Take participants through a medley of multidimensional movements.
Circuit training is one of the group offerings that has shown the most growth in recent years, with 77% of fitness facilities offering it in 2010, compared with 69% in 2002 (Schroeder & Dolan 201). Today, this popular activity is positioned for continued growth. Circuit training’s success can most likely be attributed to its structure and dynamics. The format allows participants to experience a large variety of exercises and equipment at whatever intensity the students choose. They compete only with themselves, and they don’t have to be in sync with others.
Heart-Core Circuit focuses on strength and cardiovascular training and alternates multijoint open- and closed-kinetic-chain, resistance exercises with full-body, dynamic, cardio-inspired moves. The class integrates strength and endurance, balance, core conditioning, trunk stabilization, postural alignment and propulsion. The exercises are accessible for most levels and can easily be modified to increase the intensity and complexity.
Format: cardio-resistance multistation circuit for 25–50+ participants
Level: intermediate (give modifications as needed)
Total Time: 55–60 minutes, which allows participants to complete the circuit three times
Equipment: exercise mats, Body Bars® (choose an appropriate weight for muscle fatigue and overload), Gliding™ discs, step platforms, BOSU® Balance Trainers, stability balls, medicine balls (2–4 pounds). The instructor needs a whistle and stopwatch to signal the start and completion of each station.
Music: Working on the beat is optional. To allow proper execution of the exercises, choreographed or not, 126–130 beats per minute is recommended.
Use full-body, dynamic movements that prepare joints and muscles for the forces and mechanics of the exercises in the class. Examples include alternating knee lifts, hamstring curls, multidirectional lunges and swinging arm raises.
- Participants perform a designated move at one station for a predetermined time and, when prompted by the instructor, move to the next station.
- People should be given enough time to reach the next station, familiarize themselves with the exercise and get in position with the equipment before the next activity begins.
- There are 12 stations total, alternating between strength and cardio.
- For all strength exercises, a minimum of 12 repetitions is suggested, but since the stations are time-based, you can encourage participants to continue until you signal the end. For cardio exercises, participants keep moving for the allotted time.
- Each station lasts approximately 1–1.5 minutes, including prep time and recovery.
STATION 1: STRENGTH
Equipment: BOSU Balance Trainer
Position: on all fours, right (R) knee on BOSU ball, left (L) knee and both hands on floor
Description: Lift and extend R arm and L leg. Perform flexion and extension for 12 reps or until prompted by instructor to change sides. Repeat entire sequence on opposite side.
STATION 2: CARDIO
Equipment: step platform
Position: standing, facing platform
Description: Squat-jump onto platform, then step down (alternate lead leg down; modify squat jump as needed). Let arms assist by moving upward during jump.
STATION 3: STRENGTH
Equipment: stability ball
Position: kneeling, hands and forearms on stability ball
Description: Perform forward roll-out, engaging torso and lowering buttocks to create plank position from shoulders to knees. Roll back to start; 12 reps or until time is up (“duration”).
STATION 4: CARDIOEquipment: Gliding discs
Position: standing, discs under feet
Description: Perform “cross-country skiing” movements with legs and arms.
STATION 5: STRENGTHEquipment: Gliding discs
Position: prone, hands and toes, arms and legs extended, discs under toes
Description: Perform push-up, return to starting position, then abduct and adduct legs; 12 reps or duration.
STATION 6: STEP PLATFORMEquipment: step platform
Position: standing on top of step
Description: Perform alternating diagonal lunges with propulsion (step to floor). Lift one or both arms as leg extends.
STATION 7: STRENGTHEquipment: medicine ball
Position: standing, feet hip width apart, medicine ball in hands, arms lifted and slightly behind head to R
Description: Rotate torso as arms move medicine ball downward, then immediately upward (quickly, with control); 12 reps or until prompted to change sides. Repeat on opposite side.
STATION 8: CARDIOEquipment: Gliding discs
Position: standing, discs under feet
Description: Perform sliding jumping jacks, lifting arms laterally; 12 reps or duration.
STATION 9: STRENGTHEquipment: Gliding disc and Body Bar
Position: standing in lunge position, disc under R foot, which is behind; Body Bar is lifted vertically, R overhand grip, L underhand grip
Description: Perform backward curtsy lunge, lifting Body Bar upward, forward and toward L while torso rotates; 12 reps or until prompted to switch sides. Repeat on opposite side.
STATION 10: CARDIOEquipment: step platform
Position: standing at end of step, facing front
Description: Perform squat, followed by “across-the-top” movement with propulsion, then squat at other end. Repeat from side to side for duration.
STATION 11: STRENGTHEquipment: stability ball
Position: supine on ball, head positioned toward floor (“draped” over ball), knees bent, feet on floor, arms crossed at chest level
Description: Perform torso flexion (curl-up) for 12 reps or duration.
STATION 12: CARDIOEquipment: BOSU Balance Trainer
Position: standing next to BOSU ball, one foot on dome, other foot on floor
Description: Perform propulsive squats, moving from side to side for duration.
Bring group together at the end for a cool-down that includes a flexibility component and a final relaxation. Thank everyone for their participation, and highlight their success.