In seven years the Australian-born chain claims to have trained more than 1 million people worldwide. What’s the appeal?

I’m in a heavily air-conditioned studio in Surry Hills, somewhere above a line of wholesale fast fashion outlets, with some 16 other people who have decided to sacrifice their lunch break in pursuit of a greater goal. My goal right now: to pick up a 10kg medicine ball, jump forward with it as far as possible, then hurl the ball on to the concrete floor. My next goal: repeat this act. Do not pull a muscle. Do not pass out.

The air conditioning is set at arctic because this is an F45 studio and, if it weren’t, we’d all be fainting. At least, that’s how it feels right now. When I walked in here I had more abstract objectives in mind – take stock of my fitness, scrutinise the trainers, try to figure out what kind of person attends an F45 class – but my scope has narrowed considerably in the 20 minutes or so since then. I’m a boxer and, by most measures, would be considered quite fit, yet I’m still sweating profusely, my quads are burning, and I’m just not sure I can throw this medicine ball again – let alone do the 90 seconds’ worth of box jumps that await me a few stations to my left. F45 is the kind of workout that makes you work.

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