Fitness Review: What is F45?

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get my teeth into F45! Here’s my review of my past 3 weeks at F45 Wynyard in Sydney’s CBD and we hear from Chris Penfold, the studio’s owner, about why fitness fans are going nuts for it.

What is F45?

F45 stands for Functional 45 (each class is 45 mins long). “F45 Training combines elements of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Circuit Training, and Functional Training.”(1)

The F45 craze started in 2012 in Australia, with a clear mission to find the best types of workouts,  to vary those workouts every day and make them accessible to the masses.

No two workouts are the same. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are cardio focused, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are resistance workouts. F45 Wynyard also run a 60 minute class on a Saturday which is  combination of both – and let me tell you it’s a great way to start your weekend! 

What is F45 like?

It’s a force of nature. Energetic. Fast. Functional. Personal. Competitive. Efficient. Planned with military precision. Exciting. Friendly. Fun. 

The trainers are what makes each studio unique, and the trainers at Wynyard certainly fulfil the vision the F45 co-founders “highly-capable, charismatic instructors to lead the workouts to motivate people to reach their potential.” Chris, Zoe and Emanuele make the sessions really enjoyable and they get the best out of everyone.

What I have got out of F45

I’ve been training in a gym for 3 years now and while I’m in a routine of getting myself to the gym 4-5 times a week, I know I could be pushing myself more. I train alone during the week and I was missing the competitive energy you get in group training.

I have been really impressed with the variety and the new exercise combinations I’ve learnt. With bodybuilding you move in 1 or 2 planes of motion, yet with functional training you move in multi planes – which is more realistic for the way we move in our everyday lives. We bend, lift and twist in all directions when putting the shopping away or picking up bub so we should train our bodies in the same way.

The competitive nature of pushing yourself to be better than you were the last time you did that exercise, or being totally honest you want to be better than the person you’ve been partnered with. There I said it 😉

I have tightened up physically in the past few weeks that I’ve been going to 5 classes per week which was my goal leading up to a trip back home to England to see friends & family. My cardiovascular fitness has also had a boost. My favourite thing about F45 has to be that I don’t have to think about what I’m doing, the circuit is laid out for me, there are videos on the plasma screens of the exercise I’m meant to be doing in case I’ve forgotten and I don’t have to worry about anyone being on the machine / piece of equipment I need like in a gym. It’s bliss! 

Meet the man behind F45 Wynyard

Chris Penfold is the owner of F45 at Wynyard in Sydney. He tells us more about what attracted him to the business, & why it gets such great results.

First of all, tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m a Personal Trainer, ISSN certified Sports Nutrition Specialist, IAPC certified contest prep coach and over my 7 years in the fitness Industry I’ve taken on many more roles including trainer and assessor roles to help educate the coaches of the future. I’m really passionate about all elements of movement, performance, physique, fitness, overall health and balanced success across all areas of life. My promise to clients and anyone that I get to impact in some way is to always continue my own learning and developing in order to help as many others as possible achieve success with their goals.

My main two businesses are Natural Physique Sciences Coaching and F45 Training Wynyard. I’m also in talks regarding some new business collaborations, which are only in very early stages so no information to disclose yet, but I am very excited about the rest of 2017 and beyond!


That sounds really exciting, so we can tell you’re driven when it comes to business and getting results for your clients. How about your own sporting achievements?

I’m a lifetime Natural Bodybuilder (achieving numerous top 3 placings over years of competition) and also a competitive powerlifter (achieving top national rankings). I always have very clear goals, striving to always be moving forward towards new objectives and accomplishments.


How did you start turning your passion into the profession you have today?

My passion stems more from the ideals that fitness can represent. You can model any success in life on the same approach that is required to get the best out of your body. I can’t say it’s my only passion but I am a big believer that success is multi-faceted so leaving out physical fitness from that equation is not an option!
I think that my ability to be highly application driven/focused is what placed me in a position to be successful with fitness as a career. In other words you need to be able to understand what elements of theory can be used in real world application to continually move toward your goal. Consistency is where most fall down and that has always been my strong point, I was attracted to the F45 model because it provides such a good structure for people to stick to consistently (long term) and does so by also addressing improvements to functional movement (which is essentially holistic human movement).


