F45 – have you heard of it? Unless you’re living in Australia where it originated, there’s a good chance you haven’t. Up until this summer, I hadn’t either. But when a former coworker of mine told me he would be co-managing a location in Sunnyvale, I knew it was something I had to try out.
After the very first class I took, I was surprised at how similar the format was to the workouts I would design for myself. They are based on functional movements (aka NO MACHINES), different every time, and challenging. The battle ropes, sled pushes, kettlebell swings, agility ladders, box jumps, etc. made me feel like an athlete again. I was transitioning into my new manager role at LinkedIn and didn’t have the time to design workouts for myself, so the best part was all I had to do was sign up and show up. I honestly think F45 was able to keep me consistent in my workouts during that time, when it otherwise may have slipped off my priority list. As I started attending the classes consistently, I became friends with the coaches and other people taking the class, learned exercises I had never done before, and had access to hands-on coaching and coaches that knew how to make exercises more challenging if needed.
The “F” stands for functional, and 45 for the number of minutes from start to finish. They have cardio-based and strength-based classes. Cardio classes are more HIIT style with shorter rest (think jump ropes, spin bikes, rowers, battle ropes, every variation of burpee you can imagine, box jumps, etc.) and strength classes focusing on heavier weights, lower reps and usually longer rest (sandbag deadlifts, pull-ups, front squats, etc.). The music is upbeat and the coaches intentionally don’t use microphones to allow for individualized instruction and correction.
When I first started F45 in August, I was currently training for an Olympic Triathlon (1500m swim, 25 mile bike and 6.2 mile run). Even with my triathlon training, I made it a priority to attend two 5:30am F45 classes/week, knowing that strength training plays a huge role in preventing injuries. I finished the triathlon happy with my results, but also feeling uncomfortable. I had put on some unwanted weight throughout the summer that I wanted to shed – clothes were fitting tighter. As much as I would have loved a new wardrobe… I knew that wasn’t the answer.
When I found out about the F45 8-week Challenge starting in early October, I was in. As a personal trainer, I was always on the other side of a challenge and seeing my clients transform. I was ready for my own transformation. Was it the “right time” for a challenge? Of course not! Is it ever?? In those 8 weeks, I traveled to Anaheim for work, went to Austin for a girl’s weekend, celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Friendsgivings, attended happy hours at work, date nights with Mo, and more. There will never be a “right time.” There will always be barriers that you will have to overcome. Don’t let that stop you. JUST START.
My goals were:
- Feel better in my own skin/clothes
- Shed the 5-10 excess pounds I had put on
- NOT gain muscle – this one is very individualized for me. I gain muscle mass easily and while most people need to add lean muscle mass, that was not my person goal.
- Lose body fat / decrease body fat percentage
- Stay injury-free while training for a half marathon
- PR in my half marathon
- Enjoy the workouts I was doing
- Increase my F45 Playoffs score
I’m honestly so happy to say that I was able to achieve every one of those goals. Pictures don’t lie!
I feel better. Clothes fit better. I look better. And if that all wasn’t enough, I have the numbers to prove it based on the InBody assessment we took on the very first and last days of the challenge.
Weight: – 8.2 pounds
Muscle Mass: – 1.6 pounds
Body Fat: – 5.8 pounds
Body Fat Percent: – 3.3% (currently 15.1%, the lowest I have been since college!)
So… how did I do it??
First, I am going to start by telling you how I did NOT do it.
- I did not log, track or weigh a single meal. This was a HUGE accomplishment for me. After tracking macros for so long, I was able to finally eat intuitively and trust my body without using a calculation and food scale to tell me how much to eat. HOLY FREAKING FREEDOM!!
- I chose not to follow the F45 meal plan (because I get free food at work and didn’t want to spend the time/energy/money on meal prepping). They have meal plans to follow, which are great! I love that they provide healthy, easy recipes for people to follow.
