F45 Training vs Normal Gym (Workouts, results, and costs)


Choosing the right type of training can be difficult especially when there are more gym and bootcamp studios popping up left and right. Some of the group fitness franchises like F45 are incredibly effective however, they offer completely different types of training compared to a regular gym.

So what’s the difference between F45 versus gym, and which one might be right for you?

The difference between F45 Training and gym is that in the regular gym you can follow your personal workout plan and use the machines, free weights, and cardio equipment as much as you want. On the other hand, the F45 training is a group class where everyone is doing the same exercises in a circuit training style.

Today I will explain more in-depth the differences between the two and help you decide which one is a better fit, based on your goals and fitness level.

F45 vs Gym For Building Muscle

In general, the gym is better than F45 for people who follow a specific type of training to build muscle or improve their performance. Normal gyms have multiple machines and free weights that allow you to work on specific muscles.

For example, if you want to get a bigger chest, it is much better to join a regular gym. Normal gyms have benches, smith machines, hammer strength machines, cable machines, and a variety of dumbbells.

Training with these resistance machines allows you to hit the muscle from different angles.

Studies have shown that resistance-based training is considered the “gold standard” for promoting muscle hypertrophy (Callahan et al. 2021).

On the other hand, F45 uses high-intensity interval training which is effective in burning calories while preserving muscle mass. This is good news for people who want to lose weight, but not if your goal is to maximize hypertrophy.

F45 Doesn’t Use Heavy Weights

It’s not a secret that the most effective way to build muscle is by following a structured hypertrophy program that requires lifting weights in a specific rep range and resistance.

According to the study published by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, the optimal way to build muscle is by either adding more weight to the bar (mechanical tension) or by working the muscle until it reaches muscle failure (metabolic stress).

Mechanical tension means placing the muscle under resistance with a specific load (which is around 6-12 reps of 60-80% of your one-rep max)

For example, if you can perform one squat with 100kg and that’s your maximum effort, to grow the muscle you need to perform 6-12 reps of squats with a 60kg barbell.

In The Gym You Can Work On One Muscle Group

Unlike F45 Training, gyms allow you to do a number of exercises that targets one specific muscle group. For example, if you’re doing rehab exercises for the knee, back, hips or shoulders, gyms are more suitable because you can isolate each muscle.

Most commercial gyms have a number of machines like leg extension, leg curl, rear leg extension, biceps curl, and cable crossover. These machines help to work on one muscle at a time, which is effective in both rehab and muscle growth.

In The Gym You Can Use Your Customized Workout Plan

The difference between F45 and the normal gym is that F45 is a class where everyone is doing the same routine for 45 minutes, without periodization.

Lack of progressively increasing the training volume was one of the reasons “why I quit F45“. Their workouts were the same all year round.

On the other hand, in the gym, you can follow your customized workout plan that meets the FITT principles.

FITT principlesWhat does it mean?
FrequencyDescribes how often you train within one week or month
IntensityYou can increase the intensity by adding more weight to the bar and increasing the number of reps, and sets. You can also use advanced training methods to further stimulate the muscle (more on that later)
TimeIncreasing the time you spend in the gym whenever that’s doing cardio, strength training or both
TypeChanging your workout plan between doing cardio or resistance

The most effective way to reach your long-term fitness goal (e.g bodybuilding contest, running a marathon, or preparing for a ski trip in the winter) is to follow a structured training plan that is progressively more difficult.

Gyms Allow Using Advanced Training Methods

The difference between F45 and gym is that in the gym experienced lifters can use more advanced training techniques like pyramids, negatives, supersets, drop sets, partial reps, contrast loading, and chains.

These training techniques increase time under tension, and further stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

On the other hand, F45 does have a variety of resistance classes like Mkatz where they use drop sets.

These workouts are challenging and help to hit the muscles from different angles, with different timing, and various tempos. However, this is still a group class and is not personalized to each individual.

