Olympic ‘Shot Diva’ Michelle Carter: Our Bodies Are Made to Move
Michelle Carter is an Olympic gold medalist. An American record holder. A Nike-sponsored athlete. She’s the first American woman to earn gold in shot put—she won in Rio in 2016—and only the second to medal in the sport. So it’s surprising that she has a story about her high school coach singling her out on the track and field team. “I was always last,” Michelle said, reflecting on running in high school. “I was last on purpose. So the coach was like, ‘If Michelle wins—if she beats everybody—we're done.’ She just knew that I wasn't going to beat the fastest girl on the team. But when I took off, I was half a court ahead of everybody. I can run. Don't underestimate me.” Michelle loves a challenge. She’s also proof that athletes don’t fit into a single mould. She hates running, but she’s a three-time track and field Olympian. She’s spent most of her life competing in a sport frequently associated with the term “brute strength,” but she’s known as the Shot Diva. (Michelle is also a professional makeup artist, and she does not forego the glam for competition.) She gives young athletes pointers on form, and she donates the food and supplies they need to compete at the highest level. Shot put glory runs in the Carter family, though Michelle didn’t learn that until she gravitated to the sport in middle school. Her father and coach, Michael, won silver in shot put at the 1984 Olympics, but Michelle grew up thinking of him as a three-time Super Bowl-winning nose tackle. “My dad never brought it up because he didn't want us to pick [a sport] because of what he did.” Unaware of the family legacy, Michelle was drawn to the athleticism of shot put. “I could use all of who and what I am. In a lot of different sports, especially when you're a different-sized athlete, people tell you what you can and cannot do. They kind of limit you and put you in a box.” That’s a pattern Michelle is trying to break both through the example she sets as an Olympic athlete, and her charitable work through her non-profit organisation, One Golden Shot, which supports young athletes. “Moving to me is important because I feel like that's what the human body is made for. We are made to move. We're made to go for a walk and just try different things with our bodies because our bodies enjoy it,” Michelle said. But movement and sports among school-age athletes isn’t just a matter of picking up a ball or lacing up sneakers. Many kids lack the necessary fuel, equipment, supplies and mentorship to excel in sports. Michelle is filling that void. Michelle’s You Throw Girl Scholarship Fund provides female athletes in sixth through twelfth grades with camp tuition scholarships to attend her You Throw Girl Sports Confidence Camp. Through Fuel Up, Michelle is providing track teams in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area with healthy meals and snacks for competition day. And through I'm Supported, Michelle is supplying female athletes with proper sports bras and feminine hygiene products like pads for days when they’re caught off guard. In addition to her work supporting young athletes in their pursuit of movement—and running her business and philanthropy efforts—Michelle is also preparing for the Tokyo Olympic games. Training as a world-class athlete during a pandemic isn’t easy, but Michelle has made it work by adding a small gym in her home. “I never wanted a home gym,” she admits. “I want to go to the gym. And then this happens and I'm like, ‘Oh man, like I'm stuck like Chuck. What am I going to do?’ So I had to figure it out and find things and try to build up something.” As she prepares for what will hopefully be her fourth Olympic appearance, Michelle is focused on weightlifting, agility, and plyometrics. Her physical therapist introduced the TRX Suspension Trainer into her routine, and Michelle uses it for warmups, shoulder exercises and stability exercises. “I'm feeling pretty good. Whatever happens this year is what's supposed to happen, and that's how I really approach every year. I look at it as these are just moments that are gonna test me. How bad do I really want it? Am I going to keep pushing for it?” she said. Like most of us, Michelle says she’s been mentally and physically stretched over the last year, but the slower pace of 2020 and 2021 have allowed her an opportunity for reflection on her life in general and her career as an athlete. Regardless of whether she adds another gold to her collection this year, Michelle will never stop moving or encouraging other people to find their power through movement.
