After doing F45 training twice a week for a year and a half, I quit in June for good. Despite the many positive aspects that the F45 training brought to my life, there are some disadvantages of this form of workout.
As a whole, I quit F45 training for a number of reasons. Firstly, F45 was too far away and it was overcrowded. Secondly, constant high-intensity interval training lead to overtraining where I developed a shoulder injury and was unable to lift my left hand over my head.
However, these are just a handful of motives why I stopped going there. Today I will share with you my experience of why I quit the F45 workout, and most importantly, what I’m doing now instead.
NOTE: This is not a knock-on F45 franchise. It’s just my personal experience
The Workouts Have Too Much Cardio
One of the reasons why I quit F45 workouts is because they have too much cardio and not enough weight training. Every class may look different from the surface, however, they all are similar in a way that mainly focuses on elevating your heart rate.
Doing HIIT and increasing your heart rate is effective to burn heaps of calories and have lots of energy for the day. However, if you want to build strength and gain muscle, cardio is not the best method.
According to Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, the researcher and expert on muscle building and fat loss, the optimal load for strength gains is within the 1-5RM range using 70-90% of your one-rep max.
On the other hand, the optimal load for the hypertrophy gains (to build muscle) is within the 6–12RM range using 60-80% of your one-rep max.
These types of loads can only be done in the traditional gym environment. In the regular gym, you have access to the compound movements like squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press, and row using heavy barbells and dumbbells.
What does an F45 workout look like? The F45 workout looks like a group fitness class where people move around between stations. Each station uses different strength and conditioning exercises like battling ropes, sit-ups, or pushups, with minimum rest in between the rounds.
The F45 workouts do many good things for your body like improving cardiometabolic health or burning fat. However, they use less than optimal training load to facilitate maximum strength and hypertrophy gains, according to experts.
Pros of doing a lot of cardio
- F45 training has a lot of variety in exercises. They also offer different types of classes that use rowers and bikes, which makes the exercise interesting and challenging.
- Cardio workouts are beneficial not only for weight loss but also for health. According to a study from the University of Louisville, frequent exercise helps to decrease cardiovascular mortality as well as the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Cons of doing a lot of cardio
- F45 does not use heavy resistance training which helps to build muscle and develop a lot of strength. They do cardio with weights.
- Doing a lot of cardio does burn calories, but it is not as effective as strength training in preserving lean muscle mass.
After F45 Training, I Got A Shoulder Injury
I quit F45 training for good because the workouts were so intense and monotonous. It got to the point where I developed a shoulder injury. For a couple of weeks, I couldn’t lift my left hand over my head.
Here’s how it started.
- Going to F45 every other day put a lot of pressure on my upper body.
- A lot of exercises there were done with weights at low-moderate resistance. To stimulate the muscle, I needed to perform multiple reps of the same exercises with minimum rest.
- After a few workouts, I’ve noticed that my shoulder is getting more sensitive.
Plus, I spend most of my days in a seated position, which obviously leads to poor posture. Soon enough I started to round and internally rotate my shoulders.
Internal rotation of the shoulders, rounded back, and tight hamstrings combined with a high volume of resistance training with minimum rest led to shoulder pain.
The F45 Gyms Gets Too Crowded
As a whole, I quit F45 Training because it was always busy and overcrowded, especially during the challenges. Some gyms take up more bookings for people than they should, which results in having 3-5 people per station.
This makes it very difficult to train. Once, my wife and I were told to perform abdominal exercises outside of the facility because it was overcrowded.
Another downside of F45 gyms being overcrowded is the lack of sufficient equipment. I like that the gym has many kettlebells and dumbbells. However, if you exercise in a small station with 5 people around you, not everyone will get the right type of weight for them.
Many times I had to use an exercise alternative because there were not enough weights or the weights were too small. Once, one of the trainers told us that if we find the weights too light, we should continue doing the exercise with more reps until muscle failure.
Reducing the rest intervals is effective to stimulate muscle growth. However, it is not recommended during the group exercise workouts when you train in full-body workouts.
According to Dr. Belmiro Freitas de Salles and his colleagues from the State University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, training with loads between 50% and 90% of one-repetition maximum, 3–5 minutes’ rest between sets allowed for greater repetitions over multiple sets (de Salles et al. 2009).
Pros of training at a crowded F45 gym
- The benefit of F45 training with many people is you get to know a lot of faces and can develop lasting relationships.
- It is easier to get motivated when you train in a group of people. You can also push yourself more because everyone is doing the same thing.
Cons of training at a crowded F45 gym
- The disadvantage of training at the busy F45 studios is the lack of equipment for all of the exercises.
- I find it difficult to train in a crowded space, especially doing high-intensity interval training when you have to breathe harder.
I understand that HIIT workouts should get you out of breath (I’ve been training for many years so I know how it works).
However, when there are too many people in a small space it gets difficult to breathe, even without training hard.
The F45 Studio Was Too Far Away
According to the survey done by Better, a charitable social enterprise from London, over 39.46% of people say that lack of time is the main reason people give up and stop going to the gym (source).
I think I can relate.
One of the reasons why I stopped going to the F45 Training was that I didn’t have enough time to commute. The studio was 35 minutes away from my house. Counting both ways, I had to spend almost 80 minutes just to get into the gym, not including the 45-minute workout and shower after.
