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Originally published October 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Page modified October 8, 2012 at 3:18 PM

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Train like a Navy Seal and get to the core of your core

TRX is basically weight lifting, but you're lifting your own body weight while trying to stabilize yourself against the wobbly straps.

Check it out

Lab 5 Fitness

606 Broadway E., Studio A, Seattle; 206-569-5628; www.lab5fitness.com

Club Zum

1813 Seventh Ave., Seattle; 206-443-3933; www.clubzum.com

Washington Athletic Club

1325 Sixth Ave., Seattle; 206-622-7900; www.wac.net

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At sixty I'm still cranking out 15 pull-ups a set forward and reverse, 50 push-ups, and... MORE
Sounds intense, and a great workout. The short interval training is called Tabata... MORE
Pilates does much the same thing. As intense and challenging as you want to make it. MORE

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WE ALL KNOW Navy Seals are the most extreme of the hard core, and with fitness trends getting progressively more intense, it was only a matter of time before someone thought regular people should train like Navy Seals. Of course we should.

Before going to my first TRX class, the phrase "suspension strength training" developed by Navy Seals sounded like a new, foreign fitness language I wasn't sure I wanted to learn. But a friend wanted to go, and I was curious about TRX, which has been showing up at gyms around the region.

At Lab 5 Fitness on Capitol Hill in Seattle, we entered a mirrored room with several long black straps with handles hanging from the ceiling. Our burly teacher, Ron Moodey, set us each up with one and explained that we would be adjusting the straps a lot.

With TRX, you quickly learn just how strong (or not) your core is. TRX is basically weight lifting, but you're lifting your own body weight while trying to stabilize yourself against the wobbly straps. It works stabilizer muscles in addition to the large muscle groups most of us know about — quads, core, biceps.

Lots of gyms are offering it now, mixing it with barre and boot camp. A straight TRX class was plenty for me, thank you very much.

We warmed up with squats as Moodey coached us to keep a light grip on the handles so our forearms would make it through the class. Then he threw niceties aside and tossed us into core work. The plank position is a standard these days with boot camps all the rage, but when you hook your feet into handles that move, it took core work to new, trembling places. We were variously told to pull knees to our chests or sway side to side, adding intensity by crunching knees toward our elbows. Ouch.

Moodey claimed core work was the hardest part and moved us into legs, doing deep squats and hopping around while using the handles to keep ourselves stable. For upper-body work, we pulled or leaned away from the straps, depending on whether we were working biceps, triceps or lats. It all required core, core and more core.

We finished the class with a sequence called Tapata interval training, which is 20 seconds of high-intensity squats or other aerobic activity, with 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. By the end, I was ready to toss those TRX straps aside.

The intensity varies throughout the 50-minute class, and Moodey encouraged us to take breaks if we needed them. My heart rate was way up during class, and I'd call TRX pretty dang effective.

With no more than 12 people per class and Moodey walking around checking our form, it felt far more personal than lifting weights on my own.

I doubt I'm ready for Navy Seals action, but I'm also certain that if you make this a regular part of your training, you will at least be able to hold, or even crunch, those planks.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Jordan Stead is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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