By Michelle Brown
Founder of FitSwich
So just over 8 weeks ago I reluctantly decided to sign up to the F45 8 Week Challenge at Ipswich Central. I say reluctantly as I was bloody nervous and it was so out of my comfort zone. I was so used to the safety of training one one one with a PT. I am just a Mum who loves health and fitness but literally only had the time to train twice a week for the last couple of years so definitely not the fittest person around. I was actually scared I would throw up or seriously embarrass myself in my first class!
I was someone who hadn’t had the best experiences with your typical gym group training classes, I haven’t found them enjoyable, generally found they required too much coordination (think step and body attack) and were quite repetitive which was really not motivating enough for me.
I was the kind of person that kept putting it off and just coaxed along. I had no real incentive…. I wasn’t morbidly obese, I didn’t have a medical condition that required me to get fitter or lose weight and I didn’t have a special occasion like a wedding that I needed to fit in a dress, so i’d always put “me” on the back burner and thought “I will start next week”.
But now I know what is possible in 8 weeks, I am going to try so much harder and continue to schedule my exercise first! Why? Because it has given me so much more energy, I feel way better about how my body looks and I have been able to deal with stress and juggling busy working/Mum life a whole lot better! Here are some of my results:
Although I was super uncomfortable taking and sharing this photo it was actually an eye opener seeing it, as that is definitely not what I mentally see in the mirror each day! We are our own worst critics!
Some people have been asking how I actually found the process and what it entailed, so as promised here is my VERY honest review of how I found the 8 week challenge process:
HOW OFTEN DID I TRAIN?
5 times a week most weeks – F45 (1x cardio, 2 x resistance 1x cardio/resistance session) and a 1x PT at BodySwitch Health & Fitness. The addition of the PT was great as gave me an additional strength training session to help focus on achieving my goal of building more muscle.
DID I STICK TO THE DIET PERFECTLY?
Short answer is no. Id say 98% of the time i did, there were a few social occasions where I strayed but I certainly made wiser choices. I also couldn’t give up chocolate (ladies you will understand) so was having a square or two of dark chocolate each day (don’t tell Shanee).
WAS I STARVING?
Absolutely not. In some cases I was even forcing myself to eat the meals – prior to the challenge I would skip breakfast regularly. There were a couple of days where I did feel hungrier but I just increased my protein and veggies which did the trick. This feeling was actually positive too as was a sign my metabolism speeding up! Things soon balanced out after a few days.
WHAT IS THE FOOD ACTUALLY LIKE?
The majority of it is delicious! The app provides great ideas on healthy recipes to keep things interesting. In the past i’d get stuck in the rut of making the same things over and over again, so the variety made it really easy to stick to. There were also opportunities to swap menu items from the same week, so if there was a recipe you weren’t keen on (i.e broccoli slice.. ewww), or didn’t have access to a microwave at work for brekky, there were always smoothie, chia pudding or overnight oat style options available to make things more convenient.
WHAT DID I LOVE MOST?
I actually loved and am officially addicted to the training style. It is really hard to put into words the vibe of an F45 class. The class format is so me! The music is pumping to keep you going and the exercises and intervals are structured perfectly to make you work hard and challenge yourself.
Classes are also as challenging as you want them to be. You choose your own weight and work at your own pace, you could always stop and have a breather if you needed to and there was no Commando style trainer yelling at you if you do! The classes were never easy but you just do your best and you get better every week. When you complete the class it is really a true sense of achievement, which mentally is amazing and makes you look forward to what you can conquer in the next class.
Week by week I also noticed changes in my body so this was even more incentive to keep going. Side note – there was also a time where I thought I had a hernia (just kidding) as I could feel two lumps on my stomach between my ribs…. little did I know these were abs emerging! Who would of thought there were muscles under my Mum Tum??
WHAT DID I HATE MOST?
Apart from the broccoli slice there were two things. One was forcing myself to cook all the time and be organised when I went out (i.e taking my snacks shopping), but it was well worth it and even with the challenge finished I am still using the app for recipes and tracking. I am still making the snacks and popping them in my bag for myself and my daughter which is also super handy.
The other things I struggled with, was the fact that one of my favourite shows MasterChef was airing at the same time, I was seriously fanging for all the meals watching it. Do yourself a favour and avoid cooking shows for the 8 weeks. Whilst I wasn’t hungry it is amazing what your brain thinks or is cued to think when it sees food!
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART?
Getting started. Literally the hardest part was stepping through the doors on that first day to do my first class. I actually knew no one and was terrified I was going to make a fool out of myself. Yes there were moments where I started bench pressing two different weights, skipped a station or tried to adjust my bike seat for a standing hill climb BUT everyone has done it, nobody is perfect and you have to start somewhere!
Both the members and trainers were so welcoming and these fears disappeared quickly once the first class kicked off. I really expected to walk in and find a room full of people from the covers of health and fitness magazines. Don’t get me wrong there are definitely some of these people there but the members are super diverse. There’s new Mum’s, grandparents, over 50’s, 20 somethings, 30 somethings, really everyone. And they are all at different stages of their fitness journeys, proving that it really is for everyone.
The fact that there were beginner and advanced options of all exercises too was also really reassuring. Things are explained in detail at the start of each workout, step by step and trainers are always on hand to help you out.
WHAT ARE THE TRAINERS LIKE?
One word AH-MAZING! All the trainers at F45 Ipswich Central are so much fun, honest and genuine. They know all the members so well and always make an effort to have a chat and check in to see how you are going with everything. They also have this uncanny ability to challenge you when you need it. They know exactly how much weight you can push and pop up like little Meerkats with a heavier dumbbell to help you out. They can also see your true ability when sometimes you can’t. The number of times I thought I couldn’t do something and then did was amazing. I just needed that little extra push and encouragement to believe in myself.
There were a few silver linings of the challenge for me and my family too:
- We saved money! No takeout or dining out like we regularly would. Not buying coffee also saved us too.
- My skin was near perfect – cutting out processed foods and minimising dairy was a god send.
- Grocery shopping was so much easier with the provided shopping lists.
- We never had that awkward “what the heck are we having for dinner” moment as everything was planned out day by day.
WHO WOULD I RECOMMEND THE CHALLENGE TO?
I honestly feel that anyone and everyone could really benefit from the challenge. But in particular if you are someone that is time poor, that lacks the self motivation to head into the gym and run yourself through a program (or pay a PT 5-6 times a week) it’s for you.
If you want to maximise your exercise time to be most effective and efficient, where you can just get in and crush it, it’s for you. The sessions are designed by experts to get maximum calorie burn and results. Just walk in, work hard for 45 minutes and you are done.
If you are someone that wants to get fitter and firmer but you keep saying you’ll start next week, do yourself a favour and bite the bullet. Yes it will be a little scary but setting yourself a time frame and a deadline will definitely give you that extra motivation and accountability you need to succeed. Trust me, when you know you have to jump on those scales in front of your trainer, you really do commit!
IN CLOSING…. The indescribable factor and the thing which to me is the glue that ties it all together or that x factor that keeps you going back, are all the elements of F45 Training combined. Its the innovative workout techniques, the variety of classes to constantly challenge you, the nutrition portal that is so easy to access, the amazing supportive trainers, the super welcoming members, the fun team environment, the sense of achievement when you get stronger, notice results or crush a workout and the awesome music to keep you going. All these things combined are the indescribable X Factor and ultimately the thing that kept me coming back each day and week. This X Factor is so hard to find, so when you do grab it with both hands and go for it. It’s safe to say I am officially addicted but am also now an F45 member!
*This post is in no way sponsored. All words, imagery & thoughts are my own.