At the beginning of the year, journalist Amy Diamond and I completed the first Tauranga F45 eight-week challenge.
It's the fitness phenomenon sweeping the nation, focusing on 45 minutes of high intensity functional movement.
Popular in Australia and growing in popularity around the world, it is renowned for its amazing body transformations in just eight weeks.
Gluttons for punishment as well as doughnuts, we embarked on the second eight-week challenge and roped in more of our colleagues. We catch up again with Amy at the end of her second challenge, Tara Childs who has completed her first challenge, as well as other F45 members who achieved outstanding results. We will be doing the next challenge too so watch this space.
Over two challenges she lost 9kg, more than 13kg of body fat, dropped 9 per cent body fat and gained over 2kg of muscle.
My palms start to get a little sweaty and I can feel my heart racing. Flashes of all the times I fell off the wagon keep going through my mind; those few cheeky wines I had after a long day at work, or a couple of dinners I had with friends where I ordered whatever I wanted (sorry, Shal!).
I'm about to step on the scales for my final InBody scan after my second F45 eight-week challenge, the most nerve-wracking part of the challenge. The scan only takes a minute and my nerves start to settle when I see I've lost another 6kg.
Since my first scan in January when I started my F45 journey, I've lost 9kg. And once I get my after photos taken, the changes really start to sink in.
I feel so much better, much more balanced with the way I'm eating and the training I've been putting in. If there's one thing I've come to understand after going to F45 for the five months, it's living healthy isn't easy.
There are no shortcuts and I often have moments where I haven't wanted to train or have really just wanted to eat a doughnut for breakfast — but making the change is so worth it!
Over the past eight weeks I've noticed my fitness slowly increasing. I can fit in a few extra burpees into the set and I've slowly increased my weights.
The biggest difference from the first challenge was I pushed myself harder after seeing the changes coming through. I increased my training days to an average of five to six a week, where I would do four last time, and I was a lot stricter with my eating. These changes have paid off as my results were a lot better in my second challenge.
My goal now is to keep up my training at F45 and keep my healthy eating habits in place, which has become a part of my everyday life. That is my favourite part about the journey, that training hard and eating well has become enjoyable!
Lost 10kg of fat.
Ten weeks ago I was an unfit mum with realistically 30kg to lose.
I'm in my mid 40s and have a desk-bound job. I have three boys who have masses of energy and I was struggling to keep up with them. After bottling it for the first challenge and thinking F45 was for the young and fabulous, I plucked up the courage to walk up the F45 steps and sign up for challenge No 2.
Walking into F45 Tauranga was one of the best things I have done in a long time. With the amazing support and love felt from the F45 family, not only did I complete the eight-week challenge, I lost over 10kg of fat!
My knee injury and back issues that have been constant pains to me for more than 25 years are now the best they have ever been because I have been taught how to do exercise that suits me.
I followed the food plan and felt well informed at each stage. The regular coaching and genuine concern for your safety and progression is what has made me sign up and continue this journey.
It can be challenging at times, juggling being a fulltime mother, fulltime worker and doing all the meal planning can be hard work when you are trying to sort the rest of the family out. But I did enjoy the food. I was never hungry — in fact there seemed to be so much food. For people who can connect to a similar lifestyle as me and are thinking about joining, do it! It will change your life.
Lost 8.2kg of fat, 11.2 per cent body fat and gained 1.3kg of muscle. Visceral fat decreased by nearly half and she lost 10cm from her abdomen.
I have always been active and even before F45 I was going to the gym, did outdoor bootcamp-style training, and played indoor netball. I was fit but I wasn't really noticing any changes in my appearance or weight.
Going into the eight-week challenge, I thought I was fit and healthy and wouldn't have much fat to lose. However, the before challenge body scan showed my visceral fat was boarding on unhealthy. I still had a lot of hidden fat to lose, and muscle to gain. This made me realise that prior to F45 I wasn't seeing results because I was lacking consistency in my training and diet, and I didn't have any clear goals to work towards.
F45 Tauranga makes it easy to be consistent with my training because I genuinely love training there. I never get bored because the classes are different every day, and there is a mix of resistance and cardio-based classes.
Each class is like having a personal training session because the trainers walk around the class, chat to you, encourage you to push harder to get those results and make sure you are doing the exercises correctly.
It took a lot of discipline and willpower to get through the first couple of weeks of the food plan, however, I quickly saw results, not only in my physical appearance but also mentally. I soon stopped craving sugary, processed food and started craving nutritious food, which is exactly what the food plan provides. This led to increased energy which helped me train harder. I put in a lot of hard work outside of the studio focusing on making life-long changes to my diet and eating habits. The F45 eight-week challenge gets results because it focuses on exercise and nutrition, and teaches you to be consistent.
Lost 5.2kg, 8.2kg fat, gained 1.9kg muscle and lost 10.3 per cent body fat.
I decided to complete the eight-week challenge to see what my body was capable of. Before I started F45 I had not been doing any regular exercise and was feeling very weak and often quite tired.
After the eight-week challenge I have so much more energy and love how much stronger my body feels.
Lost 15.4kg, lost 16.8kg fat, gained 0.7kg muscle and lost 16.1 per cent body fat.
I was struggling for a long time with my weight, was not happy and my physical and mental wellbeing was in strife.
After over a year of battling my way through googled diets and half-baked gym sessions I was going nowhere fast. With work and family I was struggling for time.
Then a well-timed news article led me to Shal and Jess at F45 Tauranga, signing up for the eight-week challenge with a colleague.
It was not easy, but then it shouldn't be. The eating was not difficult once I had become accustomed to it and the hardest thing was going out to eat.
I'm now weighing 109.4kg, having lost 15.4kg on the challenge, and can't remember ever feeling this good, physically or mentally!
What is the F45 eight-week challenge?
Participants complete a minimum of five 45-minutes classes a week, including at least two resistance classes.
Challenge members follow a meal plan split into three phases to maximise fat loss and muscle gain. F45 Tauranga owner Shal Addis said for the second challenge, 120 people started the challenge and 98 people completed it, with ages from 17 to 55.
While many focus on the number on the scales, Addis says muscle gain is crucial.
"Members were encouraged to attend all resistance-based sessions and place a greater effort around their pre and post workout nutrition. In the studio, we looked to set more strength-based goals with members, so progression was a key theme. While the weight-loss results last time were fantastic, this time members have achieved the weight-loss and increased muscle on the whole."
There is a competitive element to the challenge, with winners named at the end selected by a formula that factors in total weight lost, body fat lost and muscle gained, as well as photos.
Addis admits it is not easy.
"The biggest challenge for most people is generally the nutrition side of things, but this is a crucial part of the challenge. Most people can start with a hiss however we find motivation can take a hit around the three to four week mark as the half way point approaches. This time round we introduced a mid-challenge mind-set workshop."
• The eight-week challenge took place at F45 Tauranga, 34 Devonport Rd, Tauranga. An information evening about the next challenge takes place at 6pm on July 9. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. nz