My West London Life

Liz Benjamin, Circuit Society

May
2

Liz Benjamin of Circuit Society Bayswater, on fitness, motherhood, & never giving up

How did you get into fitness? Had it always been your thing?

I have loved fitness for as long as I can remember. In my teens and twenties, I used to go to the gym or run multiple times a week and during my pregnancies, I did low-impact workouts. It was only after my children reached the terrible two’s that I got into group fitness classes. I loved boutique boxing from the word go – everything from the music/atmosphere/HIIT sessions. I was a convert to fitness classes and the vibe that they could create.

When one of my sons became ill, I used exercise as an escape to deal with it all. He was in and out of hospital and school for 3 years. I did a lot of homeschooling in this period which resulted in me giving up a Planning Practice to ensure I could care for him. I decided to qualify as a PT during this time to keep me focused on something new and different. During Covid, the opportunity arose to open a franchise in Circuit Society, an emerging workout concept and I was hooked on the structure of it instantly.

If you hadn’t gone into this industry, what would you be doing now?

My Degree is in Urban Planning, Design and Management. I loved this industry and returned to it when my boys were toddlers. Most likely I would be doing something related to this still.

Why Circuit Society? How are you different from a more typical gym?

Circuit Society is a relatively new concept (being just over a year old since the original Camden studio opened). When I was initially introduced to it as a ‘concept on paper’ I instantly felt an affinity with the workout. The combination of 50% cardio and 50% strength work was music to my ears – I quickly associated it with a gym workout I would plan for myself but with this being in a class environment you take out the fuss of motivating and planning this all yourself. The instructor and studio screens (which display the strength super-sets or tri-sets of the day) do all that for you! I also knew that the cardio machines in the room would be instant winners too – we use low-impact ergs such as the curved self-powered tread/ski-erg/echo bike and concept bike. Equipment like this is usually found in high-end boutique fitness gyms and is not so accessible to everyone out there. Our workout is affordable and uses a wide range of quality equipment.

We have also introduced boxing and TRX. TRX is one of my favourite intense/challenging yet low-impact workouts and I really do enjoy adding these classes into my own fitness regime. Boxing classes are proving very popular. We work with Train with Corner so we can track speed/power of punches and people’s stats appear on the screens throughout each round. This is helpful as we have a focus on technique in these classes and people can see where they could/want to improve.

Can you describe a typical workout at Circuit Society?

Our workouts differ daily but they are always 45 minutes long. There are 6 stations where a cardio station is always followed by a strength station. You work your way around the room in a clockwise direction. The class set for each day is the same and runs for that day only. No single day has the same combination of exercises although exercises will be repeated. Different days have a different focus where Upper Body and Core/Lower Body and Core or Full Body.

There are screens in the room which display the strength exercises at each of the 3 strength stations. If for example, it is an Upper Body and Core day the exercises will be supersets repeated 3 times in the 6 minute station or tri-sets are repeated twice in the 6 minutes. You may have bent over rows with weighted sit-ups for example at one station and they will differ from the other 2 strength stations. The screens also have timers so you know how long is left but the trainer also guides everyone in the room. On the cardio stations, you will be given different levels to work out for timed periods – usually, you do various sprints in the final 2 minutes of the 6 on that station. But you build your pace/speed up to that.

We also offer boxing and TRX classes. Our boxing classes have proved a hit already with a structure focused on technique. Classes are usually programmed to 10 rounds, working for up to 3 minutes on each with 2-3 bodyweight rounds thrown in. We work with Train with Corner so you can track your speed/power elements to those punches. You will be provided with trackers upon check-in with screens up to show progress while class is underway.

Our TRX classes follow various exercises/flows specific to any given instructor. All trainers are TRX qualified and despite being low impact you really do raise that heart rate throughout!

Being based in Bayswater, you must know the area quite well. Do you have a favourite spot for lunch/after work drinks?

There are so many lovely places to eat. I love the Daylesford Organic café/shop and Juice Baby. Due to my early mornings, I tend to aim to get home and relax there once the boys are in bed but there are plenty of restaurants locally to the studio in Notting Hill/Westbourne Grove I will definitely try as the days get longer and lighter.

Where is your favourite place in the world, and why?

I have to say I love the Alps. We have had a small apartment in Servoz in the Chamonix Valley for years. I never get tired of going there. We either drive or fly depending on how long we are there. Most family holidays are spent either skiing/hiking/mountain biking. I feel so alive out there and it is such a contrast to London life so I really feel like I have had a good break when I go. The mountains and the air give me an overwhelming sense of freedom.

What do you do to relax?

These days the simple things give me the most amount of pleasure. A walk on Wimbledon Common with my husband, children and dog counts as one of the most relaxing moments for me.

What is your favourite thing about West London?

West London has such a diverse community and I love the vibe this creates. It really sums up London life for me. Not only can I enjoy the hustle and bustle, but I am within a few minutes walk of Kensington Gardens and love walking my dog in the open space during the day. In contrast, I too enjoy the local coffee shops/food shops and of course, the boutique shops to browse along Westbourne Grove.

Can you describe your typical day?

Some days I’m up at 4 am in order to get to the studio for opening. On other days, I will wait until the children leave for school anytime between 7.30-8 am. I walk my dog on the way to the studio– usually getting off the tube at High Street Ken and walking up through the park. I love walking and this sets me up for the day. I will always grab a coffee from one of my favourite coffee shops – Gails/Guillam. Once in the studio, I will settle into work whether that is teaching a class, doing all the admin or making sure the studio is running smoothly. I’m teaching quite a bit at the moment and that breaks up the day. I will walk the dog at different times and aim to be home for the children in the evening. Due to Circuit being a new business, I do tend to do long days currently but this will change as we grow awareness of the studio.

What’s your life motto?

I would have to say, and this is one many of us have heard probably quite a lot is ‘Never give up’. This rang most true for me in my life when I watched my youngest battle childhood arthritis or JIA as it is known. He was a very active child then suddenly he became bedbound almost overnight. Every joint in his body was in agony and he found even trying to get out of bed traumatic. This lasted nearly 3 years and he missed a lot of school. But he never gave up on anything – he managed to stay engaged with school work despite suffering from extreme exhaustion and I will never forget the strength of character he had.

He had a journal to help him in his darkest moments and when I look back it has made me really appreciate this motto. For him to be able to run and play sports with his friends along with managing half a day and then a full day at school were small aims he gave himself. His strength of character will always shine in my eyes.

Where do you see Circuit Society in 10 years?

I hope by then we will be an established fitness brand that is recognised for the carefully structured workout that it offers. Not only that, at Bayswater, I want to create a community for everyone where they can put their worries aside and work on themselves in the time they spend with us in the studio. Importantly I hope to make a community that anyone who walks through those doors can feel a part of.

www.circuitsociety.fit

Amy Nairn, Personal Chef

January
5

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October
5

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