For more than three decades, Jim Hess worked in active fields. “I joined the Air Force in 1979, and did 22 years with the Air Force and 15 years with the Wyoming Highway Patrol,” he says. “And I maintained decent enough health to get by in the military and get by with Highway Patrol.” But everything changed—Hess, surprisingly, would argue for the better—when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. While Hess may have been getting by before, he says he’s in the best shape of his life now. And he credits his TRX Suspension Trainer with his newfound fitness.
After his diagnosis, Hess started attending Rock Steady Boxing, a fitness program designed for Parkinson’s patients, at Trials MMA in Fort Collins, Colo. Most of Hess’s Rock Steady training sessions included conditioning work with the TRX Suspension Trainer. While he had never seen a Suspension Trainer—much less used one—before Rock Steady, soon he was hooked. “Through that, you really got to enjoy the TRX and its health benefits. It allowed me to be in better shape than I was when I was in a State Trooper or a member of the Air Force.”
Hess is such a fan that he’s set up his own Suspension Trainer at home so he and his wife can work out with it. They even pack their TRX when they travel. “People see me working out in strange places... All I have to find is the hang point. I'm still surprised by the number of people who have never seen one before.”
In Rock Steady and B-Bold, another program for adaptive athletes at Trials MMA, Hess has found a supportive community and a sense of purpose that he never imagined before his Parkinson’s diagnosis. As part of the programs, Hess is not only a participant, but an assistant coach. “Based on their disability and my coaching ability, [B-Bold founder] Rustin [Hughes] sets us up with each other for success.” And as much as Hess was impressed by the difference TRX Training made in his own life, he’s even more inspired by how much working with the Suspension Trainer transformed the lives of his fellow Rock Steady and B-Bold friends.
“You take these people that believed all their lives that they can't do things because of whatever disability they happen to have, and the TRX strap just allows them to realize whole levels of movement, stretches, and conditioning that they believed they weren't capable of. To see their faces light up is just so rewarding,” he said.
Parkinson’s Disease could have been a set back, but, for Hess, it’s been the start of something positive. “Parkinson's is what I've got, but it's not a cross I bear. It's kind of been rewarding to me because it's introduced me to people like [Trials MMA founder] Ryan [Schultz] and Rustin, has gotten me healthier than I've ever been before, and meeting people that I never would have met before. Parkinson's has been kind of a gift because it's introduced me to new health benefits, the use of the TRX.”
Between his Rock Steady boxing training and TRX conditioning, Jess is feeling healthier than ever. After two back surgeries during his state trooper years, Hess thought that he was finished with intense workouts. Now, he's nailing boxing, push-ups, sit-ups, TRX exercises, BOSU training, and slam balls, week after week without pain. "I just flat don't worry about my back anymore.”