How Walt Raineri Embraced Movement to Adapt to Blindness
Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve got it all. Fancy career, fast cars, prestige—all the things you’re told hard work can bring. And then, everything goes dark. Literally. What would you do? For Walt Raineri, there was only one option: adapt, get moving, and make the best of things. As Walt tells it, he was zipping along the highway of life when the guillotine fell on his eyesight. The culprit was retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary, degenerative eye disease. “I knew I was going to go blind,” Walt said. But knowing blindness was inevitable couldn’t prepare him for how he would emotionally respond to becoming visually impaired. When his vision began to fade, Walt committed himself to mobility training. He was doing everything a visually-impaired person should do when he stumbled on a rock while walking with his cane through a busy intersection. He fell to the street, and was overwhelmed by frustration. “I just lied there, face down, thinking to myself, ‘Wow, I did everything right. And it's still not enough. Is this going to be the rest of my life, doing everything right and not being able to function properly?” In that lowest moment, when the light changed and cars began honking, Walt—still lying in the intersection—made a choice. “It was right then that I experienced this tipping point in my life,” he said. “It was that second that I began the mindset of ‘stop trying to be a poorly functioning sighted person and start being a highly functioning blind person.’ And from that moment, everything started to get easier.” His mindset may have gotten “easier,” but the challenges grew harder. Walt had been an athlete growing up, and had a post-workday workout routine before losing his sight. After, he threw himself into sports—sailing, rowing, skiing, rock-climbing, cycling—as a means of coping with blindness. Losing his vision made the world feel smaller; challenging himself through sports made it bigger again. While there may be modifications to the way Walt participates in these sports, they are by no means simplified. In sailing and skiing, for example, there are sound beacons that let Walt know where the obstacles are. Walt has some ski trails memorized, but he largely listens for other people to avoid crashing. The dangers and challenges presented by each sport remain very real. That’s something that he says many sighted people take for granted. Walt recalls skiing solo in Colorado when another skier recognized him as a legend on the mountain—the blind skier who had memorized all the trails. Walt assured him that he didn’t have all the trails memorized and suggested they try out one of the trails he was less familiar with. “The thing about Nordic skiing is you have to be able to ski well uphill, and that's quite challenging. So we're about halfway through the ski, and he had really forgotten at all that I was blind. He was struggling to keep up with me… I got him to transition from it being a charity event to a holy-smokes-how-do-I-keep-up-with-my-friend event? That's really part of the fun of it: being able to demonstrate to people that you are relevant, that you can add something to the equation and that doing things together can sometimes be even more empowering.” For Walt, sports have blasted out the walls that blindness built around him, but he knows that many visually-impaired people are still trapped by the frustration that can accompany blindness. “The feeling of claustrophobia is real, it's tangible; it often results in a lot of sedentary behaviour by visually impaired individuals. I found that this concept of moving at the speed of nature—getting out and doing things, engaging in activities—helped me with this sensation of pushing the walls out,” Walt said. “It's a matter of adaptation. It's a matter of understanding that, in any given moment, you can bring your skillset to the table. What you do with it is critically important because you can't prepare for everything.” That tendency to embrace adaptation is also what drew Walt to the TRX Suspension Trainer. He took his first TRX class while on vacation in Mammoth in 2009, and immediately knew that he wanted his own straps at home. “It was quite revolutionary for me to experience the intensity of a workout without using any weights, because I was very familiar with weight room activities—using weights or cables connected to weights—to work out. It was so fun to experience that you could achieve that with so little equipment; that with understanding the dynamics of how you can get your body to work against itself using this Suspension Training system, you can achieve the [same] level of intensity and muscle development. From that early beginning, it just worked its way into my routine on a pretty regular basis.” Walt has been using his TRX Suspension Trainer for more than a decade, and he’s been so impressed by the opportunities it offers the visually-impaired that he reached out to TRX founder Randy Hetrick about creating TRX programming specifically for visually-impaired people. “You have to integrate some kind of fitness into the life of a visually-impaired individual… I came up with this idea of creating a group of ambassadors, and [reaching] out to the visually-impaired community—not only the people who are visually-impaired, but their caregivers, families, supporters, and friends—to let them know that this isn't a reason to stop; there's equipment that is very affordable, that you can use wherever, whenever to stay fit,” Walt said.
