Circuit Training was first developed in 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson at the University of Leeds, England. It was designed to allow exercisers to individualize their workout by training at their own intensity while simultaneously benefiting from the inspiration and motivation from working out in the company of others. And since then, Circuit Training has held its spot as a staple in group formats, enjoying several peak seasons of popularity including what the fitness industry is experiencing today. As trainers look to engage more people in more activities more often, Circuit Training is an appealing offer. The ability to tap into both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to maximize fitness gains for the time invested, coupled with a refreshingly uncomplicated, repetitive construct makes Circuit Training the choice for the client who wants to get the most done, in the least amount of time, in an environment that says, “We are all in this together!”

In order to keep your circuit formats alive and well attended, it’s important to understand the industry developments that have reignited this staple group training approach. As an industry, we have learned more about motivation in the last five years than at any other time in our history. Today’s most successful circuit formats retain their repetitive core, but thanks to new insights the ones gaining the most traction with the trend are anything but predictable as evidenced in the ShockWave circuit created by Jay Blahnik and Josh Crosby for WaterRower.

A new circuit revolution is here and this article will get you started on the path to delivering a memorable and effective Circuit Training experience with 5 must-know tips for every instructor.

#1 Coaching

The foundation of excellent coaching is in helping others set and go after their goals, and circuits require instructors to recognize and approach goals from both an individual and a team perspective. In a circuit setting, great coaches address individuals through one on one interaction before, during and after class. They take the time to help individuals define their goals for the workout, both for the class happening now and across classes over time. They help hold clients accountable during the workout, and they give feedback and celebrate accomplishments after the workout. Beyond individual coaching, trainers who teach circuits must also coach to the group as a whole, and they can easily use this same approach. For instance, if the timing of a circuit is based on the number of reps for each exercise, a group goal might be to meet or beat the total time it took to finish the workout when the class last met. Or, specific goals could be set for participant interaction such as, “Your goal is to say something encouraging to at least two other people during this next set!”

Many programs give guidelines in the form of number ranges based on time, heart rate, power output or other metrics that attempt to put participant fitness and skill levels into categories. This coaching approach works well when working with individuals and when reliable and repeatable testing can be done, but the most consistently effective way to coach in group situations is through the use of perspective. Coaching perspective allows both individual clients and the group as a whole know if they are doing better, worse, or if they are right where they should be for a given exercise, set of exercises or for the entire workout.

Josh Crosby, world champion rower and co-creator of Indo-Row and ShockWave says, “Goal setting makes your job as a coach easier and your customers’ experience more rewarding. Goals using perspective can be group based, for example, “I want you all to get to what feels like your maximum effort in the next minute!” or directed at an individual, “Jeff, let’s go after the best split time you’ve seen today. You’ve got 30 seconds to do it!”

Using a combination of both group and individual perspective coaching throughout the workout is what keeps the energy and motivation high.

#2 Community

Highly successful circuit classes are based on an undeniable sense of community, and it’s the coach who sets up this atmosphere even before the music starts. Here’s how:

• Establish from the beginning that the class is ONE team made up of several teams. This encourages new members to meet new people and motivates repeat clients to improve their performance.

“Your work matters to me, it matters to you, but it also matters to the people beside you (your team) and the people all around the room!”

• Create opportunities for team members to interact with each other even before the class begins.

“Teams, please choose a Team Captain and let me know who it is. This person will be responsible for keeping you all together. Teams, support your Team Captains!”

• Define what it means to be in “healthy competition” with each other. The ShockWave circuit program comes with a Code that all participants agree to. Included in the Code are “Compare and Compete” and “Support Your Team”. “Use the work of others to push you to do your best. You don’t know what your best is until you see what those around you can bring out of you.”

• Control the community by being an effective ringleader. Pair people up to face off against each other, encourage High 5’s during station rotations, manage the inclusion of EVERY participants. Not everyone can be the fastest or the strongest, and not everyone is motivated by these things. So encourage behavior and actions in the group where the best at the work cheer on those who are doing their very best that day. Everyone wants to be a part of something that is highly social.

