Five people arranged in a circle performing the plank exercise
Five people arranged in a circle performing the plank exercise

Circle of Exercise

  • Good for mixed-ability groups
  • A great add-on to running sessions
  • Ideal for groups of 6-15 athletes
  • Works best on grass or mats

Circle of Exercise is a way of performing a circuit session in which the athletes choose their own exercises.

Setting Up

Athletes are arranged in a circle with plenty of space between each person.

Each athlete is told to start trying to think of a few exercises that can be performed on the spot.


Play begins with a randomly-chosen athlete. They pick an exercise for the entire group to perform for 20-30 seconds.

When time is up, play passes to the next athlete in the circle who chooses a different exercise.

Play continues in a like manner, passing from athlete to athlete, until everybody has had a go at choosing an exercise.

Group Size

With less than six players the session doesn't seem as fun, and with more than 15 it can start to take quite a while to get through all players and it becomes more difficult for them to think up original exercises.



Players take turns to alternate between easy and hard exercises.

Real World Example

There is a group of 12 athletes and the session is taking place in a field.

One of the athletes has a sore shoulder so is told to swap out any upper-body exercises with their choice of running high knees, jogging on the spot, or squats.

The athletes stand in a circle and are numbered consecutively. Odd-numbered athletes are tasked with thinking of a hard exercise and even-numbered athletes are tasked with thinking of an easy exercise. A list of 20 exercises is provided by the run leader for anybody who is struggling.

Once everybody is ready, the first athlete announces that everyone must perform press ups (a hard exercise) for 30 seconds. The athlete with the injured shoulder does squats instead.

Following the press ups and a short recovery the second athlete announces that everybody must perform 30 seconds of leg swings.

Play continues until all athletes have taken a turn at choosing an exercise.


It can be useful to provide a list of exercise suggestions in case imagination fails.

Have a few easy-to-perfom "fall-back" exercises that anybody can perform at any point instead of the chosen exercise. This is really useful for when an athlete is carrying a certain injury or for when an exercise is too challenging.


Ensure participants have plenty of room for all the exercises they are to perform. Some exercises will require more space than others.

Since the activity involves a range of different exercises it's important to make sure before each exercise that everybody is comfortable performing it.

Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards.