Both CrossFit and F45 Training are two of the fastest-growing and most popular fitness regimes in the world. Both modalities offer specialized high-intensity, functional fitness programs that have armies of passionate fans and members.
CrossFit is the better known of the two and has a 10-year head start. But F45 is catching up. CrossFit is still growing, but losing some ground to the upstart. Searches on Google have been trending downwards for the former while F45 is growing. With the recent controversies at the highest level in CrossFit HQ, F45 might even have the edge among conscientious fitness fans.
CrossFit is an American high-intensity functional fitness franchise based on group classes. The chain has over 15,000 boxes (what the CrossFit gym is referred to) across the globe. Founded in 2000, CrossFit has seen stupendous success, clocking $4 billion in revenue in 2015.
F45 Training is an Australian personal fitness gym brand that offers similar high-intensity team training to CrossFit. The band has seen rapid growth since its inception in 2011 (and first gym opening in 2012), becoming one of the hottest franchise brands in the personal fitness category.
- 1-hour classes
- Group exercise class. Individual and team workouts
- Split into warm-up, skill component, weight lifting or gymnastics, Workout Of the Day (WOD)
- Short, intense workouts (the WOD is generally 10-20 minutes)
- Results are recorded daily for members to view
- Exercises can be scaled to suit abilities and accommodate athletes with injuries.
- More focus on strength and gymnastics than F45
- Instructor-led classes
- 15,000 affiliate gyms worldwide
- Founded in California, USA in 2000.
- Generally cheaper than F45
CrossFit functional fitness classes are taught by certified trainers. A typical session at CrossFit might include brief sessions of running, weightlifting, and gymnastics. The final workout is performed at an intensity that burns calories fast, increases fitness levels, and well, can leave you exhausted. Good trainers should have a clear idea of what workout intensity is required for people of different fitness levels and guide them.
One of the tenets of CrossFit is constant improvement. By scaling a workout (decreasing or increasing the weights or intensity) participants can improve their scores or personal best records incrementally. As most CrossFit instructors will record results on a whiteboard, most people use the scores to compare themselves to their peers. While this can be a motivating factor, it can also generate feelings of inferiority. A CrossFit box is not a place to remain anonymous.
On the other hand, CrossFit boxes maintain an environment of fun and bonhomie where members support each other and celebrate the wins collectively. If you particularly love challenges and relish learning new things, and if you're looking to get into strength training and gymnastics, CrossFit is a great option.
Though CrossFitters work out under the guidance of a certified coach, newbies should take extra care in following the techniques accurately, especially when you are lifting weights. CrossFit incorporates elements of Olympic Weightlifting and Olympic gymnastics. Even the basics in both can be difficult for the novice.
CrossFit's success is enshrined in its philosophy that aims to work for “not only for the known but also for the unknown”. Its founder Greg Glassman, who is a former gymnast, says that the most striking feature of CrossFit training is that it offers no particular specialization as such but is all-encompassing in itself.
- 45-minute classes (hence the name) of HIIT-style workouts
- Team-based training
- More focus on all-round fitness, calorie-burning, and efficient training than CrossFit
- Uses TV screens to demonstrate exercises
- Days of the week are designated “cardio”, “resistance”, “hybrid”, or “recovery”
- 1,750 studios in 45 countries
- Founded in Sydney, Australia in 2011
- Generally more expensive than CrossFit
F45 classes are 45-minute long functional workout sessions in small groups of 20 members. These are mainly HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) cardio and weight training workouts. Members are placed in groups on the circuits that F45 gyms have. Once the session is completed, groups swap and move on to another circuit.
The key principles of F45 are innovation, motivation, and results. Members are given different workouts every day, and every week the set of exercises changes to keep things fresh. Each program lasts 8 weeks.
F45 studios are essentially gyms, without heavy equipment, boxing bags, or treadmills. TRX straps, exercise balls, and free weights take center-stage but the arrangement and order of exercises change daily. “Team Training Life-Changing” functional HIIT classes are the theme. Fans consider the classes to be a lot of fun, despite the intensity. Time passes quickly and people get a sweat on before they know it. The team training concept employed in F45 is intended to nurture an egoless attitude. At the same time, self-improvement and results are encouraged. F45's goals are to inspire people to change their lifestyle by, in turn, taking inspiration from other members.
All members enrolled with the training program have free access to its nutrition program, which was designed to help F45ers maintain weight and energy levels. The training regime is popular with certain types of sportspeople – specialised programs for athletes and sprinters, in particular, are regularly rolled out.
- Owners of affiliates in both training modalities set their own prices.
- Booking happens through the booking system or method preferred by the box or studio owner.
- Both training styles have standardized or systemized workouts
- Correctly executed functional movements are a key element
- Both regimes offer nutrition guidelines.
The Business Of Fitness
Thanks in part to its popularity, which guarantees a stream of new clients, an affiliated CrossFit studio can be a profitable business. Affiliates pay $3,000 annually to CrossFit HQ for the privilege of using the company logo on marketing materials and registering members. Another $1,000 goes to get the trainers certified.
An F45 franchise is a more expensive affair, costing $50,000 a year just to get started. On top of this, there are royalty fees.
Consider both of these factors when you're paying your monthly fees.
Final thoughts on CrossFit vs F45
If you're wondering which of CrossFit or F45 is better, the answer, as in almost always in these cases, is “it depends”. F45 offers a more general HIIT exercise routine that claims to emphasize everyday movements. But the overall goal is general fitness through whole-body workouts.
On the other hand, CrossFit has a more expansive (and potentially exciting) program that demands greater strength and neurological adaptations. Since it is regarded as a pioneer in the functional HIIT-style training modality, CrossFit HQ's expertise has been time-tested and is highly regarded. As a business organization, it is much larger with greater brand recognition. It has more diversified programs, catering to all kinds of clients.
Both CrossFit and F45 are highly rated fitness brands. While CrossFit is already an established brand with an enormous volume of business, F45 is a new and exciting brand that's catching up and may well be on course to become the next CrossFit.
We hope this outline gives you a balanced look at both training regimes. It hopefully gives you a better idea of the differences and similarities between F45 and CrossFit. We recommend you try out a few classes at a different location for each. It's the only way to know for sure.
Which do you prefer?
CrossFit fan. Ex-personal trainer, triathlete, and cross-country mountain biker. Masters Competitive CrossFit athlete. Writer and blogger.