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Could F45 be the next boutique fitness studio to go mainstream?


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Just two years ago, Well+Good predicted that the Aussie fitness franchise F45 Training would explode in a big way. And with plans to open hundreds of new studios internationally in 2018, it’s fair to say it’s well on its way to becoming the next boutique workout model to enter the mainstream, alongside Orangetheory, CorePower Yoga, and Pure Barre.

Since we last caught up with its founder Robert Deutsch, F45 has sold 1,150 studio franchises in 36 countries—275 of those will open in the United States in 2018. And this is just a warm-up: Deutsch says plans are in the works to expand even more in the States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Asia in the near future.

The 45-minute, team-based HIIT workout has tons of devotees (celebs like Hugh Jackman and Nicole Richie are fans), and class types rotate. There are currently 31 different workouts (buh-bye, boredom!) and each class has a name and focus: The “Gravity” class, for example, is focused on bodyweight strength training. The F45 signature combo of HIIT, circuit training, and functional movements is a part of each one.

Variety is part of why Deutsch thinks F45 has captured the hearts (and dollars) of fitness fans across the globe. “When we first started the business, we only had five [types of classes],” he says. “We’re adding 1,000 new exercises each year and new equipment. The workout really does have a huge amount of innovation to it.”

Scroll down to see what’s new with F45—and where new locations will be opening up next.

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F45 Training expands workout studio locations
Photo: F45

How F45 is expanding (fast)

In 2016, F45 had a modest 20 studios in the U.S. Today there are 135. And by the end of this year, “we’ll be in California, New York, Florida, and Texas,” says Deutsch, adding that F45 will soon be in 36 different states.

And while Deutsch brushed off a recent report by the London-based outlet City A.M. that F45 would be going public, he also said there’s a chance. “It definitely won’t happen in the next 12 months. I don’t want to say in the next 24 months because who knows what will happen,” he says.

One thing that is definitely happening? F45 locations on college campuses where the university is the franchisee. “We’re opening inside American universities, which has never been done before by any franchise business,” he says. “We just opened at the University of Texas, and we’ve got 12 operating campuses.” According to a press release from F45, another 18 universities are currently negotiating contracts to open college-run studios.

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F45 Training expands workout studio locations
Photo: F45

It’s doubling down on the digital boom

F45 studios feature heavily integrated tech: Screens are installed throughout studios to help class-goers stay on track, and they offer optional custom heart-rate monitors. The studio also developed its own heart-rate monitoring system, the LionHeart, which was introduced 18 months ago.

This isn’t the first time it’s created its own tech either—Deutsch says they build the majority of the digital tools they use themselves, which is why he refers to the brand as the “Apple of health and fitness.” Another example of its tech-forward focus is its “smart” studio design. “When you come into the studio, it recognizes you. It’ll send you a PDF doc with how many calories you’ve burned, and where you peaked and dropped in the workout,” says Deutsch. “It tracks your goals and tracks what you’ve done in the past. It gives you a score. So everyone’s in the class competing but it’s relative.”

And based on the growth plans Deutsch has for F45, it’s fair to say that when it comes to his own goals, he’s following his own advice.

If you’re looking for yet another reason to pick up the weights, this study might convince you. And, find out why Lea Michele says exercise is about more than working that bod.

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