Sam Wood (centre) gives you the pros and cons of a range of 'fitness cults'.
Sam Wood (centre) gives you the pros and cons of a range of 'fitness cults'. Mark Scott

Are you thinking of joining a 'fitness cult'?

THE word "cult” might get a few people off-side, but if you want to be fully devoted to getting fit, joining F45, CrossFit, 9ROUND or even a yoga studio might not be a bad idea.

Gone are the days where religion, footy teams and rock bands were the only groups to amass cult followings.

Anyone who has heard of F45 or CrossFit knows that fitness fanaticism is well and truly alive.

These fitness "cults” are something you've got to be in to properly understand. They can confuse, polarise and ostracise but their devoted members wouldn't swap it for the world.

Before you take the plunge, here's a look at some of the pros and cons of different regimes.


The concept here is to do functional, 45-minute group training workouts combining resistance, metabolic and cardio movements following the motto "team building, life changing”. Since starting in Sydney in 2011, this fitness franchise has swept across Australia and is now starting to do the same in the US. There are now more than 500 clubs in Australia.


Quick but effective - you're definitely getting bang for your buck.

When training in a group environment you tend to push yourself harder.

Good music, good energy.

Lots of high-fives.


May be a case of trial and error as some F45s are definitely better than others.

You don't have reciprocal rights across all clubs with your membership.

There can often be inexperienced trainers as there are TV screens demonstrating each exercise to help you with technique. While the TVs are a good idea, they can make trainers lazy.

Lots of high-impact movements, so not suitable for everyone.

Too many high-fives.


Born out of the US in 2001, CrossFit involves constantly varied functional movements that are born from weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing and other high-intensity movements.


A very tight-knit community with committed members.

It's an exciting atmosphere that keeps your body guessing as there is often a different workout of the day.

CrossFit will definitely help you build muscle and gain considerable strength.

There's a competitive aspect to it. Just look up the latest global phenomenon of the CrossFit games. The male and female winners took home $275,000 each in 2017, with the total prize pool sitting at just over $2 million.


Very high-intensity and high-impact on your body with complex movements that often require progressive instruction that may or may not be provided.

Some clubs have poor progression so many people are forced to do movements that they simply aren't ready for.

Renowned for injuries as people are pushed too hard too early.

You really have to like strength training because it's a big part of the program.

Too many lame acronyms (not my thing).


The new kids on the block are 9ROUND and 12RND. They aren't too dissimilar to F45, but they have more of a boxing focus.


Boxing really is one of the best workouts you can do,

No set class times, new circuit starting every three minutes. Just rock up and go,

Workouts change every day and only go for 30-45 minutes


Often quite small facilities.

The lack of screens with exercise demos means you might not know what you're doing when you get to each station, particularly if your instructor is 1:1 boxing with another member.

Pilates and yoga

Yoga and pilates are fantastic workouts for mobility, flexibility and often underestimated strength.


Very accessible with a range of price points.

Great low-impact workout that works lots of muscle groups.

Good for flexibility, strength and mobility.

It's a great complementary workout to your metabolic and cardio training.


I absolutely love yoga but in my opinion, it serves your body best when you are also doing high-intensity workouts on other days

It can be hard to find the right studio or instructor for you as teaching styles can vary considerably. Don't get discouraged if you try a few classes and still haven't found the right type of teaching for you.

Summing up

Don't get me wrong, anything that gets people out and moving, making friends and is a safe place definitely gets my tick of approval. But every person is different so I do believe it is important to find the right option for you. We tend to be fascinated by "the group over there” that we aren't in and are perhaps a bit intimidated by. Be curious, be brave, find your tribe and never look back.

For more, see 28 by Sam Wood, where a new program starts each Monday.

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