The Fitchicks tried one of the latest circuit workouts to become popular in Toronto, F45 Functional Training. We booked our 7 day free trial at the Yonge and Eglinton location conveniently located in the concourse level of the subway station. It’s in a perfect spot for commuters.
What is F45?
F45 has its roots in Australia. A mix of HIIT, Resistance Training and Cardio this group training session will leave you sweating and feeling the burn the next day.
It’s a gym that solely offers group classes, members won’t have the ability to come in and use the equipment on their own.
Membership gets you unlimited access to their group-classes that run throughout the day 7 days a week. What’s unique about F45 is no two workouts are ever the same. Drawing from thousands of exercise variations the program development team ensures that members never lose interest in the programming. Each exercise is displayed on screens at the front of the room and a timer counts down how long you will spend at each station. Signing up for classes is a breeze, the weekly schedule for each studio is posted online and you simply make an account and sign up for as many classes as you would like to attend that have space.
Sofia: The first class I went to was an Athletica Cardio Class: Get leaner, faster and more agile in a 45 minute cardio session that will have you sweating and gasping for air. Meanwhile, your now Zen-like mind will be wondering how the time went so quickly. It’s team- based, intense and a great way to rid yourself of 820 calories. That’s the description I read before attending the class. You sign up and book all of your sessions online so this was my first time going into the gym. A few things caught me by surprise when I first entered, like that there was no front-desk. A trainer checks new members in for their first session and takes a picture of you for their online database. You’ll also sign a paper copy of a waiver similar to the one you read online. I saw the class ahead of me finishing up their workout and was surprised by how many stations there were and how quickly they seemed to be moving on to the next exercise. This was not the way I was used to training. I was excited and a little nervous, hoping that the stair-climbing workouts I had been doing recently had prepared me for what was coming up in a few minutes!
The cardio class was fast-paced and intense. If they had given me the workout on paper there is no way I would have completed it at the same pace at home.
That’s the great thing about group-training you’ll push yourself to new limits and reap the rewards! There were a lot of body-weight exercises and jumping variations. At some points I felt like I was doing drills at a soccer team try-out. At other points like I was back on my school’s track team. Like any good HIIT workout it left me feeling nauseous and drained but after about 15 minutes I felt fantastic and excited to try the next day’s resistance workout.
Sofia: Next up was a Romans Resistance Class: Resistance meets functional movement patterns in a full body burn. And we mean burn. You’ll walk out, or possibly crawl, with your body cut like a diamond. Better still, by activating muscle mass you’ll burn calories while you sleep. And don’t be shy, it’s scientifically proven that resistance based training can actually burn more calories than cardio.
I’m not going to lie, after experiencing the fast-paced circuit format of the cardio class I wasn’t expecting to be lifting heavy at the resistance class. Boy was I wrong!
The workout included a lot of the classics: assisted chin-ups, dead-lifts, push-ups, over-head presses as well as a variety of unexpected exercises I really enjoyed. The heavy rope station was awesome, the TRX bands added something different, they had a rowing machine that had me competing to beat my own time, and other fun surprises like punching a foam dummy! Prepare to be sore the next day from this resistance session but to be dying to get back to F45 and do it all over again.
Andrea: I loved this workout because of the variety that it offered. Each station worked different muscle groups (to exhaustion!) and I liked the variety of equipment. It gave participants a chance to sample the TRX ropes, weight bags, bands, rowing machine, etc. However, I will say that having only a matter of seconds to get into form is challenging. This makes me wonder how a complete beginner would fare if they weren’t familiar with some of the movements. I struggled a few times, and found that by the time I was corrected or got the input I needed, the circuit time was up. This is just the nature of the beast with these go-go-go circuits – so just remember that with so many stations to get to, you only get a few shots at each movement.
The Hollywood Circuit
Sofia: Saturdays at F45 is the climax of the week. West Hollywood: The DJ is pumping, electric atmosphere, 60 minutes of high octane training combining the best of strength, cardio, agility, speed and power. This class was the highlight of my seven-day trial! A fast paced workout 15 minutes longer than the weekday sessions, Hollywood is a real challenge. I enjoyed that the class was set up as one giant circuit with over twenty five stations. We did two laps of the entire room. After the first lap I felt pretty exhausted and couldn’t imagine how I was going to finish another lap.