How would you describe your philosophy about being fit & healthy?

I’d say my main viewpoint is that there is no out of the box approach.

  • Start with intention, build a good plan but most importantly evolve the plan continually to ensure it establishes your individual best approach and journey.
  • The science is important because it supplies us the evidence and theory we need to build foundations for our plans, but correct application of that information with respect to one’s circumstances and desired outcome is what separates the successful from the stagnant.

How do F45 workouts differ from other workouts out there?

Firstly people get too caught up in minutia. The realities of fitness is that workouts vary far less than what is perceived. F45 get it right by just simplifying. The small things that fundamentally make no difference to people’s results are left out of the equation and all the major things that “work” are the underpinnings of the whole model. Basically we take all primary “functional” human movements, vary them in as many ways possible to keep it interesting and challenging and use them in a structure that is proven to be superior for reducing body fat and increasing lean muscle (high intensity training).

Keep an eye on the F45 Wynyard Instagram page for videos of the sessions for fitness inspiration.

Click the video above

Why do you think F45 is so popular?

  1. It’s a structure that the majority of people can stick to easily and will constantly produce results, provided they are challenging themselves appropriately.
  2. The team environment. Humans are hardwired to pick up social cues so we can mould our behaviours to adapt to those of the “larger group” or more specifically, those immediately surrounding us. By training in a team setting we generate an environment that feels “better” to be in on both a conscious and subconscious level. This again feeds into the first point around why the structure promotes long term adherence.


F45 has been going since 2012, born in Australia, with your studio opening recently in 2017, so you’ve clearly identified that this fitness trend is going to stick around. Is F45 rolling out more around the world now?

It’s definitely sticking around for the long haul. I know it’s the fastest ever Australian Franchise roll-out (of any industry) and I think it also ranks about 4th globally. F45 has grown to 750 studios globally in just 3 years and I dare say that they are likely to come close to doubling that number over the course of 2017 alone (Their goal is over 1200 studios this year) with a strong reception now taking place in the U.S. From there, would be difficult to say the ongoing rate of expansion, but overall growth will be exponential!


What’s your favourite quote or mantra you can’t live without?

I have many, though I’d say my favourite is; “fear is usually not real, so it is not usually the result of any occurrence that takes place in reality. It is predominantly fabricated by our own psychology. The word itself has been said to be an acronym standing for False Events Appearing Real”.

I like this one because once you understand it, there are really no barriers in your way to achieving anything except your own mindset!


Who or what gives you the most inspiration?

I’d say myself. Not sure how that will come across, but my view is that lack of intrinsic drive or somewhat contrary to that, perhaps a lack of the ability to detect or identify intrinsic drive is often another barrier for the majority that feel “uninspired”. I do have a lot of mentors and others close to me that inspire me in different ways as well however I’d still pick “self-motivation” as the biggest inspiration.

Emanuele still managed to get everyone to smile after a hard session

What’s your best tip for women wanting to live a healthy & fit life?

Easy, I will give 3:

  1. Don’t ever be afraid of weight or resistance training – in fact do more of this than anything else in your regime.
  2. Don’t get sucked into all the marketing gimmicks that dominate the fitness industry – there are no such things as “quick solutions” to longer term problems such as wanting to improve health or body composition. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If it promises you can get away with doing less to get more, ignore it. And if you ever think you are smarter than your body, you’re definitely not.
  3. Keep it simple and go for balance – habits are part of human operation, we need them. Never try to drastically change or overhaul your habits. Start with small adjustments and progressively evolve your approach i.e. swap your habits for new ones until you reach a point where you can be consistent with it all and see continual results. Plateaus are not normal, that comes from “average” mentality, if you plateau, then you need to adjust something. Simple as that. Could be the way you’re training, eating or something less obvious. If you don’t know how to adjust, work with a professional that goes by these same principles, never one that says there is only one way to do things or it “won’t work”.


Go along and meet the team at F45 Wynyard, sign up for your 7 day free trial here or if Wynyard isn’t local for you use the F45 studio locator to find the closest one to you. 

Have fun, comment below if you go to F45 and share what you love about it.

Lucy x



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