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.

VO~2~max against running speed.
VO~2~max 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.