Going to the gym requires a lot of time:
- Preparing gym clothes
- Mixing up pre-workout and protein shake
- Driving back and forth
- Changing clothes again
- Chatting with friends
That’s a long process. I reason why I quit F45 is that I like to simplify this system and make it as easy as possible.
Does F45 have showers? Overall, the F45 studios do have showers and are equipped with more than one bathroom. In each bathroom, you have amenities like shower gels, shampoos, and conditioners. In the lady’s locker room you also have hair dryers.
Learn more: Click here to learn tips and hacks for showering at the gym.
I never used the showers in F45 because it was always a gigantic queue. If I had to stay and wait for the showers, I would go ballistic.
Most people that I know said they would never travel further than 20 minutes to the gym unless there was something more for it (wink). I also think that it’s fair.
Spending over 2 hours per day for F45 fitness for most people is unrealistic unless you have no life or taking some sweet medications.
Also, the F45 facility does not have steam, a sauna, pool, or even massage chairs which would make it worth the effort.
Pros of traveling too far to the gym
- A long drive to the gym is a good time to relax and catch up on your favorite podcasts or audiobooks during commuting time.
- You have 30-40 minutes to make any phone calls to your clients, friends, or family members.
Cons of traveling too far to the gym
- Driving a long distance to the F45 studio takes too much time of the day. Instead, you could spend that time on work, kids, intimate time with your partner, meal prep, or reading a book.
- Spending too much time in the car in the seated position will stiffen up your back muscles and can lead to muscle pain, even after a workout.
Of course, I know people who travel more than 30 minutes once a week to see their personal trainer, but there is a good reason for it. One-on-one personal trainers often push us more than we could push ourselves.
The F45 Has Not Enough Afternoon Classes
Most of the F45 gyms offer 6-7 workouts, and 5 of them are done before 10 am.
I stopped going to the F45 gyms because I like to train at my own schedule and not be dependent on their timetable. The F45 gym that I went to offered only afternoon workouts at 5.30 pm (no wonder why gyms were always crowded).
I’m a morning person, but I do not train in the morning. I feel like the morning is the time of the day when I’m the most productive. This is my time to work on my business so I protect it from any distractions.
According to a study from Mexico, cognitive performance peaks between 10 am to 2 pm, then drops, until it peaks again between 4 pm to 10 pm.
For me, the best time for the exercise is around 1-2 pm. This is when I already spend most part of the morning on my work and my energy starts to drop. I use the afternoon workouts as an energy booster, so I can continue to work in the late afternoon.
This way I can do more work without burning the candle at both ends.
Also, the timing of exercise plays an important role for me because of my meal time. I’m doing 8/16 intermittent fasting. This means I do not eat before 2 pm and I like to train just before my meal time.
Another thing is the glucose levels.
Some data suggest that afternoon HIIT is more efficacious than morning HIIT at improving blood glucose. On the other hand, morning HIIT has been shown to increase blood glucose (Savikj et al. 2019).
I understand why F45 is pushing most of their workouts in the morning. A lot of people hate to exercise and they want to get it done as soon as possible. However, I always loved to train so I don’t have to force myself to drag my ass to the gym.
The F45 Training Was Too Intense
In general, the F45 training is too intense because it encourages you to train with high intensity and elevated heart rate for most of the workout. F45 training uses heart rate monitors to track your intensity and they assign you “points” based on the time you spend in the heart rate zones 4 and 5.
This is a similar system that is used in the Orangetheory. OTF uses splat points as a way to track your performance and encourage you to get 12 points per class.
F45 training uses a “unique points system” that calculates a number of points for every workout. The goal is to reach 45 points per session.
Each F45 studio has a TV where they display your metrics. You can see your numbers like heart rate, calories burned, and how many points you have so far.
During my F45 workouts, most of the time I was in zone 3, 4, and 5, which can be too intense if you plan to do it every other day.
According to the physician and longevity expert Dr. Peter Attia, “you don’t need to be spending much time in zone 5, but to neglect it completely, you’ll probably pay a bit of a price”.
Also, Peter says that when it comes to cardio, people should spend more time in the heart rate zone 2. For beginners, 2 hours a week is a good place to start. For advanced, ideally 3-4 hours per week.
The problem with going to F45 every other day is that it always focuses on training at the highest intensity. The sessions include multiple exercises that target the upper and lower body in a circuit training style.
The combination of resistance training and cardio increases metabolic rate, but can be strenuous for the body, especially if done every other day. There was a time when I was doing F45 twice a day but that didn’t last for too long.
What I Do After I Quit F45?
The reason why I quit F45 Training is that I wanted to get spend more time in the gym with normal weights. I do not enjoy any more group fitness classes where everyone is running like a chicken.
I much prefer doing squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups. I feel like I get much better results from lifting weights rather than doing cardio with weights.
My stress levels went down, my strength went up, and my wife tells me I look good without a t-shirt.
Learn more: Click here to learn more about the differences between F45 and gym.
After I stopped doing F45, I signed up for the gym that is close to my place. I also think about building a home gym where I can put a squat rack, bench, and tons of plates so I don’t have to commute every time when I have a workout.
Most importantly, after I quit F45 (and joined the regular gym) I was able to design my work exercise routine, instead of doing cookie-cutter classes. This help me not only to get stronger but also my shoulder pain went away.