19 4 / 2014

Generations of our Fitness Centre members have used it to improve their muscular conditioning, stamina, coordination and aerobic capacity. It’s time you join them.

picture of man running on Hart Houses indoor trackCraig Burkett recommends that those who are attempting the circuit for the first time run slower than they want to.

When looking for the ideal workout, you’ll probably look everywhere but in the dusty pages of a history book. Yet you would be well served to do just that. That’s because circuit training has been around for a long time—certainly longer than the latest glossy magazine cover would have you believe.

table summarizing definion of circuit training

In fact, according to Professor Jack Goodman, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at U of T, circuit training was originally described in the early 50’s out of Leeds University; it was likely used before that, and Professor Goodman speculates it evolved from military-like training regimens.

Meet the Wipper Circuit, aka the Hart House Circuit

Our own circuit was developed in 1953 by the late U of T Professor Emeritus and founder of the Canadian Canoe Museum, Kirk Wipper. Many of our members use it to this day, including Craig Burkett of Fort Knox challenge fame.

But outside our walls, the Wipper circuit isn’t as well-known. If you’re among those who are not familiar with it, read on to learn more about a varied training program that takes little time, works both endurance and strength, and requires next to no equipment.


  1. Start at a level that you can do with ease.
  2. Do the 8 stations in order (according to the progression indicated in our Circuit Training Handbook).
  3. Do 3 full sets (8 stations = one set) and note the time you have taken. Platinum level requires 4 full sets.
  4. When you can complete your set easily within the time limit, proceed to the next highest level.
  5. Regular participation three times weekly is recommended.


  1. Track laps
  2. Push ups
  3. Squat thrusts
  4. Stair running
  5. Sit ups
  6. Bench steps
  7. Dips
  8. Chin ups

I’m sold. Now what?

Burkett says it’s difficult to do the longer circuits because you need to be a good runner and strong enough to get through the strength stations, even while tired. That’s why you should consider beginning at a lower level than the one you think you can do. Even then, pace yourself, and always make sure you warm up by jogging, biking or rowing for a few minutes.

picture of plaque with info about Hart House circuit

Plaques distributed on the top floor of our Fitness Centre display most of the information you need to know.

If you’re a Hart House Fitness Centre member, just grab a copy of the Circuit Training Handbook at the Fitness Centre desk, or contact our Consultants or Personal Trainers. (Non-members can learn more about enrolling on our website. And although it’s technically possible to do the circuit pretty much anywhere, provided you have access to a dip station, a track or park and a pull up bar, we recommend you grab a copy of the Circuit Training Handbook.)

Last but not least, if you’d like to see how people familiar with the circuit do it, drop by on April 27 to watch Burkett and his friends give it all to the Fort Knox Challenge.

15 4 / 2014


Wondering how to celebrate Mother’s Day?

Why not visit Gallery Grill at Hart House, one of the best-kept secrets on the U of T campus?

Rated among the top five restaurants in Toronto by Zagat, the Gallery Grill is located on the southeast corner of the second floor down the corridor from the library. If you decide to come for brunch, you may find on the menu potted duck with cherry and melted onion jam, fried green tomatoes with smoked trout and crème fraîche, and our famous crème brulée made from maple syrup straight from the Hart House farm (pick up a bottle to take home from the Information Hub on the main level). 

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12 4 / 2014

Craig Burkett tells all: why he’s doing the Fort Knox Challenge, how he became acquainted with the Wipper circuit, and more.


Last Saturday, we offered you a unique opportunity: to train with the man who broke our pull-up bar.

But before you train* with someone whose idea of fun is to run 21 km and do 331 push-ups, 282 burpees, 195 dips, 420 box jumps, 331 sit-ups, and 195 chin-ups, plus run 168 flights of stairs, all in a space of 3 hours and 14 minutes spread over one day, we figured first you’d want to meet him.

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08 4 / 2014


If you follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you know we visited Exam Jam yesterday. (Just in case you missed it, here’s a video of Henry, the 3-year-old Cairn terrier who’s probably very sad he didn’t get to play with you.)

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05 4 / 2014

He’s already completed 300 Wipper fitness circuits at Hart House. And on April 27, U of T alumnus, UTM professor and fitness fanatic Craig Burkett will attempt something he calls the Fort Knox Challenge. Today we go back in time to the day he ripped our pull up bar clean off the brick wall.

The radio call came in at around noon of a busy day some three years ago. “Someone has broken the pull-up bar on the upper level,“ Fitness Centre staff told Thomas Heaysman, Hart House’s head craftsman.

“Right away I knew I didn’t just to have to fix it,” says Heaysman, “I had to design a better one.”


Notice the newer brick that was used after the bar was ripped from the wall.

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01 4 / 2014


It’s only a matter of time.

It seems like the day will never come, but exams will be over before you know it. And when that happens, one the most difficult parts of the year will be in the rearview mirror.

But don’t waste all of your time partying and sleeping. Why not try something useful as well as fun?

After all, some of the most successful students and professionals got to the top by engaging in plenty of co-curricular activities.

Who knows, you might even discover a lifelong passion, just like many U of T alumni.

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29 3 / 2014

Sometimes, it feels like you don’t have much time for anything, and not just if you happen to be a scholar athlete with a day job like Townsend Benard.

Yet there are ways for you to reclaim wasted time and focus on what’s truly important for you. The key lies in identifying the worst time wasters so you can eliminate them altogether or at least get smart about how you use them.


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25 3 / 2014


Pilates. The very word conjures images of legging–wearing females breathing loudly and forcefully.

Yet everyone stands to benefit from learning Pilates, including weightlifting enthusiasts like Jonathan Lee, whom we persuaded to take Pilates Mat I. He reported back to us about the experience from the Pilates front lines.

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22 3 / 2014


Star student and athlete Townsend Benard doesn’t shy away from stress. Instead, he treats it as valuable feedback. Here’s how you can combine Townsend’s approach with the latest scientific findings that are turning conventional wisdom on its head.

Instead of regarding stress as a negative emotion to be avoided, this award-winning scholar views it as feedback he can learn from.

“The bad stress comes in primarily as the result of something
that went wrong. So if I’m stressed because something is coming up and I’m not as ready as I should be, generally I can look back a week or two and see I didn’t do enough,” says Townsend.

Valuable advice, but it doesn’t help you much right now when you’re worried about that looming paper. Or the exam with that killer prof. Or your performance review with your boss.

Here’s where another tip from Townsend will come in handy: stress isn’t inherently bad.

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18 3 / 2014

This sweepstakes is now closed. Winners announced at the bottom of this page.

Can you introduce yourself confidently to a group of strangers—and make a good first impression?

Do you lack the confidence to be yourself and enjoy a chat, especially if English is your second language?

Either way, you’re not alone.

Most of us struggle to converse with others in a fully relaxed state of mind. The resulting tension doesn’t just make us feel awkward; it can actually prevent us from creating a favourable impression on people we like or want to get to know better.

Luckily, the ability to improve your conversation skills can be improved like anything else: through training.


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