So you all know I’ve been going to the YMCA for most of this year. It’s great, and I love it and I continue to go as much as I possibly can. However, with the advent of full time school, my gym time was really cut- and while many moms can rise before their kids and run or hit a class it’s just not an option here. I find myself late at night or early morning wishing I could get a workout in- I have hand weights and a ball and can do something, but not enough.
Meanwhile, I have been taking TRX classes at my YMCA. I LOVE these classes- it’s 30 intense minutes, and it covers both cardio and weights. But the classes are hard for me to get to- so I’m lucky if I catch one a week. Not enough, clearly. I looked online to see what it would cost to buy a TRX brand suspension trainer- the brand my YMCA uses- and it’s $189 for the set. You can see them here. They are well made and for that price you get workout DVD’s and extras. But that was beyond my budget. Then I got a bright idea. In my last class, I really took a close look at them. “Hmmm… I think I can make these!”
A quick google search showed me I wasn’t the first to think this, and I watched a few YouTube videos from other people who had done the same thing. Some went super simple and just made straps with handles. I wanted to make them as close as possible, adjustable and with the foot harnesses. Off to Target then ACE Hardware. Here is what you will need:
- 1 set of cam-buckle straps. $12.95 at Target
- 2 six inch sections of PVC pipe (from the scrap pile at Ace, they cut it for free $1.00)
- 1 eye bolt, rated to 350 lbs (that really should be enough, right??) ($1.95)
- 1 steel ring ( I bought two, but only used one) ($0.79)
- 1 roll of friction tape for hockey sticks (Ace had this, $3.95)
- 1 carabiner, rated to 250 lbs ($2.95 at Ace)
- Sewing machine
This is more than enough to make the entire thing. But I wanted to make mine pretty, so I stopped at the fabric store so I could have a two-toned trainer like the ones at the Y, and bought 2 yards of pink nylon strapping to contrast. ($1.19 per yard)
The set of cam-buckle straps will provide enough to make two compete trainers- you will use two of the straps and two of the buckles. The first thing to do is wrap you pipe in the sports friction tape. This is not as plush as the padded handles of the professional model, but it makes a nice, comfortable grip:
Each of your straps will have a plain end and an end with an S-hook. Take one of your straps and cut the S-hook from the end. Fold the strap in half evenly.
Don’t panic. Everything is fine. Now, the simple version is that you thread the raw end of each strap through the cambuckle and then through the handle, and tie an oxbow knot. You can see an example here. It’s a good tutorial, and will work well. But I’m a girl and I wanted mine to be pretty. So you can stop here, and have a fully functional trainer. Or, you can continue for fanciness.
From above, with your strap folded in half evenly, thread a camhook on each end, then nip the S-hook off. This is where you are going to stitch your handles on:
Make two loops for each handle, big enough for your comfort- there is no right size. One will attach to the cam-buckle, one will be your foot loop. Thread them through the tape-covered PVC pipe, and then stitch in big X’s with your sewing machine, going over the X several times for strength. Then attach the handles to the webbing where you removed the S-hook from the cam-buckles with the same giant X stitching.
The lower part is now complete, and you need to make the harness to attach to the ceiling:
Remember how your strap was folded in half? Now make a loop from some of your extra webbing, slip the O-ring in, and stitch the raw edges of that webbing to a second loop of webbing through which your finished lower part is looped. Shown in the photo above. I don’t know how to explain it better than that, but hopefully the picture will help. Put several rows of stitches or X’s. It’s now ready to hang.
Have someone help you really get that I-bolt sunk deep into a joist in your ceiling. If you are going to be leaning hard on these straps, you don’t want that thing to fail. Hang it up with the carabiner. And that’s it.