Everyone has heard of Barry’s Bootcamp. The self proclaimed “Best Workout in the World” has been high on my list of places to go for a long time. This week my ex-flatmate Ben was in town from Dubai and he’s also into all-things-fitness, so we thought we’d go and check it out!
The Barry’s concept is this: split the room into two groups. One group does intervals on treadmills, while the other does stuff on the floor/bench. The floor work includes bodyweight and dumbbell exercises, and the focus is on different body parts each day of the week. This is classic HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Barry’s claim you can burn over 1,000 calories in a session (I actually have an issue with calorie claims when it comes to workouts… but that’s a whole other post, probably over on the NUCOA blog).
Barry’s was founded in LA in the late 90s, where it rapidly found a cult following. It’s since expanded globally and there are copy cat studios springing up all over the place.
What They Say:
Body Envy Ends Here.
This is the room where everything becomes possible. Where you push through the “I can’t’s” and “If Only’s.” Where you run faster, lift more, lean out, quiet down. This is what transformation looks like. Where you become the best version of yourself.
The workout itself is designed for efficiency. The intervals and strength training combinations are proven to lean and tone your body. This isn’t a fitness trend. It’s just science. And it works.
Then there’s the “thing” that happens when the doors close, lights dim, and music turns up. There’s a palpable energy in the room that pushes you one step further. It’s the soul, body, brain revolution that’s uniquely Barry’s.
I’d been thinking about booking into Barry’s for ages, and could never quite decide which ‘day’ I wanted to go to. Each day of the week focuses on a different body part – alongside running. The schedule looks like this:
- Monday – arms & abs
- Tuesday – butt & legs
- Wednesday – chest, back & abs
- Thursday – abs
- Friday-Sunday – full body
As it turned out, we decided to go at short notice and it happened to be a Thursday – so “abs” it was!
Barry’s Central is located a stone’s throw from Euston station and the studio is down in a basement. On entering the reception area it was a hive of activity – people who’d just finished a class, people arriving, people hanging out in the ‘Fuel Bar’ and three friendly girls on reception. We were given towels, directed to the changing rooms, shown the extensive shake menu if we wanted to pre-order a shake for after class, and told to be at the studio 5 minutes before the class started for a newbies briefing.
We met our instructor Anya – full of beans, ripped to shreds, and featuring prominently in a massive image on the wall of four instructors looking at their sweaty, swole best (nice to see authentic images… using their own trainers as inspo rather than fitness models). She took us into the studio and gave us the lowdown.
All the way down one wall were 20 treadmills, opposite them were benches, with dumbells stacked neatly at the end of the room. Anya explained that we’d alternate between a numbered bench and a numbered treadmill throughout the class (you’re given your numbered position when you book in). She showed us how the treadmill worked and was clear on some basic safety measures to make sure we didn’t do anything stupid!
Bang on time the class trooped in. It was full. 40 fit-looking guys and girls in this darkly lit studio, like ants grabbing their dumbbells and getting to their stations. I looked around and everyone else seemed to be swinging their dumbbells a la kettlebell swings, so I joined in… I guess this is it! No messing around, we were straight in.
I have made the mistake many times of picking heavier weights than I should have done in these types of classes, so this time I went light. It was the correct decision. We started off with a series of lunge twists with our dumbbells while the other half of the room got going on the treadmills. Moving on to planks and renegade rows there was no let up for the first five minutes or so. Then we swapped… onto a treadmill I hopped. Anya called out suggested speeds (you could go slower if you wanted) and we got going while staring at ourselves in the full wall mirror, jogging and building up to a minute of reasonably fast running.
We swapped back and this time it was a longer set – about 10 minutes. This time we were on the benches, doing a series of weighted crunches, v-ups, bicycle legs… my hip flexors were on FIRE and I had to keep taking mini rests… I’m pretty sure everyone else was too, but I didn’t really notice as it was dark and I was focusing on myself. Anya got around the room, using people’s names a lot as she shouted encouragement. I had half an ear on what was going on on the treadmills as I knew we had that coming next! Once we swapped it was a blessed relief to get on that thing and stretch the legs out! This time we did some hill running, then back to the floor for more bench (oblique twists and crunches) and finally we hit a series of 30 second sprints. I started out relatively conservatively on the treadmill but opened the legs up at the end and it felt gooood!
We finished up the 60 minute class with a really good stretch off, and headed out – most people grabbing their shake-du-jour and trotting off to get on with their bank holiday weekend.
I felt like I’d had a great sweat and definitely worked my core. I NEVER do ‘ab’ specific work. You get abs through doing any exercise that uses your core… which is almost everything (when done properly)! Personally, I would rather squat, deadlift and climb my way to abs, but this is highly effective too – and if you are a fan of crunches and like the ‘burn’, you would love it.
The class was full on. The people who go here are go-getters; they want to get in, get an effective workout done, and get out. Fair play. If you went to 4 or 5 of these classes a week you would no doubt get lean pretty quickly. Given how much Anya had to get through directing two groups of people through an intense workout, it’s no surprise that there wasn’t much opportunity to focus on form. That’s the one thing I find in most gyms – there isn’t really a chance to cue or correct. A non-experienced gym goer would get a great workout and they’re not going to come away injured… but they might come out with a bit of back pain. I’m sure over time the instructors cue individuals as they get to know them, but this class would be even better with some more focus on technique.
High intensity and highly effective. Barry’s does what it says on the tin. If you want to get into a gym, be told what to do, work hard and get lean – this will do it. Whilst the exercises change with every session, I think I’d probably get bored of the format after a while and I wouldn’t want to do this as my sole exercise (I’m sure the Barry’s trainers incorporate heavier lifting and focus on form and skills practice into their own training regimes too). As it goes though, this is a pretty cool workout, slickly run, and it’s easy to see why it’s got such a following.
Where: Barry’s Bootcamp, Euston St. Also in the City and opening soon in Bayswater.
Cost: £20 single class, packages and monthly memberships available (3/week £192 per month, unlimited £295 per month)
How to book: http://www.barrysbootcamp.com