I Hardly Do Cardio & Tried Barry's Bootcamp For The First Time. Here's What Happened

mbg Contributor By Emi Boscamp
mbg Contributor
Emi Boscamp is the former News Editor at mindbodygreen. She received a BA in English and minors in Spanish and Art History from Cornell University.
I Hardly Do Cardio & Tried Barry's Bootcamp For The First Time. Here's What Happened

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I always thought Barry’s Bootcamp was a rather intense convention, meant for top-of-the-line athletes and runners.

So, naturally, when my boss sends me to go try it, I'm worried that I won't be able to keep up. 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 chance that 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.

But I, a cardio novice, was able to keep up in a Barry's Bootcamp class. Here's how my experience went, and what I thought of the trendy workout.

Before stepping into the studio, I was nervous.

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 (admittedly, dramatic) friends have said to me, “You’re doing Barry’s?! Oh my god, you’re gonna die.”

Will I get screamed at? I think. Will I fly off a speeding treadmill and crack my head open? These anxious thoughts swirled through my mind before stepping into the infrared-lit studio.

Barry's features a drill sergeant-like instructor who encourages you to challenge your body for an hour through a combination of treadmills and weights. 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.

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.

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 super strong—which is kind of intimidating, but I guess it just shows that Barry’s really might be “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.

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No one paid attention to me—and I loved it.

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 miles per hour. Natalie strongly encourages me to push myself, to go one mile per hour faster, but she’s not berating me at all. I sprint at eight and jog at six, and the woman next to me is doing 10 and eight. 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.

The weights are doable: just a bunch of curls and squats and lunges. In comparison to the lung-burning cardio I experienced, this stuff feels like a breeze. The people around me are all looking into their own eyes in the mirror 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!

But then I realize I have to get back on the treadmill. Which means there’s more weightlifting, and which means we’re only halfway through the class. How could I have been so naïve? But to my relief, the rest of the class is pretty much a replica of the first half.

So, what's my take?

Here's my review: It really wasn'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 themselves into shape, and get out.

But, of course, it comes at a fancy price ($35 per class in New York City). 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. Take it from me, a yoga-obsessed, cardio newbie.

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