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What is F45 Training? What to know about Teri Hatcher's high-intensity workout

Teri Hatcher is a fan. Mark Wahlberg is an investor. Exercise experts explain what the buzz is about.
/ Source: TODAY

When Teri Hatcher recently posted a photo of her fit body at 55, the actress credited F45 Training for some of the striking results.

The regimen is getting a lot of buzz, so TODAY asked two experts about the exercise trend and whether it’s an effective way to get in shape.

What is F45 Training?

The company started in Australia and calls itself one of the fastest-growing fitness franchises in the world. It now offers group workouts in 1,045 studios across 48 countries. Actor Mark Wahlberg is an investor.

The “F” stands for functional training, or exercises that mimic everyday movement — such as lifting, squatting, jumping, twisting, pulling, pushing, punching, kicking, rowing and biking — which build lean, functional muscle, the company says. The exercises typically engage the full body.

The “45” represents the length of the workouts — 45 minutes each. Classes that focus on cardio are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; classes that focus on resistance training are scheduled on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; and a mix of cardio and strength training sessions are available on Saturdays.

The company says its workouts combine elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), circuit training and functional training, with more than 2,700 exercises and 36 workouts in its database. HIIT speeds up a person's metabolism and helps burn fat more effectively than slow, steady-state exercise, experts say.

Don’t expect a solo workout — the classes emphasize a “team training atmosphere.”

What’s the appeal?

Researchers have long known about the effectiveness of HIIT and this approach may be more accessible to people than CrossFit, said Keith Diaz, a certified exercise physiologist and an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

“CrossFit is people lifting tires and stuff like that. This is stuff that everybody can do and is perhaps not intimidated to do,” Diaz told TODAY.

“CrossFit has never appealed to me, but this does. It sounds like a killer workout that’s better aligned with the science than some of the previous trends that I’ve seen.”

Diaz also called F45 time efficient, condensing a lot of movement and intensity into a 45 minute class.

At the same time, group training has become increasingly popular for the past four years, becoming a top 10 fitness trend, said Walter Thompson, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine and lead author of the group’s fitness trends forecast. He's also an associate dean at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Millennials, who are a target demographic of gyms, spend a lot of time by themselves in front of screens, but they still need group interaction and many can get that in a group exercise class, he noted.

F45 Training has “a lot of these unique workouts that make exercise a bit less boring,” Thompson noted, but he said there’s nothing new about the concept of functional training.

“It’s brilliant marketing,” he said of the buzz surrounding F45. “I think it’s just brilliant packaging.”

Is it a good, healthy way to get in shape?

Diaz thought so, especially for someone who is already exercising regularly, but looking to spice things up or just do something different. He was a fan of the team concept, noting the social element and peer pressure can keep people engaged and eager to improve.

“If that’s what you need to get your butt in gear and get to the gym more often, go for it,” he said.

“I would say try it for sure, especially if you’re unhappy with your current exercise program,” Thompson added.

What to know before starting:

Both experts advised caution about starting F45 for someone who’s been inactive and doesn’t have a regular exercise routine.

“Don’t go from couch to 45 minutes of high-intensity exercise,” Diaz warned. Ask the trainers about a beginner level class and give yourself a lot of rest time to start with.

Everyone should remember that the more a person exercises at a higher intensity, the greater the rate of injury, Thompson said.

Diaz recommended attending no more than two to three classes a week to give yourself at least one day of recovery in between.

“Your body is not meant to and capable of handling such high intensity workouts all the time,” he said.

“For your body to get better from it, it needs to break down and build back up. If you don’t allow it to build back up, you’re not going to see changes that a lot of people are looking for.”