F45 Functional Training is the new fitness craze sweeping the globe.
Did you know that it actually started in Australia? There are now over 260 F45 franchises here in Oz (that’s almost the same as the number of Hungry Jacks!), 8 in the USA and others popping up in countries as far flung as India, Soloman Islands, Canada, UK and the Philippines. Ten studios have been purchased this month alone across the Tasman in New Zealand.
So what makes this style of training so popular?
Well, it’s a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) method, which has been proven to be more effective than, for example, running on the treadmill for an hour at a steady pace (see my post on Tabata which uses the same theory). Short bursts of really REALLY hard work – both weights and cardio – that gets the heart rate up, the muscles engaged and the sweat pouring, then a quick break and then you go again.
The celebrity fans help gain a bit of publicity and membership momentum too… Hugh Jackman, Ricky Martin, Nicole Ritchie and a host of Aussie sporting stars all train using F45.
I did my first class on Saturday. I got to attend the Friends and Family opening day at the newest F45 gym in Sydney, at Town Hall in the City.
So how was it for a non-wolverine regular mumma?
Well, my first response to the question would be ‘it was FREAKING HARD’ (or words to that effect).
But it was also a whole heap of fun.
Each workout session has a different name and uses different movements and exercises. We did the ‘Hollywood’ which is actually an hour-long class (usually they’re, you guessed it, 45 minutes).
27 numbered ‘stations’ were set-up around the gym… sleds, battle ropes, spin bikes, pull-ups, kettlebell swings, goblet squats, rowing machines, shoulder press, push ups, mountain climbers… You start on a station and work your way around until you’ve completed the lot.
At each station, we did 40 seconds ‘on’ – going for it as hard as you can basically, then 15 seconds ‘off’ as you transition to the next station.
The trainer goes through all the movements at the beginning of the class but let’s face it, who can remember 10 minutes later? Not me, I’ve killed off enough brain cells to have been extremely thankful for the handy TV screens dotted around the gym showing little videos of each movement as a reminder.
Depending on your own strengths and experience, some stations are easier than others. For me, I loved being on that spin bike, it felt like home. The battle ropes, hmmm, not so much!
For the weights stations, there were multiple options set up so you can scale your workout according to personal strength… 20kg kettlebell too heavy to swing for 40 seconds? No worries, the 16, 12 and 8 are there too (and probably heavier ones, I didn’t check haha).
The trainer was there, going round the room keeping an eye on everyone, giving help where needed and counting down those last few seconds of each work phase (and rest phase) to keep you on track (there are also a couple of clocks on the wall to help you/annoy you at how slowly time moves on the working phase).
Once the 27 stations were complete, we collapsed in our pools of sweat, gave each other knowing looks (because we were currently rendered incapable of coherent speech) and gave a collective sigh of relief that it was over.
Except it wasn’t over.
We were going again!! Whaaaaat?!!
Luckily this time round, our working phase on each station was 35 seconds so slightly easier, but as we were already fatigued it didn’t necessarily feel that way.
I told you it was a good work out.
Seriously, at the end, we were 100% spent. We’d given our all, nothing left in the tank. Which is EXACTLY how you want to feel at the end of a workout and I think this plays a massive part in F45’s success.
But you can get that feeling from a Boot Camp or any given type of exercise if you put the effort in, so what makes F45 different?
Well it really is high-octane fun at the same time as being completely full-on. There was a freakin DJ for goodness’ sakes! Hell yeah, working out is always better to music. Especially loud music. Make that live loud music from a DJ right there next to you, and this is next level fitness craziness. Love it.
At the Town Hall gym, which is currently running 5 sessions daily Mon-Fri, the DJ is there on a Friday lunchtime. If you want to experience F45 at its best, get yourself a free two-week trial and book in for one of those sessions.
Be prepared to sweat.