A Year in Review: F45

February 23, 2020

Having recently concluded a year of F45, I wanted to share some of my findings.

Why F45?

I’m not here to shill F45, and I don’t think F45 is the right choice for everyone either.

I don’t like to exercise nor play sports. I’m not the kind of person who wakes up at 6 a.m. to clock 10km before work. I exercise only for practical health-related reasons.

Prior to F45, I was mostly sedentary (I did a few months of another HIIT gym called Ritual). During my first few sessions at both Ritual and F45, I barely survived the workout and puked.

I eventually stopped puking, but the workouts never really got easier, since I wanted to push myself to maintain a certain level of RPE (rated perceived exertion).

This has been the period of my life where I exercised the most consistently. My theory for this is that it’s a confluence of four factors:

  1. Proximity. The F45 that I go is two minutes away on foot.
  2. Social interactions. After a while, you get to know people there. The trainers are really nice as well.
  3. Financial commitment. F45 is not cheap. The more you go, the cheaper per session it becomes.
  4. Class scheduling. F45’s class scheduling isn’t as good as Ritual’s (every half hour all day), but it’s good enough.

All this made it really easy to slot into my daily schedule without having to move things around too much. I like to be efficient, so that means not having to go out of my way too much to accomplish something, unless I can combine it with other things I need to get done.

I alluded earlier to the cost of F45. It’s not cheap. I feel embarrassed whenever I mention how much it cost to anyone who asks. Yet, it’s been the only thing that has made me exercise so much, so viewed through that lens it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. This is also the main reason why I say it’s not for everyone. I get the economics at play here, but F45 were to somehow be half the price it is now, it would be a no-brainer.

Statistics

167 sessions in a year. That’s around 3.2 days a week. If I deduct my vacation days and Sundays (since the gym isn’t open), I hit the gym around 58% of all “eligible” days.

No more than a session a day. Partly because I feel the ROI tapers off after the first session, but mostly because I never got fit enough to feel like I could go for a second round and not have it affect my recovery. I have seen people do three sessions consecutively (that’s more than 2 hours of high intensity exercise).

Highest points achieved: 70.5. F45 has this point system where they’ll quantify your exertion, taking into account your age, height, and weight. The benchmark to hit is 45 points for a 45 minute session, and 60 points for an hour-long session.

567 calories expanded on average per workout. Not that useful for me, since I’m not here to watch my weight.

Diet

I did not follow any particular diet. I noticed an increase in appetite after a long streak of days of exercise, which goes away after 1 week or so of full rest.

I supplemented with 25g of whey protein and 5g of creatine after each workout. No pre-workout. On days where I happen to have caffeine in my system a few hours prior to the workout, I find that I can up the intensity.

VO2max test

I was curious to know how fit I had become after this, so I did a VO2max test a week after my last session.

I scored 44mL/min/kg, which is somewhere within the “Above Average” to “Good” range for my age range. The VO2max score is taken as a rolling 30-second average, which I achieved at a running speed of 16.5km/h. My absolute highest VO2max was recorded at 48mL/min/kg.

This was when the speed was still a bit slower.
This was when the speed was still a bit slower.

VO2max against running speed.
VO2max against running speed.

I feel I could have done a bit better, since I didn’t have a good night of sleep the night before.

Interestingly, the common equation for estimating VO2max (15 * (MHR / RHR)) gets it within 10% of the actual measured VO2max, so for those of you who don’t want to do one, using the equation might be useful too.

What’s next

I’m back to a regular gym, where I will be taking the exercises and techniques I learned at F45 and improvising my own routine. Just like how F45 splits between cardio and strength days, I also want to mimic a similar split.

F45 exposed me to things beyond the typical dumbbells and barbells — things like kettlebells, battle ropes, rowing machine, plyometrics, core work, medicine balls, etc, which will all be useful in keeping things interesting.

I want to increase or, at the least, maintain my VO2max capacity. Being in good cardiovascular shape makes life a bit better.