Daniel Conn, the Face Behind the F45 Fitness Phenomenon

By Shelby Hamilton, July 5, 2017

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Standing for 'Functional Training for 45 minutes', F45 is a fitness phenomenon taking over the world almost as quick as their workouts. Starting four years ago in Australia, it has now grown to 800-plus locations worldwide and created partnerships with high profile athletes like England rugby legend James Haskell and teams such as the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. And following the opening of China’s first location in Beijing, it will soon be opening doors in Shanghai.

Taking a short break from his F45 tour of Australia, ex-Roosters National Rugby Player, Australian model and now the face (and body!) behind F45, Dan Conn, tells us the how the workout is different than anything else out there, what innovation and motivation means for the company, and how F45 is quite literally changing lives.

So why the hype - what is so special about F45?
F45 is all about innovation and motivation. We’ve created a database of over 4,000 exercises (and growing) so that every single session that you do is never ever repeated.

Also, the whole world does that same session on the same day. For example, the session happening today in Australia is also be happening in London, LA, the Philippines, New Zealand…

It’s functional training, which allows everyday people to come in and train without the risk of injury. And it is in a team setting - the motivation element.

At it’s basic, that’s what F45 is: results-based, high intensity interval training.


How did you get involved?
I played in the professional rugby league for about eight years and then I retired due to a spinal cord injury. I started doing a lot of courses… strength training, CrossFit.

The founder of F45, Rob Deutsch, is one of my best mates and he wanted me to work at one of the very first studios. When we finally got together, a four minute conversation turned into a four hour chat, which turned into an Australian road trip where we sold about 100 studios in 12 months.

Since then we’ve never really looked back. We’ve been traveling the world. I live out of a suitcase, getting around to all the studios, writing the programs with Rob and doing all the exercises.

As a professional athlete yourself, you’re now working with others from different fields and teams. Tell us about how those fit in with F45.
We’ve got the Brooklyn Nets coming on board, Philadelphia and more. Big NFL and NBA names. We also have a lot of colleges coming on board like UCLA.

Off those we build communities. We have good relationships with NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, a few names like ex-NFL player Terrell Owens. Around these high profiles we create communities and with these communities base them around the studios.

If you travel around Australia, there’s 450 functioning F45 studios and each of these studios have different organic communities with different vibes and ecosystems around them.

Essentially what we’re trying to do is to create the Facebook of Fitness. We’re trying to connect all these people that are all there for the common goal of a healthier, happier lifestyle.


Although every workout you go to is different, there is a core of 27 rotating programs that they’re all based upon. ‘Quarterbacks’ is one of them based on NFL drills. What else is there?
We’ve got pipeline, which is a surfing based movement workout. We’re bringing in an NBA-based workout. We’ve already got Brooklyn which is a combat-based workout.

In 2018 we’re going to release about seven or eight more, including Compton, which is more focused on MMA drills. As the world changes with all the different sporting teams, we will change with it.

Do you have a favorite program?
I do enjoy our resistance based sessions like Romans and All Stars. We have our special session on Saturdays called Hollywood where there’s a DJ mandatory in every one of our studios.

Our Quarterbacks have received great feedback because we use a lot of coordination and skill that we don’t usually see in certain training aspects. And also Pipeline, the surfing-based one, uses a lot of stability, balance and core work.

When planning the programs I have to be very careful about where I put the equipment, not to overuse muscles, not to underuse muscles so there’s a good balance. A lot of people think these things get spat out by machines, but there’s quite a lot of strategic science behind it.

It’s hard for people to actually recognize how much time and effort goes into it until they get the results and they go, ‘Ah, this actually does make sense’.

Innovation and motivation are clearly the core principles of F45. How can someone apply those ideas to his or her own life?
Try and find new things to challenge yourself. My method is you have to shock the body to make the body. If you run every day for six weeks you become a great runner. But if you do F45 for six weeks you become very good at a broad range of special daily movements. Your running will see improvement but also so will your daily life.

Everything we do in an F45 studio is based on the movements you do in your life. With F45 what we set out to achieve is to create easier lives for people. Putting them through 45 minutes to an hour of stressful activity. It might be strength, plyometrics, agility, coordination.… all different aspects of fitness. So when you leave the studio you’ve got better joint mobility, released endorphins and feel better mentality.

What motivates you?
Getting results from other people. I do a lot of traveling and I get to hear amazing stories: girls losing 45 kilos of body fat; guys putting on six- or seven-percent muscle gain.

Hearing other people’s success stories, and not just the physical ones, but a lot of mental health ones as well; how their lives have changed due to F45 and how it’s actually helped them push through some hard times.

Physical activity is actually the backbone of our mental health. That sort of stuff really motivates me to continue on the journey and continue creating F45. I’m very blessed to be in the position I’m in.

See a listing for F45 Xuhaui


Shanghai's first F45 Xuhaui location is giving away a three month membership, click here to find out how you can win it. Oh, and you also need to be a follower of the F45 WeChat account to be eligible. Scan the QR code below:


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