Sharing a full review of F45 and how it compares to Orangetheory.
Hi friends! How’s the week going so far? I’m so happy you liked the Valentine’s Day gift guide! If you have any awesome gift suggestions for the guys out there – my gift guide for Her is coming up early next week – please leave them in the comments section of that post.
For today, I wanted to chat about a new workout love and I’m SO pumped to share all of the details: F45!
If you haven’t tried F45 yet, you’ll probably start to hear more about it soon and see the fitness franchise pop up in your area.
Our beloved San Diego babysitter told me she loved F45 years ago and that I needed to check it out. We didn’t have one in Tucson, and when we finally got one, it was smack in the middle of lockdowns. Things started to calm down a bit and the kids were back in school, so I signed up for a free trial. Before I could take a class, I broke my pinky and couldn’t lift heavy weights for about 8 weeks! I thought I’d never take a class haha. Things got crazy, I totally forgot about it, and recently, a friend told me I needed to take a class with her.
3 weeks later and I’m hooked!
F45 vs Orangetheory (my full review)
What is F45?
F45 stands for Functional Training 45 and they’re functional-based 45-minute workouts.
From the website:
F45 is specifically designed to provide a functional full-body workout while improving energy levels, metabolic rate, strength, and endurance. The team mentality at F45 Training helps members transform their lifestyle physically and mentally while encouraging community growth and a no-ego attitude. F45 is one of the most time-efficient ways of training. We aim to burn up to 750 calories per 45-minute session.
During a class, you’ll have different set times and rotations, and you’ll use a variety of equipment as you rotate around the room. Each day has a specific focus, and the catchy names like Liberty, Renegade, and Hollywood, all correspond to the type of workout and intervals you’ll be doing.
I thought each class would be a total body split, but they have a different emphasis each day. There are a couple of pure cardio HIIT days each week, along with total body strength, and resistance with upper or lower body focus. (If you follow your own training split, reach out to your studio so you can figure out how to sub these workouts into your routine.) I think this is a style we’ll start to see more often in studio fitness – and it makes my heart happy because you don’t need to train your entire body and/or do HIIT every single day.
What equipment does F45 use?
– There’s a lot, including: TRX, BOSU, plyo boxes, sleds, SkiErg, kettlebells, battle ropes, dumbbells, barbells, Ybells, medicine balls, all the things. They switch up the equipment each day, so you never know which fun tools you’re going to use.
How is an F45 class structured?
– An F45 class starts with an exercise demo, in which the coaches explain the structure of the class and demonstrate the movements for each station. You could either be rotating between each station (ex: stations 1-9) and complete a set amount of rounds, or rotate within a “pod” (ex: 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B for 2 rounds then move on the next pod). The coaches provides examples of modifications and progressions during the exercise demo.
Next, you have about a 5-minute warmup consisting of bodyweight strength, light cardio, and mobility exercises.
From here, you move into the 45-minute workout. The intervals can range from 20 seconds to 1 minute before you repeat the exercise or switch the the next station. All of the stations are clearly visible on video monitors throughout the room, and there’s a loud beep when you stop each round, a countdown clock on the screen, and clear instructions for rotating to the next station and hydration breaks. I feel like this could be the potential for pure chaos, but the combination of the screens and the coaches make it easy to follow.
How many calories can I expect to burn in an F45 class?
If you’re going on a pure strength day, you can expect calorie burn to be a little lower. BUT don’t let this hinder you from strength days! Strength increases muscle growth which can improve our metabolic function and protect our bone density. Don’t skip it!
On a cardio day, you can expect to burn around anywhere from 400-800 calories (depending on fitness level, body size, body composition, age, exertion). Instead of focusing on calorie burn for your workouts, focus on how you FEEL. Challenge yourself, lift heavy-for-you weights, and see if you feel energized and happily sweaty afterwards. That’s a better metric for an enjoyable workout than strictly focusing on calorie burn.
How much does an F45 membership cost and is it worth it?
Prices vary depending on packages and new membership offers. Studios offer a free or super discounted trial period (I paid $20 for a week trial) and from there, you can decide if you want to do an unlimited membership or class packs. I ended up doing an 8 class pack (I’m pretty sure it was $129) and am excited to add this into my routine. I feel like the cost of F45 is very similar to Orangetheory and other studio fitness classes.
How does F45 compare to Orangetheory? Which one do you like better?
The big question! OTF fans, don’t throw anything at me, but… I like F45 more than OTF. And I’ve been an OTF fan since before P was born!
The biggest reason:
I’m so sick of the treadmill lol.
Even after studios re-opened I couldn’t bring it into my heart to get back into Orangetheory. I got a taste of what it’s like to walk and run outside again, and the treadmill in an orange-tinted studio just doesn’t push my workout buttons like it used to. There are still a ton of classes in my account that I haven’t felt like using, mostly because I focus more on a strength training split with HIIT and low-intensity steady state mixed in.
I also loooooooooooove that fact that F45 is only 45 minutes! Sometimes an hour feels too long and I’d rather get in and out more quickly.
I definitely prefer the cardio style of F45. I’ll be doing F45 for my HIIT days (along with my Fit Team strength workouts and teaching), and this is exactly the type of HIIT I love: agility drills, kettlebell work, plyo boxes, burpees and bodyweight drills, SkiErg, etc. I feel like it gives me the opportunity to try new exercises and get in an awesome workout with a community vibe.
Some other things I’ve noticed about OTF:
– The strength segments felt sparse to me. I feel like if cardio is more of your goal, and you love running and power walking on the treadmill, it might be a better fit for you. I also think they underutilized the equipment. We rarely used the TRX (for anything besides rows), BOSU, and ab dolly at our studio. (Rumon on the street is that they’re getting rid of the ab dolly?)
– Less form checks and true coaching. It might just be our studios here in Tucson – it was not like this in San Diego – but I saw potential injuries every.single.time I took an OTF class. The coach would be in their own world – literally dancing around to their playlist – as someone was trying to hoist a too-heavy dumbbell above their head using the muscles in their back.
– As a brand, I feel like OTF is more polished. It’s a well-oiled machine that does what they do extremely well, it’s cohesive, consistent, and branded in a perfect package with a big ol’ orange bow on top. Even so, I think that they’d benefit from making some small changes, like including pure Strength and HIIT days (focus on heavier lifting) and some muscle training splits, instead of working full body and HIIT to the max each day. I know there are a lot of people who do Orangetheory every day and it can be a recipe for overuse injuries, plateaus, hormone dysfunction, depleted immune system, decreased performance, and overtraining – ideally, you should only do HIIT max 3x a week on non-consecutive days. (Unless you’re an athlete training for a very specific event, like 400m sprints.)
Disadvantages of F45:
– Cost. Studio classes are expensive and with inflation and rising costs for everything, I just see it continuing to increase. It’s definitely an investment but something that’s worth it to me. The good news is that many studios are flexible with membership and class pack options and you can adjust your membership to suit your budget and personal needs.
– Fast and furious rotations make it less friendly for beginners. Sometimes you have to move quickly between stations and only have 20 seconds to get there. I could see how it would be overwhelming for beginners and while there are modification options, it’s definitely an intermediate to advanced style of training. If you’re a beginner, I’d make sure to get to class early and talk to the coach. I’m sure they’d be happy to know that you’re just getting started and this way they can help you with the movement patterns and rotations around the studio.
So, tell me, friends: have you tried F45?
If so, how do you think it compares to Orangetheory?
What’s your favorite studio fitness class right now?
More workout reviews:
Pure Barre vs. barre3
Les Mills TONE
What to expect at Orangetheory?