Guys and dolls, it’s time to talk fitness. Specifically, F45 Training . Just before Christmas, I was absolutely over the moon to be contacted by the gang behind the new F45 gym opening in Dublin, located on the Northside of the city, close to the I.F.S.C. building for those of you who are Dublin-based. As you probably know from following me on Instagram or my previous blog post about my F45 Training experience, I’ve been seeing F45 all over the social media of some of my favourite UK-based bloggers like Zanna Van Djik, Tally Rye and Hazel Wallace/The Food Medic for over a year now, and I’ve been hoping it would come to Dublin so I could try it out myself. Why? Because of the style of training. F45 has a massive range of classes, which last 45 minutes each, are group-style workouts, and best of all, they incorporate a mix of aerobic and resistance exercises to give you a full body, totally functional workout. I tried my first F45 class in the first Irish gym in Sandyford during the summer last year, a Hollywood class, and loved it. I was hooked. However, I don’t live or work near Sandyford, and I just couldn’t make it there week to week.
So when a message from F45 IFSC landed in my Inbox about their January opening, asking me to join them, I was pretty damn chuffed. As a doctor and blogger on the side, it can sometimes feel like the healthy lifestyle messages I share don’t reach as many of you as I would like. The F45 gang had heard my message, and felt I was on a very similar page to them, which was brilliant to hear. And what’s more, is that they are running a TWO week free trial when you sign up – so you can check it out, get a sweat on, make some friends, and see if it’s for you!
Disclaimer here is that I’ve joined F45 for a month free trial, to check it out, let you guys know what I think about it, and potentially take on the F45 Challenge too depending on how this month goes! My day job at the hospital is based on the other side of town – so one of the great things about my joining F45 is that I’ll be making classes when I can, in balance with everything else I gots going on!
To kick my body clock back into shape, I started my F45 IFSC experience the day after finishing a week of night shifts. Call me cray (you’re probably right – but you knew that already), but it was just what I needed to get myself up early, sleep better, and just meet some new people having fun working out!
So what do you actually DO at F45? What IS F45?
I’m gonna tell you just that guys. The name itself, F45, is pretty simple. F stands for Functional. 45 is the average number of minutes of each workout. It began in Australia in 2012, with the idea of creating group-training facility and workout style that would be different, more dynamic, and more efficient than others already out there. Each style of F45 class has a name which is based on the sort of workout it is. For example, Romans is a pure resistance training session. Athletica is the signature cardio-endurance workout. Hollywood is a full body mix of both styles of training. In total, there’s approximately 27 different named workouts you can do – and more are constantly in development. The workouts themselves are created from a database of over 3,000 different exercises – so you never get the same workout twice. Insane right?! Helpfully, each F45 studio is designed as follows – an open plan gym divided into ‘Pods’ for the classes, with TV screens in front of you show you the exercises you’ll do in each Pod on repeat – i.e. F45TV! The screen also display countdowns and times for each set, round and rest! And of course, F45 Radio is pumping while you workout. So far, I’ve tried Romans (strength-based), Athletica (cardio), Hollywood (cardio/strength mix), Mkatz (strength-based), Templars (a pairs workout!) and Foxtrot (I still can’t talk about it…let’s just say cardio). I hope to try many more as they get added to the IFSC gym. With class names like Firestorm, Trailblazer and Gravity, how could you not be excited?
That tells you what F45 IS – but not why I love it, although the simple concept it’s based on as described above is a big part of my why. There are now multiple F45 gyms across Australia, the U.S.A. and the U.K., and now we have two in Dublin, with a plan for more in place. What does that mean? It means a network guys, a community. There are two big reasons why I go back to F45, and why it appealed to me in the first place. As always with my blog posts, I’m gonna break it down for you using these two reasons – I do love me a good mini list!
#1: F45 is a group-training concept – Hello instant friends, and constant motivation.
In the IFSC gym, each class fits just under 40 people on average. In my first week alone, I met 10 new faces whose names I knew by Day 2. We laughed, sweated, pumped and tried not to cry at single-leg burpees together. These people were (bar 3-4 gal pals I knew trying out the 2 week trial with me) total strangers to me before I rocked up to my first class. Did that matter? Was anyone unfriendly? Nope. There’s something unique about exercise in a group I think – whether that’s an F45 class, a spin class, a bootcamp, or a walk or run club – you’re putting yourself out there, on the spot, for a physical challenge, and it can be really helpful to know others are struggling when you are too. The girls in my group the day of ‘single-leg burpees’ will relate to this big-time! I realised after just a week of F45 that while I do love training on my own, I had really missed group sessions in 2017. I do a couple of spin classes a week at my own gym beside my hospital where I work, but I don’t do strength or other cardio-style workouts with anyone usually. That change was really lovely. Objectively, I can see in the classes people having laugh, motivating each other through each set and rep, especially when they’re at Tabata Round 4 of 4 of Lunges – that’s when you need it most! The F45 trainers in both gyms I’ve visited have been some of the friendliest crew too – not that I would expect any less, but it was more than that. After each class, an effort is made to chat to everyone, engage and get feedback on how that class was, what was challenging, and just in general see how people are finding the workouts. There is a brilliant focus on (my favourite concept!) balance too – for example, members sharing what days they were going and what days they would take as rest days, and both were actively encouraged.
