I tried F45 Manchester’s 45-day challenge during lockdown

Why exactly are so many people talking about F45 in Manchester? Anna decided to find out…

You may have heard earlier this year that there was a new gym in town.

F45 burst onto the Manchester fitness scene with a team training, pod-style workout that aims to give your body a fun and functional workout in 45 minutes. 

It was born in Australia around eight years ago and has clubs popping up all over the world. The no-frills studios offer three main types of training: Cardio, Resistance and Hybrid, with daily classes where no two are the same.

The ‘F’ stands for functional training, a mix of circuit and HIIT-style workouts geared towards everyday movement. 45 is the total amount of time for sweat-dripping, heart-pumping fun.

The classes vary a lot, but each are based around a circuit model, where you spend a certain amount of time at a station before moving to the next, high-intensity and highly addictive. But one thing is the same in each class: You’re going to sweat. A lot.

A huge part of F45 (and why I think its popularity is sweeping the globe) is the community challenges. The F45 challenge is a nutrition and training program focused on holistic well-being. The combination of F45’s style of training and the challenge meal plans is designed to help members transform their lives.

Always down for a challenge, I decided to give it a go.

Admittedly, I am a bit of a rookie when it comes to working out. I have done the odd gym class here and there, and have been the proud owner of gym memberships that have never been used, so when it came down to doing this challenge at home, during lockdown, there was nowhere to run and no excuses for being too busy to do it. 

The F45 challenge is accompanied with a handy app which houses online workouts, the meal plan, the weekly shopping list, a progress tracker and other bits of support to see you through. Everything I needed for a successful and health-filled 45 days, being told what to eat and how to exercise… how hard could this be?

The day before the challenge started, I popped down to Aldi and got pretty much everything I needed for the week – a few had to be substituted (thanks stockpilers), but all in all I got everything I needed and it cost around £50.

Many of these items were stock cupboard items that I could use throughout the challenge so the cost of the shop did come down each week. Since we weren’t able to work out at the gym with the usual equipment, we needed to get creative; my weights comprised of wine bottles and my weighted bag was a travel holdall filled with books.

With the fridge stocked, and the ‘workout kit’ set, I was ready to go.

F45 is split up in to four phases, 10 days in each of the first three and 15 for the final one. This gives you plenty time to get into the swing of each cycle but they’re also short enough that things don’t get boring.

I’m not going to lie, Phase One was a shock to the system. ‘Spring Training’ as it is called, is focused on getting you challenge-ready and adjusting your body to a calorie deficit meal plan.

Your portions are small, there are little to no carbs and no booze (throughout the whole challenge). There’s also no coffee during this phase (this was probably the hardest thing to deal with) but the meal plan is based around three meals and two snacks a day so for all it was a big change, I was rarely hungry. 

The F45 classes were done twice daily live through zoom and these were fab, genuinely feeling like a team effort. With the unwavering support from Ruben and Josh as well as strong words of encouragement from the other challengers, the classes were a fantastic distraction from the outside world.

There is a definite community feel throughout the whole process, as time went on, the challenge WhatsApp group became that of support network than just a portal for exchanging messages.

As the challenge went on and we worked through the phases, the meal plans got tastier, the work outs became (slightly) easier and results were starting to show. By week three, I felt stronger, healthier and focused. This was already the longest I’d ever stuck to any kind of fitness plan and I was really starting to enjoy it.

The classes throughout were great. Super interactive and really fun. As I mentioned earlier, we all had to get creative with equipment at home and we would be notified the day before of what we would need for the next day so it would give us time to prepare.

With the workouts, think burpees (so many burpees), mountain climbers, sumo squats, push ups and all other types of resistance training, but you would do a round for generally less than a minute, and then have a little break before the next round.

The time honestly flies. I’ve never worked out where you get to the end of it and think ‘oh wow, we’re done?’.

And this made it all-the-more enjoyable, although there were a few days where I did try to talk myself out of it, but with the encouragement of other challengers, it always seemed worth it.

Some weeks went quicker than others. There were days that I felt tired, hungry and a little fed up and others I was super motivated, energised and loving life. I think both may have been more related to lockdown than the challenge, but at this point they were going hand in hand. Either way, there was little temptation to deviate from the plan and I was genuinely enjoying the feeling of getting through each workout.

So, day 45 came round quite quickly and I had stuck to the meal plan religiously. With the classes, I did five or so a week plus some yoga to stretch out (generally after leg day…) and I’d never felt better. A total of 18 pounds down, four inches off my waist, a reduction of 4% body fat and I was generally feeling fantastic. 

F45 Challenge complete.

F45

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.

It was (as cliché as this sounds) life-changing, both mentally and physically and I really don’t know how I could have coped with lockdown without F45, for all I was delighted with the physical results, the changes to my mental health and relationship with food are the ones I’m most happy I get to take away from this.

A huge thank you goes to our wonderful F45 trainers Ruben, Josh your daily encouragement, eclectic playlists and massive smiles helped me enormously and to all of the C26 challengers thank you for being in this together.

I almost can’t wait to start the next one.

But first, pizza…

Want to learn more about F45? Click here to take the challenge. Their next one begins on the 15 June.

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