F45 Training Review: Costs, Comparisons, Pros and Cons

People at an F45 workout.

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F45 is a gym franchise with locations in the United States and around the globe. The "F" in F45 stands for functional training and "45" is the length of the workout in minutes. The company describes itself as "a global fitness community specializing in innovative, high-intensity group workouts that are fast, fun, and results-driven."

F45 was founded in 2011 by two entrepreneurs, Adam Gilchrist, Rob Deutsch, in Sydney, Australia. The gym gained popularity when actor Mark Wahlberg and other sports and entertainment celebrities began promoting the brand.

In 2019, there were reportedly 1,750 F45 studios in locations across Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Africa. You'll find many F45 studios on college campuses and the workout is said to be especially popular among college students, and millennials, particularly women.

What Is F45?

F45 is a fairly structured system that combines high-intensity interval workouts with functional training. Each franchise follows the same workout format, series of exercises, and uses the same branded red, white, and blue fitness gear.

In an F45 studio, you'll see fitness tools such as ropes, kettlebells, spin bikes, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells and plates, platforms, and other equipment that is commonly used in HIIT-style workouts. Some (but not all) F45 locations have a DJ on hand to spin tunes during the workout.

Type of Training

If you're not familiar with HIIT, the acronym stands for high-intensity interval training. Simply put, this type of training requires that you do vigorous activity for a short period of time, followed by a short rest interval. HIIT workouts tend to be shorter than traditional cardio classes and are known for being an efficient way to burn calories and exercise the entire body in a short period of time.

To make sure that you get your heart rate into a high-intensity range, participants can use the F45 LionHeart wireless heart rate monitor which usually retails for about $60. The device interacts with F45 TV displays to provide live heart rate data or you can review your personalized performance report in your own time on the app. Guidance is also provided about recommended heart rate zones.

Functional training is exercise that helps you to move more efficiently through activities of daily living. Many functional training moves are bodyweight exercises that mimic movements that you use throughout the day such as pushing, pulling, lifting, and stabilizing the body.

Workout Format and Set Up

Each F45 workout has a name such as Miami Nights, Moonhopper, Tokyo Disco, or Triple Threat and each is a slightly different variation of the 45-minute high-intensity interval format. For example, during the Triple Threat Workout, you complete several different exercises during three different sets that get slightly longer in duration. But you're challenged to double the number of reps in the second set and triple the number in the third set.

To navigate through the workout, participants usually move from numbered station to numbered station in a circuit style. Large TV screens show a demonstration of the exercise to be completed at each station. During the short break intervals, you move to the next station or grab water.

During the COVID pandemic, the set-up was modified to accommodate social distance guidelines. Each participant chooses a station when they enter the gym for the workout. Each station is about 6 feet square and there is ample space between each station. All of the required gear is provided within the station for each participant so there is no shared equipment.

During a COVID-modified workout, each participant might do a slightly different exercises within the same basic workout format. TV displays show demonstrations of each exercise for each station, so that each participant knows what to do and can maintain social distancing throughout the workout.

Instruction and Trainers

In addition to the exercise demo provided on the TV screens, there are one or two trainers present at each workout. Trainers explain the workout at the introduction and then circulate during the workout to offer tips, motivation, and guidance. Trainers can also provide modifications or get alternate equipment if needed.

One thing that makes F45 different than many comparable workouts is that the trainers do not demonstrate the exercises as you might expect in a traditional group fitness setting. Instead, participants watch the large TV screens to get instructions for each exercise.

On the screen, Cory George, known as the "face of F45" demonstrates every exercise. The instruction plays on a loop for the duration of the interval. If you are unclear about the exercise or need a modification, the trainers offer assistance.

Schedule

The F45 workout schedule is formatted so that every gym across the globe does the same workout on the same day. While all F45 workouts are designated as high-intensity and functional training, there is a different focus for each day of the week.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays focus on cardiovascular fitness. While Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays focus on strength. Saturday is a 60-minute workout that is a blend of cardio and strength.