#2: Challenge is what changes you – and F45 brings a challenge. Everytime.
The fact you will never get the same workout twice is an absolute core feature of F45 training, and it’s one of it’s best. Many of you will, I’m sure, relate to the feeling of walking into the gym on a given day, and feeling perhaps a lack of inspiration, or maybe just boredom with the same routine you’ve had for the past week, month, etc. I definitely have those days, which I why I love using Instagram so much for new workouts ideas (my favourite accounts to check out are @zannavandjik, @tallyrye and @thefoodmedic) to keep my sessions and motivation to train fresh.
With F45, as I explained above, you don’t get the same workout twice. Each class will be comprised of different exercises from a very large database, and so you’ll find yourself doing exercises you’ll have seen before (e.g. a squat jump, or push-up) as well as trying out MANY you’d never even think of, or might not have the equipment to try yourself. Plus, I found I ended up training parts of the body I would be guilty of neglecting when training myself – for example, I love strength training, but I’m reaaaaally bad at focusing on upper body, purely because I know more lower body exercises, and prefer to train it. My second Romans class was very upper body focused, and I left with motivation and inspiration to take forward into future classes and workouts I do myself! Finally, a very cool thing about having to try exercises you haven’t before is that you do so in a very graded fashion, and you can progress with it. For me, I would LOVE to be able to do an unassisted pull-up, but I should use resistance bands to gradually build strength to achieve one – which I don’t have. In my first F45 class, I got to try just that. Golden.
A final point under this heading – I think a lot of people who want to try strength training often have a fear about it, or if not a fear, then a lack of knowledge of how to start. Body-weight and basic dumb-bell exercises are a great way to kick off, and something I heard many fellow F45ers say to me was that they loved the graded introduction the classes gave them to weight lifting, and how they were actually a lot stronger than they thought! That really stood out to me – the health benefits of resistance training are innumerable, particularly as we age for continued functional ability, and it was brilliant to see so many enjoying it so much.
Training With A LionHeart
Finally, I’m going to briefly tell you about an additional aspect to my F45 experience – using an F45 LionHeart Heart Rate Monitor. I’m very grateful to the F45 IFSC gang for setting me up with one of these during Week One. The LionHeart is a band device (see picture above) with the monitor attached that you wear during your F45 classes, and it’s synced to F45TV. Separate screens behind you in the studio show the monitors of those in the class, with heart rate and percentage work effort displayed as you sweat. It’s very very cool technology, and I’m no tech-expert (AT ALL) but so far, I’ve really enjoyed using it, and found the insights it gives into your workout fascinating. I get emailed my class summary after each session, with a graph showing me my percentage work rate, maximum heart rate, and total calorie burn during those 45 minutes. I found it particularly interesting in the HIIT-style classes – it’s a far greater burn than you think! Plus, using the monitor the pure strength training F45 workouts was a great insight – you use a lot more energy than I thought! Finally, a fun (but competitive!) aspect of the LionHeart is that is allocates you points based on your work rate – so at the end of each class, everyone wearing the band gets a ranking! I tried to ignore that at times – let’s just say I wasn’t first! God loves a trier right?
SO! That is LOADS of info for you guys. I hope you found it as interesting to read as I’ve found it to write and reflect on. Bottom line – I’m loving my F45 experience so far. I want to say a big thank you to the F45 gang here, as I’m really grateful to them for asking me to get involved with their studio (plural soon, hopefully!) opening, and it was amazing to hear from them that they heard and understood the positive messages I try to share via this blog, my social media, and ultimately, myself! One thing I will say, is that F45 is not cheap to join. Anyone googling prices for membership will see that, I don’t need to tell you. Therefore, it won’t be accessible to everyone, obviously. Gym memberships in general are a luxury, we know that. A cool thing about F45 is that they are offering a full two week free trial for you if you are at all interested, and that way, even if you decide it’s not for you, it’s a new experience, a bit of fun, and a valuable fitness learning curve you can bring forward with you!
Overall though, I love the ethos behind the F45 concept and networks, I think it’s going to bring a lot of good vibes and positivity to Dublin, and I have a very excited feeling about it’s place in 2018 and beyond in my city.
As always, share your thoughts, experiences, and any else you like from this post with me! Have you tried F45 classes before, here or abroad? Did you enjoy them? What were your favourites? Leave a comment, DM, or find me @theirishbalance on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook!
Ciara 🙂 x