But that’s the beauty of group training. When you’re in the zone, surrounded by other hard-working individuals you push yourself much more than you ever would on your own at home.
I made it through the early morning Hollywood Circuit and felt energized the rest of the day. The DJ was a nice touch, and I found myself working even harder when the right song came on.
Mixed Bag: Miami Nights
Combining functional resistance, functional cardio and bodyweight movement patterns, you will thank us later. Certainly not mid session.
Andrea: This was a fun one. A mixed workout is a good option as an introductory class, allowing you to get a sample of the class approach to resistance, cardio, balance. It also tells you where you need work! I definitely had a clear ranking in my mind of the difficulty I assigned to each of the major circuits in the room. It’s funny to swap comments after a class and see how differently people feel about different exercises!
However, don’t think for a second that a mixed workout format is any easier, simply because it doesn’t have one “base” – many of the moves are an overlap of cardio and strength. You will be exhausted in a good way!
Who Would Love F45?
Andrea: If you have the best intentions of working out each week, only to find yourself dialing it in, this is a great option for you. You will work so.much.harder than ever possible on your own or at home (unless you have superhuman discipline!). F45 is also designed to defeat workout boredom. Compared to other activities I’ve done including personal training and BBG, I thought the classes offered a lot more variety since there were as many as 32 different exercises in the rotation. As mentioned earlier, each one is a little different and the class descriptions are vague enough to leave you curious! Plus thanks to the circuit style, even if you hate one exercise it’s over in 45 seconds.
Sofia: Are you looking for a challenging but extremely fun workout? Do you want to burn fat and put on lean muscle? Do you like working out with other hard-working people and feeling like you’re kicking butt as a team? Then you’ll love F45.
F45 Might Not Be Right For..
Sofia: If I didn’t already know how to do advanced compound movements (dead-lifts, squats, chin-ups, over-head barbell presses) with good form I think I would find F45 overwhelming. I can’t learn a new exercise just by seeing it demonstrated once quickly in the beginning of the class. I learn best by trying a new exercise out (without the pressure of a timer going off) and being corrected while attempting the movement.
Although the coaches do their best to get to everyone in the class a few times per session you’re moving through the exercises so quickly that to also be worried about whether or not you’re completing the exercise with good form or are at risk of hurting yourself would be too stressful for me.
I’m not in that position now, but I definitely was when I first started weight-training with a personal trainer. If F45 had been my first experience with weight-training I don’t think I would have fallen in love with the studio during my 7 day trial. *If you don’t have prior experience with weight-training but want to try F45 I suggest letting the coaches know before the class so they can keep an extra eye on you and suggest modifications to the exercises as needed.*
Is F45 Worth the Money?
Andrea: The seven-day trial was probably the best value and experience I’ve had from a free gym trial. You can sign up instantly online, register for a class the same day, and roll in for an amazing workout. Seven free classes is pretty great at any studio, but F45 is absolutely a “bang for your buck” workout. Every single second is maximized, from the timed instruction to the countdown warmup, to the intense circuit.
Sofia: I would say yes definitely! They have a lot of membership options and the longer you sign up for the cheaper each session gets. I could see myself doing 5-6 classes a week, especially in the colder months when it’s harder to do HIIT workouts outside. I love that the workout changes everyday; it keeps you excited and motivated to keep attending sessions so you don’t miss out on anything. When my trial was over I really missed the classes and had I not gotten ill I would have signed up for a 10-class pass for sure.
That’s another thing I appreciated about F45, there was no pushy sales-pitch.
I received a thoughtful email with all of the membership options and was free to decide on my own which option was the best choice for me, keeping in mind my budget. Some gym’s try to make you commit to a plan in person and it’s a stressful thing to feel pressured to do when you loved your workout but haven’t discussed the financial implications with your partner for example.
All of the coaches at the Yonge and Eglintion F45 location were enthusiastic and very good at what they do. I would highly recommend their studio as well as F45 in general to anyone who is ready to work hard and see results fast.
If you’ve tried F45 we would love to hear about your experience and would be happy to answer any questions you may have!