Having signed up to try out the F45 eight week challenge, I was surprised at how many people I knew who had heard of this way of training. By their remarks of how “intense” it’s said to be, I was also nervous to get started. While I was aware some people have taken on the F45 eight week challenge for weight loss purposes, I was excited to use the opportunity to improve my strength.
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An avid runner, my exercise tended to be cardio-based, but the challenge was offering me the chance to focus on resistance workouts and learn a lot more about weight training. On the eight week challenge, members follow a meal plan – of which there are three options each day: “mainstream”, vegetarian, and vegan.
Being a vegetarian myself, I tended to switch between the vegan and vegetarian meals each day, with this largely being down to what the contents of my fridge looked like, as well as what was on the two menus available for me. That said, the plan isn’t orientated to each individual, and with my fitness goals in mind, I used it purely as a guide – straying away and adding more protein-filled snacks here and there.
In addition to the guidance on diet, I was advised to attend a minimum of three F45 workouts each week. But, before getting started, I was invited to meet my accountability coach.
All signed up to the Leadenhall Market studio in London, before heading off to the first class, I met with Head of Accountability, V. I underwent a full-body scan, which detailed everything from weight and height to my body fat percentage, and even the amount of protein in my body.
Right from the start, V and I had the same goals for me on this challenge in mind – to change my body fat percentage rather than lose weight.
At F45, no two classes are the same. That said, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays tend to be cardio-based activities in the studio, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to lifting weights.
F45 training challenge: Week one
Coffee was off the menu in week one, as was alcohol and refined sugar. During our meeting, V warned me that I may struggle with the lack of caffeine at first. Known to get through more than several cups per day, this was an understatement. By mid-morning on Monday, I was forced to rack my brain for an alternative. Keen to give every aspect of the plan a go, I resisted the temptation of taking part in the office coffee round, and instead went in search for a decaf option.
Monday also marked the day of my first work out, this time at the F45 Leadenhall Market studio. The class of the day focused on cardio, and featured two rounds of a whole host of exercises. I had booked in for an evening class during a spurt of early-afternoon motivation, and F45 charge customers £15 for non-attendance and late cancellation. So, while the sun had set by the time my class came around and I was beginning to flag after a busy, caffeine-free day, I couldn’t justify postponing my first session until tomorrow.
Nervous about what to expect, I arrived to a warm welcome from one of the trainers, before being reassured that there were several people also attending for the first time. After a quick explanation of the different stations, the first round of the session began with a warm-up.
The team explained that the sets were lengthier the first-time round, something which my weary body was more than grateful for during the second lap of the stations. A novice at many of the moves, I was delighted to see that screens around the room display the moves for each station – as well as the two F45 trainers keeping motivation high and offering tips on form. I was so engaged in the session the 45 minutes flew by, and we were soon met with high-fives before heading off.
Shattered, I popped by the shops to pick up some food for the week, and spent the evening preparing my meals for the following day.
Having not made it to the shops to pick up all the ingredients I required for the entire week, I found myself I wasn’t always as prepared as one could be for the set meals in week one. When I couldn’t match the recipe perfectly though, I opted for similar alternatives – although a dinner out on Thursday evening made life tricky. As an accountability coach, V is at the end of the phone for moments when motivation disintegrates, and messages on a regular basis to check in on how F45 challengers are getting on.
F45 training challenge: Week two
By Monday my muscles had recovered, and I was excited to get back to the classes. Although, the day’s class – 3-Peat – left me a little unnerved when I read on to see what would be in-store. “If it wasn’t hard enough the first time round the course, there are two more laps to really make sure the body is broken by completion of the test,” it read. What. Have. I. Just. Signed. Up. For.
I’d hoped it was an exaggeration, but this workout was testing to say the least.
With a hectic week which didn’t accommodate much time for meal prep, I was able to stay on track during the week thanks to a home delivery option. Fresh Fitness Food delivers fresh and nutritious meals on a daily basis, offering overnight delivery or a timed option in the mornings.
At around £30 per day, this option costs more than I’d tend to spend in the supermarket each week. With the variety of the menu, it wasn’t long before I noticed that my outgoings on the worryingly-regular trips to the nearby coffee shop did decline.
The ability to eat the meals either hot or cold freed up a huge amount of time in the day too, and it meant that upon arriving home from a post-work workout, I could tuck into the evening’s meal almost straight away, rather than spend hours on preparation for upcoming meals.
