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F45 training: new trend on the block

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few months, it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of F45 training, the brand new fitness method that’s swept across the island. We asked three passionate studio owners, MEL CASSIDY, JAYNE STREET and CAT STEPHENS, why they joined the movement.

f45 owners
Fit & Fab: three entrepreneurs talk business and body image

Tell us about your different career backgrounds.

Jayne: I’m a lawyer who’s passionate about keeping fit. I’d dabbled in the profession before – getting a training certification, leading some classes and training friends – but it was always as a sideline until F45 gave me a way to (semi!) make that switch.

Mel: Previously I worked in advertising, starting in account management; and then as a TV producer.

Cat: When I was 19, I bartended in the Cayman Islands for two years, before deciding to go back to school in Toronto to pursue a career in fitness. I’ve been a personal trainer since I graduated.

What inspired you to get into the industry, and why F45?

J: I’d wanted for some time to fully convert to the fitness industry, but couldn’t work out how to make the switch. I started going to Cat’s Tanjong Katong F45 studio last February, and by the end of my two week trial I was looking at buying into the franchise. No other fitness method had ever stopped me getting bored with my exercise regime, or had given me the results that F45 did in just two weeks.

M: I’d always been into team sports, but after moving to Singapore 11 years ago I started regular fitness training in a bigger way, playing Gaelic football and doing dedicated weekly training sessions. About four and a half years ago, our trainer (and a dear friend) Claire Dinsmore launched Bloom’n FIT, bootcamps for mums and babies. She moved to Atlanta not long after that, and encouraged me to qualify as a trainer and take over the business here in Singapore. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back. F45 is the best HIIT circuit training I’ve ever experienced, and the results speak for themselves. So, when I decided it was time to expand my existing business, I didn’t think twice – this method was the way to go.

C: It’s my passion, and I love meeting new people and helping them with their own health journeys. F45’s tagline is “Team Training, Life Changing”, and that says it all. We have an amazing tribe of members at our Tanjong Katong studio who all sweat it out each week, encourage each other and have fun together. I love going to work every day, because they make it so much fun! This method has been my style of training for years, and I love that it’s always changing and challenges you to achieve the best results.

Tell us about your individual fitness journeys.

M: I’ve always been reasonably fit, but when I was younger it was down to my involvement in team sports like softball, cricket and basketball, combined with a morning run to work. I did a couple of seasons of triathlon, but it was more of a hobby than a serious pursuit. After moving to Singapore my passion for fitness really took hold. There are so many great options here, and it became a way of life. I met lots of like-minded people, and had more freedom to participate in classes and events due to the change in my child-care situation.

J: I was always a keen sports player as a child and continued throughout my university years with netball, tennis and running. When I moved to Singapore ten years ago, I took up triathlons, went on to do two half-Ironman races, and continued with netball. After my second child was born, time became scarce, so running and bootcamps became my norm.

C: I struggled with being overweight as a child and can remember being on various diets as a pre-teen (the most important years for developing your body image). I finally started to play team sports, and in high school a group of friends and I joined a gym, which became our afterschool activity. I started losing weight and I never looked back. I trained for fitness competitions after high school and competed in several events in Toronto, Canada. That’s when I decided to go back to school to study a three-year Fitness and Lifestyle Management programme at George Brown College.

What keeps you inspired and motivated as entrepreneurs?

C: My dad is a self-made man, an entrepreneur and a big inspiration in my life. He came from very humble beginnings, and succeeded through hard work and perseverance. He gave me lots of advice over the years, but this message always stuck with me: “Why work for someone else, when you can work for yourself?” So I did!

J: Seeing my clients’ bodies change, and their strength and fitness increase. I received an email just this week from someone who had been to only two F45 sessions and was completely hooked. A number of clients have told us how it has changed their lives. Having a supportive household and fabulous friends helps keep me on track too!

M: My business partners, who are incredibly supportive and have faith in me, as well as my team of trainers who are second to none. I’m also inspired by my clients, who are achieving phenomenal results and are so appreciative. I really believe in the brand, and we’re provided with an amazing set of tools to help us succeed.

