Exercise can give you confidence and help you deal with stress – two essentials in the run up to your wedding day. Olivia Simpson signed up for a workout challenge with F45 Glasgow Central and found a fitness community perfect for brides and non-brides alike
As I sprinted across to the main stage of a recent festival in Barcelona, I had two thoughts. One: thank goodness I bought those vintage running shorts (no judgement on my festival fashion, please – I promise it was a look). Two: I could not have run this hard for this long a few months ago.
My new-found stamina was the result of months of hard graft at F45 Glasgow Central. F45 is a fitness community, with gyms around the world and celebrity fans including Mark Wahlberg, David Beckham and Cindy Crawford. The key to its success is in the name: the ‘F’ stands for functional movement, with HIIT circuit classes that range from resistance to cardio to hybrid training styles aiming to get you fit for all that life throws at you (in my case, legging it across sprawling festival grounds). The ‘45’, meanwhile, represents the length of the class. If a 45-minute exercise class sounds like a skoosh to you, I dare you to try one of their cardio sessions and get back to me.
If that all sounds a bit intimidating, I understand; I was nervous before my induction. But on my first visit to the training space, three things jumped out at me. The first was that, unlike in so many gyms, there were no mirrors. This, I discovered, was because the hawk-eyed coaches will be watching your form so closely that you don’t have to. The second was a water gun on the wall, with a sign saying “MOTIVATION” hanging beside it. I was later told the occasional dousing was dished out to members in need of a little push, although I myself never came under fire. Finally, and quite literally, there was Munro, coach Greg’s adorable golden labradoodle, who popped out from behind the reception desk to give me the full F45 welcome. All together, my first impression was that this is a place where exercise is taken seriously, but there’s still plenty of room for fun. The next few months proved this to be true.
I was invited to take part in an eight-week challenge, where I could train as often as possible (they recommend a minimum of three classes per week, plus another activity) and would be supported with weekly check-ins with the coaches and a healthy meal plan to help me achieve my goals. Like many people, I have a complicated relationship with the scales, so while we were invited to weigh in before the challenge to help track our progress, a quick chat with the coaches assured me that this was by no means essential. Instead of weight-loss goals, my targets were practical: lift heavier, run further, stay consistent. The coaches were also more than happy for me to use the meal plan as more of a guideline than a rulebook, meaning I was able to learn some healthy new recipes and better understand portioning without feeling any stress around mealtimes. This flexibility definitely helped me to stay motivated without ever feeling overwhelmed.
The coaches’ understanding approach and friendliness is something that recent bride Jacqui McKinnon, who trained with F45 in the months before her wedding, also really appreciated: “The other members are really friendly and the coaches are incredible: they are so genuine and nonjudgmental and really put you at ease,” she enthuses. “They make working out enjoyable, and it’s the first time I’ve been able to stick to something. With cardio, hybrid and resistance classes, there’s a good balance of workouts. And because they are a circuit format, the time passes really quickly.”
A month or so into my training, I was really hitting my stride when Covid finally caught me. When I returned to classes after isolation, the coaches were very understanding and accommodating, helping me to adjust the exercises to my newly weakened state, but I struggled and was only able to train on resistance days as breathing difficulties made cardio classes impossible.
Even with these setbacks, I was delighted with my progress: I was lifting heavier, I was more confident in my gym technique and I noticed a real improvement in my mood, the result of achieving a degree of consistency with exercise I’ve never managed before.
While I may never have washboard abs and my cellulite will probably be with me until the end, I feel so much more confident in my body and appreciate every lesson I’ve learned in how to take better care of it, including when to rest, how to listen to what I’m really craving and to never regret those post-night-out chips shared with friends – some things are sacred, after all.
Prefer one-to-one? We hear from two female-focused PTs
Abbigail Boath changed her life in the run-up to her wedding and is now determined to help other brides do the same. “I know the stresses of wedding planning, and will be there to help throughout with coaching calls, weekly check-ins and a one-to-one WhatsApp conversation to ensure you’re hitting your goals,” she says. “Or why not come as a bride tribe? I offer packages that are applicable for bridesmaids too.”
Megan Osborne, who coaches clients in Dundee, puts a big emphasis on community building: “I aim to build a network of like-minded females to empower each other through our fitness journeys,” she shares. “Feeling supported is so important for helping you stay on track, and it makes the whole process more fun too!”