Even though some days have a cardio focus and some have a strength focus, you can expect to do exercises that build strength and increase aerobic fitness during every F45 workout.

Cost

Each F45 gym is individually owned, so can pricing can vary based on the location. There are also many different commitment levels. For instance, most locations allow you to pay for a single class or pay a fee for limited or unlimited access to live and online classes. At many locations, if you prepay and commit to several months the cost is slightly lower.

For example, at an F45 in Buckhead (near Atlanta, Georgia) a month-to-month unlimited membership costs $199 per month. But if you pay for a 3-month membership the price is $537 (or $179 per month) and if you pay in advance for a 6-month membership, the price is $1,014, or $169 per month. With these memberships, you can attend unlimited classes or have access to online workouts (through the F45 Challenge app) or live classes via zoom.

In a downtown Minneapolis location, a drop-in class will cost $25. Or you can choose a 6-month membership for $929 (about $154 per month) or an annual membership for $1,739 (just under $145 per month). Like other locations, these fees involve access to online workouts.

Calories Burned

According to the numerous sources, F45 founder Rob Deutsch has said that the workout can burn 500–800 calories, which is a substantial number. Of course, the total number of calories you burn may vary based on the intensity of your workout, your weight, and other factors.

A calorie calculator estimates that a 120-pound person can burn about 360 calories when doing vigorous bodyweight exercises for 45 minutes. A 160-pound person is likely to burn about 384 in the same amount of time.

When asked about data to support their number, Lauren Vickers, F45 Athletics Team Manager offered anecdotal evidence to Verywell Fit, "Our members regularly reach these targets in F45 workouts, and can use our Lionheart wearable trackers to receive their data post-session.

The F45 Challenge

Another component that makes F45 unique is the F45 Challenge, a highly-promoted fitness and lifestyle challenge that takes place four times per year. Each Challenge lasts 45 days and includes nutrition advice, dietary guidance, fitness testing, and of course, the workouts. F45 teams compete against one another to earn prizes.

The F45 Challenge has its own app where members can access tracking tools, online workouts (including stretching and flexibility training), and meal planning guidance such as recipes, meal prep tips, information about macronutrients and macronutrient balance, and calorie recommendations.

F45 also has a partnership with Trifecta Nutrition, a meal delivery service that caters to athletes. During the F45 Challenge, you can order specific meals from Trifecta that fit within the Challenge guidelines.

The Challenge is divided into four phases: Spring Training (10 days), Regular Season (10 days), Championship Rounds (10 days), and World Series (15 days). During each phase, you focus on different lifestyle and training elements that increase in detail and intensity.

For example, during Spring Training the dietary focus is simply on making sure you are consuming the right number of calories. During Regular Season, you'll learn more about macronutrient balance and strive to meet macro goals. During the Championship Round, you tend to micronutrient goals, and during the last phase you maintain your new meal plan to improve body composition and athletic performance.

The period after the F45 Challenge is called the Maintenance Phase. During this time you are encouraged to maintain the results you gained during the Challenge and set new goals.

Pros and Cons

Like all workouts, there are certain elements of F45 that work well for one exerciser and don't work as well for another. So it can be hard to categorize aspects of F45 as necessarily a "pro" or a "con."

For example, the use of video screens for exercise instruction may be very helpful for some and a drawback for others. So, take the comparison with a grain of salt. Each pro and con is listed below according to where it might fall for most people. But consider each element objectively, being mindful of your own preferences.

Pros
  • Screens promote individual focus

  • Expert trainers support diversity

  • Total body workouts are efficient

  • Trainers support individual needs

  • F45 Challenge focuses on lifestyle and wellness goals

Cons
  • Screens can be monotonous

  • Videos lack diversity

  • Short warm-up and no cooldown

  • Pace may be difficult for newbies

  • Some workouts can be unbalanced

  • Calorie estimate may be too high

Pros

There are many reasons why the F45 system is popular around the country and across the globe.

F45 Screens

You'll see quite a few large screen TVs around every F45 studio and during a workout, each screen displays a different exercise. As a participant, you just need to know which screen to follow.

