Functional to Fit: The 45-Second Fitness Trend

F45 is the latest fitness trend sweeping the US, Australia and elsewhere. It hasn't yet landed in Europe in a big way yet, but the principles exist independently. For those who struggle to self-motivate, and quickly bore of routine exercises, this is a kind of training that mixes it up. Burning up to 800 calories per 45-minute class, means it's the high-intensity workout that keeps you motivated, toned and in shape, but could also take a toll on your body without proper care.

The F stands for ‘Functional’ (basic functional movements such as pushing, pulling, squatting, rotating, carrying, etc.) and the 45, for the average number of seconds each training interval entails. Screens around the studio display what’s up next, videos of how to do each exercise. As with any kind of workout with less one-on-one training by a professional, there is a higher potential for injury due to improperly completion.

It seems to epitomize the dream many have of achieving maximum results in minimal time. The social aspect also appears to be a major differentiator for F45, as the company itself professes the fitness regime creates strong bonds between its regulars. Whether due to a competitive spirit, genuine friendship, connection from a shared trauma or a combination of all three, there seems to be a team spirit in it all.

As with many HIIT (high impact interval training) and circuit regimes, more marked results can be achieved in a shorter timeframe. It’s high intensity, meaning harder on your body. So, it is important to understand these strains on your muscles and joints, and protect them accordingly. Here are some considerations for a few different exercises during F45 and similar circuit or HIIT workouts:

Squats, lunges and burpees: These high-intensity exercises will contribute greatly to muscle definition and weight loss, but over time they take their toll on knees and ankles. Stiffness and swelling might be some immediate aftereffects of a HIIT or F45 workout, and there are creams, strappings and other methods to reduce that pain and discomfort. However, if swelling and stiffness persists, it is best to consult a physician.

Kettle bell swings, boxing and push-ups: Upper body and core work is also an important factor in F45 and HIIT. Ensure you work on your core strength to support your body, so as not to injure your back as you lift bodyweight and more.

Warming up and cooling down: In general, what F45 and other HIIT workouts do not account for is a warm-up and stretch-out at the end of a session. After highly intense training, your muscles need a cool-down and stretch, as well as a day or two of rest – otherwise you could be looking at a few days of pain, and might not see the results you want!