F45 Opens in Highlands


Staff Writer


15-Mark Hewlett-F45 studio A new gym that combines personal training and high-energy group classes has opened in the Palisades Highlands.

F45 Training, a company that began in Australia, offers 45-minute classes with two personal trainers who provide encouragement and help participants achieve the correct form in a full-body workout. The classes are different every day and may use bikes, rowers, medicine balls, jumps and weights, with rotating exercises displayed on televisions for guidance, so that no workout is the same.

F45 provides “motivation, inspiration and variety—all those things,” said Mark Hewlett, a trainer and partner in the new location at 532 Palisades Dr. “You’re doing something that’s effective and you don’t have to think to get the maximum benefit in the smallest amount of time.”

Hewlett, a Zimbabwe native and grand champion on the reality show Fear Factor, partnered with two Westside natives, Larry Block and his childhood friend, Rick Sasner, who met in kindergarten at Mar Vista Elementary and co-founded the Highlands’ F45 location.

The venture is also joined by partners/ trainers Scott Kinworthy, a former Blue Man Group performer, and Ryan Mueller, formerly of Cirque du Soleil, who also operate an F45 Training in Las Vegas with Hewlett.

Athlete Lauren Schwab, a FX reality show veteran of Opposing Worlds, a show that featured her living in a cave for 56 days, also joined the venture in both the Palisades and their location in Venice, which opened in February.

Block said that F45 now has more than 400 locations worldwide and is the “fastest growing fitness concept in the world. We’re one of the most innovative concepts out there.”

F45 runs as a membership, and members can attend as many classes as they like. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the exercises focus on cardio, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are geared to weights and strength training. On Saturdays, F45 has a one-hour program that blends both strength and cardio. People of all abilities and ages are welcome, and Hewlett said the ages at his locations have ranged from 14 to 77 years old.

Hewlett, 40, became involved in F45 around 2012 when a friend who had just returned from Australia raved to him about the F45 gyms. A lifelong athlete, Hewlett flew to Australia to check out the gyms and experience the workout himself. F45 impressed him in several ways. First, because he has Type 1 diabetes, the type of diabetes that is caused by an autoimmune disorder, Hewlett was intrigued by how his blood sugar reacted to the workout even more strongly than a typical workout, which generally has a positive afterburn effect.

“I had to reduce some of my insulin,” Hewlett said. Although he was already physically fit, he found himself also surprised at the effect on his muscles when he woke up the next day. “I’ve never been so sore in my life . . . I’m feeling muscles I had started to forget I had.”

He became an immediate proponent of the system and set out to open the Las Vegas location. Hewlett has since moved to California to work in the new locations, and he is happy to be back. He had lived in Pacific Palisades about 18 years ago soon after he first moved to California. Coming to work in the Palisades feels like coming full circle.

Block and Sasner are Westside regulars, graduating from Venice High School together in 1984, before Sasner moved on to UC Berkeley and then Harvard for an MBA. He began investing in real estate and owns a 24 Hour Fitness in Northern California, while Block earned a business marketing degree from CSU Northridge and later opened the first Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt franchise, one of four he now owns.

Block is confident that the new gym will be popular with Palisadians. “They’re going to love us so much,” he said. “There’s nothing else like us in the marketplace.”


F45 co-owner Mark Hewlett works with a client. Photo: Lesly Hall

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