A circuit course is another option for class organization and collecting ongoing assessment data. It consists of a series of activities that develop strength, endurance, and mobility. In the case of Heart Zones Education, it is also a way to gather regular assessment data on each student. Only a portion of the class can complete the circuit courses at a time, depending on the number of monitors. Rotate students through the course as each group finishes.

Circuit courses offer a multitude of options, and the structure can be conducive to working on skills in specific sports such as basketball and soccer. A circuit normally consists of 5 to 10 stations. Keeping the same order avoids wasting valuable class time having students learn new patterns. For example, a conditioning circuit may start with a run and then move to upper-body exercises, leg exercises, trunk exercises, and finally activities for agility and flexibility. Avoid the consecutive use of the same muscle group. Students progress through the circuit in the same order, but they may start at any station.

Set a time period for rotating stations (usually two to five minutes), and have the students track the number of repetitions they do at each station in a journal or training log. Have a heart rate monitor (or a few of them) available at each station so students can determine their current heart zones and record their heart zones training (HZT) points in their logs (for more information, refer to the log options on the web resource). To maximize the benefits from each class session, challenge students to set their sights on improving their endurance, performing more repetitions, or working for a longer time at each station each time they repeat the circuit.

Training logs provide valuable feedback for measuring progress. Recent research shows that people tend to stay with a training program that provides quantifiable (i.e., written) feedback five times longer than they do with a program that provides only verbal feedback. A sample training log and journal page can be found on the web resource accompanying this text.

Circuits are a great way to vary students’ fitness programs, and the flexibility of stations allows students to adapt the circuit to fit their fitness goals. Circuits also solve the problem of a shortage of sporting equipment or limited space. You can design stations to suit your facility. Can students in-line skate or skateboard on school facilities? Is there space to walk or jog, or will they have to jog in place? If you have older students or a classroom aide, you can send students outside to the track or have them run a course around the school grounds.

Be creative. Using common gym equipment such as jump ropes, hula hoops, and basketballs is always a great option as well as offering some variety to typical physical fitness activities. With jump ropes, for example, have students vary their jumping height and speed. Use music to help them establish a rhythm. Have them vary their jumping styles as well, using single or double jumps for a certain number of repetitions, then a running jump, and then changing patterns.

Put all these tasks together to create a circuit course. For example, have students jump rope at one station and jog at another, or have every other station be a jump rope station with strength or skill development stations between them. Note: Do not change the station activities until everyone has had a chance to go through one round using a heart rate monitor.

You can use the Circuit Training for Assessing Fitness Improvement in appendix C (with printable station cards on the web resource) as an ongoing assessment of students’ personal training. Use this measurement circuit every four to six weeks so students can use the data to adapt their personal fitness plans. After your students have completed the 10 steps of heart zones training (see module 6), they should be able to implement their programs on their own with minimal input from you. This program is truly individualized and allows for self-directed learning geared toward meeting personal goals.

The HZE curriculum is fully sequenced to maximize students’ content understanding, skill development, and most important, fitness improvement. Modules are best taught in the order presented because they build on the tasks and knowledge acquired in previous modules. All lessons reflect U.S. national education standards in health and physical education and teaching models of best practice.