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Des Moines, Iowa


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My Farrell's Extreme Bodyshaping Experience

Geoff Wood

Central Iowa is the home to at least two (maybe more) multi-state fitness chains designed around a ten week extreme/total body shaping/transformation: Farrell's and Kosama. The gist of each is that you combine a planned diet with cardio and strength training and that you see awesome results in a mere 70 days.

Several friends have done each and back in August I decided to give Farrell's a try. Their ten week program comes with a $389 up front fee which is admittedly pricey but includes some personal equipment (boxing gloves and wraps), some intellectual property (a guidebook with nutrition and exercise information) and your workout fees for those ten weeks.

Farrell's focuses on cardio kickboxing three days a week, broken up on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays by resistance training uses bands. You benchmark your progress with an initial set of school gym-like fitness tests on on the first day, after 5 weeks and then at the end of ten weeks.

My experience

I just wrapped up my program a couple weeks ago. I'm happy to say that I followed the plan very closely (didn't miss a day in those ten weeks, didn't drink coffee/soda/beer except on free days, and worked pretty hard to keep the right carb/protein ratio in my diet) and had great results.

Over that ten weeks, I took 3.5" off my chest, 5" off my waist, 2.5" off my waist. I dropped nearly 16 pounds despite getting much stronger and cut more than 2:00 off my mile run. The total number of push up I could do in 60 seconds increased five fold (you do a lot of push ups at Farrell's) and my sit ups more than doubled. Best of all, my clothes fit much better.

In short, Farrell's definitely works and I was quite pleased with my investment of money and time.

My concerns

There are a few things that concerned me about Farrell's. First of all, Farrell's coaches and instructors are not certified by an outside authority like ACSM (where Hope is certified and her former employer) or even ACE (where Hope was also certified). They do have internal training to some degree but nothing (so far as I can tell) that's interdependently verified by an industry authority.

To further that point, they also advise on food choices and help with diet planning. I don't believe they're certified as dietitians or nutritionists, either. In fact most of the Farrell's staff are simply graduates of the program who are willing to teach others for (what I'm told is) a very modest fee. 

As I said before, Farrell's definitely works but the the two points above greatly concern me.

Pricing and moving forward

I found the ten week design of Farrell's program to be quite motivating. I was able to get myself out of bed 4:30 AM so that I had time to eat, get to the gym and get ready for class before it began at 5:15 without missing a day. I wasn't really concerned with what week 11 or 12 looked like but I wasn't sure how I was going to motivate myself to do that day in and day out, in perpetuity.

Motivation is one thing, pricing is another. After the initial ten weeks, Farrell's carries a hefty membership fee to stay on. The individual fee (not sure if there's a discount for spouses or kids) is $79 on a month-to-month plan but you need to pay for the last two months up front (basically a pricey joining fee). You can join for a set three months for the equivalent of $91/month. You can get the price down to $57.75/mo if you pay for a full year up front ($693) or the equivalent of $66/mo with a year commitment and smaller joining fee. $91 is a huge monthly fee for any gym, even the lowest rate (which has to be paid up front) is among the most expensive of the gyms in town.

As you might have ascertained, I decided not to continue past my initial ten weeks. I did enjoy it and it saw tremendous results but the fees were too much to continue.