Friday, February 24, 2012

Fitness Addict Reviews. Review #1: Cathe Friedrich STS, Underground Workout Manual, TRX Force.


Friends, I’m going to start a series of Fitness Systems Reviews. These are and will be addict's informal and subjective reviews of only those systems I’m familiar with.

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Let me introduce you today to the following three nice additions to workouts offered by Beach Body (where I am an Independent Coach):

Cathe Friedrich STS
Underground Workout Manual by Brett Klika
TRX Force and other Suspension Gym Training programs

While P90X and personally Tony Horton are my favorites forever, variety never hurt, right?


1. Cathe Friedrich STS
Cathe Friedrich Wednesday afternoon's quick fix workout

Cathe Friedrich workouts (especially STS) are very comprehensive and balanced, similar in that regard to Tony Horton's P90X. It is expensive, but you're getting great all-encompassing training system. Endless amount of DVDs, a new workout every day for 3 month! Cathe recommends doing STS 3 days per week, alternating it with [her] cardio and/or abs exercises. She has great Abs and Core DVDs, equipment, newsletter, affiliation, etc.
In my opinion, STS directly competes with P90X. There are pluses and minuses to both. STS is even more expensive. Cathe lack Tony Horton’s charisma, his great and constant jokes. On the other side, Cathe’s approach is even more scientific and systematic, and as a woman she makes STS less daunting to try. I personally really like a brutal direct approach of P90X. 6 days a week, endless pull-ups and push-ups from the very beginning, an excellent Yoga-X. P90X does bring results!   (My “before” and “after” pictures weren’t produced this way.)
STS might be easier at the beginning but then goes steep as well. It actually combines what is delivered in P90X and P90X2, there are many balance / athletic exercises there. It requires more equipment than P90X, dumbbells, barbell, stability ball, medical balls, [inclined] bench are used from the very beginning.

2. Underground Workout Manual by Brett Klika
On Facebook
Brett on FitnessQuest10 (by Todd Durkin): and

This system is surprisingly low-cost: you can currently buy a package (PDF Manual and workout sheets, online video access) for $39. While it may be not as convenient to use as DVDs and printed materials, this appears to be a surprisingly well-developed and professional system. Workouts are scheduled for an entire 12-weeks program, are versatile, includes proper warm-ups (and cool downs.)  Brett Klika is a recognized trainer – just read about his credentials.
Yet, this low-cost system does not include such a well-developed support as BeachBody provides, coaches, Facebook groups, etc.

I haven’t done his exercises yet, except warm-ups. And these warm-up sequences are excellent! P90X includes various and comprehensive warm-ups, but I still found many nice and original moves in Brett’s videos. I actually use them before Les Mills PUMP and TRX Force workouts. Pump includes very limited warm-ups, which is a shame. TRX Force employees that fast-paced military style. It includes quick warm ups, but that’s not enough for an aging fitness addict, because main workouts are extremely challenging.
Again, I haven’t done main workouts by Brett Klika yet, but something tells me they are very good.

3. TRX Force and other Suspension Gym Training programs
TRX Pro Kit, TRX Rip TrainersTRX Training Bundle
TRX FORCE Training DVD and Guide
NEW! TRX FORCE Tactical Conditioning Program
TRX Training and TRX Force on Google+
A nice review of available suspension systems. Besides TRX there are other valuable alternatives, including Rip 60, Jungle Gym XT, etc.

I fell in an eternal love with P90X four month ago, I’m now in love with TRX Force.

Below is my first day reaction on TRX Force workouts:
TRX Force Workout is not for faint·ish
Just completed my very first TRX Force workout. Holy cow! That's why I'm not a Navy Seal yet! One definitely needs an excellent shape before starting with TRX Force, I would turn P90X completion into a prerequisite and suggest doing TRX Basic Training for a week or two.
And don't forget to fully warm up and prepare your core before putting in that DVD, if you don't want a back surgery...