#3 Variety

Use a variety of new, interesting and on-trend fitness equipment in your circuit to make any class more enticing to members. If possible, go beyond hand held weights, steps, and gliders to incorporate equipment that uses different material to create the resistance load like the Surge, Kamagon or WaterRowerGX machine (water), SandBells (sand) and the like.

Select cardio equipment that offers a novel and low-impact movement like rowing. The rowing stroke is a total body action that improves coordination, uses nine major muscle groups and incorporates over 80% of the body’s muscle mass. The mechanics of rowing mimic a leg press, a hip hinge and a seated row in one integrated motion increasing dynamic range of motion and flexibility. Rowing accommodates people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels and it’s regularly praised as one of the most effective workouts in the gym. Rowing offers caloric expenditures of 400 - 800 calories/hour, all at a lower rate of perceived exertion.

#4 Disruption

Disruption is the new buzzword in fitness motivation and it’s this element of surprise that sets one circuit class apart from another. Start by establishing a “secret sauce” for your class that disrupts the predictability of the circuit and elicits a reaction of surprise and anticipation from your students. Keep in mind that people work harder when they are held accountable to tangible results and to other team members.

For example, Orange Theory Fitness, one of the fastest growing fitness franchises in the world, is using WaterRower machines, treadmills and a wide range of resistance equipment paired with the Performance IQ technology system to capture heart rate for their own secret sauce, the “Orange Zone.” And The EX Games, an innovative new circuit experience inspired by the HBO show, Game of Thrones, and created by Canfitpro presenters Julz Arney and Amy Dixon, uses this idea of disruption as its central theme.

The ShockWave circuit was the first format in this wave of the circuit trend to move away from time clocks and rep counting to keep the class moving and instead highlight a disruptive element of the workout based on positive peer pressure and it’s since become the new standard for circuit training success. ShockWave uses the rowing circuit station to motivate the outside exercise stations, which in turn motivates the rowers and creates an unstoppable momentum to fire-up and connect the entire class.

#5 R.O.I.

Participants don’t just want to feel that they got the best workout for the time they invested, they want to know it. They want to see it happen live in the workout through the use of cardio equipment consoles, scoreboards, leaderboards and digital displays. And many want to then post these results on social media. The trend of “Share and Compare” motivation in fitness has caught fire with the use of personal devices and smart phones that make posting to social media sites easy and convenient. These channels are feeding the R.O.I. frenzy and instructors who teach circuits would do well to capitalize on this energy. Whether it’s as simple as encouraging participants to snap a pic of their best time on the rower in a ShockWave class, post it and tag you, or as involved as running a team contest in social media to see which team comes to class together most consistently and makes the biggest overall gains, it’s this continuous, measurable ROI that pulls members back into circuit classes time and time again.

Include these 5 considerations in the planning and execution of your next circuit class, Coaching, Community, Variety, Disruption and client R.O.I., and watch as your traditional, predictable circuit becomes infused with new life. Offer your clients coaching that gets results, help them meet new friends, (a.k.a. teammates!) and keep them energized through the use of new equipment and new movements that bring on new challenges. Most importantly, give them a disruptively fun workout that they look forward to week after week and don’t forget to generate some good social media buzz to help them celebrate their accomplishments. Of course, smack talk with their friends should be highly encouraged too!

Bodyshred is a 30 minute high intensity workout performed in an interval format of three minutes of strength training, two minutes of cardio and one minute of core work. There are over 250 moves instructors can use to create the most effective and interesting session. While there are sure to be new moves introduced (a hand stand into a mule kick was a first for me), many of the exercises (push ups, fast feet, lunges, planks, squats) will feel familiar to regular group fitness participants, even if it’s a variation of what they’re used to.

Michaels and two of her trainers created a fun, energetic atmosphere at Midwest Mania, but while I broke a sweat, I didn’t leave feeling as wiped out as I thought I would. I can only assume Bodyshred is more intense in a smaller setting, where I would be held accountable by a trainer, who wasn’t on stage instructing 300 other people.

Even though I was mainly there for the workout, what Michaels had to say during the Q&A left more of an impression on me. I never watched “The Biggest Loser” or worked out to one of her videos. I only knew her by reputation, which is that of a tough as nails trainer who yells a lot. Therefore, I was surprised when the intense, washboard stomached Michaels came across as funny and relatable while discussing health and fitness.

