For a while now, I’d been hearing whisperings from friends in Australia and the US about how unbelievably amazing F45 is. At first, their daily social media posts filled with phrases about “smashing Panthers” and “double-dipping a red diamond”, had me slightly concerned about what they’d gotten themselves mixed up in, but after months of seeing their bodies transform before my very eyes, I knew I had to give it a go. It wasn’t long before an F45 Training studio opened in Cape Town, so I excitedly sent them a message letting them know I’d booked my first class. It was only then that the stories started to come out — “I couldn’t walk for a week after my first class,” warned one friend; “ I fell off the stationary bike my first time!” chimed another. I felt betrayed and started to think F45 might be some kind of cult where you’re only allowed to talk about how horrible it is with people who are also in the cult.
I’m a sucker for punishment, so, despite the crazy stories, I dragged myself to a class at the newly opened F45 Woodstock. Unlike my so-called friends, I’m going to skip the bulls**t and tell you the cold hard truth about how I almost died at F45. At least it sure as heck felt like death. I’ll admit I went in a little cocky thinking “Psssh, I’m fit, I can handle this” but this class whipped my butt. F45 regulars know all too well the worst thing you can do is start F45 on a cardio day. No one told me this, so, of course, my first session was a cardio class which had me sweating bullets. About 20 minutes into the 45-minute session, I felt like I was going to pass out and my muscles were screaming at me to “please, please make it stop!” F45 is not for sissies.
You better work, b**ch!
The gym’s interval-based ‘functional’ workout sessions are guided by personal trainers and are designed to deliver maximum results in the shortest possible time. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in order to cram maximum result-achieving workouts into one 45-minute session you’re going to have to work — hard. The great thing about F45 is that the classes are never the same. Each class is made up of a circuit-like workout with a specified number of sets to complete. Classes alternate between cardio-focused and strength or resistance-focused workouts to ensure members get a full-body workout over the week. Each day’s programs are drawn from a pool of 3,500 exercises which means your chances of doing the same workout twice are extremely slim.
The classes are non-stop and there’s no messing about between sets — at F45 it’s Go! Go! Go! for the full 45 minutes. Whether you’re struggling your way through your twentieth burpee in an intense cardio class, or are on the verge of falling flat on your face after what seems like a million push-ups – one thing’s for certain, you will feel like you’re going to throw up.
best worst bit? Once it’s all over, and your quads feel like they’re about burst into flames, everyone gathers in a masochistic post-workout huddle to high-five one another on a job well done. Even worse? The high five ritual was my favourite part. Yes sure, it’s a little cringy but getting to high five someone after a killer sweat session gives you a sense of belonging and joy knowing you weren’t the only one that just struggled through a killer 45-minute workout.
Drinking the Kool-Aid
It’s this sense of camaraderie that keeps you coming back for more. While it may seem a bit like a cult, F45 is one of the most welcoming gyms I’ve ever come across. And that’s why months later I’m now going to five classes a week. Unlike a lot of other gyms and studios, F45 isn’t intimidating, but rather welcoming to newbies and regulars who can feel like they are among friends while working out.
Yes sure, this sort of high-intensity all-out exercise isn’t for the faint-hearted, but you can take solace in the fact that F45 isn’t about breaking your soul and pushing you too hard too quickly. At the start of every session, the trainers will tell you to take each circuit at your own pace and it’s super first-timer-friendly, thanks to the clever use of wall-mounted monitors that guide you through your session and give you a refresher on the movement at each station, just in case you’ve forgotten.
Attend just one class and you’ll understand why there’s such a big hype around F45. These workouts will push your limits to superhero level and make you feel like you’ve conquered the world in a mere 45 minutes. But, while the workouts are nothing to sneeze at, they’re also designed to limit injuries. The gym prides itself on using innovation and technology combined with every day ‘functional’ movements as a workout plan (think lunges, squats and jumping), which reduces the risk of injury in participants.
Join the F45 family
For those who love the thrill of pushing themselves to the limit, F45 offers that and then some. It’s the type of place where you leave your laziness and excuses at the door and work. After 45-minutes, you’ll leave with an unrivalled endorphin rush and a feeling that you’ve worked every single inch of your body. If you’re bored with your typical gym workout and need someone or something to push you, then I’d highly recommend F45 for a good swift kick up the arse!
If you’re keen to try it out, newbies get a free 7-day training experience to try out a range of different classes. After that you’ll pay R1,650 per month for unlimited classes, R1,400 for a 10-class pack, or R550 for a weekly unlimited membership.
Cape Town currently has one F45 Training studio in Woodstock, and it’s well worth a visit! The studio is currently running a 50% off your first month newbie special for those who sign up after their free 7-day trial. For those looking for studios further afield in the Cape, there are also branches in Stellenbosch and Somerset West. If you’re in Joburg, there are studios rumoured to be popping up in the City of Gold soon. For a list of studios in South Africa click here.