The fitness industry is kind of a wild west, anything goes and anyone can start a “movement” culture, claim it to be scientific and then sell it. F45 training is not exempt from this blueprint, that really has its origins rooted in capitalism rather than in the field of scientific endeavor. When selecting what is F45? Or F45 near me on their website one of the first statements says “It’s innovation”. When buzzwords like these get thrown around, along with “functional”, “science” and “results driven” it muddies the waters for anyone looking to make a decision about which direction to go in relation to health and fitness. Much like engineering in all its forms there really needn’t be separate opinions outside of the tested methods that stand up to the rigors of real world application, over a long period of time. F45 training really did grow like wildfire, not because of its efficacy but more for reasons like affordability, ease of access and easy to follow structure where members can simply follow a set of exercises in circuit and get that “workout” in for the day. But is F45 training really worth the sweat?
When it comes to training there really needs to be 3 questions asked before deciding if something is worth doing.
- Is it beneficial?
- Is it applicable?...and
- Is it sustainable?
The first question may seem like an obvious yes to many, from a layman's perspective any form of exercise is great, so therefore F45 is great. The second question relates to if it is applicable in everyday life, again, from a superficial vantage point most of us correlate any form of muscle gain/strengthening and cardiovascular workouts as a net positive, therefore F45 training ticks the box. The third question relates to sustainability, meaning how does this form of training stand the test of time, is there an injury rate related to it and is it long term ok for my joints? It is a question that not too many give much thought to that we at Functional Patterns put as one of our highest priorities.
Are injuries simply an unfortunate side effect of working out?
It is a common narrative in the fitness industry that injuries are simply an unfortunate outcome of working out, many industry leaders have normalized this narrative, especially within the last 10 years, as injury rates continue to soar amongst laymen within high intensity workout systems. F45 training fits this narrative and although studies like this 1. show an injury rate of 9 injuries per 1,000 training hours, it’s important to note that even though it seems like a low number it is still almost double the rate from before the study enrolment which was 5 injuries per 1000 training hours. It is also worth adding that this study is only 6 weeks in length and therefore really misses the question entirely “Is it sustainable?”. At Functional Patterns we really question the science conducted in relation to training and working out as there really are no longitudinal studies to show what happens over the course of years and even decades in relation to how we train. This is important because although in a short period of time we definitely see injuries within HiiT workout systems like F45 we are certain that over longer periods the injury rate is much much higher than the studies suggest as many of our clientele have come to us looking for a solution to the problems they have developed from doing F45 and similar training routines.
Another aspect we question is how applicable it is to everyday life, F45 training is predominantly based in the sagittal plane of motion, as humans we move in multiple planes of motion.
- Sagittal plane (visualize a squat, deadlift, or bench press)
- Frontal plane (think starjumps)
- Transverse plane (rotation)
- Longitudinal (up/down)
The combination of these 4 planes makes up our movement in space. When it comes to sustainability we believe strongly that learning to move efficiently through the combination of these 4 planes is absolutely imperative to developing long term joint health and physical fitness. Why? Because our primary modus operandi in the realm of movement is walking, running and throwing. According to the science of anthropology these movements are really what define us from a biomechanical point of view. This article 2. states that “Walking upright on two legs is the trait that defines the hominid lineage: Bipedalism separated the first hominids from the rest of the four-legged apes..” F45 training, along with countless other novelty systems ignores this fundamental fact about us, that we move through specific patterns that involve the rotation of our spine, hips, legs and arms. If your training doesn’t account for these movement realities then it is highly likely that problems will occur sooner or later.
Many of you may be thinking “who cares, I just want to work out, why are you bringing up seemingly unrelated articles on early hominids?”. The answer relates to all three questions mentioned early, because our training needs to be beneficial, applicable and sustainable, and the only way to achieve that is to train in a way that respects our biological blueprint. Not only that but to do so in a way that optimizes our core functions to give ourselves the best chance for long term fitness without the unwanted side effects of joint pain or injury.
From the desk to the gym, working out the problem vs working out
It is becoming mainstream knowledge that modern day humans have become more and more sedentary, so it stands to reason that we need to counter this sedentarism with some form of daily training. What we don’t account for is that sitting makes up a small portion of our woes and that really our problems are much deeper and insidious in nature. There probably isn’t a human alive that has perfect symmetry in movement or in structure, the vast majority of us have quite glaring asymmetries, for example if a person plays golf their whole life they will develop an obvious bias toward rotating one way over the other. This is easy to see. Other common asymmetries that spring to mind that most of us can relate to in some way or the other are things like scoliosis, uneven shoulders, one side of the pelvis hiking higher on one side than the other, or even one foot that appears to rotate out more than the other. What is not easy to see is that most of us have these asymmetries from birth and we simply wire them in throughout our life. To address this we have to be a little more calculated with how we train our bodies, if training is to be applicable to everyday life it needs to account for our unconscious asymmetries and work to balance them out so that we don’t develop larger problems as we age and our bodies become less forgiving to the stressors that we put on them. F45 training simply cannot account for the complexities of human movement and our wired in asymmetries.
Results by Jen Calleja FP HBS: Poor posture is very normal these days. We take the guesswork out of correcting posture and in turn, your asymmetries
At Functional Patterns we have made it our mission to account for the largely unnoticed variables in the human body, and as a result we have a negative injury rate, meaning that no matter where you are as it relates to your physical capabilities our system can scale up or down to suit and build up from there. We do this by taking a systems approach to training, we ask the question, what are the priorities when it comes to movement? Standing, walking, running and throwing make up these priorities and from there we are able use these movement blueprints as guides to then help our clients to move better. Instead of training like an athlete we take the movement attributes of one and upload that into our clients bodies through a system of carefully innovated corrective exercises and dynamic training. We can then re-map our clients movement habits and unwind the lifetime of asymmetries they have ingrained into themselves, leading to a pain free life. Who wouldn't want that?
So, next time you think of typing “F45 near me” in the google search engine type in Functional Patterns instead and see for yourself the results of a training system that seeks to help all our clients to really figure out their dysfunctions, and not just sell you on the idea of fitness as a mindless pursuit in and of itself.
This is what we mean when we say “Train intentionally, not habitually”