06/03/2015 09:48 GMT | Updated 06/03/2015 10:59 GMT

Tried And Tested: TRX Body Training, Invented By Elite US Troops To Keep Fit In Between Missions

If you want to get in shape right now, one thing you're definitely not short of are options.

Any decent gym these days caters for pretty much every type of exercise you could possibly imagine and this year - apparently - it's all about body weight training.

At the forefront of this is a curiously daunting bit of kit that looks like if used incorrectly could easily lead to some horrific fitness-inspired strangulation, otherwise known as TRX.

trx

The fitness system has a pretty impressive pedigree - it was invented by a bunch of insanely fit elite American troops who needed a way to keep in shape in a warehouse while awaiting a mission.

While the original was cobbled together from parachute webbing, the commercial product is made from it's distinctive yellow straps and black handles.

Which is pretty much all it is - yellow straps and some handles.

But TRX advocates insist this is all you need for an amazing workout and it's makers claim there are over 300 body weight exercises that you can do.

trx

This is a genuine exercise, I hadn't just tripped over

Naturally the only way to find out was to go and try it out so I ventured to a Virgin Active gym in London to meet the grandly-titled TRX Master Trainer, Matt Gleed.

He takes me through a range of exercises, from warming up right through to a grueling 8-minute workout, all using the TRX.

One of the nifty aspects is that the difficulty can be varied just by shifting your positioning - if you're in a press-up stance as elegantly illustrated by myself below, you simply move your feet back to make it harder, forward to make it easier.

trx

And you really can work out your whole body really easily. Variations of squats, crunches, press-ups and many more cover all the muscular bases.

Proof of its effects came the next day when getting off the sofa was accompanied by multiple winces sparked by pain pretty much from head to toe, that pain that super fit people insist is "good pain".

So, is TRX your best option for getting fit this year?

Gleed reckons so. He said: "It’s no surprise to see that body weight training has continued to grow in popularity and remain such a strong contender on the fitness trends list as the industry and the consumer have recognised the efficiency, portability and versatility of this form of training."

While I agree with Gleed about how good the a workout you can get with TRX, I have to add some caveats.

Firstly, TRX make much of their system's portability and they're right - with the addition of a door anchor you can use it at home pretty easily.

But, it's pretty expensive, £185 on Amazon currently. And inevitably, as comes with basing a product on just straps and handles, there are far cheaper versions that claim to do exactly the same thing.

To really get the best out of it I'd recommend booking a couple of sessions with a trainer who knows what they're doing.

Once you've unlocked the potential of the system then I'm sure it's a really handy bit of kit to have around the house after the initial outlay.

If you're a member of a gym and they have TRX then great, check it out and ask if you can get a demonstration to get the most of it.

So with this in mind, I'd certainly say this isn't the best system for beginners. It's pricey and you definitely need a bit of guidance to get the most out of it.

Saying that, if you're already in pretty good shape and you're looking to shake up your workout then I'd recommend trying out, especially if there's one at your local gym you can get your hands on.

Thanks to Virgin Active Crouch End for the use of their equipment

TOP 5 EXERCISE TRENDS*

1. Body weight training

Typical body weight training programmes use minimal equipment, making them an inexpensive way to exercise effectively. The rapid growth in popularity of body weight training has seen gyms and health clubs re-designing their floor plans to include ‘functional spaces’ for exercisers looking for improved results and fitness.

2. High-intensity interval training

Falling from the top spot this year, HIIT typically involves very short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically a session will take less than 30 minutes to perform. Despite the warnings from many survey respondents about the potential dangers of increased injury rates, this form of exercise has become popular in gyms all over the world.

3. Educated and experienced fitness professionals

Maintaining its number three spot from last year, this trend continues as exercisers demand well trained and qualified fitness professional to assist in providing guidance and motivation.

4. Strength training classes

Strength training remains popular in all sectors of the health and fitness industry. This form of training dropped to number four in last year’s survey, where it remains this year, and has always featured in the top 10 of the ACSM survey, as that men and women, young and old, children and patients continue to use weight training to improve or maintain strength.

5. Personal Training

As more professional trainers are educated and certified, they are increasingly more accessible to all sectors of the health and fitness industry. Personal Training has been in the top 10 of this survey for the past nine years. The survey concludes that personal trainers will continue to be an important part of the professional staff of gyms.

*(According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends)