Rebecca was previously the chief sub on Healthy Food Guide. When she's not chasing around after her son Teddy or Harper the dog, you can find her blogging on

The best way to lose weight? Lift it. Team HFG headed to just-opened F45 Training London Bridge to feel the burn…


At Healthy Food Guide, we like to practise what we preach. Eat well, keep fit – it’s a happy balance. And as the team’s ages range from mid-20s to… well, a little older than that, we each have our own favourite ways to stay active. But when a new group-training gym opened but a stone’s throw from our office, offering a weights-based class suited to all ages and abilities, we decided to flex our muscles and give it a go – together.


Operation ‘Lift’

Admittedly, some were more enthusiastic than others – the sight of heavy barbells and sandbags inducing nervous jitters among those unfamiliar with this type of workout. Unsurprising, really, as so many gyms have weights areas dominated by grunting men, which can be intimidating – especially when you’re not sure how or what to lift. But Rob Smyth, head trainer at F45 Training London Bridge, was quick to put us all at ease. ‘Weight-training is about good technique, not how heavy you lift or how many reps you do,’ he says. And with two strapping personal trainers on hand to show us the ropes, we knew we’d come to the right place.


How often should you weight train?

Rob recommends twice a week. But if you’re concerned that this amount of lifting will turn you into Ms Olympia, don’t be. ‘I always say to girls who are worried about turning into a body builder if they lift weights a couple of times a week – “Tell me your secret if you do!”‘ says Rob. ‘It depends on your body type, but it’s generally easier to lose fat than gain muscle mass. If you compare an endomorph [someone with high body fat] who’s trying to lose weight to an ectomorph [naturally lean] trying to gain lean muscle, it’s three times as hard for the ectomorph.’


Then came the real hook: ‘The sort of high intensity, weights-based workout we offer here [aptly named Romans] is the key to keeping body fat low,’ says trainer Ben Leonard-Kane. ‘The more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest.’


The workout

The nine stations were to be performed in a circuit and they included deadlifts, sandbag squats, press-ups and chest-presses. The beauty of F45 Training is that the workouts are scalable. From body builders to dumbbell dodgers, the trainers can adapt each exercise to suit your goal, offering the one-to-one attention you’d expect at a private personal training session. Ben demonstrates the circuit (screens play videos of each move, too, for the forgetful among us), then the music is cranked up and the timer started. Thirty-five minutes and counting…


Sounds intense, and it was – but boy was it fun. Why? Because we were working as a team. There’s a real community vibe at F45 Training. Having a trainer or fellow class-goer cheering you on just as you feel you can’t do another rep – that bite of competitiveness pushing you to keep up with them – was like nothing I’d experienced in any other gym class. ‘If you’re tired and in the gym on your own, you won’t push yourself that extra 20%,’ says Ben. ‘But here the trainers and the other people in the class motivate you to do it.’ And, no, we didn’t leave with bulging muscles – we left feeling strong and energised.


Look out for more on the benefits of training as a team in the February 2016 issue of Healthy Food Guide.


Fancy giving Romans a go? F45 Training are offering a FREE seven-day pass to new members. To claim the offer, visit

*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.