F45 vs Gym For Weight Loss

In general, F45 does burn fat and you can lose more weight with this Bootcamp style workout, compared to the gym because it uses high-intensity interval training. HIIT workouts help not only to improve cardiorespiratory fitness but also to increase metabolic rate and calorie burn.

In fact, some F45 hybrid workouts that combine plyometric training, bodyweight training, mixed martial arts, resistance training, and cardio claim to burn as much as 1000 calories per 45 minutes session.

The F45 sessions work like a bootcamp-style workout where you go from one station to another. Each station has an assigned exercise and a number of reps. The more reps and more stations you complete, the higher your heart rate will be.

How many stations are in F45? Each F45 workout is different and includes a different number of stations. For example, some cardio workouts are constantly changing and include as many as 30 stations. On the other hand, resistance workouts are slower, and include 5-10 stations, but spend more time working on each exercise.

How long is each station at F45? On average, each station is 1-3 minutes long, depending on the type of workout. Some fast-moving cardio workouts like Firestorm have 27 stations where you spend 1-2 minutes per station, whereas the Moon Hopper has 18 stations where you exercise for 2-3 minutes.

Here are some of the main differences between F45 and the gym when it comes to weight loss and fat burn.

F45 Uses Heart Rate Monitors

One thing that separates F45 from normal gyms is that F45 classes use heart rate monitors to track your intensity. Higher intensity means you can burn more calories and elevate EPOC (which is also known as the afterburn effect).

Higher heart rate during the wokrouts helps not only to burn more calories while you train but also increases the calorie burned after you finish.

The reason why you burn more calories after F45 class is that elevated heart rate increases the oxygen debt. After the session, your body has increased consumption of oxygen, even when the body is not training anymore.

More oxygen consumption means more energy is required to transport the oxygen throughout the body. The result is more calories burned.

F45 suggests you should hit “45 points” for each session to get the most out of the class. The more points you get, the higher your EPOC levels.

F45 Has More Variety

The biggest difference between gym and F45 is that group training workouts always have more variety of exercises. This helps to keep people interested and motivated to train. Higher variety also helps to enjoy the workouts more, compared to static training in the gym.

More variety means more fun. Each class uses a combination of cycling, weights, body weight, and other equipment.

I like the gym, but one thing that I miss from doing F45 was the novelty of workouts. The F45 combines functional training, core training, boxing, endurance training, and mobility training.

Each workout is a challenge in itself. There was a time when I was doing “F45 twice a day” but that didn’t last long.

On the other hand, when you train in the gym and your goal is to burn fat, you need to stick to the same compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench, rows, and presses. Those type of movements helps to burn more fat than isolation exercises, but they can get tedious after a while.

Costs

The difference in price between F45 and a gym will depend on many factors like the type of gym you go to, as well as the type of membership you want. For example, some gym like Planet Fitness cost as little as $10 per month whereas more posh places like David Lloyd can charge close to $100.

Also, some gyms charge extra for initiation fees, first and last month upfront, as well as annual fees. Keep that in mind when you choose the gym based on cost.

Here is the comparison list between F45 and some of the most popular gyms.

GymPrice
F45$320/month (16 classes)
Orangetheory$159/month (unlimited)
Planet Fitness$10/month
Anytime Fitness$39/month
LA Fitness$34/month
24 Hour Fitness$52/month
Lifetime Fitness$69/month
UFC Gym$39/month
David Lloyd$89/month
F45 vs gym prices

Overall, the F45 is more expensive than a regular gym because it includes group specialty workouts with personal trainers present in each session. Every workout is delivered in a fun and engaging atmosphere around the people who cheer and motivate each other.

On the other hand, gyms also offer personal training, however, the price for one session is often equal to the price of the monthly membership.

Conclusion

The F45 workouts are not the same as normal gym workouts. F45 offers group training bootcamp-style sessions that focus on increasing your heart rate and full-body workouts. On the other hand, gyms offer more options for strength training but also require more experience.

For beginners, it is much better to attend F45 because of the exercise variety and friendly community. However, for advanced lifters who have a specific goal in mind like performance training, the gym is a better option.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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