CircuitFIT is a perfect example of why you cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge a gym by its website . With its purple and white logo and 30-minute circuit-style workout format, CircuitFIT comes across as just another Curves-type thing . Given owner Alex Savva's background in bodybuilding and the workout supplement business he runs on the side, I should have known better. This program has the capacity to accommodate hard core fitness fanatics.
Located on Mount Pleasant, just north of Davisville, CircuitFIT is located on the second floor of a building in a casual, open studio with plenty of natural light. The workout space is divided into two parts, one for circuit training, and the other strictly for personal training. There are two individual washrooms and small change rooms, each with a single shower and some lockers.
Unlike Curves, which generally appeals only to newbies starting a fitness program for the first time, Savva's program draws individuals from the community ranging from young competitive athletes to grandmothers. He has designed it so that it can be tailored to suit just about anyone's abilities, goals and fitness level. A small, personal gym, Savva says he has a high level of retention with members who have been coming for years.
Essentially, clients are taught the basics of the circuit with one of the trainers. Once they are comfortable with it, they are free to drop in for the 30 minute workout as often as they want on their own. There are always trainers present to assist clients and ensure they are executing all the exercises safely and correctly.
Each week, Savva changes the duration of each exercise so that one week each is performed for 20 seconds, the next for 30 seconds, and the next for 50 seconds. This forces clients to vary the way they are training, sometimes focusing on fewer reps using more weight, and sometimes doing more reps with less weight.
The trainers also give clients little tweaks to the routine to suit their individual needs and preferences, or just to change things up, such as using a different grip, a new angle or adding weight or other additional level of difficulty once the base exercise has been mastered.
Savva puts me through the workout - this week it's 20 second intervals - just as he would a typical new client. There are red and green lights on the ceiling that are timed to move you through the circuit. This is a clever idea, although for someone like me who tends to get distracted and zone out easily, it could easily be ignored. Then again, this would force me to stay focused and present, which is a good thing. He keeps it pretty easy, but his fine-tuned coaching ensures every exercise is performed with precision, making them extremely effective.
CircuitFIT is a unique idea that gives members the independence to come in and workout on their own time, with structure and guidance from trainers. If clients want more direct one-on-one instruction, they can book personal training sessions.
Savva encourages members to keep both the circuit workout and personal training sessions intense enough that just 30 minutes is required. He believes short, intense exercise is more effective than low-intensity, long duration activity. Regardless, I suspect most people prefer to keep their gym time to a minimum anyways.
Savva himself is charming and down-to-earth, nothing like the testosterone, ego-filled dude I had expected. He sincerely loves fitness and works hard to accommodate the needs of his clients.
CircuitFIT is perfect for individuals who enjoy working out in a gym and value routine and consistency. Given that the exercises in the circuit generally stay the same, it may not appeal to those who get bored easily. Nevertheless, unlike Curves and other chain clubs, CircuitFIT has a very personalized approach that clearly keeps its members coming back again and again.
Given the neighbourhood, CircuitFIT's prices are extremely reasonable. For $630 per year, you can get unlimited access to CircuitFIT's facilities, $420 a year for student and corporate memberships. Those unwilling to commit long-term can buy monthly passes for $70/month ($50/month for students). Thirty minute personal training sessions are $60 each with discounts that increase with the more that you buy.
Photos by Jesse Milns