Amanda Holman is a TRX Suspension Trainer™ super-fan. She started taking TRX® classes at a gym in San Jose, Calif. almost a decade ago, and eventually migrated to the TRX Training Center when she moved to San Francisco. “I started going there, basically every day. I was strictly doing TRX. I didn't really mix in anything else,” she said. But, in the midst of a global pandemic, crippling pain from a herniated disk, and emergency surgery, Amanda was surprised to discover a completely new tool that totally changed her workout routine: TRX Bandit™, a brand-new, universal handle for Strength Bands.
As one of the long-time regulars at the TRX Training Center, Amanda was invited to be one of the Bandit testers. Little did she know at that time that Bandit would become a pivotal tool for her post-op recovery.
The Day Amanda Stopped Moving
Though she’s been a swimmer—and generally athletic—her entire life, Amanda has also battled chronic back pain for years. It’s one of the reasons she was initially drawn to Suspension Training®. “I think that the beauty of TRX is you can make it really low-impact when you're having a flare up, and it obviously really helps with your positioning and your posture,” she said.
Unlike many injuries that require extensive rest, Amanda’s doctors advised her that movement was key to treating a back injury. “Back injuries are really interesting in that you shouldn't actually be bedridden with them. Even if you feel like you can't walk through it, you have to walk through the pain because backs build scar tissue so easily. You can't do the full extent of your workouts, but you go for short walks, and do whatever you can to keep moving,” she said.
Amanda was used to working through the pain with modifications under the supervision of her doctor, but in the spring of 2021, that changed. Amanda woke up one day, and she couldn’t move. After years of resisting back surgery, she had no other choice.
“I couldn't walk and I couldn't stand. All I could do was sit and lay,” she said. “That went on for a month. I lost feeling in my left foot. I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't grocery shop. I couldn't drive. I couldn't do anything. So we did emergency surgery.”
Post-op life was a struggle for Amanda, who isn’t used to taking time away from exercise. “Honestly, since I've found TRX, I think I take one day here and there [from working out]. That was the biggest mental challenge of recovery. I asked my doctor, ‘What workouts can I start doing?’ and he laughed at me.”
Amanda knew that she needed to keep moving; years of coping with severe back pain had reinforced the fact that movement is medicine. She spent a lot of time walking during her first month post-op, and gradually began working up an exercise scale, while sticking to her doctor’s orders. First, she could lift up to 10 pounds. Then, she was cleared for 15.
Amanda didn’t have a 15-lb. weight, and she didn’t feel like buying one, but she did have a TRX Bandit and Strength Band. She had stumbled upon her solution.
What is the Bandit?
To understand how the Bandit can change someone’s workout routine, you first have to understand the Bandit.
The Bandit is a universal handle that creates a convenient, ergonomic grip on almost any Strength Band. Anyone who’s used bands with bare hands knows they can be uncomfortable, but they’re brilliant if you can get past the pinch. The Bandit’s comfortable design means you can focus on form— lifting more weight and accelerating your training progress.
Beyond portability and value, the great thing about strength bands is they constantly challenge your muscles. For example: When you swing a dumbbell or kettlebell, there's a moment of weightlessness at the end of your movement. That never happens with a band; it's always trying to retract, which means you have to fire up your muscles to slow the retraction. That’s why bands work so well for developing your muscle stabilizers.
With the Bandit and a set of Strength Bands, you’ve got full-body strength training at your finger tips. Since the Bandit comes with a week of free access to TRX Training Club—complete with on-demand Bandit tutorials and workouts from world-renowned coaches—it’s like a mobile gym and expert advice, wherever you go.
Back on Track With the Bandit
Before a TRX product goes to market, it goes through thousands of hours of field testing. That means that trainers try out a new product on their own, they work it into sessions with clients, and give the TRX team exhaustive feedback about what they like and what might need refining. TRX takes all those notes and incorporates them into the next version of the product, until every detail is perfect.
As one of the first people to get a hold of the Bandit during the testing trial, Amanda immediately realized its potential for people recovering from injuries or coping with chronic pain.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to learn the [Bandit] moves prior to not being able to really walk or stand for extended periods of time, but I was pretty severely injured at that point,” she recalled. After each test session with the Bandit, Amanda had the same feedback: “This is really good for rehab. It's so low impact.”
Even months into post-op life, Amanda has to be careful about impact, which is just one of the reasons why the Bandit makes sense for her.
“It's probably one of the best tools you can use in a recovery. I basically incorporated [the Bandit] because (A) I didn't want to buy weights, and (B) [bands] were completely low impact. I could adjust the weights on it. I could make it harder if I was doing a bicep curl versus a tricep extension,” she said.
Bandit allowed her to “do weights” without spending more money on dumbbells or actually lifting a weight off the ground—which was a big deal since she couldn’t actually lift a weight off the ground. After years of using a variety of resistance bands in physical therapy for shoulder and back injuries, Amanda was confident the Bandit could help get her fitness routine back on track, safely and gradually. With the Bandit, her workouts are optimized for comfort, and easily scaled: As Amanda’s back heals, she can increase the resistance on her lower-weight bands, or graduate to heavier bands.
A Permanent Addition to the Lineup
Like many people, Amanda’s acquired a small collection of fitness gear in her home over the course of the pandemic, but she still has a pretty minimal setup. She’s got her TRX Suspension Trainer™, a couple of weights, a kettlebell, physical therapy bands, and, now, her Bandit Kit and Strength Bands.
When she was cleared to start lifting light weights, she added in the Bandit to level up her lifting. “I swear my arms got more toned in that time than even when I used the TRX Straps,” she said.
After comparing and contrasting Strength Band exercises both with and without the Bandit, Amanda thinks the Bandit is the best fit for her—not only is it comfortable, but it also fits her lifestyle.
“I have long nails,” she said, laughing. “Holding just the band, I can't get a grip because my nails will dig into my hands. Having the Bandit on is the best thing ever for me to be able to fully grip [the band].”
Moving Forward With the Bandit
Three months ago, surgeons were removing a 3.5 cm bulge from Amanda’s back. (For context, she said it was the largest bulge her doctors have removed this year and she’s their youngest patient.) She’s been cleared for light-impact workouts for about two weeks now, and it will probably be about six months before she’s back to full strength.
With a surgery like this, there’s a high risk of reherniation. For now, Amanda is sticking with physical therapy—she brings her Bandit kit along for sessions—and relearning how to move safely.
Like so many of us, Amanda had to rethink her gym schedule and training gear when the pandemic started last year. Like so many of us, she continues to use her Suspension Trainer at home and log in for TRX Training Club sessions with her favorite instructors. For Amanda, pandemic and post-op experiences have opened up a new, low-impact option for strength training. The Bandit has changed Amanda’s workout routine, and she’s not turning back.
Amanda mastered the Bandit moves during TRX product testing, but anyone can become a Bandit expert with TRX Training Club. Every Bandit purchase comes with a free, 7-day trial to TRX Training Club, including access to the On-Demand library of Bandit set-up videos and workouts.