This post is a little overdue, but better late than never.
In the last quarter of 2018, a new workout gym, called Cirque, opened in our territory. Naturally, we had to go check it out…
Cirque is a 50 minute circuit workout that incorporates HIIT/burst training and functional training. Depending on the class you choose, the focus will be on:
- Full body
- Back, Chest and Shoulders; or
- Legs, Glutes and Arms
Each class is split into six segments:
- 3 rounds of 4 exercises x 2 sets
- finisher – usually a game (losing team pays a penalty, like burpees); and
- cool down
What Sort of Exercises Do You Do?
Aside from The Workout from Hell (which I did way back in 2002), the Fitness First Spartan Workshops, and the Spartan training I did at The Playground last year, I don’t really do this kind of training. I’m not familiar with the names of many of the exercises, so I’ll just show a few of the things we did during class (there is a lot more, but I don’t have the photos).
Weighted/unweighted glute lifts:
Ball Toss – with a burpee at the bottom:
Another kind of glute lift using sliders – from a plank, slide your to feet up towards your hands so your butt is as high as possible:
Kettle Bell swing:
TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise) – which is a suspension based exercise system that can be used in a variety of ways.
Resistance running with bands:
Dragging a weighted bag on all fours:
Pass the medicine ball with sit-ups:
I think you get the idea. In between all these wild and sometimes wacky exercises, we also do regular the regular stuff, like burpees, ab crunches, mountain climbers, push-ups, etc. The combination of exercises change from class to class so we have never repeated the same routine twice.
For the finishers, we sometimes rode the air bike:
And/or rowed on the Concept2 Rower:
Or played a variety of games with a physical element. It might be a relay or “musical chairs” with a twist – there’s always an element of competition and fun thrown in.
What Do I Think of Cirque
It sort of reminds me of personal training but in a group – so a little bit more fun. I find the workout very hard, but extremely satisfying. Every class takes me beyond my limits and I know that this is exactly the kind of workout I need more of. I don’t love it, but I like what it does for my body.
The most amazing thing about the body is how it adapts to the things we repeatedly do. After a while, workouts that are too reiterative have a reduced effect on the body. It’s what we call “the plateau” – when growth slows. If we want our bodies to keep growing, we need to shake things up and keep the workouts varying. That is what Cirque offers – a varying workout that prevents the plateau effect.
Cirque is a fun way to practice strength training (aka resistance training or weight training) – the type of workout I often find quite tedious and boring. Especially now that I am growing older, strength training is more important than ever. Strong muscles protect joints by supporting them. They improve mobility and balance, and reduce the risk of injury. Strength training can even improve long term memory by 20%.
Strong Bones for Life
For me, the greatest motivator for incorporating more strength training into my regular workouts is osteoporosis prevention. Osteoporosis runs in families and I am at risk – my grandmother had it, and my mother is on the borderline for it. One day, when my grandmother was rushing out of the car, she slipped, fell and fractured her back. One small fall was all it took to cripple her and ruin her quality of life.
To prevent osteoporosis, we need to increase bone density. With regular exercise and a good diet, this occurs naturally up until the age of 30 when peak bone mass is attained. After 30, bone mass stops increasing. We used to believe that the only thing you could do after 30 was preventative – hang on to as much of that bone mass as possible because that’s the most you’re ever going to have.
A combination of age-related changes, inactivity, and inadequate nutrition conspire to gradually steal bone mass, at the rate of 1% per year after age 40.Harvard Health
Thankfully, that is not true. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, revealed some promising results for increasing bone mass through resistance training. There is a write-up on Berkeley Wellness. Although the study was small (only 20 participants), it is worth noting that some of the women were post-menopausal and a few of them had osteopenia (the stage just before osteoporosis). They were the ones who benefited the most from strength training.
We should probably also make the distinction between strength training and aerobic weight-bearing exercises (like running and hiking). According to Harvard Health, strength training offers added bone benefits by targeting the bones of the hips, spine, and wrists – the places that are most likely to fracture.
The inspiration that started me looking into strength training came from Ginny MacColl, mother to American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff. She was diagnosised with osteopenia and was able to significantly build back bone mass through strength training:
More Muscle, Higher Metabolism
The other reason for Cirque is because I like to eat. More often than not – the things I shouldn’t be eating. To avoid turning into a ball, I have to balance the calories I put into my body with the calories I burn through exercise and my body’s metabolism (the energy our bodies use up while at rest).
While we can increase energy expenditure by working out, there is only so much exercise we can do before we burn out or risk injury. The other way to increase our energy expenditure is to increase our body’s metabolism. We can do that by increasing muscle mass. Even when we’re not working out, our muscles are using energy. So the more of it we have, the more our bodies burn at rest, and the more I get to eat.
Okay, so there is one more reason I do Cirque. I’m targeting a Spartan Trifecta this year and I would like to pass as many obstacles as possible. Most Spartan obstacles require strength – largely upper body. The only way I’m going to get stronger is to add more strength training sessions into my weekly workouts.
How can we increase bone mass, muscle mass, and overall strength? By going to Cirque! So there you go… my grandmother story for why Cirque…
Find Out More About Cirque
What I’ve written about are Cirque’s 50 minute HIIT and Functional Training classes. They also offer personal training tailored to the individual as a one-on-one or one-on-two program. Contact them to find out more.