the stretching intelligent because the aid of the ropes prevents the body from collapsing and allows for elongation and connective tissue hydration.

Whether you choose to hang upside- down or not, suspension training is effective and smart movement that can unleash your body’s potential—it’s your personal playground!

Monica Hoekstra

Society Magazine –

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