Not only does this make things simple, but it takes the focus away from other exercisers. Instead, the focus is on your own individual achievement. And if you are a person who doesn't like group exercise because you are afraid that other people in class might watch you, there is no fear of that here because everyone is focussed on the TV displays.

Highly-Qualified, Community-Based Trainers
F45 trainers are expected to hold a personal trainer certification as well as first aid, CPR and AED certification. In addition, Lauren Vickers says they are required to go through an F45-specific program to learn skills, knowledge and capability to run sessions in F45 studios. She adds that "ongoing education and updates based on feedback and learnings are taken into account at all times."

Of course, hiring decisions are made at the local level. At the downtown Minneapolis location, owner Marc Shriver told Verywell Fit that each trainer must have a certification in at least one type of nationally recognized program, whether it be ACE, NASM, or CrossFit, etc. He says they also look for trainers who will build a diverse community.

Marc Shriver, Downtown Minneapolis F45 owner

We want to make sure that (our trainers) understand the importance of creating a “community” atmosphere that is inclusive of all people. During the interview process we ask specifically what they think a community is within the fitness industry, and the way they respond is a true indicator if they will fit in.

— Marc Shriver, Downtown Minneapolis F45 owner

Shriver goes on to say that their definition of community means that all genders, athletic types, races, and orientations, are welcome and included. "We want to encourage everyone to feel welcome in our studio. So, by developing a sense of community, we feel we can accomplish that."

Efficient, Total-Body Workout

One of the most appealing aspects of this workout is that you get a total body workout in a short period of time. Almost every exercise is a compound movement that requires stability and use of bodyweight (sometimes along with another weight, such as a barbell or kettlebell).

Modifications and Support Offered

F45 trainers know the workouts and regularly ask at the beginning of class if anyone has an injury or needs a modification. They are well-trained in providing alternative movements and can also grab alternate equipment if necessary. Trainers are also skilled at knowing their participants by name and calling out accomplishments.

Wellness Focused

F45 (and specifically the F45 Challenge) differs from some other studio-based workouts in that it offers a comprehensive lifestyle approach. You get combined diet and exercise guidance as well as other lifestyle tips, such as information about the importance of goal-setting and rest.

Cons

Like any workout, there are certain features of the F45 workout that may not work for everyone.

Screens Can Be Monotonous

In every exercise of every workout on every day at F45 you watch the same person in the same outfit doing exercises against the same plain backdrop. In a standard group fitness workout, usually the instructor brings some personality and daily variation to the workout, but because at F45 you watch pre-recorded exercises, it's the same look every time. For some, this can be monotonous.

Videos Lack Diversity

Again, since the same fit person is displayed on the video for every exercise of every workout, you won't see any diversity demonstrated here. For some, this may seem exclusionary or limiting. For instance, an exercise can look slightly different on a larger body than on a very lean body. And modifications or different body types are not shown on the exercise videos during the workout.

Short Warm-Up and No Cool Down

The F45 warm-up is only about two minutes and thirty seconds long. During this brief session, you may be doing movements that involve jumping as early as a minute or so into the warm-up. For some, this may not be adequate time to get your body fully prepared, especially given the vigorous nature of the workout.

There is no cool-down offered at all, although Vickers says that participants can always stay and cool down if they choose. She says that the warm-up is short to be time-efficient.

Fast-Paced Workout

This is an element that may be a "pro" for some, but a drawback for others. In conversations with some F45 participants, the pace was sometimes noted as a drawback.

In the words of one regular participant, "the workout is fine for me because I'm in shape and I know most of the exercises, but others might struggle with it or get injured." Of course, trainers are there to assist, but if someone was not adept at using different equipment, they may spend the bulk of the interval just finding and learning how to use different tools or movements.

Unbalanced Exercises

Since each exercise is shown on a video loop, you're not likely to see how or if both sides of an exercise are performed. And since you don't know the full exercise line-up in advance, there is no way of knowing if you are supposed to alternate sides of certain exercises, or do one side and then do the other side in a future interval or set.

