What It's Really Like To Do The F45 8-Week Challenge When You're 'Not A Gym Person'
Thinking about taking on the F45 8-week Challenge but you’re not a gym or fitness person?
Take a look at how I did it and what happened to me throughout the eight weeks and at the end. I should mention that I’d never done anything like this before, so anything is possible!
Let’s take it back to the start
In the last year I’ve seen and heard a lot about F45: on social media, from my partner Jenny and one of my best mates.
The most I had done was look through the window of the gym with my son, waving at his mum through the glass in what was typically the last few minutes of her swinging a kettle bell to some beats whilst I ate some banana bread.
Jenny, my partner loved it and enjoyed the fact that in a quick amount of time every day she was moving, lifting and breaking a sweat. My friend Matt also talked me through how well it was going for him.
I kept seeing social media posts and posters on telegraph poles about the F45 eight week challenge with before and after photos that to be honest, I always doubted.
All of a sudden I noticed that Mark Wahlberg even invested in the company and started getting into it. So that was the final straw, the legendary Marky Mark getting into it meant I had to give it a go. (Not really but as you’ll see, following him on Instagram was some great fitspo!)
When I knew something had to change
For me the real catalyst to change was when I hit 100kg a few months back, it was a real moment for me. A few years back I had been around this weight and thought it wasn’t good for my health.
Hitting it again got me into gear and I thought: “Right, let’s do this, and I will write about it to keep me accountable.”
Since I finished up being a stay at home dad at the start of 2018, I hadn’t done much in terms of exercise. Going back a few years ago, before my son was born I was playing football a few times a week, running a lot and even doing the odd half marathon.
I sustained a toe injury due to football last year which meant months of rest. So with the combination of that, work and parent life, I put on quite a bit of weight.
I had thought for a while this year, it’s time to give a challenge a shot but I always found another excuse. Not anymore. Also, the little man is getting stronger and faster so I’ve got to be able to keep up!
Taking the first step
I approached the F45 studio in Pyrmont with some trepidation as I really hadn’t done anything remotely like F45 before.
Thankfully, Naiomi who runs the studio was there to talk me through the basics of the challenge and to listen to where I was coming from and what I hoped to achieve. I signed up on the spot and agreed to come back in a few days for the body scan.
Before the body scan it was time to hit the supermarket, as a big part of the challenge is a complete change in diet and I soon found myself in some very unfamiliar sections of Woolworths.
With the help of my partner Jenny stocked up of some of the key ingredients to get me through the first week: almond milk, cacao nibs, chicken breast and oats were about to become staples (but not in one meal, I should add).
The following quote really helped me think before I ate: “Your body is a fuel tank, you need to feed it in a way that’s good food but good fuel." Giving up caffeine and alcohol was hard too but I really wanted to follow along with the tips on the app around diet.
Getting started, meal prep and the body scan
Meal prep on the weekend after the shop was again, strange territory but as I’ve come to realise, it is a super important foundation for the challenge. Monday rolled around and I left home super early to make a morning class before work, with a bag full of meals for the day.
Getting into the groove of the first class took me a while but the trainers as well as the screens that show all of the exercises and the timings make it super easy, even for a tired person who had no idea what he was doing!
I have to admit to feeling like I was going to pass out after the first class and I had totally forgotten that feeling but once I caught my breath I felt great. There were high fives all around with the trainers and the rest of the class.
The trainers stressed the importance of the right stances with doing exercises, my out of condition body found it hard this hard but I realised that was okay and I would get used to the different positions and exercises.
Every time I see Will, one of the trainers, I now just think ‘chest’ as he explained to me that getting my chest out with weights was crucial. He would remind me just by saying ‘chest’ so now it’s an instant association when I see him.
The body scan in particular was really sobering. The percentage of body fat I had and number on the scale stared back at me and I realised that starting this challenge was definitely needed.
I found the mixture of classes in the week was awesome as it switched between cardio and weights and resistance, I soon felt muscles and changes in my body even after a week.
My aim was five days a week and I pretty much aced this every week. Some weeks I had to miss classes due to family or work commitments but if I did, the ‘Hollywood’ class on the Saturday (with a bonus 15 minutes) made up for things.
Here I am, two weeks post the 8-week Challenge
Even after two weeks, I could see a difference. The end of the first week was a Christmas in July celebration with friends that I somehow managed to stay strong throughout.
Work colleagues also started to notice my posture was changing and apparently my eyes were ‘glowing’. I chatted to Naiomi the boss of F45 Pyrmont about half way through and she said the toxins were going out of my body and I was working hard, so it was great people were starting to notice.
Another thing to point out is how good the trainers are at mixing up who you are paired with. “When you are partnered with the right people, you push each other. It’s a little competition,” Naiomi said.
She was full of really solid and important advice. About halfway through the challenge, I was starting to want to add more kilograms to the weights to work harder but Naiomi made sure I didn't go too hard.
“Increasing the weight is a good idea within reason, but technique and posture needs to be number one," she told me. Naiomi also got me to try out a ‘Lionheart’ heart rate monitor and I found this super helpful.
At first it was daunting seeing my heart rate up on the screens for everyone to see, alongside a score but then I realised it’s an incredible way of seeing how you are going and the other aim is to get to 45 points within a session.
It helped push me further, especially towards the end of classes and was a great way of racing other lion hearts in terms of points in a session. A report gets emailed to you at the end of every workout as well which is awesome.
All the class names are now familiar to me (like Romans.Docklands.22.) and I have also figured out that they are done all around on the same day. It’s been brilliant to watch Mark Wahlberg getting into the classes over in California and feeling part of something so many people are doing every day.
The final result
I could go on and on about the eight weeks but basically I went from not being able to do a push up to being a whole lot stronger, fitter and healthier than before.
I feel stronger and more able to run after my son, pick him up and mentally more refreshed with as well. I still can’t quite believe I came second in the challenge as well for Pyrmont, take a look at this result.
I’ve got to say a huge thanks to the trainers Paula, Will, Cindy and Naiomi, as well as one of my 10 daily colleagues Mat, who is also a member and he was amazing in his support.
The other people are the awesome members at F45 Pyrmont. They all work hard and make it a really welcoming and fun environment and that helped me so much.
And finally, my partner Jenny who supported me through the hunger, the tiredness and really got me through the meal-prep side of things. She’s a legend.
Featured image: Supplied