By Mike Bailey,
It's no secret that getting in shape will improve one's golf game, but what about the next step - strengthening the muscles specific to golf while adding flexibility?
There are several golf fitness products and programs that claim to do just that, but none as versatile, portable, effective and inexpensive ($190) as the TRX Suspension Trainer golfer's package from Fitness Anywhere.
I spoke with several golfers who have used the TRX system, and they all told me that when they first got it they didn't believe that it would give them much of a workout. Then, after using it the first time, they were surprised how difficult it was to do some of the exercises, and all have claimed distance, flexibility and stability gains because of their regimens.
I knew better when I got mine, so it was no surprise after attempting the moves - like the core-strengthening, plank-position exercises - that I was pretty sore the next day. And I do mean "attempt," because there were several exercises I just couldn't perform more than one or two reps on the first day, which was no surprise.
The reason the TRX Suspension Trainer is so effective is because you use your own body weight. The TRX mounts to an overhead bar, beam or a door jam (if you use the door anchor) and from there, you can work various angles that use different percentages of your body weight. Obviously, if you could stand to lose a few pounds, using the TRX can be more difficult than it is for somebody who is at ideal body weight.
The TRX Suspension Trainer isn't unique to golf. It's been used by athletes in many different sports for years, and there are a number of different programs you can follow other than golf, and each of them - like the "TRX Biomechanics: Healthy Back" and "All Body Xpress" workout DVDs - would ultimately help your golf game simply because they build strength and stability - both of which are extremely useful for all aspects of the golf swing, including short game and even putting.
What makes this particularly intriguing, however, is that TRX has partnered with the Titleist Performance Institute. About a year and half ago, Chris Frankel was already training golfers with the TRX before he joined the company as Fitness Anywhere's director of programming.
"I immediately saw the application of suspension training to athletics in general and golf specifically," Frankel said. "I incorporated it into the regular training programs for my clients at home and on the road."
Then, with the assistance of Fitness Anywhere's Fraser Quelch and Dr. Greg Rose, TPI developed a DVD specifically on TRX Suspension Training for golfers, the TRX Golf Workout. The TRX was prominently featured at the 2008 World Golf Fitness Summit.
Sean Cochran, Phil Mickelson's trainer, uses the TRX and rumor has it that Notah Begay has trained on it as well. Laura Diaz gave a lot of credit to the TRX for getting her back in shape after her recent child, Frankel said. And you're starting to see TRXs at some of the finer fitness centers and gym across the country.
Fitness and Spa Director Mary Hurja, for example, uses three TRXs at the Pete Dye Course at Hideaway Club in La Quinta, Calif. She has incorporated it into the training regimen of many of her top players and athletes.
The program, however, whether it's golf specific or not, is not for the faint of heart or for the undedicated. The key is to carefully follow the instructions and stick with it. A personal trainer certified to use the equipment isn't a bad idea either, at least until you get the hang of it.
I found that following the "TRX Golf Workout" DVD could be a little tricky. Having to use my front door as the anchor, it would have been impossible to follow the DVD on my TV, so I used my laptop computer, which was portable. Still, I had to stop the computer between each exercise, which meant getting in and out of the TRX to start and stop the DVD. Once you get the hang of it, of course, you know longer need the DVD. You can also go to the TRX Web site, www.fitnessanywhere.com, for help.
As far as how much you can expect to gain in clubhead speed, balance and stability, that remains to be seen, but the folks at TRX and TPI are working on compiling statistics.
"What I can tell you is the TRX is great for training stability and core strength," Frankel said. "These two components of fitness are crucial to golf performance. This is definitely supported in the literature. In addition, better core stability and posture contributes to power, consistency and reduced risk of injury. Training on the TRX develops balance and requires integrated strength. When we say 'all core all the time' it means every exercise on the TRX activates core muscles reflexively for great carry over to golf performance."
Like many fitness products, you can only get out of it what you put into it. The TRX Suspension Trainer is no exception. Use it, and you will feel and see a difference in your game and how you feel in a short amount of time. However, you have to be consistent in your workout schedule.
But like all fitness products, diet is also important. So, if you overeat or eat the wrong foods, don't expect this to shed pounds for you. It's much easier to eat 3,500 calories less a week than it is to burn them. This product is primarily for strength and conditioning, although it certainly won't hamper you in the weight-loss department.
Still, even if you didn't change your diet and drop some pounds, becoming stronger and more flexible is never bad, and if you follow the regimen here, you will be successful.
Also, the system is indeed portable, but I found that you need a door that has room on both sides to do all the exercises, and many hotel rooms don't follow that format. However, many hotels these days have fitness rooms, and there may be a beam you can use to anchor the system there. You just need to be a little creative sometimes.
January 20, 2009
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.