No Extreme Diet Ideals
Michaels shared that she consumes as many greens as possible and eats meat “sparingly". She believes there’s room for “treat foods” (made with real butter, real sugar, etc.) in every healthy lifestyle. Michaels stated, “I follow that 80/20 rule of 20 percent of my daily calories I make a treat food, 80 percent I try to make a better choice.”

But basically, in order to lose any kind of weight, be it baby weight, menopausal weight or just over-eating weight, “You gotta get rid of the poisonous crap in your life. Detox all those chemicals out as much as you can….You gotta eat things that are really solid with good nutrition and we gotta work out and we gotta sleep and we gotta manage our stress. And it’s a lot harder to do, obviously, than it is to talk about, but that’s the answer. That is the truthful answer.”

Good Enough Is Ok
When asked how she finds a work/family/fitness balance, Michaels laughed and said, “The minute you have kids, any hope of perfection flies out the window,” which was met with thunderous applause. She doesn’t generally like the concept of “good enough,” but allowed that if you can accept that things aren’t going to be perfect and you can get a little bit of energy into everything, that’s okay. “If you can find enough time, four half hours [of exercise a week], and you can kill those half hours and moderate what you’re eating, you can find a good enough balance.”

You Can't Motivate
During a question about how to keep clients motivated, Michaels was reminded of how she walked across “The Biggest Loser” contestants' legs during wall sits. She implored the crowd not to do that and joked, “The show should have come with a disclaimer.”

On a more serious note, she said, “Motivation has to come from within [the client].” Instructors can inspire and help people find their why - “Sex with the lights on, a two piece instead of a one piece, living to be 100. It doesn’t matter how profound or how superficial, as long as it matters to them and they can emotionally connect to it”- but no one else can give them the motivation needed to do the work.

The best way to inspire, Michaels offered, is to lead by example. “You be your happiest, you be your healthiest and they’ll identify with you. Your energy will be infectious.”

Midwest Mania was held September 25 - 27 in Rosemont, IL. To find gyms that teach the workout go to Jillian Michaels Bodyshred.

--- Original Article by Lori Wilson, The Local Tourist:

PLYOGA Fitness® is thrilled to announce its partnership with SCW Fitness as an Associate Sponsor for the 2016 MANIA® Conference schedule. PLYOGA® Founder Stephanie Lauren will bring a unique fitness acumen to the table with her athletic format inspired by her own intense take on true interval training and the essential nature of yoga.

PLYOGA® is a four-part high intensity interval system that features accelerated, fundamental, and fluent yoga postures as an active recovery for plyometric exercises. Despite the common pop-culture definition of plyometric training as “jump training”, exercise science defines plyometric training as a focus on effectively moving from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid style.

The future of interval training relies upon formatting that emphasizes smart active recovery and controlled breathing during a workout. Additionally, it is critical to ensure that participants are fully warmed up and properly cooled down, which consists of 25% of the PLYOGA® class format.

Come visit PLYOGA® at all of the 2016 SCW MANIA® Conferences. Meet Stephanie Lauren, participate in PLYOGA® sessions and join a PLYOGA® Post-Convention Certification.

Stephanie Lauren: Stephanie is a Former NCAA Division 1 competitor in two sports, which include gymnastics and track and field. She is also an ANBF Figure & Physique Professional, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Group Fitness Instructor, Yoga Instructor, Health & Wellness Coach, a Continuing Education Provider for SCW, ACE, AFAA, NASM and CanFitPro and a proud and fit mom. Strong is the new sexy! YOUR BODY IS POWER®

Fitness Professionals: Receive your CECs/CEUs through a PLYOGA® Certification. Come find out first hand why our motto is, “YOUR BODY IS POWER®”. PLYOGA® offers fitness professionals a chance to inject “themselves” into their classes with a very specific format but no mandatory choreography. You can become a part of one of the fastest growing independent fitness systems in North America. PLYOGA® can be done anywhere with a highly modifiable, equipment free model that incorporates fun and fast music and all age groups.

