F45: Everything you need to know about the UK's fastest-growing fitness trend30th Oct 17 | Lifestyle
The Australian fitness franchise is big news Down Under, and now has its sights set on British soil. If you haven't heard of it yet - you soon will.
Time is a malleable thing. 45 seconds doesn’t feel like a lot of time when you’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or bingeing on your fifth hour of Netflix. But when you’re swinging an 8kg kettlebell in the air, less than a minute can feel like a lifetime.
This is just one of the adrenaline-pumping circuit exercises you’ll undergo at F45, the fastest-growing fitness craze in the world that’s starting to make gains over here in the UK.
The franchise, which originated in fitness mecca Bondi Beach at the hands of Hollywood trainer Luke Istomin, has amassed a cult following over in Australia. It quietly arrived in London earlier this year but has countrywide domination in its immediate sights – the capital now boasts five F45 studios, with a further 25 slated to open across the UK in 2018.
The concept has become popular with fitness Instagrammers and mere mortals alike, thanks to its brutally effective triumvirate of HIIT, circuit training and functional training, all squeezed into one gruelling 45-minute workout.
Sessions are timed, with 45 seconds ‘on’, and short 15-second ‘rest’ periods in-between.
The ‘on’ periods are spent at up to 27 different workout stations dotted around the room, which could involve everything from battle ropes and weighted squats to ladder drills and spinning.
The rest periods are spent moving to your next station while trying to gulp down as much water and oxygen as you can.
The science behind the method claims that a combination of interval, cardiovascular and strength training is the most effective way of burning fat and building lean muscle. The classes also push you into the red zone, where your heart is working at between 85-95% of its full capacity for an extended period of time.
Keeping your heart in this zone is said to improve your cardiovascular health, as well as the added benefit of continuing to burn calories for hours after your workout ends.
So what is it actually like?
The impressively ripped Hugh Jackman and impossibly lithe Nicole Kidman are said to swear by it, which is something I hopefully bear in mind as I arrive for my first class at the new London Paddington studio, taking in the terrifying array of equipment dotted around the room.
Its disciples are mostly hulking gym bunnies, which can be daunting at first, but the trainers are very motivational and soon put first-timers at ease.
As someone who needs peer pressure and the judgement of other (far fitter) beings to push me to my fitness limits, the group element of F45 is one of the best parts of this workout; left to my own devices, I will idly walk to the kitchen halfway through a YouTube workout, sneakily lower my pace on the treadmill at a solo gym session and slow down my jog to a gentle walk.
The variety of exercises are designed to push you to your fitness limits (so expect to sweat a lot), but it also means that you don’t get bored either. The lightening-fast pace of the circuit means there’s no time to watch the clock, and a mix of Top 40 hits keeps the tempo high.
“One of the main benefits of F45 and why studios are popping up all over the world is due to the fact that every day is different, so you never know what to expect,” founder Rob Deutsch tells me.
“It also creates a community environment, as people are there to experience a high intensity workout and are all striving for some form of results.
“In regards to your fitness, the classes are so intense that participants can see themselves burning between 750-1000 calories in the 45-minute sessions.”
Classes are to be ‘survived’ not ‘taken’, but there is something to be said about starting your morning with at a higher intensity. You arrive in work fresh and bouncy; refreshed and revived, rather than sleepy, yawning and gasping for that first caffeine hit.
All those endorphins will do wonders for your mood too, keeping you energised for the rest of the day. If nothing else, there’s also the the deeply satisfying sense of achievement at being able to tell your friends and colleagues that you managed to take on a session without keeling over half way through.
If you haven’t heard of F45 yet – you soon will. Get ready for the takeover.
© Press Association 2017