Many women have a love-hate relationship with their bodies. Has that ever been true for you, and if so how have you dealt with it?

J: Oh goodness, yes! I’ve always been athletic and maintained a good level of fitness, but genetically I’ll never be waif-like. But I feel comfortable in my skin these days, and I think that has a lot to do with the “strong, not skinny” movement, which I’m a big advocate of. I still think people place too much emphasis on that haunting number on the scales, which isn’t always reflective of how healthy our bodies are. I don’t diet anymore, but I eat clean with a balance of good fats, carbs and protein. Most importantly, I allow myself some treats so that I never feel like I’m denying myself the things I love – like red wine!

M: You can say that again! I’ve had two children and things just don’t sit the same after that – well, at least not for me! Most people have an area of their body that they are not entirely happy with. For me, it’s my hips and bottom. I am not sure I’ll ever be 100 percent happy with them, but being fit, strong and healthy is an amazing feeling that tends to override that.

C: Of course, I think we all have issues with our bodies to some extent, because of what society projects as to what women should look like. Over the years, I’ve learnt to focus on how I feel rather than how I look, and I think that’s important for all women to do. Am I getting stronger? Do I have more energy? This attitude is far more empowering than focusing on the scales. I also think women need to encourage and support each other more, rather than engaging in fat-shaming or skinny-shaming.

What does positive body image mean to you?

J: To me, it’s more about not focusing on body image. I have a young daughter, and I really want to try to help her to learn that how she looks doesn’t (and shouldn’t) govern who she is in the way that it did for me for many years. I talk to my kids about exercise being good for your heart, and being kind to your body by nourishing it with good food. I do what I can to shift the focus of eating well and exercising away from how you look, and towards how good it feels to look after yourself.

M: Being comfortable and confident in your own skin, and not being hard on yourself for every little imperfection, perceived or otherwise. It’s about striving for health, strength and wellbeing above everything else.

C: It’s not just physical, but mental and spiritual as well. We’re our own biggest critics, and it’s important not to fill our heads with negative thoughts, but to focus reaching our goals. I have good days and bad days, and I’m always checking in with myself to see what I need to do to balance out again. I might do a yoga class instead of cardio or weights, depending on how I’m feeling. It’s always important to listen to and love the body you’re in – it’s yours for life.

What are your health goals for 2017?

J: To get involved in some Spartan races and to take up yoga. These muscles get worked, but I’m conscious that they also need some stretching out!

M: I need to get my food intolerances under control and achieve a better work-life balance. Once the craziness of opening two studios within three months settles down, I hope to achieve this! I’d also love to run the Angkor Wat half-marathon and maintain a training regime of at least five sessions a week.

C: I want to be able to do ten unassisted pull-ups and lots of different plyometric push-ups like Jillian Michaels – she’s one of my inspirations!

f45 gym
“It’s always important to listen to and love the body you’re in – it’s yours for life.” – Cat Stephens

In your opinion, what’s been the worst health fad on the scene in the past year, and why?

J: Waist trainers – seriously, what the hell? Surely they can’t be comfortable, and they only give the illusion of achieving results. I’d much rather get into the studio to burn those calories.

M: Any programme that encourages fitness enthusiasts to heavy-lift or Olympic-lift to failure – meaning repeating the exercise to the point where your muscles temporarily fail – because, more often than not, this results in poor form and even significant injury.

C: To be honest, I don’t read up on the fads because that’s just what they are – fads! I believe in training hard and eating healthy whole foods – organic, when you can.

Any food recommendations?

J: Shinkansen for brown rice sushi, and BASE Athletica and Lorna Jane for active wear and important workout accessories.

M: Food at Super Loco, Lululemon sportswear, a great acai bowl at Acai Project, and coffee at The Craftsmen, Baker & Cook or Common Man (I like my coffee!)

C: Open Door Policy, which has an all-gluten-free menu; I have a gluten intolerance, so I’m in heaven there!

This article appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living. Head to the Shop to get your copy!

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