Successful Aqua Instructors recognize that all participants are unique, not only with regards to their fitness levels, but also pertaining to their goals and needs. To understand the individual participants and their reasons for being in class, communication is vital. Conversations are usually brief and superficial either before or after class. However, to truly appreciate the active aging members, Aqua Instructors must give all of their focus and attention on listening to what is being said, both verbally and nonverbally, and also understand that the aging member may communicate differently than the younger participants in class. The rules for communicating with aging members can be placed into three main categories.

The first communication rule to consider when conversing with aging clients is to give control of the conversation to the aging member. Adults in early and mid-life stages have a sense of control over their lives and destinies that can be taken for granted, but this often changes for older adults. For example, an aging adult may no longer be able to drive, but it is important to understand what driving meant to them. When applying this to a fitness class, think of a participant who was a competitive athlete in his or her younger years and how important it was to feel speed while running. In the water, the ability to run again may give them back the control of speed. Research shows that seniors who have had life-threatening illnesses are often more concerned about being in control, and those who feel they have no control over daily activities will spend their time and energy fighting for it. To use this information in your fitness classes, allow your active aging members to choose whether they want to do 8 land tempo jacks or 4 water tempo jumping jacks. Seniors are not likely to respond well to the “professional in charge” approach. “Backing off” and letting seniors be in control of their workouts is an essential strategy to open up the lines of communication about their goals, needs or reasons for being in class. Remember that when an aging member says “no” to a certain task, either verbally or nonverbally by doing something totally different, it expresses a compelling need to stay in control of a situation since everything else seems out of control. A repeated loss of authority signals to the senior that he or she is no longer of any value in our culture. Give permission for the aging member to control his or her personal workout.

Secondly, communicate at a slower pace and allow more time for the conversation. Telling stories of the past is a normal part of the developmental stage for a senior and repeating these stories is a way of revisiting events in life that had enormous significance. Repeating stories is not always a sign of mental dementia nor is a pause in the speech pattern. A pause in the conversation is often a signal that something important is about to be said. These two processes take time in a conversation and cannot be rushed if an instructor wants to create a relationship. Personality development is a lifelong event and an active aging adult is now determining, which past events most shaped his or her life and legacy. Remember that your aging members are still parents who provide patience and guidance to their children, and they may also see you as someone who can learn and mature from their past experiences. They enjoy nurturing others and contributing to society. Allowing them the time to do this builds a strong sense of community in your class. When you ask questions, be aware that open ended questions will often solicit many different answers if asked multiple times. Using the phrase “tell me about it” gives the message that you are listening and invites the senior to conduct a review and focus on the true answer but does take time. Removing the urgency may actually help older adults improve the reflective decision-making process. Be available well before class and be prepared to continue conversations in the locker room or lobby after class.

The third communication rule for aging members is to express empathy. Always acknowledge the magnitude of what he or she is experiencing, especially if a loss of a loved one is involved. Younger adults have the physical and mental energy to deal with death and replace a loss with something or someone else. For the aging adult, many losses simply cannot be replaced. If the loss is that of a spouse, this role was endured for the span of a lifetime and is extremely devastating. Women feel the loss of purpose more so than men do when a spouse dies, and they are no longer part of a marital team. Older adults often have to make difficult decisions during a chronic illness, and this is extremely difficult. Empathize with them by remembering how it felt to move your body after a surgery when also dealing with chronic pain, medication and body aches!

Keeping these tips in mind will improve your communication with your active aging members and keep them returning to your class so that we can value their continued participation and shared experiences!

A tasty and healthier alternative to satisfy that sweet tooth, you'll love those Banana Rock Poppers! Consisting of only 3 simple ingredients, they are incredibly easy to make - and even easier to pop in your mouth! So good, you'll want to make these again and again!


• 1-2 bananas, peeled and sliced into bite-sized rounds
• 1 C dark chocolate chips
• 2T coconut oil (optional)


1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay out the banana slices. Freeze for about an hour (until hard).

2. Put coconut oil and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Then, let it cool just a bit.

3. Submerge your frozen banana slices in the chocolate. Using a fork, remove each slice, draining off excess chocolate and then replace on the parchment paper.

4. Sprinkle chocolate covered slices with your favorite toppings: coconut flakes, pistachios, etc.

5. Place back in freezer until your topping are secure. Store in a sealed container or bag until you’re ready to snack! Keep container in the fridge, or in a cool spot on the counter. ENJOY!