By Jody Braverman, CPT
Australia has given the world some pretty awesome stuff: koalas, Wi-Fi, boxed wine, Hugh Jackman. Now, fitness junkies worldwide have one more reason to dig the land Down Under, and it's called F45. If you like group strength training and HIIT classes where you never do the same workout twice, you're going to want to get in on this one.
From a single facility in Sydney, Australia, in 2012 to more than 1,300 locations in 36 countries worldwide today, F45 is one of the fastest-growing fitness franchises — with more locations opening all the time.
What Is F45 Training?
F45 classes are a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and functional training (exercises that help you move better in your day-to-day life) and are designed to help you burn fat, get stronger and improve your overall fitness level.
The classes are pre-formatted and rotated throughout the month, so you get a lot of variety each week. There are currently 36 workouts, all of which were created by the F45 Athletics and Peak Performance Department.
Each class has a name and a particular focus (kind of like CrossFit WODs). For example, Firestorm is a high-intensity circuit workout with 54 stations and nearly nonstop movement. And Flamingo: Athletica is 45 minutes of pure cardio that can help you burn upwards of 800 calories. There are also partner workouts, such as 22 — a.k.a. "the infamous 1,000-calorie killer workout," according to the F45 website.
There are also workouts geared solely toward functional training (see below for more on that). For example, Gravity focuses on body-weight movements and involves minimal equipment with plenty of functional moves designed to improve mobility. Pipeline targets stability, balance and core strength so you can skillfully surf the waves in Hawaii or, you know, move furniture without throwing out your back.
Read more: 9 Fitness Trends to Make Your Workout More Fun
What Is Functional Fitness?
While it's cool to be able to press 200 pounds over your head or flip truck tires like a diner cook flips pancakes, when in real life are you going to need to do those things? Probably never.
That's where the F in F45 comes in. It stands for functional training. "Functional training helps provide you with the strength, stability and mobility to excel during your everyday life," says Robert Deutsch, F45 founder and co-CEO. The emphasis in F45 is on training the body to perform well, both in and out of the gym.
"Functional exercises mimic or re-create everyday movement like pushing, pulling, hinging, squatting, jumping, biking," says Deutsch. While you'll use weights in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells, you won't be doing Olympic lifts or be pushed to lift an amount of weight that doesn't match your fitness level and goals.
Read more: 10 Basic Workout Moves to Lengthen Your Life
What to Expect in an F45 Class
Most classes are 45 minutes long — just long enough to get a butt-kicking, full-body workout, but short enough for busy people who don't have hours and hours to spend at the gym. While time is used efficiently, instruction and fun are also part of the plan.
"We always start with an introduction that welcomes new members, then we explain the format of the class and demonstrate all the exercises in the session," says Tara Teakle, co-owner of F45 Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. "Then we add in some pumping tunes, warm up together to prepare everyone's body for the class, and the session is away."
After the warm-up, you'll move from station to station, performing a different exercise at each. "Every studio offers the same class at different times throughout the day, but that workout is never repeated, thanks to our F45 Athletics and Peak Performance Department, who have a database of over 3,500 exercises they pull from," says Deutsch. Some of the exercises you might do in a session include:
with a resistance band
- One-arm shoulder press
- Stability-ball bench press
with military press
- Squat with barbell
You'll also work with some unique equipment you may not have used before, such as battle ropes. Although you don't have to have any experience to participate in F45, you do need to have an open mind and a readiness to try new things.
As for class size, while the number of participants depends on the location where you attend class (and the time of day your class takes place), the franchises tend to keep classes on the smaller side. Expect between 15 and 30 people in the class total, with at least two trainers on hand to coach you through everything.
Is F45 Training for Everyone?
If all of that sounds pretty intimidating, don't stress. F45 classes are made for people of all fitness levels, from beginners to athletes. "That's one of the great things about F45: Every exercise can be regressed or progressed to suit individual needs," Teakle says. "All of our trainers undergo specific training and are experts in modifying these exercises to suit every client."
Even if you have physical limitations, you can participate. "There are always multiple trainers on the floor, so whether members are restricted by an injury, haven't trained in a while or are preparing for an elite sporting competition, our expert trainers are there to guide and challenge every person in the class," Teakle says.
If you're on the fence and feeling a little nervous about trying it out, Teakle says don't be. "F45 is about community and having fun. After all, our motto is 'team training — life changing.'"
Calories Burned During an F45 Class
"In any of our classes, you can burn 500 to 800 calories in 45 minutes," says Deutsch. Of course, calorie burning depends on a number of factors, including your gender, age, weight, fitness level and genetics. Ultimately, it comes down to the effort you put in. The harder you work in each class, the more calories you'll burn.
You can use the F45 LionHeart wireless heart rate monitors to track your workout. "At the end of your workout, you will receive an email with a recap, including calories, heart rate and point score," Deutsch says. "Our heart rate monitor is also linked to our F45 TVs in studio, so you can track your heart rate during your workout!"
Tips for Making the Most of Your F45 Workouts
F45 training is challenging, so you need to prepare your body before class and take care of it after the workout. "Before you come for class, we recommend you are ready and energetic to go. Whether that's a good nights sleep, pre-workout supplement, new workout attire to help you feel your best, this varies between individuals," says Deutsch.
And definitely come dressed to move and sweat. While you should ultimately wear what you feel most comfortable in, prioritize workout clothing with moisture-wicking materials that don't ride up or slip but also don't restrict movement.
For example, ladies might want to work out in a medium-impact sports bra and workout leggings, while guys may opt for looser-fitting workouts short and tee. Want to know what other members at your local F45 studio are wearing? Check out their Instagram page.
Proper rest and hydration between sessions are also key to fast recovery and better performance. "After class we always suggest a good stretch, lots of hydration and to get in a healthy, high-protein meal within 45 minutes," Deutsch says.
Find an F45 Training Location Near You
If you live in a major city, chances are there is at least one F45 location near you, if not more. To get started, head to the F45 website to find your closest studio.
Since locations are franchised, membership costs will vary from location to location, but you can generally start with a free trial to get a better sense of the workouts. After that, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $30 for a drop-in class to upwards of $700 a month for unlimited classes. Contact your local F45 location for more pricing details or to ask about membership specials.