You may not know who Dion Emilia is, but if you’ve explored the trove of training videos on YouTube, you might recognize know him as the star of one of the most gritty, brutal and innovative homemade TRX videos on the site. His most popular video has garnered more than 27,000 views. It features Emilia clad in desert camo with a matching doo rag charging up to a wall in a schoolyard where he hangs his TRX then rips through a hellish workout. His most popular video.
A personal trainer based in Napa, CA, Emilia takes a hybridized approach to training clients that draws on elements of TRX, simple bodyweight training, plyometrics, rings and whatever else it takes to get the job done. His aim is to keep his clients motivated and challenged by never repeating the same sequence of exercises twice. Emilia took a break from creating innovative new moves like the TRX muscle up to chat with Fitness Anywhere about his philosophy.
How does the TRX fit into your training philosophy? This is the honest to god truth—I haven’t met one client who didn’t like the TRX Suspension Trainer. One benchmark is the TRX Atomic Pushup and every time I have a client do that, the next day they say, wow that really ripped my core. Never once have I run across anyone who didn’t have something good to say after using it. My clients range from 18 to 60. Everything’s predicated on their goals. I run a class with both the TRX and rings.
Why both rings and the TRX? They have their advantages and disadvantages and if you use them in conjunction you get the best of both worlds.
How are they similar? They’re similar to the extent you can hang them and do things like pullups and you can do pushups out of them as well. But the main advantage of the TRX is its versatility. The foot cradles give the TRX more versatility for working the legs and the core versus the rings where you can’t put your feet into them The setup time is a lot faster with the TRX as well. The rings take a little bit longer to get them going.
And rings? You need something high enough first of all. They’re really long. I’ve hung them from something as low as seven feet, but it has to be sturdy and the bar has to be straight. You can hook the TRX to anything. With rings you can do iron crosses if you’re strong enough, which I don’t advise a lot of people doing. Another great rings exercise is the nail sit. But with the TRX you can do planks, side planks, pikes you name it.
So how does the TRX fit into your clients’ workouts? It all depends on my clients’ goals, but mainly we do core on the TRX. You can only do so many situps and so many Swiss ball moves. Everybody’s getting burnt out on that stuff. You break out the TRX and put their feet in it and they start shaking and their feet are all over the place while they try to get their balance. You stimulate the body and hopefully it will stimulate the mind. It all depends on what day it is in their training, a core day, an upper body day, a leg day. I have them do it all, pullups, curls, but I try to use as many things as I can to keep things fresh and keep stirring the pot. The body adjusts from workout to workout so it’s important to change things around.
What else do you do to mix things up? I like to get both the rings and the TRX going at once. One person will be doing jump dips on the rings and the other person will be doing atomic pushups on the TRX and then I’ll have them switch. You’re getting the heart rate up doing jump dips and getting great core doing atomic pushups. Right now I’m working on a setup where you can use them both at the same time. You put your feet in the TRX and your hands in the rings. Now we’re talking some pretty wild stuff! If you have your feet in the TRX while you’re doing pushups or rollouts, you’re elevated off the floor.
Your most popular YouTube video is shot in one take and showcases moves that would make a Spartan puke. How did you do it? When Frank Sinatra would get ready to do his thing he’d tell his director, we’re gonna do this in one take. That’s what I told my camera guy—I’m gonna do this in one take, so follow me the best you can! I had to be pretty spot-on. I don’t believe I could do too many takes when I’m doing that stuff because it could be a long day physically!
Have you met any of your fans? About a year ago I went through the TRX Master Trainer course, and I ran across three people there from across the country who were big fans of that video. I was psyched!