Juliana Thornhill is like a lot of personal trainers: When she finds something that’s effective in her own workouts, she’s quick to share it with her clients.
Her most recent training discovery has been resistance bands. What started out as a search for portable at-home equipment turned into a passion for Undersun Fitness bands, and now she’s implementing the body-changing benefits of bands with everyone she works with.
“I started learning more and more about the different exercises you can do with bands, and I was amazed by it,” says the 47-year-old, who’s originally from Brazil and now lives in Lynchburg, Virginia (insideout_by_jt on Instagram). “And then I started actually seeing changes in my body, and I was like, Man, I can definitely pass this along to my clients.”
In the below interview with Undersun trainer Annik Nayler, Juliana explains why she swears by resistance band training not just for herself, but for clients of all ages and abilities.
Annik Nayler: What drew you to training with bands?
Juliana Thornhill: At first, it was due to my situation. I was at home and didn’t have equipment, so I started researching and came across resistance bands. Then, when I started helping clients with the bands, I was amazed by how much you can do with resistance bands for someone who’s absolutely new to exercise and hasn’t done anything at all.
I get chills just thinking about it, because I have clients that have extensive health issues… where they could barely walk before they got to me because they were in so much pain. And I had them modify exercises with the bands, and before you know it, they’re mobile, they’re actually changing their bodies, and they’re feeling better.
AN: Those are amazing results! As for workouts, how is training with bands different than free weight equipment like dumbbells?
JT: The feel you get in the muscles with resistance bands is unique… it makes that connection with the brain. With dumbbells, that’s really hard to do, because you have to worry about your clients already knowing the exercises and them getting hurt. With resistance bands, you don’t. I can sit someone down and have them do curls, and they can feel the muscle pumping right away. And for them it’s like, “Oh, it’s working!”
AN: So now you’re getting into what we call “mind-muscle” connection, which is key for really fatiguing the muscles and changing the body.
JT: Yes, absolutely. Everybody says, “You’ve got to train with a mirror.” No. To have the mind-muscle connection, it’s so much better to not look at yourself in the mirror during a set. Because then you feel it, instead of looking at it and getting lost in the image. The pump you get with bands is new to beginners – it’s like magic for them! All of a sudden, they’re like, “I’m actually training!”
When I have a client who has all kinds of issues, and she’s dropping weight and saying, “Look, I have biceps!” – it’s so incredibly transforming. This whole spectrum of life that they’d never experienced before is opening up because their body’s doing stuff they didn’t think it could do.
AN: What other benefits are you seeing in your clients from using resistance bands?
JT: With bands, whatever exercise you’re doing, you’re working your core. Even if you’re sitting while doing the exercise, your core is activated. To me, that’s been credibly transformational. I love to see my clients’ changes. The feedback I get is just insane.
AN: Are you saying you prefer resistance band training over free weights?
JT: Yes, 100%! The freedom resistance bands give you, the fact that you can train at home, and then the way my clients are changing their bodies – I absolutely prefer bands. You can do it anywhere… at the gym, at home, on your porch, wherever.
JT: I do both with my clients. I personally think HIIT is a little bit more effective for clients just starting out, because they lean out super-fast. After you get that established, you can do more of the muscle building. But if I train somebody three times a week, I have days when we do HIIT, days we do muscle building or strength work, and then maybe go back to HIIT. To be honest, I’m more drawn to HIIT because getting the heart rate and intensity up is the name of the game, especially for beginners.
AN: Would you say training with bands has improved your day-to-day life by not having to spend the unnecessary time it takes to commute to the gym?
JT: Oh, yes. The two things I hear most from people as to why they can’t get into an exercise routine is (1) time and (2) “I don’t know how to do it.” With bands, those two things are out of the way, no excuses whatsoever.
Where time is concerned, pick up the band out of the bag, put it in your hands, and start doing it. That’s how long it takes. As for “I don’t know how to do it,” I can take three simple exercises (say, front squat, shoulder press, and biceps curl), keep the tempo high and resistance low, and get your heart rate up to start burning calories right away.
If you have a set of resistance bands, you have your workout in your hands. You have control over it.
Join Juliana and be part of the Undersun Fitness Tribe. In our private (free) Facebook group, everyone encourages and supports each other along the journey of using Undersun resistance bands and TA2 training programs. In the Tribe, you’ll get advice on how to perform band exercises and workouts, but more importantly, you’ll have a support system of people just like you trying to get better and experiencing true fitness freedom.