Nesrine Dally: Movement creates positive change
Have you ever considered what it takes to be a trailblazer? To be the first person to do… Well, anything? Muay Thai boxer and London-based trainer Nesrine Dally knows all too well the obstacles that come with being first: she was the first hijab-wearing athlete to compete in a Muay Thai stadium in Thailand. But her story is more than one of wake up, put on a hijab, kick butt. As a Muslim woman who covers, there were multiple points along the way when Nesrine had to decide how keep moving in her sport. Nesrine discovered Muay Thai while studying sports science at university. “It's not compulsory, but if you're doing a sport science degree, you tend to pick a sport,” she said. She tried out for a few different teams—like netball and basketball—but nothing excited her. Then she found combat sports. She stumbled across a Muay Thai gym in Northwest London—two hours away from her university by bus—and she was blown by her first session. “I'd never seen anything like it before,” Nesrine said. “It was such a difficult workout. I think that captivated me because I'm from quite an athletic background; I've done and competed in a variety of sports, and this was super challenging. And I liked the fact that everyone around me looked just beautiful when they were practicing.” Nesrine didn’t cover when she started Muay Thai, so transitioning to competing as a hijab-wearing athlete meant adaptation. “There were a number of challenges,” she said. “I think some of them were the internal anxiety and nerves around how I would be perceived from other people. And there were some actual, technical issues. There weren't any sports hijabs around at the time or they were very limited; if they were making them, they weren't the best products because it was very new.” Without readily-available hijabs in performance materials, Nesrine set about improvising with what she could find in stores to make her own. Beyond the lack of proper gear, she didn’t have many role models to look up to. “I think the biggest thing really was that there was nobody in the UK doing Muay Thai that looked like me, or was practicing wearing a hijab. It felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, as you say, so that was quite difficult.” There’s a thing that happens when someone forges a new path: it makes traveling down the same road easier for the next person. That’s what’s occurred in London after Nesrine blazed the trail as a hijab-wearing Muay Thai fighter. Other women could see themselves in her. They could imagine the possibilities. Today, Nesrine runs her own health and fitness community space, Health Hub London. Though she’s had to get creative with virtual and outdoor training sessions throughout the pandemic, she says that she’s been able to make it work thanks to the versatility and portability of the TRX Suspension Trainer. “During the pandemic, the TRX has saved my life as I've transitioned into training people outside,” she said. “Fourteen years in the industry— I never thought I'd be training people in a park, but that's where we are. It just meant I had a gym I could take around with me, and I didn't have to bring all the weights. My clients have loved actually doing TRX based sessions.” In addition to running Health Hub London, Nesrine is Nike’s first hijab-wearing trainer. “Aligning with Nike and becoming a Nike trainer was a massive highlight in my career,” she said. “It allowed me to speak on a massive stage to a global audience… London is so diverse and I think it was so significant and poignant that they chose somebody like me to represent the fitness industry. Not everyone looks like the front of Women's Health—super skinny, white, blonde, female. The fitness industry is so vast and so diverse.” That shift in the fitness industry mindset of what a trainer should look like is a subject close to Nesrine’s heart as she champions prioritising what strong feels like, over what strong looks like. That’s a message that seems to be resonating with incoming clients at Health Hub. Nesrine said that the last five or six clients to join her training program have said their number one goal was to feel strong. “If I rewind five years ago, most people would have said to lose weight and tone up; which is fine if that’s what they want. Ultimately, there's been a shift in what people want. Now, people want to feel strong, they want to feel empowered. I think they understand that movement creates a feeling as well as the physical benefits of it.” Over the last decade, there have been repeated cries that representation in media matters. Something as simple as showcasing a hijab-wearing athlete on social media demonstrates why. Scroll down Nesrine’s Instagram feed, and you’ll see her training other hijab-wearing women around London. Throughout Ramadan, Nesrine shares her tips for training and fasting during the month on social media. Her advice can resonate with Muslim and non-Muslim athletes alike, but she’s speaking to a segment of the population that rarely gets addressed; that rarely gets showcased in the fitness world. As a hijab-wearing athlete in a combat sport, Nesrine hopes she can encourage the next generation of girls to take up martial arts and boxing, and smash the stigma that combat sports are for men. Most of all, she wants people to understand the benefits of movement. “Movement creates positive change: physical change, mental change. It really allows you to explore your body's full potential and discover things that make you feel good... I want it to be accessible for women, especially Muslim women, especially young, Muslim girls who tend to drop out of sports at a young age because they don't see themselves represented in mainstream sports and the media. I hope to be almost a symbol of hope for the women that maybe once felt like there wasn't a space for them."
