It's no secret my preferred method of exercise is dance. Or Pilates. Or yoga. Basically, the total opposite of what I perceived to be involved in a "functional training" session.
When tasked with attending a hard-core class for this story, I was petrified. You see, I like to stick to what I know. Low-impact, targeted workouts . . . unless they involve shaking my hips to the tunes of Queen Bey, in which case it's go hard or go home. Alas, I swallowed my fear and headed off to my first session at F45 Manly, a place I expected would ruin me. Here's what I learned!
1# The workouts are 'nothing short of insane'
Yes, that is an actual quote from the website and yes, the site is correct. Part of the appeal of F45 is that the workouts are short, but intense.
For 45 minutes, you'll execute a series of functional exercises that will exhaust you completely — but they don't last long. The interval-style training involves performing reps for a specified time (one set lasts approx. 35 seconds), then resting and repeating before switching stations. Three seconds into the next set, you'll have forgotten how hard the last move was as you'll be focused on smashing a different body part.
Another selling point is that you never do the same workout twice — it keeps your body stimulated, and you're certainly not bored! The workout I tried was called "Wingman" — cute!
#It's not as hard as you think
If it wasn't for this story, it's highly unlikely I would have broken through the mental barrier that was stopping me from giving functional training a go. Now that I've tried it, I can see that would have been a mistake!
While the workout was difficult, I was still able to participate and give it my all — most of the exercises I had done previously, either with a personal trainer or during a group fitness class. The format of F45 is unique, but most of the moves are familiar to those who have exercised before.
In terms of intensity, there were weight options at each station, so I could modify the workout to suit my own capability. The stronger men chose the heavier weights, while I opted for something within my range, but still challenging.
One of the benefits of functional exercise is that it trains your body to be a better human — each move uses multiple joints and muscles, simulating an activity you would do in everyday life (such as lifting a box or squatting to pick something off the floor). This means that every time you participate, you're improving your quality of life.
#3 It's great to do with friends
I headed to my first class alone, however I can certainly see the appeal of doing it with a buddy. You go through the circuit in grouped pairs, but if you don't have a training partner, you'll make friends fast. Everyone is really positive and energetic — words of encouragement are shouted frequently and there are plenty of high fives to close!
#4 It's addictive
At least five of my girlfriends are obsessed with functional training, and after just one class, I get it. It's like a (super-friendly) cult — once you've started, you don't want to stop. The endorphins, sense of community and general feel-good vibes are contagious.
The first class I took was focused on resistance, and the trainer encouraged me to return for the next day's cardio version to ensure I worked off the build-up of lactic acid. Usually, straight after a workout I'm mentally congratulating myself and feeling smug, rewarding my efforts with the agreement I don't have to exercise again for at least two days — but not this time. Barely three hours after class, I was itching to get to my next session.
#5 The people in class are STRONG
I know this isn't meant to be the point, but seeing the physical results of a workout is really motivating. Strong, capable bodies filled my class, showing that with regular attendance, I too could be a lean, mean, fit machine. Bring it on.