The Founder Of F45 Teaches You How To Keep Healthy On A Long-Haul Flight
No matter where you are reading this story, you’ve probably heard of F45. One of the biggest names in boutique fitness, franchises have appeared all over the world and it only grows bigger. It’s amazing for Rob Deutsch, founder and co-CEO of F45, but it also means he’s never in one place for more than six weeks. “It's almost become like an addiction,” he laughs over coffee. “There are times when you'd like to stay put for a year and build a base. But I don't think that's happening in the next five to ten years.”
Deutsch was one of the first people to spot a gap in the market that is now heavily saturated: “If we go back ten years, people either trained in a normal gym or got a trainer,” he explained. “I set up F45 so that people could get the same workout, results and motivation you get with a personal trainer, but in a really fun environment with other people.”
The F45 team is growing, but Deutsch is always in new markets to check out the latest outposts: when we spoke, he was darting from London to Los Angeles to Las Vegas to LA again, but he was also checking new gyms in Ibiza, South Korea and Japan. Sometimes this means he’s absolutely wiped out, but this is a man who has made keeping fit on the move an art form: after all, the bigger F45 grows, the more chances he has to do his perfect workout in any country on earth.
We asked Deutsch to talk us through a week in the life of the man behind one of the world’s most ubiquitous exercise programmes (spoiler alert: he goes to F45 a lot) and how to keep healthy when you’re constantly on the move.
“In the mornings I'm a little bit of a crazy person, I'm a really early riser. I probably get up at 4.30am, which is somewhat abnormal.
“I'll get up, meditate – I try to meditate for between 15-30 minutes, nothing too crazy – I'll smash through some emails, because if I go to the gym and try to train with a million emails in my inbox I find I'm just not productive. I just want to get out of the gym. I clear my brain with some meditation, clear out the inbox, do some F45, have an espresso before we kick off to fire me up.
“Then I try and meet up with friends for breakfast or do some PR, meet some journalists, talk to some people, do some work. Then into meetings, the inbox, actioning, strategy and maybe go for a walk, maybe go back to F45. Maybe do some training in the afternoon in there.”
“Most of my weekdays are the same, but travel is the one thing that can throw everything into chaos. For the last few years I've probably not spent more than four to six weeks in one spot, which makes it super difficult. However, as the network has grown – we're now in 44 different countries – it's been brilliant in that sense. Previous to that, I was going to countries to set F45s up. Now I'm going to experience them all. No excuses.
“I try to do a combination of a calorie-controlled diet with a little bit of fasting. That combination works well for me. I've tried the keto diet. I've tried every diet there is, just for the knowledge, and I think there's merit to most, not all, diets. If I can fast till midday it mentally keeps me alert. It doesn't work for everyone, but for me it works very well.
“What I try to do is limit my portion sizes for lunch, dinner and have a snack in between. I try to keep calories to 2,000 to 2,200. If I'm on the challenge I'll limit them. I just try to keep sugar down. Sugar is the enemy. If I have one tip for someone trying to lose weight, it would be eliminate sugar totally from the diet. Having zero sugar a day is impossible, but try for under ten grams a day. It's extremely difficult but your body will transform overnight.”
“As I've gotten older, I've found that one thing that's important – especially if you're doing a lot of HIIT training and flying – is nutrition. I'll always make sure that before I fly, while I fly, and after I fly, I'm really clean with my diet.
“I'll even, on planes, fast as much as I can. I find that plane food is just designed to clog up the system, so I feel a lot better now. I like to have a 15-minute stretch before I get on the plane and try to stretch as much as I can on the actual plane. I try not to sleep before I get on so I can sleep there. Plane time for me is peace and relaxation. People are fearful of a 14- to 15-hour flight. For me I'm elated to not have a phone and just sleep.
“Stretching on planes isn’t easy. You find any gap or crevice you can and the staff think you're mad. I get very tight hamstrings and glutes, so just a basic hip flexer and glute stretches are very important. You can do your delts and back, but you're not going to get a world-beating 45-minute stretch workout in. But I think anything is better than nothing.”
“When I land somewhere new, my nutrition is probably not where I want it to be. I'm not that anal that I'll be doing research and trying to find restaurants near the hotel and stuff like that. My view is always common sense generally prevails on diet and nutrition. Most hotels generally have something that's healthy enough.
“If I’m somewhere without an F45, I'll get a round timer and I'll follow 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest and train for 45 minutes. I'll do an array of exercises and honestly you don't even need equipment: push-ups, bicycles, burpees, jump squats. There's so many things you can do with zero equipment. I always take my skipping rope with me. You can use chairs for dips, use luggage, do shoulder presses or curls with it. Even with chairs you can do weights with chairs.”
“There's nothing wrong with having rest. You need to listen to your body. It's such a common cliché to listen to your body, but sometimes rest and sleep are the most important things, sometimes more than training. A good stretch, strong nutrition, are definitely important when you feel run down. The number one thing is sleep. My doctor tells me that the most important thing to live a long life is sleep. We hear it, but people live without any sleep, on their phones all day, then they go to the gym and they just push, push, push, push, push. Sleep, get your nutrition right, 45 minutes is all you need in the gym. That's all that's crucial to a happy life.”
“Weekends are a chance to catch up with friends and family wherever I may be during the week. I work pretty hard during the week, so I use them to catch up and socialise. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy going out and having a beer: I love my coffee; I love my friends. I'll get up on a Saturday morning. I'll always go to F45, but I'll try to do it with a couple of mates for a laugh and then have breakfast or a coffee afterwards. The rest of the day is catching up with friends, doing a bit of work. You want to be fresh during the week. It's like anything you're doing. You're stepping away so that when you're attacking it you're at 100 per cent.”