Personal trainer Kirstin Ahmed tells Sportsister why she believes Circular Strength Training is the future for working out.
Circular Strength Training (CST) is a comprehensive method of physical training. Basically what this means is that the workout targets every inch of your body and you will find yourself completely exhausted by the end!
Each “flow” or section of the workout focuses on a particular area of your body. You begin by mobilising joints, followed by swinging long sticks of metal (called clubbells) and finally you execute a yoga pose. You then repeat this tri facetted training method across the body from one area to the next.
Many consider CST to be about as sophisticated as it gets in the world of physical training. Advocates describe it as the future of intelligent exercise and this is why:
• CST firstly mobilises your joints, this is done by a comprehensive joint mobility programme of movement. Loosely translated you will find yourself rotating each part of your body around itself in circles to begin with… not quite as fruitless as chasing your tail, in fact the benefit from this alone is enormous…you will feel mobile, flexible and less physically restricted. For people with sports injuries or joint restrictions due to age, this section of CST can have exceptional benefit.
• CST also trains your muscles; in the process you will get leaner, stronger and burn a huge amount of calories in doing so. Conventional weight lifting strengthens muscles by loading them but at the same time compresses your joints. This can lead to poor posture, incorrect muscle recruitment and pain.
• However, you can also get stronger by swinging weights around. This method of loading the muscles relies on traction and thankfully decompresses your joints.
• Most women start with a pair of 5kg’s and most men start with a pair of 10kg’s but the clubs can go up to really heavy weights for the seriously macho! You will find yourself using every single muscle of your body and testing yourself beyond what you thought possible. After some practice you will be able to swing these cumbersome objects around with grace and coordination! Plus they are portable and easy to move if you are training at home or outside.
• Finally the Prasara yoga section of CST completes this holistic training approach. This section is designed to minimise the build up of problems we see in many regular exercisers. Yet could also be present from something as innocuous as sitting at your laptop all day.
• What can often happen is that chains of muscle tension build through repeated action causing an imbalance around a joint and so further damage can ensue. Prasara yoga poses that are selected dependant on what muscle groups they target can unload these chains of muscle tensions. In CST we call this “cleaning the slate” of imbalances and so allowing the mobility section and club swinging section of CST to work on the muscles and joints they were designed for which are now free and unrestricted.
• This feeling of freedom, from years of discomfort in some cases, is amazing. And once you have “cleaned the slate” your strength gains, agility, coordination and flexibility are empowering and eye wateringly fast.
If you are interested in finding out more about CST be prepared to travel as there are not very many UK certified instructors and it is still quite an underground practice, although the message is spreading. Here are a few suggestions on where to start for further information on classes and private tuition:
South England: Kirstin Ahmed (www.brightonfit.co.uk)
Midlands: Michael Addison and Genella Doble (www.healthfirstfitnessuk.com)
If you are outside the UK have a look at the international site www.rmaxinternational.com
Kirstin Ahmed, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine