Having just installed the first suspension training frame in a public open space in the UK, we were busting to try it out. Heavy snow and freezing weather got in the way for a couple of weeks, but this only added to to our growing enthusiasm to give it a go.
I am a big fan of suspension training and use TRX regularly in my local gym. Suspension training is excellent for strength, flexibility and metabolic training. It provides a total body workout, that leverages gravity, angular adjustment, and bodyweight to perform hundreds of exercises.
The frame has been installed in FieldLab Sheffield as part of the ProFit initiative. Our intention was to add uniqueness to the FieldLab and find a way to get this equipment to work in a public open space.
Until now, the main – almost only – supplier of suspension training equipment was TRX. But TRX were not willing to work with us on getting their product to work for outdoor use.
Our solution came from the Lancashire fabrication company Exigo. We worked with Exigo on adapting the frame, and knew exactly what were getting. However, the Jungle Gym XT straps it came with were an unknown, and I was a apprehensive over how they would match up.
Jungle Gym XT are a product of LifelineUSA. They were invented by Jon Hinds, who is owner and founder of Monkey Bar Gymnasiums.
So how do they compare? If, like me, you think one suspension strap is much like another, you would be wrong. These are much better. Here is what I like:
– While TRX has a fixed cradle (both straps are one unit) Jungle Gym uses independent straps. This means the width can be varied, which is great. Utilising different heights and angles is a unique feature of suspension training, and these independent straps add many more possibilities.
– The adjustment buckles (cams) are really easy to adjust. The latest TRX are fiddly and poorly designed.
– The attachment anchors are magic. Just throw them over the frame, loop through and that’s it. The anchors are also very versatile and simple to attach to many objects, without the need for adaptors. For example, they are excellent for attaching to a door.
TRX, on the other hand, has a two phase attachment system. A short strap wraps around an offers up a carabiner. Then the main strap, with carabiner, attaches to this. It looks simple and intuitive, but it is not: I have seen the straps anchored in several ways; not all of them safe.
– The Easy-In Foot Cradles™ are just that. They work well and are easier to get into and more secure that the TRX version.
– The whole system comes in a neat little box. As well as the straps, there is an instructional chart (flimsy) and a quality instructional DVD. If we had watched this first (read the instructions numb skull!) it would have saved a lot of time working out what the wee strap was for.
The wee strap, to which I refer, is actually a Duro-Link™. And what a cracking, simple idea this is. It is a short piece of webbing with a loop at each end and reinforced plastic protector in the middle. What’s it for? Well, loop it over a tree branch, or similar secure point, and then just feed the strap anchors through – trust me, this is good.
In summary, this is a clever, well designed piece of kit. I much prefer Jungle Gym to TRX – I need one of these.