Barb Seiden is a personal trainer in Doylestown PA. She was nice enough to let me pick her brain about the TRX certification and her thoughts on personal training in general. If you were thinking about getting the TRX cert, keep reading. This should answer all your questions.
JC. When and where did you take the TRX certification?
BS. I have 3 TRX certs:
- 1/23/11 TRX Suspension Training Course; Ambler PA
- 11/13/11 TRX Group Suspension Training Course; Stamford CT
- 6/27/13 TRX Group RIP Training Course; Doylestown PA
JC. How long did the certification class last?
BS. All three classes were one 6 hour day
JC. How much did the TRX certification cost?
BS. Each course is about $300, but TRX tends to often have discounts on their products and services.
JC. Was the test all hands on or was there a written part too?
BS. Completely hands on.
JC. What was the TRXtest like?
BS. We received a manual with graphics, descriptions, and general TRX information at the beginning of each class. There was no culminating test that you had to pass. However, there was some strong feedback given to all participants about form, usage, safety, etc.
We learned about general TRX theory, terminology, basic moves, and moves grouped into different workout segments. Many basic moves were demonstrated, and we did have to perform and teach moves to the other participants in the training session.
JC. Did you have to be CPR certified before taking the TRX test?
JC. Do you need to be recertified?
BS. There is no recertification process. The company sometimes mixes and matches the terms “course” and “certification” so you’ll see those terms interchanged often.
JC. What are some of the benefits of getting TRX certified?
BS. There are definitely benefits to taking the TRX courses (I’ll use this terminology vs. getting certified). There is a lot of science, physics and kinesiology behind suspension training (Also clarifying, TRX is the name of the company, and they sell the suspension trainer and RIP trainer). By taking the course, I feel much better prepared for my own workouts and how to coach and guide others.
There wasn’t much difference between the TRX Group Suspension Training Course and the TRX Suspension Training Course. The instructor said about 80% of the content is duplicated.
For me, the TRX Suspension Training Course was much more valuable than the TRX Group Suspension Training Course. The Group course focused more on how to teach in a group setting and create workouts, whereas the Suspension Training course was all about the science and the movements. If you have experience/certification in group exercise, you can quickly adapt the suspension trainer to a group setting.
JC. What are some differences between the TRX cert and the ACE cert which you also have?
BS. ACE cert is a comprehensive certification program with a culminating exam and a recertification process. The TRX courses are one-time events.
I felt the ACE certification process was very time intensive and you really needed background in fitness to complete the testing process. TRX courses can be done by anyone inside and outside of the fitness industry.
JC. Do you feel the TRX cert is enough for someone who wants to be a personal trainer?
BS. TRX is complementary to a personal trainer’s repertoire. It could be an introduction to personal training for someone who is interested in the profession. However, I would never consider anyone a personal trainer (or even one in training) after taking a TRX course.
JC. What are 3 of the best TRX exercises?
BS. Great question! One of the big reasons I love TRX is because it’s “all core, all the time”. No matter what exercise you perform, you will use your core. The RIP trainer tends to really isolate the core muscles.
Chest Press – The best overall strength move, in my opinion, is a pushup. You can use almost every muscle in your body when doing a pushup! Therefore, doing a pushup or chest press is a great move to incorporate multiple muscle groups.
TRX Plank – Any of the TRX suspension trainer moves where you are facing down to the ground and have your feet in the cradles is super challenging for most people. One big word of caution though…stay away from this type of move if you have any lower back issues.
TRX Triceps Extension – The main reason I love this exercise is because it’s very challenging for all of my female (and most of my male) clients. No one finishes a set of these triceps extensions without feeling a little something.
JC. Any TRX safety tips?
BS. Definitely! The TRX Rip Trainer Basic Kit, Black/Yellow has a safety strap that goes around your wrist to prevent the 4-lb “stick” from getting away from you. The bungee can be very tight, so brace yourself during every move to prevent the bungee from pulling you back toward the anchor point.
The TRX Rip Trainer Basic Kit, Black/Yellow has extremely sturdy “clamps” that hold fast to the straps to adjust the length to perform a variety of moves. The latest model has a Barrel Lock Adjusters instead of the clamps. The handles of the suspension trainer have lots of cushions and prevent sweaty hands from slipping.
JC. Ever used the TRX with kids? How’d it go?
BS. It’s very fun to use TRX with kids. However, safety and expectations are extremely important to consider. I’m a PE teacher and have had a lot of experience working with children and understanding what is developmentally appropriate for different ages. I’ve had 2-year-olds join in on a class with their dads, but know that they should only swing a little holding on to the handles. I’ve had an 8-year-old gymnast do some incredibly difficult moves with grace and power. I’ve also had a 12-year-old competitive swimmer struggle to keep correct form.
I have used the RIP trainer with a number of lacrosse players. It’s perfect for practicing moves and developing skill specific strength.
I’ve also used both products with preteens who have diagnosed weak core strength. They had completed their prescribed physical therapy but hadn’t developed the strength needed for their sports of choice.
With all this in mind, I overemphasize with children who I work with that any exercise can be fun and safe. It’s critical that they focus and be safe when using TRX (and any exercise equipment). Frankly, I don’t tolerate any goofing around from any of my clients when exercising, especially with the TRX products.
