I first read about Barry’s Bootcamp last year. Launched in LA in 1998, it’s slowly been expanding globally, and there are now two studios in London. Dubbed (by them, natch) “The world’s best workout”, I really wanted to try it out, and serendipitously, there happens to be a Barry’s studio round the corner from where my nutritional therapy course lectures take place. I’ve never managed to get to a class, but yesterday the family was away, and I had no one to rush home for, so I booked myself on.
I have to admit to feeling a bit apprehensive – I’d read these workouts are TOUGH. An hour long mixture of intervals on a treadmill and strength work, different days of the week focus on different parts of the body, and with a mixture of instructors, apparently no two classes are ever the same. Weekends are a full body workout, which sounded good.
I was in a bit of a rush actually getting to the class, and being a humid day, I was already a bit sweaty on arrival (nice) and that was before I even changed into my workout kit. When you check in, you have the option to pre-order a post-workout protein shake from the Fuel Bar (I didn’t). The class is 20 (count ’em) English pounds to attend (although it does get cheaper when you bulk buy), and I didn’t really want to fork out another fiver for a shake on top.
Anyway, the instructor took the newbies into the studio to give us a quick intro to the kit, then it was time for the off. The premise is fairly straightforward, you pre-book a slot (I was slot 9), then you use the corresponding floor space and treadmill. We had to grab a set of dumbbells and we were ready to go. Not knowing what to expect, I erred on the side of caution, not wanting to pick a weight that I couldn’t actually lift for the required duration – I also paced myself a bit on the treadmill.
With a pumping soundtrack on, we were ready to go. Oh, and did I mention it’s in the dark? Not pitch black obvs, but pretty dim. I started out the floor. Each section was about 6-7 mins long, the instructor would give us direction, alternating between those on the floor and those on the treadmill. The floor sections were ok, in four sections total we covered, legs, arms, abs and chest. The exercises were all pretty familiar and I didn’t struggle too much (although some were tough – a v-sit with bicep curls for about 90 secs was pretty hard).
The treadmill – Mother of God. Even my sweat was sweating. The intervals were a mix of pyramids, sprints and inclines (again 4 sections), and we were given a minimum speed or incline we had to work too. For the sprints, the minimum was 9mph (14.5kph) which we had to maintain for a full minute at a time, in the inclines we got up to 10% (but had to maintain a minimum speed of at least 7mph during that). I managed it though, unlike the guy next to me who was wearing a bandana and grunting like the worse kind of Wimbledon tennis player.
The £20 fortunately included a small towel, because my hair (despite ponytail) started to resemble Monica from Friends in the Caribbean and at one point there was so much sweat in my eyes I couldn’t really see, so it was probably a good job it was dark. However, the hour passed mercifully quickly, and I did have a pretty good sense of achievement by the end. I had a quick (cold) shower afterwards to try a bring my face to a paler shade of puce before the train journey home.
Would I do it again? Hell, yeah! It is expensive, but given how regularly I’m getting to the gym currently, one step class is costing me about £70, which makes Barry’s excellent value. I’d probably go up a kg on the dumbbells, and maybe even push myself a little harder on the treadmill (although it may be like childbirth in that I have erased the actual sensation from my mind).
Oh, and I had a shake. I earned it dammit.