HOW TRX CAN LEVEL UP YOUR YOGA PRACTICE
When you’re a yoga newbie, finding your balance can be a struggle. As your class instructor gracefully transitions through swan-like movements standing on one foot, you might find yourself precariously wobbling like a newborn colt. When you fall, it can be tempting to give up, but the TRX Suspension Trainer can help you build better balance to improve your yoga routine. The TRX Suspension Trainer is designed to be a tool that anybody can use, regardless of their level of strength. Many popular TRX Suspension Trainer exercises can be more accessible versions of advanced bodyweight exercises, for example, a TRX Chest Press can be a lighter-weight alternative to a pushup and a TRX Single Leg Squat can be the stepping stone to a bodyweight pistol squat. Similarly, the Suspension Trainer can help stabilise yoga poses while your body adjusts to learning a pose, kind of like training wheels for fitness. If you're wondering how to translate yoga poses on a mat to TRX exercises on the straps, we have a team of yogis like Shauna Harrison and Krystal Say, who have developed yoga programming specifically for the TRX Suspension Trainer. From backbends to crow pose, Warrior III to handstands, the TRX Suspension Trainer can offer extra support for flexibility to help you take your yoga to the next level when your body is ready. Think of the Suspension Trainer just like any other prop you might find in a yoga studio. “I think the TRX is an amazing prop for yoga,” Harrison said. “Just like how the block, yoga straps, and hammocks (for aerial yoga) can also be used as props, the TRX Suspension Trainer is really another tool for us to use.” Itching to master yoga balancing for yourself? Both Harrison and Say are serving up TRX for Yoga goodness on TRX Live, our free streaming classes—all you need is a TRX Suspension Trainer and an internet connection. Drop-in and flow...you’ll be glad you nama-stayed.
