Get a Great Workout

There's a new trend sweeping fitness world from military bases to gyms.  Stick your feet in the straps or grab on to the handles and begin your total body workout.  It may have you dreaming about trapezes, but count on this:  You won't be doing this workout with the greatest of ease.

This type of leveraged bodyweight workout has been around for centuries. People used to throw a rope around a branch, grab on, and start exercising. The newest incarnation however, began as a way for soldiers to do strength, flexibility, and core exercises using the least amount of space and equipment.

Now, due to new training systems based on leveraged bodyweight, hundreds of bodyweight exercises can be performed using two adjustable straps anchored to a wall, overhead bar, branch, or door.  Place legs in the foot-straps or grab the handles and lean back and do squats, lunges, chest presses, pushups, yoga or Pilates-like moves, or a wide variety of other exercises, specifically designed for suspension straps.

There are training programs designed to incorporate moves from golf, mixed martial arts, tennis, and even motocross.  The straps require muscles to work together in an integrated way and forces the core to engage. Different companies' strap designs offer varying features including double and single anchor styles and a variety of strap materials. 

Is this workout safe for everyone?  Some fitness experts are concerned that people who are new to exercise or those with joint instability or  poorly conditioned core muscles may injure themselves while doing this type of exercise.  That's because the straps' instability makes it easy to overextend joints or perform exercises incorrectly.  That's why it's best to start with a class or private lessons led by a custom-certified trainer.  Certain adaptations may make it more stable and safer. 

How do you get started?  There may already be programs at your gym or fitness center.  For instance, 24-hour Fitness, Bally Fitness, and many other gyms offer one-hour classes.  You can also purchase equipment and DVDs online to practice on your own.  One of the benefits of leveraged bodyweight workouts is that they're entirely portable, which means you'll have no excuse for not exercising while traveling. Many say it's the best way to work all your muscles and get a vigorous cardio workout in under an hour.