For example, during one workout, the exercise shown was a Bulgarian split squat with the right leg forward and the left leg back on a step. This exercise is hard to alternate and since the right leg is shown in front on the video, the participant would likely assume this set-up.

But for this workout, there were three intervals of varying lengths. There is no way to know if you place the workload on the left leg in the next interval (with a different duration) or if a split squat with the left leg in front will be included as an exercise further along in the workout (as it turns out, it was not). In short, there would be no way for this exercise to work both legs evenly. This issue was seen in several workouts.

Calorie Estimate May Be High (For Some)

It is common for workout companies to market a specific number as typical calorie expenditure. But many times, these numbers reflect a best-case scenario. Both the Verywell calorie calculator and the American Council on Exercise calorie calculator showed lower calorie estimates for this type of workout.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't burn that number of calories. But those who do are likely to be larger and work at a very high heart rate.

How It Compares

High-intensity workouts like F45 have increased in popularity both in the U.S. and abroad. Many of them have a circuit-style, a competitive angle, and employ a wide range of equipment.

Orange Theory

You'll find nearly 1000 Orange Theory studio locations around the U.S. with additional studios in 14 countries. Like F45, the studios are owner-managed and they offer a workout with a wide range of equipment. Each session lasts 60 minutes and provides a total body workout. Also like F45, every studio around the world offers the same workout on the same day.

At Orange Theory, participants are provided with a heart rate monitor and the data is displayed on a monitor throughout class. The workout takes place on treadmills, rowing machines and on strength training equipment (such as TRX suspension trainer, a medicine ball, or dumbbells). Like F45, each person rotates through exercises at their own station at their own pace.

Orange Theory prices vary based on location and there are different price levels available, but you can expect to pay around $59 per month (four classes per month) or up to about $159 per month for unlimited classes.

Barry's Bootcamp

Barry's Bootcamp bills itself as the original high-intensity interval workout. They pride themselves on the community atmosphere and inspired music. They also advertise that you can burn "up to 1000 calories" per workout.

The original Barry's Bootcamp workout is 50% treadmill (in the "red room") and 50% strength training on the floor. You can also choose to do a "double floor" where you visit the floor twice for strength training instead of running. Different days have a different body part focus.

Barry's has fewer locations with gyms primarily in larger cities. Prices also vary by location but are slightly higher than F45. At their Buckhead location near Atlanta, you'll pay $190 per month with a recurring membership and up to 8 classes per month. The cost is $270 if you want 12 classes per month and $320 per month if you want 16 classes per month. A single class is $30.

CrossFit

Unlike F45, Orange Theory, and Barry's Bootcamp, CrossFit usually doesn't offer stylish studios for their workouts. In fact, CrossFit "boxes" are often stripped down (but well-equipped) workout spaces. This adds to the no-nonsense, hard-core appeal of CrossFit.

The workouts (called WODs or "workout of the day") are high-intensity workouts that combine metabolic conditioning with strength training. They are relatively short in duration as compared to F45, Orange Theory, and Barrys. Some CrossFit WODs may last just 15 to 20 minutes but are very intense.

CrossFit sessions vary in terms of pricing. Also, since the WODs have become increasingly popular, many of them are available for free online and can be completed with no equipment or very basic equipment at home.

A Word From Verywell

The workouts at F45 may be a great fit for you. The studios promote a sense of community, provide a complete total-body workout, and also offer other lifestyle and wellness guidance. But not every workout is perfect for every body. In addition, since each studio is owner-managed, what you get at one studio may be very different from what you get at another.

Before investing, take advantage of an introductory offer and take a week to try it out. Introduce yourself to the trainers and let them know if you have any injuries or special needs to give them the opportunity to cater to your needs. Then decide if it is a workout—and a lifestyle—that seems sustainable for you.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Pricing. Membership Options. F45 Buckhead.

  2. Membership Options. F 45 Downtown Minneapolis

  3. Shrivers, Marc. Email interview. February 9, 2021

  4. Vickers, Lauren. Email interview. March 8, 2021

  5. ACE Tools & Calculators. American Council on Exercise.