Ace Your Drive with These 4 TRX Movements
Whether you’re in it to win it, or you just enjoy having beers with friends on the green, your drive sets the tone for your golf game. Any expert can tell you that practice is the key to improving your drive, but golfers don’t improve through repetition alone: First, you need to develop the stability, mobility, and strength that enable you to hone your swing. According to Trevor “TA” Anderson—TRX Master Trainer and Golf Performance Expert—the most important golf-related exercises are those that can help you create a better connection with the ground. “Stability is the most important aspect of all performance. If we can't connect [with the ground], we can't produce force,” Anderson said. Which moves are best-suited for golfers with an eye towards a better score? These five Anderson-approved exercises—using the TRX Suspension Trainer and TRX Rip Trainer—will help you ace your drive. TRX Suspension Trainer Picks With the TRX Suspension Trainer, Anderson suggests focusing on exercises that engage the posterior chain. Start with a TRX Squat, firmly rooting your feet into the ground for each rep. If you want to build on that move, try upgrading to a TRX Jump Squat. While you have your straps handy, Anderson recommends TRX Rows to activate the back, and—the move everyone loves to hate—TRX Hamstring Curls. (Throw in a TRX Hip Press at the top for an extra challenge.) TRX Rip Trainer Given its similarity in size and weight to the a golf club, you might think that training for golf with the TRX Rip Trainer is simply a matter of swinging the bar like a driver. Anderson, however, has other ideas. “The main reason why I use the RIP Trainer is to resist rotation because the golf swing is about aggressive acceleration and subsequent deceleration. Being able to manage deceleration and to balance is probably the number one way to maintain any of the power that you generate,” Anderson explains. When it comes to RIP Trainer moves to prepare for the links, Anderson suggests starting with a RIP Lunge to Press. “[The RIP Trainer] demands balance through a full range of motion. If you do a Lunge Press facing away from a RIP Trainer, you're stepping in a sagittal plane, but you're resisting. Even if you don't rotate, you're resisting in the transverse plane; it's trying to rotate you, but you're not allowing it,” Anderson said. Already nailed the RIP Lunge Press? Try adding a rotation at the bottom of the movement. You don’t have to be a professional golfer to train like a professional golfer. Taking time for a few simple exercises to develop your mobility and posterior chain can yield significant improvements when it’s time to tee off. When you’re enjoying your best game ever on the back nine, you’ll be glad you listened to a pro.
5 WOMEN WHO SHATTERED THE GLASS CEILING
It’s March and you know what that means—Women’s History Month! Join us this month in recognising five exceptional female athletes and sports figures whose intelligence, tenacity and strength of character kicked down glass ceilings and paved the way for active women everywhere. BILLIE JEAN KING To this day, Billie Jean King remains one of the most illustrious players in tennis history. Named by Life magazine as one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century,” she is the winner of 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon. Her success was instrumental in making it acceptable for American women to exert themselves in pursuits other than motherhood, but what is remembered most about her is that she humbled Bobby Riggs—a male tennis player she defeated in the famous “Battle of the Sexes.” She is also the first prominent female athlete to admit her homosexuality, and worked as an influential social activist after retiring from tennis, eventually becoming the first female athlete to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the NCAA’s President Gerald R. Ford Award. CATHY RUSH Often referred to as the “John Wooden of Women’s Basketball,” Cathy Rush’s tenure as a women’s basketball head coach may have been short, but it had a huge and lasting impact. Under her guidance, Immaculata College won three consecutive National AIAW Championships (1972, 1973 & 1974), five Eastern AIAW Championships, and two National AIAW Championship Runner-Ups—all during a time when many in the world still believed that a woman’s potential for success was limited. She not only established herself as a leader in women's sports, she is known for heralding in an era of securing scholarship money for female student-athletes. Today, she is still one of the few women inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. MARGARET DUNKLE Margaret Dunkle is the lesser-known powerhouse behind implementing Title IX, the law that transformed education for women and girls to be safer—”No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Her groundbreaking 1974 report documenting discrimination against female athletes became the blueprint for the Title IX regulations on athletics. In 1975, she became the first Chair of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, which led the successful fight for strong Title IX rules. Title IX was recently revised in the 2020 administration and not necessarily for the better, but it’s women like Dunkle that will continue fighting for women’s equality in sports. LISA OLSON In the 1970s, when increasing numbers of women sought to enter the field of sportswriting, women were routinely harassed or discriminated against and were not granted equal access to post-game locker room interviews. This didn’t change until a federal court decision in 1978—one that arose because Lisa Olson, a sports writer for the Boston Herald, was sexually harassed by players from the New England Patriots in the team’s locker room during an attempted interview. It was her civil suit and the publicity it received that paved the way for other female journalists, giving them a voice for what they had quietly endured for years. While her legal action led to threats and further harassment, she went on to become an acclaimed sports writer—today her work is featured in the anthology, “The Best American Sports Writing.” ALTHEA GIBSON Long before Venus and Serena Williams or even Billie Jean King picked up a tennis racket, Althea Gibson reigned supreme on the court, winning 11 Grand Slams and roughly 100 other titles worldwide. The same behind-the-scenes machinations that it took for Jackie Robinson to integrate baseball came into play when Gibson integrated tournament tennis by competing in the U.S. Nationals in 1950 and Wimbledon in 1951. Gibson believed records were meant to be broken, but it took four decades for another black tennis player to catch up to her back-to-back national and international championships. She still holds the record for winning 10 consecutive singles titles in the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was founded in 1916 and is the oldest black sports organisation in history. Looking back at these five, fighting trailblazers, it’s important to remember how far women have come in our national history, how much we’ve collectively come together and made great strides forward—and how far we still have to go.
TRX Training Club® announces a partnership with ZARA
TRX Training Club® announces a partnership with ZARA As part of the collaboration, the full-body TRX Suspension TrainerTM will be stocked online through the ZARA website. TRX products will be available online in 24 markets around the world, and stocked in 11 major city ZARA stores. The partnership runs alongside the latest ZARA’s Athleticz sportswear collection.ZARA customers will be able to subscribe to TRX’s proprietary digital fitness platform, the TRX Training Club®, with exclusive access to six months’ worth of unlimited on-demand workouts. The one-stop shop enables users to access a dynamic, multi-faceted training experience with unlimited on-demand workouts and live classes. The TRX Training Club’s latest REPLAY function also provides users with the opportunity to repeat and/or catch up on their favourite workouts.The partnership with ZARA marks a breakthrough moment for TRX. Brent Leffel, CEO of TRX, commented: “We are thrilled to partner up with one of the most well-renowned brands in the world and be part of ZARA’s new Athleticz range. Home workouts are clearly here to stay, and we have joined forces with ZARA to equip people with everything they need to exercise around their schedule.” “I believe we can convert even more fitness enthusiasts, and together with ZARA, can provide customers with the ultimate comfort, alongside access to train by any means possible - either at home or on the go.” The partnership has seen TRX Training Club’s Director of Trainer Branding, Niko Algieri, go to New York to shoot exclusive workout content in ZARA’s filming studio. Algieri commented: “When we created the TRX Training Club during a global pandemic, our goal was always to help people become more active all over the world. This partnership with ZARA enables us to level up what we are doing in this space and reach brand new audiences - the potential here is massive and we can’t wait to explore that.” For more information on the TRX Training Club, visit https://club.trxtraining.com/en-gb/, and to shop the ZARA Athleticz range, head to https://www.zara.com/uk/en/zara-athleticz-collection-l4712.html.
HOW RANDY HETRICK RETIRED NAVY SEAL TURNED HIS SECOND ACT INTO A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS
The Luxuria Lifestyle Interview: How This Retired Navy Seal Turned his Second Act into a Multi-Million Dollar Business Empire. As a Navy SEAL Squadron Commander, Randy Hetrick was a member of the most elite fighting force on the planet. While on deployment overseas in 1997, he was looking for a way to keep his body in peak condition. Using only parachute webbing, a jiu-jitsu belt he accidentally packed in his bag and his body weight, Hetrick devised a workout system that is now the global leader in fitness known as TRX. Used in more than than 60,000 clubs and training facilities worldwide, this suspension-training workout system has become a multi-million dollar fitness phenomenon. Luxuria Lifestyle sits down with this innovator and visionary to find out more. What did your experiences in the military teach you that helped you grow your business? Most of the things I know about how to grow a business came from my experiences in the Navy SEAL Teams, learning how to organise a group of ordinary individuals around a common mission to accomplish truly extraordinary things. And along those lines -how is ‘accountability’ one of the most important things you took from it? Accountability is a thing found in surplus inside elite combat units. Everyone wants to man the wheel and is eager to own the outcome. Soldiers are steeped in accountability and ownership from the day they enter service and it only increases as they rise up the chain. I haven’t found that basic truth to apply as broadly in the civilian marketplace—especially when a plan hasn’t worked as well as might have been hoped. But when you think about it, basic accountability—the desire to run one’s show and own one’s results—is the fundamental building block of accomplishment in ANY organisation of humans. With accountability, the organisation can promulgate approaches that work and it can diagnose and fix those that don’t. Without accountability, you’re just a block of driftwood bobbing along in the tide–with a few worried rats clinging to it, hoping to make landfall–and blaming each other for how they all got there, to begin with. How has our modern fitness culture and the influence of filtered ‘fit-spiration’ stars on Instagram set us up for unrealistic ideas about what it means to be fit? Look, the great thing about true fitness is that it is highly personal and NOBODY has a monopoly on it. While I appreciate that some super-fit cats work hard and want to show off the results of their efforts, I do have misgivings that their posts may alienate the majority of ordinary people (ie. People with real jobs and family responsibilities) who see them. The reality is that the vast majority of freakishly fit, super ripped fitness influencers in Instagram are: 1) Single; 2) Marginally employed, and 3) Hungry. In my humble opinion, being fit means moving one’s body on a regular basis, eating as healthfully as one’s life accommodates, and feeling good about the investments in time that one dedicates to exercise. At the end of the day, the only thing we REALLY own is our body and our ability to move through the world doing what makes us happy for as long as possible. Shredded abs and body-builder muscle definition are ephemeral for all humans. Fluid, confident, pain-free movement and full functionality well into old age is the long-game that’s really worth playing. What is it about TRX that makes it for ‘everybody’? While we all come in different shapes and sizes, everyone has a body. The TRX Suspension Trainer harnesses the weight that we each carry around on our two feet and lets us use it as the resistance to power literally thousands of exercise movements and variations–simply by leaning back and lifting our bodies against gravity. At TRX we’ve gotten really good at putting together workouts for people at all different levels of fitness—from seniors to people recovering from surgery to regular folks trying to stay fit, to Olympic athletes gunning for the next world record—we all have the opportunity to choose the movement and level of challenge that is just right for us as individuals. And the TRX works literally anywhere: in the gym, at home, or out in the park. As we’ve been saying for years, our straps enable anyone to “make your body your machine.” One of the aims of The ANYBODY, ANYWHERE campaign is that it is inclusive and works to ‘build a sense of community’ – how important is that – teamwork – when you’re trying to get people to commit to a workout routine? The best possible environment for a workout routine is to exercise with other people who you enjoy. And the TRX does that, inside the gym or out in the world. But the real key to feeling the inspiring results from exercise is doing it regularly. 20-30 minutes per day, 4-5 times per week is a great place to start. So you have to pick a place and time that works with your life. The great thing about the TRX Suspension Trainer is that it goes wherever you want to go and it’s ready whenever you are. By removing the traditional barriers of geography, expense and fitness-level we’ve unlocked fitness for everyone, everywhere. And that’s a pretty cool thing. What do you think intimidates people about the idea of ‘suspension training’? what do you wish they knew about it? When you see world-class athletes training on a piece of kit, you can assume (in this case, wrongly) that the tool is only for those at the elite end of the spectrum. Ironically, many of our biggest advocates in the world of professional sport learned about the TRX from their physiotherapists when they were recovering from an injury! The reality is that our customer base is roughly 54% female and the ages stretch from 9 to 90. TRX has become one of the most popular forms of senior fitness in North America. I didn’t anticipate that when I created it but I’m sure happy that they found it! And if they can do it, so can everyone else with a body. What are you most proud of in your professional life? I came into the 50-year old health & fitness industry with a crazy strap and a surplus of belief that my team and I could positively influence the lives of tens of millions of people by democratising access to world-class fitness. 15 years later, we’ve accomplished that. And we’re really just beginning to hit our stride. That makes my parents proud, which makes me proud too. What would be your top advice to anyone who is looking to build a business based on an idea as you have so successfully done? 1) Create a product that provides a solution to a real problem. I can’t tell you how often I see people trying to hawk some “solution” that’s desperately in search of a problem.2) Focus on innovation rather than imitation. Innovators always win in the end.3) Surround yourself with great mentors and work to build a strong network4) Never quit. When people ask me for my “secrets to success” I always answer that I’m as resourceful as a coyote and as tenacious as a cactus plant. Those may be my only real talents.