JC. Who do you feel the TRX would be best for?
BS. I’ve used the TRX suspension trainer with clients ages 8-86, designing workouts and movements specific for their needs. I love that you can adjust the intensity of any move just by changing the angle of your body. It’s lightweight and can be thrown in a suitcase for your vacation (which I lend out my TRX when clients go on business trips and vacations). The suspension trainer also comes with a door anchor so you can use it anywhere there’s an outward opening door.
JC. Anyone, you feel the TRX may not be right for?
BS. I’ve found TRX suspension trainer isn’t a fit with clients who have shoulder issues, who are excessively obese or have major balance problems. Most every TRX move uses shoulders, so I stay away from TRX for those clients.
Since TRX uses body weight for most of the resistance/strength movements, those who are overweight have a lot more pounds to lift. And…if the client is overweight, they typically have less strength in the first place. Clients who have major balance issues tend to struggle to place their body in the typical angles/stances used with the TRX suspension trainer.
I’d also avoid the RIP trainer with these populations. The “stick” weighs 4 lbs, plus there is a bungee resistance band that causes the RIP trainer to be challenging for many of my clients no matter if they have shoulder, weight or balance issues.
JC. What’s the difference between TRX and TRX Rip trainer?
BS. The TRX has two straps with handles/cradles attached at the end, and it is suspended from an anchor point (or the top of a door). The suspension trainer uses bodyweight to develop muscular strength and muscular endurance. Most of the research I’ve done on the suspension trainer shows few moves to develop cardiovascular endurance. However, I’ve created a few connections to incorporate cardio into my workouts. I also use the suspension trainer for balance and flexibility training.
The Rip Trainer is a “stick” weighing 4 lbs and has a bungee resistance band attached to one end that you anchor to a door/post. There is minimal bodyweight used when working out with the RIP trainer.
Most of the resistance you get is from the stick itself and the bungee. When you purchase a basic RIP trainer, it comes with a medium resistance bungee, but you can also purchase bungees with less or more resistance. I find that the RIP trainer really focuses on core and shoulder strength.
If I would ask my clients what they prefer, all of them would say the suspension trainer over the RIP trainer. Part of the reason is it’s hard to use TRX RIP Trainer with correct form – you have to be strong in the first place to use it. There is also a limited number of movements you can do with the RIP trainer. I tell my clients there are about 400 moves with the suspension trainer and 40 with the RIP trainer.
JC. Does the Rip Trainer also have a cert?
BS. There is a separate RIP trainer group and individual/regular course. I’ve only taken the group class. From this class, I feel pretty confident with my ability to train groups as well as individuals.
JC. Besides TRX, what do you feel are 3 pieces of equipment all personal trainers should own?
BS. That’s a tough question. The equipment I use the most with clients: their own body weight, hand weights, TRX, kettlebells, resistance bands, medicine balls, stability balls. I’ve created many exercise programs without any equipment! Your body can be enough resistance to challenge your strength and cardiovascular endurance needs. I do use hand weights quite a bit and have used them instead of kettlebells and medicine balls if needed.
JC. What’s the biggest myth people believe about fitness and health?
BS. There’s no time to fit exercise into our busy days.
JC. What are 3 mistakes personal trainers make when training clients?
BS. I believe these are the 3 biggest mistakes:
- Not understanding their client’s limitations, such as injuries and disabilities.
- Not understanding their client’s goals.
- Not being hyper-focused on safety.
JC. Do you remember your first client? Looking back, do you wish you did anything differently?
BS. Yes!!! I taught swimming with this client’s son who has autism. We created a special relationship and she wanted to try personal training. At the time, I just guided her in exercise routines. If I could do things differently, I would have created an initial assessment and goal-setting process so she could have specific goals and milestones.
JC. Besides TRX, what resources do you recommend?
BS. I love doing research on the internet. I am always researching trends and new exercises. I subscribe to a ton of different personal training resources, including IDEA, ACE, Fit Bodies, Exercise, Etc., USA Swimming (I also teach/coach swimming) and YouTube (I love looking for the latest and greatest moves). My clients roll their eyes when they hear I was doing a little research and have an idea :).
JC. How can people find out more about you?
BS. For questions and more information, please feel free to contact me at:
In addition, I can also be found at:
- The Bucks Happening List (Best Teacher for Swimming)
- The Doylestown Patch (Blogger)
Those courses are not certifications. They only designate you as QUALIFIED. The TRX Certification course requires pre-course work via online modules and a passing an online test in order to attend the actual course.
The live portion is 2 days/16 hours and is extremely rigorous both physically and mentally. I have just been through this process and highly recommend it if you want to further your TRX knowledge and skills. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.
Joe Cannon says
Great article! This is very helpful to me as a new personal trainer. FYI- personal trainers certified through ACE get $50 off TRX trainings.
Joe Cannon says
Natalie, thanks for the heads up on that!
Paul Thomas says
Hmmm. $900.00 for 3 – 2 hour courses? Seems pretty pricey to me to learn how to use the TRX system – or any piece of strength training equipment for that matter. The “course” vs. “certification” is another interesting issue – I wouldn’t think that they were interchangeable.