Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Jungle Gym XT

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry about abdominal/core workouts, the TRX suspension system has now become an indispensable component of my workout these days.  Just in case you didn't read that blog post, I'll give you the cliff's notes:  Suspension exercise is the key to developing a sexy six-pack.  You won't develop a six-pack by doing sit-ups or crunches.

I seriously doubt you can develop one by using the Solution, the Ab-Glider or event the Rack in isolation.  Put all three of these devices together, and you have a decent chance.  However, I think suspension exercises (such as those done with the TRX straps) could probably get the job done without any other assistance or recourse.

This makes suspension exercises the prime mover in developing a six-pack.  Suspension work is the most powerful ab work.  Nothing else is as effective.  Nothing else is as important.  Does this mean you throw away the Rack, the Solution and the Ab-Glider?  Hell no!  Keep doing those exercises as well.  Everything helps.

Now that you understand how important these straps are to my current program, consider my horror on Wednesday night when I discover that the gym coaches have locked up the TRX straps in the storage room treasure chest.  The treasure chest is locked-down with a combination lock.  I can't get in.  I can't use the straps.

I ask the nice folks at the help desk if they can open the treasure chest for me.  They apologize and say they can't.  The treasure chest contains the private property of the gym coaching staff.  They have the right to lock-up their private gear if they want to.  They are often generous enough to allow the good people of the gym to user their stuff, but if they want to lock it up...

So there was no TRX suspension work for me on Wednesday or Thursday night.  Neither was their TRX suspension work on Friday or Saturday, primarily because my brother's band was in town.

Naturally, I knew immediately that my workout cannot be made dependent on the vagaries of tender mercies of the gym coaches.  I was going to have to take action.  I needed my own straps.  If this is an essential tool, I need to own it.  I need to be able to use it at will.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that TRX charges between $199 and $250 for their average packages!  What a shock!  How can such a rude little device cost so much?  It only goes to prove Yogi Berra's point:  A dollar ain't worth a nickle anymore.

Naturally, this was the moment when I swung into consumer-mode.  I began grinding the search engines, looking for a better price.  I also began trolling the Amazon reviews, looking for an alternative.  This is where I struck gold.

It turns out that the most helpful review of the TRX product was written by a very knowledgeable strength coach who rated the Jungle Gym XT as the most effective product in this category, regardless of price.  He said he would select the Jungle Gymn XT over the TRX, even if it cost more than the TRX system.  It was a better design product, and fabricated from better materials.  Fortunately for us, the The Jungle Gym XT is less than half the price of the common TRX packages.  It's about $97 bucks.  This makes it a no-brainer choice.

I was excited.  I bought the Jungle Gym XT immediately, on impulse.  20 seconds later I was wondering why I jumped so quickly.  I decided to visit the YouTube to see what I had just purchased.  About 30 minutes spent there convinced me that I made the correct decision.

Not only are the Jungle Gym XT videos on YouTube better done and more illuminating, they feature demonstrations of much more advanced & challenging exercises.  Further, you can clearly see why any strength and conditioning coach would prefer this set of straps over the TRX straps.

What are the obvious points of improvement in this architecture?

  1. The Jungle Gym XT consists of two independent straps, not one strap.
  2. Each strap of the Jungle Gym XT anchors independently to your cross-bar
  3. It is much easier to widen and narrow the anchors of the Jungle Gym XT on the bar
  4. It much quicker and easier to shorten and lengthen the straps of the Jungle Gym XT.
  5. The handles of the Jungle Gym XT consist of two V-Shaped hard-graphite stirrups.  These stirrups will hold your feet much more safely and securely than the loose material of the TRX strap.
My Jungle Gym XT has not arrived just yet, but I am very excited and looking forward to using it for the first time.  In the meantime, I am struggling to make due with the Ab-Glider, the Solution and the Rack.  The Rack has become my primary focus, and it is doing a very nice job for me.  Still, I want to get going with the Jungle Gym XT.

You can read another British Gent's opinion about the subject right here.  Check out one of the nicest videos on the Jungle Gym XT: