Doing simple exercises such as pushups, crunches and planks are simple yet effective ways to get in shape using your own body weight.

But add in a pair of support cables that suspend your legs or body off the floor, and you have an entirely different beast. Muscles ached as the body support they were used to disappeared.

All I could think of as I pushed through repetition after repetition in the middle of a TRX workout was when it would be over.

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“You’re no longer stable on the ground, so you have to use your core a lot more just to do a pushup,” said Amber Dilley, TRX trainer and owner of Envision Health and Fitness in Franklin.

TRX is a form of suspension workout. Specially designed straps hang from the ceiling and are used to support your body in sets of basic strength-training exercises.

When it opened in March, Envision Health and Fitness became the only gym in the county to offer TRX. Dilley realized that no one else was offering it and wanted to add it to her class schedule because of the flexibility it provided for a range of fitness levels.

“You could be a body builder, and it uses your center of gravity and your weight,” Dilley said. “The stronger you are, the less you’ll be directly underneath it. You can choose what you make of it.”

Suspension workouts have been used for many years in the military, particularly by Navy SEALs, to build strength and develop soldiers’ bodies without the need for large amounts of equipment.

Because all you need is an open space and a way to safely suspend the straps, the workouts could be done anywhere.

But the workouts were brought to the mainstream by TRX Training, a San Francisco-based company. Since then, the exercise has been adapted for group classes at gyms throughout the country.

“People are really into the boot camps and the CrossFit and the hardcore things like that,” Dilley said. “The nice thing about that is it all used your own body weight.”

Dilley was teaching kickboxing and PiYo classes in Franklin when she became certified in TRX. She had hoped to add the class to the Franklin Recreation Center schedule, but the initial start-up costs to buy the equipment and install anchors to hang the straps from were too expensive.

Her goal at the start of the year had been to open her own fitness center anyway. She found a small space in Franklin where she could teach TRX, leased it and renovated it to her specifications.

“I’ve been teaching for about five years now, and it’s very rewarding to see people come and get in better shape, losing weight and that you made that difference to them,” she said. “This is just another way to let me help people and do what I want to do.”

Envision Health and Fitness opened to the public March 9.

Dilley hosts TRX classes four times a week. The room can accommodate 10 straps, though as many as 20 people could take the boot camp class by rotating on and off the straps.

Participants do a quick rotation of exercises such as pushups, flys and mountain climbers — a move that requires people to reach their arms forward and bring their knees to their chests, rapidly alternating each side.

The quick pace of the class and the strange sensation of having part of your body suspended quickly gets the heart rate up.

By the end, though, you get into the rhythm. There was some soreness in my abs, legs, arms and chest that lingered for days afterwards. But that just showcased how effective the workout could be.

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.