- I did not restrict myself. When I was tracking macros and training to qualify for Boston last year at this time, I cut out most sweets, all alcohol, and brought pre-prepped foods to parties. If I did happen to have a bite of cake or glass of wine, I would feel extremely guilty. If a coworker baked something, I would politely refuse. Pot lucks?? No chance. Not this time! I enjoyed sweets and alcohol in moderation – guilt free.
What I DID do.
- I prioritized balance. I ate out at restaurants, I drank wine (…and tequila). I went out with my friends and went on dates with Mo. I never once felt like I was “missing out” or felt the need to binge on foods that I was restricting myself from. Granted, I would try to make healthier choices at restaurants, but also ate what sounded good.
- I ate a lot of healthy meals! Most of my meals were based on real, nutrient-dense foods. Examples below:
- Breakfast: a green smoothie, eggs and avocado toast, or Greek yogurt and berries
- Lunch: always different at LinkedIn! There’s a reason for the “LinkedIn 15″… but I focused on watching my portions, and usually chose a salad base, a protein source, loaded up on the veggies and topped with nuts, seeds or avocado for healthy fats.
- Snacks: I cut my snacking down a lot! I used to frequent our break rooms for plantain chips, yogurt pretzels, granola, dark chocolate almond butter cups, protein bars, etc. but I started swapping those with raw veggies and being mindful if I was actually hungry or just bored/stressed.
- Dinner: always something very, very easy to prepare… I’m not a chef and I don’t have the patience of one after a full day at work! I chose a combo of protein, healthy fat, and veggies. My favorite cookbooks right now are Run Fast Eat Slow, Run Fast Cook Fast Eat Slow, Racing Weight Cookbook, and Grain Bowls.
- I decreased my sugar intake. The less I ate sugar, the less I craved it. I went from wanting some kind of sweet treat after dinner every night (late night trips to McDonald’s for fudge sundaes, Ben & Jerry’s, etc.) to not even craving it. Now it’s an occasional treat.
- I upped my water intake to a minimum 64 oz.
- I prioritized my workouts. The fact that I actually enjoyed my workouts made this possible! If you don’t like running….. don’t run!! Find something YOU enjoy NOW! You might have enjoyed spin classes last summer, but if you don’t enjoy them now, then you need to find something else. If you hate working out after work, get in the habit of going to bed/waking up earlier. Find what makes you want to move!
- F45 2-3X/week. I only went to the cardio-based workouts, which was intentional. Because I wasn’t trying to build muscle, I didn’t do the strength-based workouts. I gave it 110% at these workouts. The coaches pushed me and I pushed myself to the max for those 45 minutes. There’s a difference between spending 45 minutes at the gym wandering around without a plan and spending 45 minutes with a plan and maxing out your effort.
- Muay Thai 1X/week. I tried a class at LinkedIn for the first time about a month ago and loved it! Now I block my calendar Mondays at lunch to make it a weekly workout.
- Half Marathon training. I was following a plan from my coach and ran 3-4X/week. Typically one longer run (7-13 miles), one speed workout, and 1-2 easy mid-distance runs.
- Core workouts. 10-15 minutes of core-targeted exercises 3-4X/week.
If you take anything away from this blog, I want it to be these three things.
- I ate clean most of the time, but made sure I never felt restricted from foods/drinks I wanted.
- I found workouts that I truly enjoyed doing.
- I planned out my workout schedule for the week and stuck to it.
As you start to make the habit of working out and eating clean, you start to WANT to. And when you want to, it starts to be a consistent routine. When you’re consistent, you start to see and feel results. And when you start to see/feel results, your motivation takes off on a whole new level.
All you have to do is start.
A huge thank you to the F45 North Sunnyvale team, my running coach/team and Muay Thai instructor. I couldn’t have done it without them! If you have any specific questions, please reach out. I’m happy to help your healthy, balanced fitness journey in any way that I can!