Feature Article - March 2007
Find a printable version here

Running the Trend Mill

The ever-evolving workout world

By Emily Tipping

Round and round the circuit

One type of training that has increased in popularity and can cater to clients of all ages is circuit training. This is training where exercisers alternate rapidly between strength and cardio machines or exercises. Their heart rates stay elevated and remain above a resting level while they work out. The benefits of circuit training include the shorter period of time required to complete a workout and improvements in general fitness, muscular endurance and strength, and cardiovascular fitness.

ACE reported a higher demand for classes and training that take less than 45 minutes—a response to Americans' ever-busier schedules. Circuit training programs generally take about 30 minutes—sometimes less.

Some manufacturers have tailored their equipment offerings to this trend, offering non-intimidating circuit training equipment targeted specifically at new and less experienced exercisers. If your facility caters to this user group, consider the following:

  • Look for equipment that is easy to use and has a non-intimidating design.
  • Look for equipment that is easy to set up. Newbies might not understand what to do with traditional weight machines. Easy setup means they can spend more time working out, and less time trying to figure out how to get started.
  • Look for equipment that offers low resistance and smaller increments. This provides quick reinforcement for beginners.
  • Look for equipment that fits different sizes. If it is lower to the ground, it will be more accessible to youth and the elderly.
  • One public school in Chicago has incorporated a circuit training program to help combat childhood obesity. The circuit they're using allows up to 12 students to work out at once without a great deal of instruction, so they can make the most of their workout time. The equipment they're using incorporates resistance bands into the machine instead of weight plates—safer for younger kids and teens.

    One other consideration: If your fitness facility gets most of its traffic from newbies, you can probably just incorporate your circuit into the regular gym area. On the other hand, if you've got a good mix of beginners and old pros, you might want to create a separate workout area for the circuit so new users will be less intimidated.

    Elements for Women also offers circuit training for its clients. "I think it's nice to have a structured program where someone can get a total body workout in a certain period of time," Palumbo said.