Kim Balfe can tell you all about how great the classes are at the F45 Training at The Grove studio that she owns with her husband Bob, or how wonderful their instructors are, how the members have raved about the workouts or even how successful the fitness facility has been since opening in the middle of the pandemic last summer. And she does.

But nowadays, she starts with this instead: F45 Training at The Grove is clean and safe.

Really, really clean and safe.

In today’s world, where Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on local businesses and hit gyms harder than most others — even delaying the opening of Wesley Chapel’s F45 Training a few months last spring — that’s pretty big news.

“Cleaning is always a priority, especially in a gym,” Kim says. “We feel we have a responsibility when it comes to the safety of our members. We want people to see that we take it seriously.”

When you’re done at one station at F45 Training, it’s time to sanitize your equipment before moving on to the next one. 

How seriously? Kim completed a rigorous course, which she likened to getting a Ph.D, in order for F45 Training to receive facility accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), which helps organizations and businesses respond to biological threats and biohazard situations through education and training.

A sticker will be displayed on the gym front window affirming their accreditation, and Pasco County reimbursed the cost of earning the designation. Getting the accreditation involved studying pages and pages of documents and learning all of the policies and procedures required to have a clean gym. Kim also says she attended a 10-hour class.

While cleanliness is much more at the forefront of most people’s minds these days — 20 percent of potential new members ask about the safety of returning to the gym — F45 has combined that with socially-distant classes that add to the safety measures. While some classes are more crowded for those that prefer it, a number of offerings, like the one we attended on a recent Thursday morning, had a surprising amount of room between participants. No one rotated stations before first disinfecting the equipment they had just used.

“We have one of the bigger F45s in the area,’’ Kim says of the 3,300-sq.-ft. facility, which also has showers. “There’s plenty of room.”

The cleanliness helped convince Kim Shephard to get back in the gym. The gym she usually works out at where she lives in New Tampa has been closed, and after almost a year off, it was time to get back to work. Shepard admits she starting putting on some weight during the pandemic, but it’s currently coming off and she says she has dropped five percent body fat since joining F45.

“It’s been a life changer for me,” says the 36-year-old Shephard. “I love it. I like the small classes, the trainers get to know you on a personal level and it really is a community. And the gym is super-duper clean.”

The F in F45 stands for Functional Training, which focuses on strengthening muscles you use for everyday activities and emphasizes core strength and stability. The 45 is how many minutes (almost) every workout lasts.

There are 2,700 different exercises and 36 different workouts as members move from station to station, with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays focusing on cardio, and Tuesday and Thursdays for resistance training. 

“Every single day is a totally different workout,” says Bob who (as does Kim) also partakes in many of the classes.  

The classes all have names, like 22, Bears, Moon Hopper and All-Star. And, the classes also are universal. If you are doing the Angry Bird at The Grove location, then so are fitness members at F45s in Sacramento, San Antonio and Sydney, Australia (where the company was founded in 2011 by equities trader Rob Deutsch).

The only class that is longer than 45 minutes is Saturday’s class, which is an hour-long hybrid, called Hollywood, which F45 calls its pinnacle showcase, and is sometimes accompanied by a live DJ.

“Saturday is the big fun day,” Kim says. “It’s my favorite day.”

F45 remains one of the hottest fitness franchises in the world, with more than 1,750 studios in 45 countries, including more than 650 in the U.S. It is part of a trend towards high-tech fitness boutiques which offer more personalized care than the traditional big-box gyms.

As an example, an experienced fitness participant can take part in the same class as a newcomer, and the trainers take special care to make sure the experience is enjoyable for both, by offering those who can’t physically perform certain exercises a less-challenging alternative option.

“Sometimes people come in and know nothing and have never been in a gym before,“ says head trainer Zach Johnston. “We’re here to guide and help them. F45 is very scalable. There are some advanced movements, but they can all be regressed down.”

There’s plenty of room for social distancing at F45 Training at The Grove. To the far right, head trainer Zach Johnston helps a client work on the proper form during a recent class.

Large television monitors show how to do every move, and Zach and his team will help if any of the exercises are too much for you.

Zach, who has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Health Science and a Master of Science degree in Exercise Science from the University of South Florida, is beyond qualified to train people, and says he chose F45 because he loves the concept of functional workouts, as well as the community that the fitness facility is building. 

“I feel like people love coming in,” he says, “and I don’t think they even think about Covid. I think people see the certification and know it’s safe here.”

F45 Wesley Chapel also has recurring challenges, nutritional coaching and meal plans via F45’s app and other perks — to further differentiate itself from the fitness pack. It’s another community-building benefit that F45 Training at The Grove strives to achieve.

Bob and Kim say they love the social aspect of F45. The company has a slick website, highly-active Facebook and Instagram pages — which can be a good place to find specials — and stays in touch with its members via text. Doing so helps build camaraderie amongst those trying to get and stay in shape, and also offers the kind of accountability that is difficult for many to have working out on their own.

“For a lot of people, this is all about being healthy and staying in shape, to strengthen their immune systems and their mental health,” Kim says. “And, for many of them, this is their getaway. We’re glad we can be that for them.” 

Best of all, you can give it a try for free. F45 Training offers one free week of classes for prospective members. 

F45 Training at The Grove (6207 Wesley Grove Blvd., Suite 102) offers classes at 5, 6, 7 and 9 a.m. weekday mornings, and at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday evenings. Saturday classes are at 7, 8:15 and 9:30 a.m., and Sunday classes are at 8 and 9 a.m. For more info, call (813) 683-5222, or visit

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