Trendy doesn’t always equal good in my book (anyone remember parachute pants?), so when I kept hearing about the spreading popularity of F45 workout studios (now in 34 states and counting), I was skeptical. But, as any journalist should, I vowed to keep an open mind as I looked into this new “it” functional fitness workout.
The first two bits of info I discovered—that F45 originated in Australia and that Mark Wahlberg recently invested $450 million in the company—gave it two checkmarks in the “Cool” column right out of the gate.
My next order of business was to figure out what the name means. Turns out, “F” is for “functional,” as in the type of exercises that make up the workout. Functional fitness incorporates movements that mimic what we do in everyday life: lifting, squatting, jumping, twisting, pulling, pushing, kicking, rowing and biking, as the F45 website puts it. The “45” is for the length of the workout—each one is precisely 45 minutes of circuit-style, HIIT group training. That sounded reasonable enough for me to book a few classes and try it for myself.
For my first class, I misread the start time and showed up 15 minutes early, which gave me an opportunity to get the rundown from my personable, laid-back, 20-something instructor, Richard. He explained that we would be doing Foxtrot, one of 31 different functional workouts the studio rotates through.
Just as I was thinking it might get boring after a while to repeat the same routines, Richard went on to say that no workout is ever exactly the same. While the time intervals and type of exercises for a given workout stay consistent, the specific exercises performed on any given day are curated by the fitness gurus at corporate, from a database of more than 3,000 possibilities.
During the workout, the exercise for each station was broadcast on a screen at the front of studio, as a reference in case we forgot Richard’s initial demo (which included modifications for various fitness levels). The screens also displayed the work and rest interval times and told us when to advance to the next station. Meanwhile, Richard moved throughout the room to offer encouragement and help us with our form, when necessary.
In the end, I concluded F45 is what I call a Goldilocks workout, meaning it’s just right—a well-planned mix of strength and cardio that hits all your body parts and keeps your heart pumping, while offering modifications that enable you to ramp it up or dial it back as you see fit. The interval approach wards off boredom, and there’s no need to worry about what anyone else is thinking of you because they’re all too engaged in their own stations to even notice.
So, should you try F45 functional training for yourself? The answer is—unless you’re a total lone wolf who refuses to exercise in the presence of others—then yes, you definitely should, mate.
Click here to find an F45 studio near you.
Need a recommendation for what to eat before your workout? Check out our article on fitness fuel.