I teach all sorts of circuit, bootcamp, obstacle course type training, tabata, etc… you can do 4 stations max… that’s manageable. Break it up into Cardio, Abs, Upper and Lower body and keep the exercises simple at first then build up as you continue to teach. This gives your clients a chance to get to know your style, your verbiage, and the exercises. Before long you’ll have some veterans in the class helping the few new people that show up late or later in the year.
I started teaching a similar class with about 15 people and started with 30 seconds 15 second break and then 60 seconds on the same station. I gave quick review of what we would be doing at each station. While they were there for 30 seconds I watched them carefully and made some minor corrections as needed. During the 15 second recovery I went back over those corrections, i.e. — squat back, weight over heels, bicep curl keep arms still, move only elbow joint, abs lift shoulders towards ceiling, etc… then told them to give it their best shot over the next minute. They can always stop and walk it out or take a break or tone it down if they are super tired and not able to do the whole minute. Eventually I switched the numbers and did 1 minute then 30 seconds…etc…
One minute of any exercise is really not that difficult even for the novice as long as you let them all know at the beginning of the class… if the exercise asks for a jump squat, just do the squat… listen to your body and your perceived exertion, drink water as needed and stop and walk it out when you need to.
Over time you get to know your clients and you know their fitness level, their weakness and strengths and then you can work with those individuals in the minute or two at the end of class encouraging proper form to avoid injury, etc.
Hope this helps.
I usually do a minute at each station. I find its easier for me to keep track and the participants as well. To make it flow easier, I show the exercise, a modification and a progression for each exercise. Then those who want more of a challenge can do so. Those who are just starting out, don’t feel singled out. I also let them know to try to get through the entire minute. If they need to drop to a modification, that’s ok, the goal is to just keep moving using good form and executing the exercise properly. If at any time form is compromised, they are to stop and march it out.
I find it best for most fitness levels when I do 45 seconds for each exercise and a 15 second recovery where they go to the next exercise. During that 15 second recovery I assist any participants that may need a modification or not sure what they are suppose to be doing. I typically have 10 circuits with various exercises consisting of upper body, lower body, cardio, and core. I place signs up at each station so the participants know what they are to do at each station which saves me from running around instructing each participant.
A second way that I have successfully ran a circuit too is all of the above, but have the participants partner up. Group 1 does the strength exercise at the station while Group 2 does the cardio portion then they switch before moving on to the next station. This works really well for bigger classes or if more people show up than you expect.
I find that one minute at a station is great for beginners because it gives them a chance to feel comfortable with the exercise at a low weight especially if they don’t quite get it right away. 45 seconds is great for a circuit that has a higher intensity. Depending on how you structure your class, your stations can be rep-based or time based. Rep based can be fun for more intermediate participants because it allows the participants to push themselves a bit and try and catch the person ahead of them. BUT, you need to make sure that you have enough equipment to handle at least 4 people at a station at once. You would want to stay away from machines and stick with body weight and equipment you have multiples of. In terms of structure, I find alternating upper, lower, core, cardio works well but if you have a high intensity class, you don’t need cardio as their heart rates are up the entire time!