I always thought Barry’s Bootcamp was a masochist convention.
Like, the people who go there regularly must hate themselves and want to inflict as much pain on their bodies as possible.
So, naturally, when my boss sends me to go try it, I think I’m going to die. So this is how it happens, I think. I fly off a speeding treadmill and crack my head open.
Barry's features a drill sergeant-like instructor who pushes your body as far as it can go for an hour through a combination of treadmills and weights. And since it's New York City, this costs $35, which irks me. (I can't get over how many meals I could make with that money.)
So, I am going to a 4:20 p.m. class on a Friday, and for the entire day preceding it, it’s difficult to eat. I’m actually that nervous because many of my friends have said to me, “You’re doing Barry’s?! Oh my god, you’re gonna die.”
“Like, literally die or just be really sweaty and out of breath?” I ask.
“No, like, you should tell your boss that this isn’t safe.”
See, I do restorative yoga, but I hardly ever do cardio. If it’s nice out, there’s a slight chance I’ll go for a run, but a much bigger one I won’t. I do walk to and from the subway every day (30-minutes round-trip), and I always break a sweat, no matter the weather, so I’ll give myself that.
So, my friends’ concern is valid. But I’m gonna do it anyway.
I enter the NoHo studio and immediately notice that everyone is all in black. The interior reflects its clientele: super-sleek, modern, dark, and spotless. Also, no one is making eye contact. Everyone is either focused on the floor or staring at the door to the studio, waiting for the class before us to file out. And once that door opens, it's a mad dash for the weights or the treadmills, depending on what people signed up for.
At Barry’s, there are always two classes going on at once. You either start on the treadmill or on the floor, and you alternate between the two throughout the class. I opt for the treadmill because I was told I’d want to get the sprints out of the way first.
The trainer, Natalie, is jacked—which is kind of intimidating, but I guess it just proves that Barry’s really is “the best workout in the world,” as it claims to be.
Inside, the studio is dark and hard to navigate as there are mirrors everywhere. I find my treadmill but can no longer find Natalie. So when she asks, “Is anyone here a first timer?” she can’t see me waving my arms frantically.
I can’t always tell if Natalie's instructions are for the floor group or the treadmill one, so I basically spend the whole time looking at what the woman next to me is doing. She seems like a seasoned Barry’s vet. I can tell by the fact that she’s wearing a Barry’s sports bra. And she's got some serious muscle definition.
But the thing I enjoy most about this class is that, unlike in other boutique fitness classes I’ve taken, no one is looking at me. The sports bra woman next to me hasn’t even noticed that I’ve been watching her treadmill speed nonstop.
She’s focused on herself. Everyone’s focused on themselves. I realize the class embodies the spirit of New Yorkers walking down the street: They don’t look at you or judge you because they simply don’t care. They just want you to stay out of their way.
No one really cares if I’m not sprinting at 10 mph. Natalie strongly encourages me to push myself, to go 1 mph faster, but she’s not berating me. I sprint at 8 and jog at 6, and the woman next to me is doing 10 and 8. I think I’m doing OK.
Then we go to the floor, and I think I’m done with the treadmill. Wow, that wasn’t so bad, I realize. My friends must think I’m morbidly out of shape. Good to know.
The weights are doable: just a bunch of curls and squats and lunges. In comparison to the lung-burning cardio, this stuff’s a breeze. The people around me are all looking into their own eyes so intently, I swear they’re about to mouth words of inspiration to themselves. So, even though I lack coordination to a laughable degree, no one notices.
When the weights portion is over, I am so relieved to be done with the class. I made it! I lived to tell the tale! My friends will (hopefully) be so happy I am alive!
But then I realize I have to get back on the treadmill.
Shit. Not only that but there’s more sprinting. Which means there’s more weightlifting. Which means we’re only like halfway through the class. How could I have been so naïve?
To my relief, the rest of the class is pretty much a replica of the first half. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it really isn’t that bad. What's even more amazing is that it goes pretty quickly, actually. Believe me: it is tough. I will find out just how sore I am for the following week, but it is an all-around amazing full-body workout.
It’s a fancy place: fancy equipment, fancy smoothies, fancy showers, even fancy soap (shoutout to Malin + Goetz). So, it’s no wonder the people there have a fancy attitude. But no one cared what I was doing except the trainer, which is how I like it. People are there to get in, get their asses into shape, and get out.
But, of course, it comes at a fancy price. So, I probably won’t be returning but only because of that. If you have the means, however, Barry’s is probably the biggest bang-for-your-buck boutique fitness class.
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