"Hanging around" to get fit

April 25, 2008 4:18:57 PM PDT
A challenging, but fun version of resistance training is filling a gym in Center City these days. And its devotees say Suspension Training works miracles with muscles.

As trainer Don Bahr takes two nylon straps in in hand, he tells his class, "Squat, and come up with a low row."

Training for the circus?

No, this is Suspension Training.

It was first developed for the Navy SEALS, so they could keep in shape anywhere, without a gym.

Suspension Training uses just 2 nylon straps suspended from the ceiling, and a person's own body weight to strengthen and sculpt muscles.

Bahr says, "Almost your whole body is engaged throughout every exercise."

Fellow trainer Jessica Zenquis Davidson chimes in, "Nothing goes along for the ride. Your neck & everything is involved."

Bahr and Zenquis-Davidson, certified trainers, discovered Suspension Training last year, and decided to be the first to bring it to Philadelphia. They are now at the Fusion gym in Center City.

The workout begins with stretching.

Then comes the challenging part. It works the muscles of the core, which are critical for posture and stability.

Beth Weller, of Center City, says, "It seems effortless, but it's not." Fellow student Lawrence Andreano likes it because, "You're actually controlling all the movements you do with your own body. You sweat, you work every inch of your body."

Zenquis-Davidson says it can be addictive, "You find your weaknesses very quickly, and you want to work on those."

But don't think this workout is just for the young and fit.

Bahr says proudly "The oldest person I work with is 72."

Students say every effort you put into Suspension Training reaps rewards.

Weller flexes a bicep, and says, "I feel like my muscles are starting to get defined already. I've only been doing it a few weeks."

And as he wipes perspiration away, Ranaan Rosenbaum says, "Mid-class, you see muscles bulging that you had no idea were there."

Several pro athletes, including golfer Laura Diaz, are fans of suspension training. And there are home versions of the equipment available.