This Veteran-Founded Fitness Trainer Wants to Help America Get Back in Fighting Shape

TRX: The workout you can do anywhere. (TRX Elite)

TRX Suspension Trainers are everywhere these days, and there's a good reason for that; they facilitate some of the best workouts that can be done without the use of weights or machines.

Former Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick created the TRX system so he and his fellow SEALs could keep in shape while stationed abroad, even without the usual gym implements available. Now, the company he founded is tapping into that same spirit to help Americans recover from coronavirus quarantines -- especially the U.S. military.

"We are putting a laser focus on 'win-at-all-costs' professions, our military and first responders," said Rob Lively, president of TRX Elite and retired command sergeant major who was a leader in the United States Army Special Operations Command. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of service members were stuck at home without their equipment, and they could use some help to keep them ready and keep their services ready."

To that end, the company is launching TRX Elite, an arm of its commercial business, to focus on getting its suspension trainers into the hands of individual military members. But it's not just the fallout from the pandemic that's driving TRX to focus on national defense. It's the entire life cycle of an American veteran, from before they ever put on the uniform.

"Around 71% of young people in America cannot meet the minimum requirements to join the services," Lively said. "The top three reasons are criminality, IQ and obesity. And we want to, we want to invest in those young people so that when they get to basic training, they're not just prepared physically but they can excel."

For starters, TRX wants to help reduce the washout rates of basic trainees, but also help the military provide customized physical training to each member of the armed forces throughout their career. The company believes their suspension trainer offers that customization.

"At every phase of this career, you need different things," Lively said. "TRX is location agnostic,  and the effort can be dialed up or down as needed to be effective on every level, ... even for veterans who have a host of different mobility issues."

The TRX Suspension Trainer is based on a few simple principles. The first is that it can be used anywhere, from a hook in a home gym to a tree in any park in the country. The resistance comes from the user's own body weight. With a few simple straps, hundreds of exercises are possible.

Randy Hetrick developed the TRX system based on a concept he rigged during a deployment. (Randy Hetrick/Twitter)

It's come a long way from the nylon webbing Hetrick first used to jerry-rig a new workout while deployed with his fellow SEALs in 1997. Hetrick integrated the best ideas for improvement from his team. After leaving the Navy, he attended business school at Stanford, where he further developed the TRX system with the help of Stanford's other disciplines.

After graduating, he raised $350,000 in capital to build the product and brand that is ubiquitous in gyms today. Developing programs and products to continue training current service members -- and helping veterans like himself and his employees -- just makes sense.

"I'm a veteran of 28 years," said the former Sgt. Maj. Rob Lively, who will head the company's government-oriented effort. "You know, I've got my fair share of wear and tear that service will bring you. I need different things, a veteran needs different things ... joint mobility, movement patterns, pain reduction. You can have these things and be healthy."

The company hasn't yet developed an elite training set specifically for military and first responders, but is working on developing one that fits the specific needs of the "win-at-all-costs" professions.

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