Meet Christa, Vibe’s Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) guru and IU Football’s Director of Retention and Learning Services! After practicing at Vibe for about 10 years, Christa joined our instructor team last August. A former adventure racer, she infuses her classes with an invigorating dose of enthusiasm and creative movement that encourages students to challenge their perceived limits. “Sometimes people don’t give themselves enough credit,” she says of the yogic Right to Act. Read on to learn more about Christa’s unexpected discovery of TRX and her take on how movement supports wellbeing.
What brought you to Vibe?
I heard about hot yoga, started going to classes, and fell in love with it. I tried everything, actually. There isn’t a class that I don’t like, and Vibe has such a variety that depending on the day, I could go to Sculpt or do something more lowkey. I love Sculpt because it’s a class that pushes you. Right away I was like “Ah, this is awesome!” Going to Vibe, you meet so many amazing people, and the teachers are awesome. It just hooked me.
What was it about yoga that made you want to keep coming back?
I loved it at first for the exercise and just kind of the thrill of it. But then in 2012, my husband experienced a really horrible accident that was totally life changing. At that moment, yoga became so much more. Even if I went just once a week or once every two weeks, it was the one time that I was able to turn my mind off, and I didn’t have that ability in any other space. The yoga practice became a safe space for me and an environment where I was able to not think about anything. What’s crazy is that there were times when I would be in class, and I would be hysterically crying, so I would pack up my stuff and quickly run out because it would get you emotionally. For me, it became more than just yoga.
You’re also a runner and very physically active, so was it that yoga had a special component to it in terms of how it served you?
It made the connection in a different way. Instead of physical, it was more mental.
How did you end up teaching TRX?
I got certified in TRX after my husband’s accident in 2012. We were in Louisville for one year after the accident. That experience taught us a ton. We’ve been together since we were 14, so forever. He’s a strength coach, so he’s crazy and did Iron Man. He talked me into doing adventure races that would be 12 to 24 hours long. We would be in the middle of the woods, and through different points you’d have to bike, run, cycle, and canoe. Having that challenge and being able to complete adventure races was such an awesome feeling. Then after his accident, I kind of felt like if he can’t do these things, I’m not doing them. I was looking for something that would fulfill me and not make me feel so guilty. I don’t even know how I saw the TRX training, but the certification was taking place literally two miles from where we were staying. It was so out of my element to go do this on my own. It was the most random thing I ever did. I went and fell in love with it. And I did it just for myself—I never even thought of teaching it. I would practice in my basement with the straps and kind of try different things. Yeah, it was this really bizarre thing that became my thing. Then last August, Laura and my husband were in cahoots talking about my certification, so Laura asked me to audition to teach it. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was terrified. I don’t know why, because I practiced TRX all the time. I could talk someone through hours of it.
It’s interesting to see TRX on a yoga schedule because you sort of wonder what it is. How would you describe it?
It’s suspension training with bands. I think that when you look at Vibe, TRX is similar to Sculpt because it’s more intense and a different form of movement. There are also cardio bursts and stretching movements like in yoga. You’re just moving a little differently and with straps. It’s great because it’s for everybody. It’s low impact, and it really works every single body part. You have stability because of the straps. It challenges you, too, because you could make it extremely hard, but there are so many different accommodations that help you fit it to whatever your needs and abilities are at that moment. A lot of it is based on your core, so even if we’re focusing on upper body or cardio, you’re still working your core. Everything in that movement is about balance and stability. It’s a total body workout.
Is working with the straps a really creative process?
Yes. You can do so many things that either add intensity—which can be fun for people if they need to be pushed—or take it away. You can also be really creative in coming up with so many amazing stretches. Afterwards, you feel like you had a great workout. You’re exhausted to a point, but then you’re feeling good because you moved your body in ways that you’re not used to moving it.
My goal every week is to incorporate a new movement into my class. I’m always adding in a unique exercise, and people are always like, “What is this?” People like that because the new movement is challenging. It pushes them and pushes me too because I’ve usually tried these exercises for a week beforehand. I also offer different variations on how you could do the movement so that we can build up to it. There are so many exercises for TRX that are totally bizarre. You do them and think, “Okay, this looks really silly, but I’m having fun.”
What do you want people to get out of TRX?
People often come in thinking that it’s gonna be super easy or just not really sure what it is. I want people to leave saying, “Wow, this was an awesome class! I can do it, but my body is gonna be sore!” I want them to push themselves to a limit that they feel good about, so I want them to have that good hurt.
You’ve mentioned that you think about activity as something that can support mental and physical well-being. Would you elaborate on that a little bit?
Yeah, I think when people have stuff that they can’t let go of mentally, something that’s hanging on their mind or hovering over them, it can be debilitating. It just wears you down. When you get into something that makes you feel good, it takes that away, even if it’s only for 45 minutes. You’re thinking about the moment. Working out, regardless of what you’re doing, pushes your physical and mental limits. It gives you a sense of freedom. When someone can be in a state where they clear their mind and focus on where they are in that exact moment, it’s life changing in a way. Once you have that space and once you leave, it makes you feel better and helps you figure out how to get from point A to point B. It’s a refresher.
For you, then, movement helps you come back to things that are difficult with a clearer mind.
Yes, I work in athletics, and my job is super intense. There can be 14-hour days, but I make sure that I take time out, usually in the middle of the day, to go to the weight room. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and I take about 45 minutes to destroy myself because I know I need to regenerate my mind. I might have 6-7 hours of my day left, and I need to be in a clear state of mind.
What inspires you to do the work that you’re doing?
It’s funny because I just talked about this a few days ago with my husband. I feel like 2019 is all about vulnerability. You know everybody’s talking about vulnerability, and for me there’s that fear of being judged constantly. I think, “Oh, should you do this, or should you do that? Should you wear this, or should you wear that?” I think being female, or being anybody, you’re just constantly in that state of judgement. When I taught for the first time last August, I was terrified. I was shaking before class, but the moment I got on the straps, I had such a sense of relief. I thought, “This is it. This is that moment.”
I love helping people get through those moments in class when it’s just really hard, regardless of what the action is. When people come out exhausted and sweating with smiles on their faces, that’s the best reward ever. It has pushed me to be better and get better and find out what’s going to make someone create that connection to the movement and to themselves. This is more than an exercise class. It’s trying to help people see that they are so much better than they give themselves credit for. It’s trying to help them see themselves being awesome.
What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far teaching?
Three weeks ago, I had probably five people that I work with show up. It just so happened that they all came on the same day, so my inner self was like, “I am totally kicking their butts!” The energy in that room was so fantastic. I mean, at the end everyone was clapping and excited. I think for me that was one of the best moments because it was just people who didn’t have a clue what TRX is, but they loved it.
Is there anything unexpected that you found in yoga or TRX that you didn’t expect?
Yeah, all the energy you can get from other people, even complete strangers. You don’t have to know them, but if they’re coming in with the right mindset, or just showing up period, they’re stepping up their game. And the Vibe community is always so positive. It’s a really good feeling to be part of that.