Exercise in a Three-Ring Circuit

Tuesday, February 05 2019

Ready for the greatest show in the pool?  Ringmaster Ashley B. shares an exercise format that progresses through three big top tents, each with a unique circus theme and each with three circuits of interval training designed to deliver a total-body workout and make you feel like a circus performer extraordinaire.

Recently relocating to Las Vegas from Northern California, Aquatic Fitness Training Specialist, Ashley Bishop is soaking in the sights and the shows of Sin City.  Inspired by the spirit of performance, she created a Circus themed circuit & interval workout. “My mother-in-law was recently here for work and stayed at the Circus Circus Hotel and that got me thinking that it would be fun play on words for a circuit and interval class,” says Ashley.  She did some research on classic circuit acts performed over the years in Las Vegas and used some of those ideas to create the combinations. Naturally, I was all in favor of this format since my adopted city (Sarasota, FL) is considered the ancestral home of the modern day circus.  John Ringling moved the headquarters for the combined Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Bros. Circus acts to Sarasota in 1927. 

Tasked with the challenge of creating a follow-along audio workout with this video, Ashley had to forgo her normal content (oodles and oodles of choreography) for material that was easier to cue and execute with audio only.  Circuits or interval training that feature timed segments are typically easier to follow along with when using audio only as there are less transitions and tricky lead changes to worry about.   I think PoolFit subscribers will enjoy the circus theme and Ashley’s expert cueing. 


Equipment:  No equipment needed, but webbed gloves are recommended as a means of increasing intensity. 

This 49-minute workout features three main segments, a finale, warm-up and cool down. The pace and exercise selection makes it doable for all fitness levels, beginner to advanced, but as always it is important to modify moves to suit your individual fitness needs.  The three main segments (Big Top Tents) each feature three circuits of timed intervals. Circuit 1) 4 timed intervals at a ratio of (45:15)
Circuit 2) 4 timed intervals at a ratio of (30:15)
Circuit 3) 4 timed intervals at a ratio of (45:15). 
Circuits 1 and 3 include exercises for upper and lower body, core and balance.  The middle circuit (Set 2) focuses on cardio.    

Big Top Tent 1 – Send in the Clowns
Clowns are often seen cycling through a circus tent on unicycles and so the first circuit targets lower body with cycling activities.  Clowns also love to dance and so the second circuit revs up the cardio with a hoe down jam.  The third circuit targets the upper body with other favorite clown activities that include waving and juggling. 

Big Top Tent 2 – Acrobats & Animals
Circuit 1 features a lower body focus with very athletic and acrobatic power shoots that can be modified to grounded karate kicks.  The cardio focus in the second circuit is a blend of acrobat jumps with an animal themed exercise.  And the last circuit is all about animal themes that target the upper body.

Big top Tent 3 – Tight Rope Trapeze
It is not an official circus without some death-defying tightrope walking on the high wire.  Circuit 1 includes varying tightrope walk patterns.  Circuit 2 pumps up the heart rate with acrobatic jumps and turns on the tightrope.  Circuit 3 targets the legs with concentrated lower body exercises. 

Big Top Finale
The fourth and final act is the final performance. Every great circus has to have an attention-grabbing finale.    Ashley selected a combination of movements using the pyramid choreography style, allowing for more repetition at the beginning so participants have time to practice and understand the sequence. Decreasing the repetitions increases the intensity and the fun factor.    

If you have questions or would like to comment on this PoolFit workout, please be sure to post below the video or blog. 

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.