F45, short for Functional 45, is a workout concept that originated Down Under and is taking the world by storm. Launched in 2014 in Sydney by trainer to the stars Luke Istomin (he is responsible for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine figure), F45 is a fitness program that involves doing sets of various exercise moves for 45 minutes from Monday to Friday to get into great shape.
The way it works: there’s a one room gym with a whole load of equipment all over, from bikes to rowing machines to barbells to ropes to hanging elastics and everything in between. There are massive TV screens all over showing the order of the exercises for your workout and what the move is for each station. There are group instructors (all trained fitness instructors) orbiting the class throughout the session that help you with form and setup (they were extra friendly to newbies like yours truly), which is super helpful. Each session also begins with a review of every exercise station you will do and a warmup.
There are now over 500 F45 franchises across the world, so popular is the workout. Hong Kong now has its own F45 studio so we decided to give it a go to see what all the fuss was about. Spoiler Alert: we loved it! Below we share all the reasons WHY.
Time Goes By So Fast
As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. If you are not a natural fitness junkie, like yours truly, then gym sessions can feel like they go on forever. At F45, you don’t feel the time pass by. Before we knew it, it was time for Round 2 and then a hop, skip and a (HIIT) jump later, we were done!
Each Exercise Is Quick
Each station is only 40 seconds. That’s really not much time when you think about it. The exercise is over before your brain has time to process what you are doing. This is useful for those of us who would probably avoid many stations (!) if we considered what they entail for too long.
Each Station Is Different
If there’s one thing that experts agree on, it’s that you gotta change things up often when it comes to your fitness routine. F45 is awesome because every single exercise is different (NB: OK so there are a few repeats in a set, but you get the point). In fact, F45 has over 5, 000 filmed exercises in its arsenal. During every workout you are constantly shocking your body: your muscles can’t get used to any one move, a problem that can lead to plateaus when your workout is too repetitive.
It’s A Mix Of Cardio & Resistance Training
Another key discovery over the past few years is that both cardio and resistance training are vital for optimal health. Cardio is good for your heart and lungs, whilst pumping weights keeps your bones and muscles strong. F45 has elements of both thrown in and combines a huge range of workout styles from spinning bikes to Crossfit moves to TRX to Pilates to Body Pump to Bosu.
Every Workout Changes
Not only do they have over 5, 000 different exercises, F45 also has over 28 different class programs (with fun names like Hollywood, Flamingo and Panthers), each with their own structure, timing and set list. and So basically, every single F45 workout showcases a varying selection in a different order so no two classes are ever the same. Long story short: you can’t get bored.
It’s The Only Workout You Need
Another thing we loved about the F45 concept: you don’t have to think about your fitness routines at all. No planning, no balancing different types of workouts, no worrying about whether you are doing enough cardio or strength training or calisthenics, no dealing with multiple studio memberships. There is so much variety in every session, and it is so physically challenging that you really don’t need any other workout.
It’s Great For Fat Burning
The way F45 structures each exercise and station, it’s all based on pushing yourself for a set, short amount of time and then resting for a bit, essentially espousing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) principles, a fitness philosophy based on the idea that the best way to burn fat is to get your heart rate up and down in short intervals rather than exercising at a constant rate. F45 definitely has its roots in this kind of thinking and depending on the program you are doing, you may do Tabata timing, or Pyramid timing, or 40-20, which keeps things exciting.
It’s Really, Really Hard
If you are one of those people that measures the quality of a workout by how much you struggle through it and how many days after it takes you to sit down without your thighs on fire, then F45 is for you. We were dying throughout! It is such a tough routine, and we were physically exhausted for the rest of the day (and could barely hike up the Peak the next).
You Go At Your Own Pace
Yes, it was intense and grueling. But we loved that we got to workout at our own level. The only restraint is time. There will be stations where you will kick butt, and others where you can barely figure out how to do the move before the clock runs out. You can improve at your own pace, which is ideal- you don’t have to compete with anyone other than yourself.
We are definitely F45 converts and have already booked it our next sesh. At this point, a max of three times a week is what we can (barely) manage. We did overhear some of our workout mates talk about doing 2 sessions a day. People be crazy.
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All images courtesy of F45 Training Hong Kong.