Is F45, a cult? Perhaps, but for good reason.

Team training, life-changing is the commonly heard catchphrase upon attending your first F45 class. The music is loud, there is constant movement and lots of people. This high-intensity training has become one of the most popular exercise classes throughout Australia. A class is generally 45 minutes long (as you would assume) and consists of a combination of strength, interval and aerobic classes.

I love being fit and healthy, but as a busy osteopath, I struggle to motivate myself to complete my own training. So I am generally happy to attend a class to make sure it’s done, and I can focus on more important things in life. I had put off trying F45 for a long time, I was almost deterred by the sheer number of people talking about it, and was overviewing ‘before and after’ photos on Instagram. I felt that it was a fad, likely not great for your body and that the hype would surely pass. However, after moving house and trying another failed local gym, I was running out of options. I was sick of attending boring classes where its exercises were as bland as the people teaching them.

I reluctantly signed up to my local F45 and after doing a trial decided to pay the big dollars (approximately $69 a week!) to give this a proper go. The one thing about spending the money on something is you actually go, which seems crazy but it's true. In the more popular time slots, there are two trainers to about 25-30 people, so you don’t get attention all the time, but you can follow a screen with a video of your exercise. As someone who has a fair idea of how to do most exercises, this was perfect for me. However, the trainers do get around to help you out, particularly if you are new and try to correct your form. I have learned a lot from these trainers and it is surprising how supported you feel in such a big class. The speed of these classes can sometimes be an issue, as by the time you figure out what you are doing you are already moving on to the next station. This becomes much easier with time and practice, but be prepared to be confused and be walking in circles for a few sessions.

One thing that F45 has done extremely well creates an encouraging and friendly environment. After years of playing a team sport and having friends within your netball or football club, it can be quite isolating exercising at a gym, where it can be difficult to meet people and form any friendships. Many of the F45 classes pair you up or get your working in threes, this gives you someone to ask questions to, and quite often have a little bit of banter to make the class go quicker.

Six months on, and I can probably call myself a convert.

I don’t push myself to extremes and make sure I only complete exercises that I am comfortable doing. I also constantly change and alter their stations to suit me. I love that it's over quick, the trainers are helpful and people in the classes are actually nice and not at all pretentious. F45 is not for everyone, you need to work within your limits, ask for help when you need it. Remember if something doesn’t feel right it probably means that it isn’t.

3 common mistakes we all can make

Pushing through pain
Your body will always give you clues as to when things are not functioning. These could be feeling stiff in the mornings or having prolonged muscle soreness more than usual. Take note of these to avoid injury

Having no rest days
Having days with no F45 is really important. Due to the amount of money you are spending you often want to make the most of this by going as much as you can. This can be detrimental in the long term. Your muscles need time to recover and you will actually notice that you can work better and lift stronger when your body is not being constantly overloaded.

Not seeking advice
The trainers are there for you, but sometimes you do need more attention and specific advice for your body. This is where seeing your local osteopath or physiotherapist can be really beneficial.

3 tips for a beginner to F45

Make sure you arrive early enough to WARM UP, all F45 classes have a dynamic warm-up at the start of the class, but you can also use their exercise bikes prior to this to help wake your body up
Stay after the class (even if it is for 5 minutes, and you’re in the corner of the room), here you use the FOAM ROLLERS or even bring along your own spikey ball to loosen off your through muscles (in particular the glutes)
Be careful of all the plyometric movements if you are new to this. What does this mean? A lot of JUMPING. On cardio days you will do a lot of lunges, squats, and jumps. All you need to do is take the bounce out of it, stay static and focus on your form. I.e. instead of box jumps just do step-ups, and instead of jumping lunges just do a split squat.

Written by Dr Melissa Arnts, practising Osteopath at Without Limits Health.
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