Circuit Works just opened up their location in Brentwood on Monday a block away from where I live. They are offering a whole week of unlimited free classes ending this Sunday! So of course I signed up.
The original Circuit Works location is in Venice, and is very popular. I've never been there since I rarely venture out of Brentwood/Santa Monica area. So now that the Brentwood location is open, I can actually experience the hype for myself.
I walked over there yesterday to sign up for the 5:30 am class this morning and also to watch what was going on. The theory behind Circuit Works is that it combines aerobic and anaerobic activities to maximize calorie burn, which is a theory any fitness conscious individual is aware of. The gym itself is pretty small. It has 5 treadmills, 5 spin bikes, and 10 different weights stations that's designed to work out the whole body. Each station is numbered, and there are little TV screens all over to show you what you are supposed to do at each station. The instructor tells you to get on and off from one station to another every minute, with a minute of cardio in between.
The philosophy in their own words is:
"Circuit training burns more calories than any other form of exercise available today. What separates Circuit Works, Circuit Training classes from all the rest is:
Our classes switch from an aerobic cardiovascular exercise to an anaerobic resistance exercise every 60 seconds, keeping the body from choosing the energy expenditure system it's going to use. This confusion forces the body to burn more calories, a process explained by science as the Zig Zag theory. This activity of switching back and forth from an aerobic cardiovascular system to an anaerobic system is what increases the fat expenditure of the body by more than 500%.
No other program out there today goes from an aerobic activity to an anaerobic activity, back and forth every 60 seconds or less."
Is the last statement true? I know there are others out there like Circuit Works, such as Burn 60 or Turn 60 - another popular LA work out place in Brentwood, but those are 10 min intervals instead of one.
Anyway, so I went to the 5:30 am class this morning. Actually knew most people that showed up since they also go to my run club! Cool... guess it's a small neighborhood. So there were 10 people there total - the classes have a max 20 people capacity . The instructor was Raphael Verela, the man whose face is on all the Circuit Works ads. He must be their best right? There was also a girl there as his "assistant" that demonstrated to us what we are supposed to do at each station before class and went around to helped correct people's forms during class. So 2 instructors for 10 people, we definitely got enough individual attention but not overbearing. They were both pretty good at helping me use the machines or correcting my form but I'm not sure how it would be in a full class with double the amount of people. But they are friendly and seem easy going, not the "drill sergeant" type that yell at your face.
So Raphael divided the class into 2 groups. One group is always doing cardio while the other group is doing weights, and switch back and forth. Each person is assigned a number that corresponds with the numbered weight sections. You are there for a minute, then go to the bike for a minute, then go to the next numbered station for the next minute, and then to the treadmill for the minute after, etc. etc. until you have hit all 10 stations and have done basically 10 cardio sessions of 5 treadmill and 5 bike, and 10 weight sessions. THEN, you do the same rotation again, except you are going to 2 weight stations back to back, so the cardio people are on the treadmill or spin bikes for 2 minutes instead of 1. And switch back and forth. He would also tell you the resistance you should be doing on the treadmill - the highest we got to was 13. You can walk if you don't want to run, but I was pretty much sprinting whenever I was on the treadmill. Hey, I'm getting my free work out's money's worth! At the end of class, we did some ab work, and ended with stretching.
The class was over pretty quickly since you are constantly moving around. I was definitely sweaty at the end and it was definitely a good work out. But I'm not sure if it is "the best". I've had harder work outs boxing or doing kettlebell or my boot camp classes at the gym. In the first half of the class when we were switching every minute, I felt like I never had the time to get my heart rate up. When I'm sprinting, it takes me definitely longer than a minute to get my heart rate pumping. So it was time to get off the treadmill and switch to weights before I even got there. Spin never gets my heart rate as high as running. My heart rate was hovering at like 130 the whole first half of class so it was definitely not intense at all. The 2 minute sessions were obviously better, and climbing at 13% incline or sprinting at 6% will take it out of you after a minute. That was when I got some serious sweating going on.
But maybe I don't have to sweat my butt off in order to have a good work out (but it's a mental thing). I was extra hungry today after that work out, and it lasted all the way till lunch. So maybe this work out provides a greater after burn. Or, maybe the extra burn is due to trying a different type of work out instead of my routine. I guess I'll never know. I will definitely go back to Circuit Works again before the free week is over though. But I don't think it is something I would pay for regularly. It's not cheap - starts at $25 a class, and you can buy packages of classes which makes it cheaper per class by a few bucks. So if you did it twice a week, that's $200 a month. My nice spa-like gym (Equinox) is only $150 a month and I can go as many times as I want and take as many classes as I want, AND sit in the steam room and shower after with Kiehl's products in the locker room! Plus Equinox has amazing instructors so... not a hard decision there.
P.S. All the Circuit Works people were wearing full on black Lululemon outfits with the big "Circuit Works" lettering printed on in strategic locations. Actually looked pretty cute. I wonder if Lululemon partnered up with them or gave them some free clothes? Must be nice!