Full discloser: I’m a bit of a group-fitness class fanatic. Yes, it’s true, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and bought the ‘basic gym girl’ starter pack – I’m all about high-intensity workouts and I own far too many pairs of cute gym tights and even cuter workout tees featuring motivational slogans. Because I’m a FitKey member, I have the luxury of being able to try out all sorts of different high-intensity classes every week and while my usual hangouts are spots like Sweat1000 and Switch Playground, lately I’ve become obsessed with a new arrival in South Africa, F45.
While relatively unknown in SA, the group-workout franchise has established itself as a big player in the Australian fitness scene, thanks to endorsements from celebrity superstars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Richie. Attend a class and you’ll understand why there’s such a big hype around F45 – their workouts will push your limits to superhero level and make you feel like you’ve conquered the world in a mere 45 minutes!
Forget going solo
My addiction to high-intensity group training classes started because I was looking for an alternative to the traditional solitary gym sessions. I’m terrible at pushing myself to workout hard when I’m all on my lonesome, and then of course there’s the tiny detail of having no idea what I’m doing. F45’s interval-based ‘functional’ workout sessions are guided by personal trainers and are designed to deliver maximum results in the shortest possible time – which means it’s right up my alley!
But what makes F45 from other HIIT or functional training gyms already in Cape Town? According to SA owners, Marc Train and Trent Cutler, the secret to the brand lies in the friendly vibe. Unlike a lot of other workout classes, F45 isn’t intimidating, but rather welcoming to newbies and regulars who can feel like they are among friends while working out. F45 also prides itself on using innovation and technology combined with everyday ‘functional’ movements as a workout plan (think lunges, squats and jumping), which reduces the risk of injury in participants.
While this sort of all-out exercise isn’t for the faint-hearted, 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 actually 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 workout at each station, just in case you’ve forgotten.
Variety is the spice of life
F45 also stands out from its competition thanks to the sheer amount of workouts available. 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. I’ve been to a few F45 classes now and each one has been different and challenging in its own unique ways. My favourite class is the weekend ‘Hollywood’ circuit class (a high-intensity interval circuit around 27 stations that puts your strength, core stability, and cardiovascular endurance to the test) but I also really enjoyed the ‘Panthers’ functional and resistance session (combining strength, endurance, combat prowess, and cardiovascular elements in a 45-minute session), and the ‘Athletica’ cardio session (an intense team-based cardio session that has you sweating bullets).
For my first ‘Hollywood’ class, I was given a number correlating to a station number and shortly afterwards the fun started with a short warm-up. From there, I worked my way around the room moving from station to station pushing myself for three 45-second sets (with 15 seconds of rest in between) at each station. With everything from battle ropes and weighted squats to mountain climbers, cycling, and deadlifts in the circuit, it was a challenge indeed. Some stations were easier than others – a timed sprint up and down the side of the studio for instance – while others, namely, doing a basic pull-up on an overhead bar, proved near impossible. Some 45 minutes later, totally exhausted and drenched in sweat, I was proud of myself for getting through it (barely) and finishing relatively strong.
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 getting bored of 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!
There are F45 studios popping up all over South Africa including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. In Cape Town, F45 Camps Bay is already open with promises of a second gym in Woodstock and Somerset West soon. A single session F45 class is R180 and a weekly unlimited classes pass is R500. For more information or to sign up for a free one week trial, visit the F45 website here.
TOP TIP: F45 is also a FitKey studio partner. Instead of committing to just one gym FitKey gives you access to thousands of class options at a huge variety of studios across your city at a price that works for you. With FitKey memberships starting from as little as R298 per month, and no joining fees, FitKey gives members the freedom to exercise as often or as little as they want without blowing their budget. To check out the full list of FitKey plans or to get a glimpse of the classes available click here.