When I got an invite from my friend, who almost all her life was sedentary, to try circuit training, how can I say no? Aside from the fact that it's the one exercise that made her want to exercise, I've been wanting to change up my fitness routine for days now.

Circuit training is a great way to combine cardio and strength if you're short on time. The workout usually consists of simultaneous strength and cardio exercises that are completed one right after the other, with little or no rest in between. Each exercise is done for a specified amount of time before moving on to the next exercise. Once the entire round is completed, that is considered one circuit. 

Here's a sample of how circuit training looks like:


 

 


Each gym would have different specifications as to the exercises, levels, duration of the exercises and the reps. For our chosen gym, the 360 fitness club, a typical routine would be to complete 3 circuits of ten minutes each, totaling to 30 minutes per session. They explained than 3 completed circuits equal to a total body workout just like how you'd do it in the gym but in a more efficient way. You have the option to do more than 3 rounds. Your level (out of five) will be determined by the coach on your first session with them. 


First-timers at the club assisted by one of the coaches

360 is the first gym I've visited that offers circuit training so I couldn't compare it with other gyms offering interval training. What I can note down and share are my general thoughts based on my experience:
Pros:
  • It develops strength, endurance and stamina.
  • Results are quite noticeable and quick. After just two sessions of 30 minutes each, I immediately noticed my entire body strengthen and tone, especially my upper body.
  • It's an efficient total body workout that combines cardio and strength training.
  • It's an appropriate form of training for most sports.
  • The exercises and levels can be adjusted to suit age, fitness experience and health conditions. I was instructed to do level 3 and 4 exercises based on my coach's assessment of my fitness level.
  • Exercises are simple enough to make one feel a sense of achievement in completing them.
  • The coaches are quite accommodating especially during the first session. They assist you go through the entire process from the evaluation, warm-up, exercise proper to the cooling down.
  • There's a wide range of exercises to choose from which helps maintain enthusiasm. They continuously introduce new exercises and the coaches are constantly designing new sets of exercises that will offer new challenges for the body.
Different arm exercises for different levels
 
Suggested core exercises depending on one's fitness level 
  • The gym offers group classes to complement the training such as Power Yoga, Body Balance, Suspension Training and Zumba. I'll be posting a review on their Suspension Training class soon.
Cons:
  • Most of the exercises require specialized gym equipment. In general, I think circuit training can only be conducted where appropriate facilities/equipment are available.
Kettlebells in varying weights 

Free weights
 
We call this the monkey bar
 
Medicine balls in varying weights
  • The staff can be inefficient and unhelpful at times, except for the coaches.
  • The group classes don't start on time.
  • I'm not as comfortable to use the equipments as I don't see them being cleaned every so often.
  • Use of additional equipment requires appropriate health and safety monitoring.
And as with any form of strenous exercise, always remember to warm up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio and cool down with a series of stretches.


After half an hour of circuit 
 
I love how the walk up the gym puts you in the right mindset for a workout! 

For more information, you may contact 360 Fitness Club at (02)577-7807 Ortigas branch and (02)940-9575 Makati branch; or visit their website at http://www.completethecircuit.com.