Surfer Jamel Ramiro Finds Stillness in the Waves
Jamel Ramiro is patient. It comes with the territory in surfing. It’s pretty helpful in life, too. “Surfing for me is very therapeutic,” he said. “It allows me to be present and it makes me feel alive—wondering if this wave is going to crush me and kill me and keep me under, or if I'm just going to ride this amazing wave.” If those sound like the words of a lifelong surfer, it might surprise you to learn that Jamel is relatively new to the sport. His first passion was actually Muay Thai. Today, Jamel is a cold water surfer, a pitbull dad, and a personal trainer. But not that long ago, his life was pretty different. Picture this: Jamel has trained in Muay Thai for years. He’s working a sales and marketing job in San Francisco, and teaching group fitness on the side. He’s searching for the next big wave of his career, which he knows is not behind a desk. A Muay Thai sparring buddy invites him to try out a new workout: TRX Suspension Training. “I fell in love with it right away,” he said. From a strength and conditioning perspective, TRX was an ideal complement to Muay Thai. “I saw major improvements in a short amount of time.” Wanting to perfect his form, Jamel kept going back. “One class became two classes in a row, became three classes in a row. And finally they were like, ‘Hey, do you want a job here as a trainer?’“ TRX may be an unlikely path to surfing, but it was the sliding door that led Jamel to the water. Taking a job as a TRX trainer motivated Jamel to pivot his career and leave his office job behind. When wellness became his livelihood, he had to cut back on Muay Thai training. “I ended up having to stop. I decreased my training because I was getting hurt too much,” he said. That’s where surfing enters the picture. Growing up in Chicago, Jamel always wanted to surf, but geography was not in his favor. In San Francisco, there was an opportunity. There was also an obstacle: the famously cold, choppy Pacific waves are not exactly welcoming for beginners. “People would tell me that over here, it's really rough. Don't go out by yourself, especially Ocean Beach—it's known to be one of the hardest places to paddle out.” But, after a friend took him out to show him the ropes, he was hooked. Surfing and TRX became a self-propelling cycle. While Jamel continued to hone his surfing skills, working as a TRX coach presented the opportunity to train world class surfers like Alex Martins and João De Macedo at the TRX Training Centre. De Macedo then invited Jamel to surf with him in Portugal. As Jamel began traveling the world—chasing waves, and training surfers— he would bring his TRX straps along for the journey. “If I go to a surf camp, I'll usually leave behind my TRX and teach them how to use it. That way they can start training their people. When I believe in something I do my best to really push it,” he said. Finding time to surf and cross train while working as a personal trainer isn’t easy. Bay Area surfers know the best waves come early in the morning; for Jamel, that’s often when clients want to complete their own workouts. But he makes the time to suit up later in the day and find his way to the ocean. When it comes to cross-training, he might try weight training underwater, or a session with his ever-present Suspension Trainer. “I'm not the greatest surfer in the world,” he admitted, “but every day I'm striving to become better. I always have a goal every time I enter the water.” For the uninitiated, the appeal of surfing is a mystery. Paddling out takes tremendous effort. You’re not guaranteed a wave. If one comes, it may only last ten seconds; thirty if you’re lucky. But for Jamel, the reward behind each wave is so much greater than just its duration. “Surfing, in general, is not a progressive learning curve. It's more like the stock market, where you’re going to have good days and bad days. I pick up athletic things fairly easily, but with surfing—what I've come to learn and what's really humbled me—it's also the amount of time that you have on the board. Every wave is a different, new mountain that you’re just trying to conquer and understand.”