And just this morning (I’m on a Week 2 (of 12) of TRX Force:
TRX Force Workout #2 is killing me!
I'm happy there is no one around to hear my moans. It's harder than P90X, really.

It’s my belief that suspension training should not be used alone. It differs from all-encompassing systems like P90X or STS. It is more specialized. Many people combine TRX training with kettlebell workouts, you could buy them on TRX site as well, but not actual kettlebells. Here are those workouts, featuring Russian kettlebell superstar Pavel Tsatsouline: TRX Kettlebell: Iron Circuit Conditioning and TRX Kettlebell: Iron Circuit Power.

TRX Force picks where P90X left you and targets perfectly your week areas. It is super-hard on your core. Unless you are a gymnast proficient with Ring Exercises or a CrossFit pro (look at Free Ring Training Guide by CrossFit London), TRX Force will try to kill you. It’s unbelievable joy!

Besides TRX Suspension Trainer, TRX Rip Trainer is a valuable addition. This thing is designed to increase rotational strength of your body core.

TRX is quite expensive, unfortunately. When you buy a suspension kit, it only includes a basic DVD. You’ll need to spend much more to get valuable programs like TRX Force. On the other side, there is a good forum with a lot of links, a lot of TRX videos on YouTube, etc.

Rip 60
An alternative Rip 60 system includes a comprehensive set of workout DVDs with a basic package. May be a better alternative? Who knows.

Jungle Gym XT
Another alternative is provided by LifelineUSA and is called Jungle Gym XT. It has an advantage of using independent suspensions for each hand (leg). This allows to do exercises like Muscle-Ups and Dips (not possible with door anchor, though), which are hard to arrange with TRX or Rip60. LifelineUSA also sells nice kettlebells. Unfortunately, they provide zero infrastructure, nothing like comprehensive TRX forums and workout DVDs. You’d be basically on your own. One might consider buying Jungle Gym XT and TRX workouts combinations…

Update of 06/01/2012:

Yesterday I tried a very first workout from Rip 60. Here are my impressions:
1) A strap for door suspension is “too solid”. It is so thick, I couldn’t close the door. It would prevent me from doing Rip 60, but I used door suspension from TRX, attaching to it the rest of Rip  60 using rock climbing carabiner. Overall, Rip 60 is very solid but a bit too bulky.
2) A key distinction of Rip 60 is suspended rotation. There is a pulley on which suspension strap glide and a pin which allows to fix or to release it. This allows for more core rotation exercises (with TRX you’ll have to buy a Rip Trainer.)
3) Rip 60 includes a very thorough warming / joint mobility workout and a decent cool-down workout. Much better than TRX Force / Tactical Force.
4) A first week Rip 60 workout is a combination of general cardio and actual suspension exercises. It does not include much of core work, so that after finishing it I switched to TRX Force and performed various core exercises from both Force workouts. I expect more serious work and core engagement in subsequent Rip 60 workouts.

Overall, my first impression from Rip 60 workouts is fairly positive. It is balanced, less hardcore suspension specialized than TRX and is more towards general fitness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K and UBER ROCK 50K are great endurance run events which start at Wintergreen Resort in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia every September.

I participated in a 50K trail run variation twice, in a year of 2007 and 2012. Going to sign in for this coming UBER ROCK 50K 2012 again, although it happens just a week later after Savageman triathlon which I run too. What I really like about UROC is its democratic nature, so that leading world ultra-runners like Michael Wardian run it along with aging fitness addicts like myself. In September 2011 I met there a well-known in a world of trail runners Scott McCoubrey (he is a creator of White River 50 Mile Endurance Run, among other things) and bought his great minimalistic eRide Ice Runner shoes.

Also, Blue Ridge is just beautiful in September. It’s quite hilly, but 50K variation is still forgiving enough for beginner ultra-runners. It was my very first 50K trail run in September 2007.

Now, just in a week a registration price for this event is going to increase, so I really urge you to register now. I still don’t feel myself confident enough for 100K variation; it will be a first ultra-run competition after summer break too, so I’m going to run 50K again.