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F45 and fitness.

Talking F45 and fitness with Wade Ritchie

Wade Ritchie opened Milwaukee's first F45 fitness franchise on the East Side on Downer Avenue in February.

F45, 2636 N. Downer Ave., is a 1,900-square-foot independently operated studio, but part of an international operation that includes lots of studios.

To learn more about the model, we asked Ritchie several questions about fitness, trends and more. Enjoy this edition of Milwaukee Talks.

OnMilwaukee: Tell us about your path to fitness. Where are you from, where'd you go to school, etc.

Wade Ritchie: I grew up in a small town in Southwest Wisconsin called Darlington that was known for its legendary high school football teams and farming. Fitness really started in high school while training for football. I loved the direct response to my efforts.

When I got into college at UW-Platteville, I didn't know what area of study I would be interested in, but I joined the track team and quickly found familiarity and direction. One of my professors made a comment about how I seemed to be in the fitness center quite a bit and asked if I had considered a career in fitness. Honestly, I hadn't. I sat in on a couple of exercise science classes and really enjoyed the content. I certified as a personal trainer and approached the university's fitness center coordinator about becoming the first paid personal trainer on campus. I started commuting to Madison (about an hour drive) half-way through my senior year to begin my personal training career and was more than happy to practice my passion.

What was Orange Shoe Fitness?

Orange Shoe is a boutique personal training franchise based out of Madison, Wisconsin. I had worked for Orange Shoe as a personal trainer in the past. When I decided I wanted to open a gym of my own, I found that Orange Shoe was a familiar model for me to continue my passion as well as challenge myself as an entrepreneur. I owned/operated Orange Shoe Personal Fitness in Brookfield for nine years before selling in order to focus my efforts on my new passion, F45.

Tell us about F-45. Why should I try it?

F45 takes a group fitness atmosphere and adds the personal training value to it, at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one training. If your goal is to transform your body and have a blast while doing it, then this place is the right fit for you.

The 45-minute HIIT workouts are amazing and ever changing. The trainers are motivating, supportive and focused on giving you the personal touch you need, when you need it. Other group fitness options run with one trainer per class, typically on a microphone, that can't give individuals the help they often need because they are forced to address the entire group at a time. With two trainers per class, F45 members experience a lot of one-on-one personal attention throughout the workout. That one-on-one attention could come in the form of a spot when lifting heavy, correction on form, modification of the exercise to better to suit your needs, or the trainer might do the exercise with you to motivate you to go harder or finish the set without pausing. We are always looking to give value to each individual. Our state-of-the-art fitness technology helps guide you through the workout and frees up our trainers to focus on what they are good at: helping people.

We run eight-week challenges every quarter to give members that extra incentive to couple their diet with their workout regimen. Plus we have built an amazing community that supports one another. One of the hardest parts of staying regular with your gym appearances is accountability. At F45, we promote social interaction amongst members so they want to come workout with their friends in an environment that's fun and fulfilling.

Is just doing F-45 or another fitness program "enough?" How else should we round out a more healthy lifestyle?

For most individuals and most fitness goals, F45 is definitely "enough" and will certainly check the box of rounding out a more healthy lifestyle. For most, getting 30 minutes of strenuous physical activity every day is going to make a drastic influence on their health/fitness. F45 structures the programs so that you can do our workouts seven days per week and not overtrain your body, but still hit every major movement pattern multiple times per week. We couple our workout programs with a world renowned eight-week challenge that includes a full dietary meal plan. The eight-week challenge is included in your membership and really rounds out the nutritional aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

What are the best and worst exercises, and what's the number one mistake people make when getting back into a fitness routine?

This question is very loaded because it will vary from individual to individual. If someone has a postural alignment issue then exercises to correct that posture is typically considered "most important" and the inverse is accurate as well, so an exercise that reinforces something like a postural imbalance would be considered the "worst" exercise for that individual.

From a generalized standpoint, most people have undue muscle tension and shortening from inactivity and a seated "sedentary" lifestyle. So exercises that counteract the seated position (or C-shaped posture) are best or most important. Those exercises would be posterior chain movements such as rows, pull ups or pull downs, back extensions, deadlifts, squats, lunges, hip bridges, etc. I would say that the worst exercises come from repeated impact on joints such as treadmill running. These exercises tend to cause overuse and breakdown of individual joints and muscles, leading to injury.

What are you reading now?

Most of the books I read are on self-help or leadership, but I'm currently rereading John Krakauer's "Eiger Dreams." I love hiking in the mountains and non-fiction stories. "Eiger Dreams" tells about a number excursions in some crazy cool mountaineering and rock climbing trips. The chapter I'm on right now features the climb of a frozen waterfall in Valdez, Alaska.

Favorite "celebrity" fitness guru, and why?

If I had to narrow it down to just one fitness guru, I'd have to go with Dr. Kelly Starrett. He takes a number of different exercise/movement related issues and breaks down why the issues are happening during your workouts and teaches you how to address them with a fairly limited amount of physiology knowledge. He focuses on the corrections versus the "how to make this workout harder."

Define success.

Success in the gym needs to be taken one set at a time. We find that often times members aren't sure what successes are worth celebrating, so our trainers look for opportunities to give recognition for our members successes. It might be something big like losing five pounds, or something more subtle like doing their first push up from their toes. Positive reinforcement helps motivate our members to do more or feel better, so giving that recognition throughout the workout gives added value to each member.


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