With no reason to pick up food on the way past the shops, having fresh, ready to go meals also meant I was far less tempted to pick up items which didn’t fit in with the nutrition guidance.
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F45 training challenge: Weeks three and four
As week three got underway, F45 had become something of a routine. That said, with resistance training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and cardio falling on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I was six sessions into the challenge and still yet to attend a Tuesday or Thursday class. Having told V that my aim was to strengthen up, it’s something she reminded me during her regular catch up texts on the Monday – offering me plenty of support and encouragement to get me lifting some weights.
The following day I signed up for MKatz, an 18-station resistance work out. The session concluded with a two-minute plank. What’s more, I was in full view of the two coaches who were enforcing a “burpees for everyone” rule for those who dropped to the floor. It sounded like tough love, but they were offering a switch to a side plank if things got too intense. Their instructions to push ourselves worked though, and I kept my mind preoccupied as I maintained the plank.
Week four rolled around, and my schedule allowed for attending four sessions – including an hour-long workout at the Cannon Street studio on Saturday. Not even a month into the challenge, and I was beginning to have increased control in my press ups – able to do a half press up with ease. Despite the abundance of planks I had been doing, I’d got the F45 feeling. In fact, I realised I was really enjoying the – often sweaty – workouts.
F45 training challenge: Weeks five and six
Week four drew to a close, and a change in my schedule meant I could make it to a class before work. Sacrificing the rare weekday lie in beyond 7am which I would have otherwise had, I made it down to a morning session of Abacus.My body had been recovering from an intense hour-long Hollywood class two days ago, but I was feeling back to full strength. I also caught up with the Head of Accountability, V. V texted me each week, and she was keen to check how I was getting on so far. Catching up half-way through the challenge, I was delighted to fill her in on how, four weeks on, I was now able to do a half press up.
She also arranged for me to get a mid-challenge scan – which revealed I’d gained a kilogram of muscle since getting started.
In week five, I was heading away for several days – but had planned to pack in two sessions on the weekend. Or so I thought. V remembered my plea to tone up from my first scan, and having checked to see what free time I would have during my trip, she soon informed me that she’d be sending me two weight training workouts to follow while I was away.
Christmas festivities were looming in week six, but two weights sessions and a cardio-based class had become part of my weekly routine.
No two workouts were the same, and depending on what exercises were involved, I found them of varying difficulty. What didn’t change though, was the exhilarating feeling I’d experience post-workout. Even better, with a hectic schedule, the whole session had only taken 45 minutes out of my day.
F45 training challenge: Weeks seven and eight
With celebrations and festive catch-ups aplenty during my seventh and eighth week, it was a struggle to stay on track. Temptation aplenty, keeping to the meal plan wasn’t the easiest of tasks. V was on hand to support me towards my fitness goals though, and, while I made sure I enjoyed living my life, I had noticed the recent weeks had had an impact on my attitude to training.
I’d fit in a class wherever possible, and opted for plenty of nutritious foods. I noticed my confidence in carrying out activities around the studio had improved during weights sessions, too. I was reaching my goal of gaining strength, and I didn’t want my F45 journey to end.
As my final week approached, members were invited to attend a F45 UK multiaccess studio workout – which featured also featured a fun run. We began at Leadenhall Market, carrying out part of an F45 workout, before running through the streets of London to the London Bridge studio.
Onto the next phase of the session, and then it was a dash across Southwark Bridge to the Cannon Street studio for the final F45 workout. We finished off by jogging back to Leadenhall Market, and while festive celebrations were in our sights, it wasn’t before a two-minute plank.
F45 training: 8 week challenge review
At the end of the eight weeks I was invited to head down for my final body scan. But while some may recognise their challenge achievements through numbers, for me, it was the change I felt in myself which held the most significance. I hadn’t counted calories for the entirety of the challenge, instead thinking about the nutritional properties of foods – a mindset which I found very positive indeed.
Not only motivated to attend sessions, I realised how much I looked forward to attending each work out, and I soon noticed physical changes in my strength. Not only that, but I’ve since made a beeline for the weights section in the gym.
F45 is famed for being functional, but it’s fun too, and the feeling brought about by giving it your all in a 45-minute session on a dark wintery Tuesday night is one I want more of. The next challenge begins in February – F45, sign me up!
Prices vary from studio to studio but tend to average around £180 per month. The Challenge is free for all F45 members. For more information on the challenge, visit www.f45challenge.com
The daily price for Fresh Fitness Food meals is £30, including the delivery fee of £3.50 when purchased in London, or £8.50 outside of London.
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