F45 has spread across London’s fitness scene like some kind of high intensity training rash. Born in Australia, F45 isn’t just a gym, it’s a movement. They’ve cracked the recipe to fitness success: 45 minute high octane HIIT classes that change from day to day. With 13 F45 gyms in the capital currently, and plenty more in the pipeline – F45 are fast becoming the fitness kings.

The thing that makes F45 so favourable is their classes: they’re addictive. They’re like the class A drug of the fitness world. Each class follows the same tried and tested formula; a mix of cardio and weight-based exercises that you undertake for short intervals, over a 45 minute period. You’re so busy taking part in the various exercises that the classes are over damn quickly.

I’ve taken part in a couple of F45 classes, so when the opportunity arose to take part in their 8 week challenge at their Farringdon branch, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Here’s the all-important lowdown:

Eight Week Challenge: What to Expect

F45’s eight week challenge is made up of a few components; you have to attend at least 4-5 classes in the week, there’s a meal plan to stick to, weigh ins at the start, middle and end, and a Facebook group so you can meet other challengers. To be frank, it’s pretty straight forward. It proved to be good for fitness dummies like me who has the attention span of a cold water fish.

Eight Week Challenge: The Classes

The classes really are sweat-tastic. Like all F45 gyms they follow the same routine: on Monday, Wednesday and Friday it’s cardio, Tuesday and Thursday concentrate on strength, and Saturday is a one hour workout comprising of 27 stations.

The main reason why people sign up to F45 (it’ll set you back a heavy £200 a month) are the classes. You will get fitter, you will get stronger, and you will push yourself. I noticed a real difference in my ability to lift heavier weights and squat for longer throughout the weeks. It’s almost like a cult, but everything is nice and you bond, which I guess is less cult-like.

And heaven forbid, in London where it’s seen as a crime to chat to a stranger, I actually found myself becoming pals with the people in the classes. Some of the classes involved partner work, so I’d find myself teaming up with my mate who I’d only met a week earlier as we’d both shot each other a look and mouthed ‘I’m buggered’ after the first ten minutes. But it’s great, and it makes the whole gym experience something to look forward to, rather than a chore.

Eight Week Challenge: The Food

I should point out at this stage, that if you’re after a more tailored personal training experience, this isn’t for you. You need your own self motivation to attend the classes, but also to make sure that you’re sticking to the meal plan (which, spoiler, I did not always stick to). It felt, at times, a little ‘one size fits all’, certainly when it came to the diet.

The meal plan is available via the app, and it’s pretty easy to follow: you eat what they tell you to. I found this part the hardest as sometimes I’d not be at home for dinner, or out and about which meant I grabbed food on the go. Cutting out coffee wasn’t too hard, but pair that with cutting out alcohol as well as sugar, and I didn’t know if I could last the whole eight weeks. Thing is, there were events and activities that I found myself having the odd glass of Champagne. Maybe I’m weak willed, but if I attend a wedding (which I did – twice), I need bubbles. Probably not as many bubbles as I consumed, but still – it’s a wedding…

The meals from the plan were delicious and changed daily. It’s not just the generic chicken and rice repeated until the end of time; there were an abundance of salads, grilled meats and fruits. As much as the meal plan was helpful, be prepared to spend the majority of your weekend prepping your Sunday nights away. It’s not one of these meal plans that you can wing it – for the best possible results, you have to plan.

Eight Week Challenge: Things I’ve Learnt

– Do drink 2 litres of water a day – it helps with flushing out toxins.

– Do take part in as many classes as you can.

– Do enjoy it, and chat to people. Sweating together is more fun.

– Don’t train on a hangover – it’s brutal.

– Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t always stick to the meal plan.

– Don’t be put off with the length of time.. you’ll feel amazing at the end of the eight weeks.

Eight Week Challenge: The Verdict

Over the eight weeks, my body changed dramatically – I toned up, my body fat reduced and I noticed differences in my body shape. I’m sure if I’d have stuck to the meal plan more rigriously, I would’ve come away with better results. However, I wasn’t concreting on losing weight, I wanted to up my fitness level.

This eight week challenge may not be for everyone – but if you’ve become disillusioned with your own gym routine, and fancy switching it up, this is the perfect option. And who knows, you’ll probably make a few mates along the way.

For more information on the eight challenge, visit the F45 website here