Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Barry's Bootcamp

A smart brand
Well I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about regarding Barry's Bootcamp - "The Best Workout in the World" according to their moniker and registered trademark.

Barry's has several locations throughout the States and has just recently opened a location in London. Judging by the popularity and exclusivity of this place, it wouldn't surprise me if they expand rapidly. Look out Australia! Barry sure has nailed his marketing and brand management. Just look at the attached ad with the trainers!

Now I am cynical at best about these so called 'Bootcamp' style group fitness classes. Maybe it is because I did a stint in the Army Reserves, maybe because I find it slightly cringe-worthy to pay some dude in cargo pants and sunglasses with no real Armed Forces cred a lot of money to yell at middle-aged women in LuLu Lemon pants, or maybe CrossFit made me biased. Nevertheless, cynical as I may be I also think that anything that motivates people to get fit is by default a wonderful thing.

Motivated by the mullah…
Barry's sure does get you motivated! Firstly it is relatively expensive ($32 for a single sessions in NYC and no 'unlimited' memberships). The cost structure itself encourages you to make the most of every session. Secondly, even though slightly cramped it is a great workout space: dark lighting, ample mirrors (“how you doin’”), a solid sound system, etc - functional but also with a touch of style.

…and the sweaty hotties
The instructor, Patrick, did an excellent job, considering he has to coach 40 people at once by himself. Finally, I'm guessing part of the appeal of this exclusive sweat factory is the attractiveness of the trainers and the trainees themselves for that matter. 

You can imagine how some people may find it motivating to workout in close proximity to a bunch of good looking, fit, sweaty New Yorkers grunting and wearing "Fuck you Patrick!" tank tops... That's right, why not buy some Barry's Bootcamp merch with your post-workout shake from the juice bar.

The DL (down low, not dead lift)
Given my reservations about massive group fitness sessions without adequate trainer supervision (I’m looking at you CrossFit!), and the fairly exorbitant pricing structure, I must say that the workout does have its appeal.

It is a high-volume, high-intensity circuit training platform that incorporates four 12-minute rounds alternating between weight-training (dumbbell) exercises on the floor and (speed and incline) interval training on treadmills. The focus is certainly on intensity and volume, which is good for conditioning, muscular endurance and potentially improving body composition but not so great for strength, mobility or anything more sports specific. The three-minute stretch routine at the end is cursory at best.

Barry's certainly has it shortfalls – the cost, overcrowding, inadequate trainer supervision and I could see some potential issues and even injury or overtraining risk for unconditioned people jumping straight into such a high intensity regime, or for people who get obsessed and train every day. 48 minutes of intense output with no rest is very challenging even for a well-conditioned beast like myself… I haven’t sweated so much since my first (and last) hot yoga class.

Who will fall in love with Barry?
Like all things fitness, depending on your goal I think Barry's could be great for some people. Specifically, people who need motivation, excitement and novelty to get them to train consistently; people who love the buzz from group training – the collective, sweaty spirit of all getting tortured together by a good looking instructor with a headset mic on; and ultimately for people who can afford it and who want to take pride in belonging to an exclusive club.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with Barry's. It's a nice environment. (The facial cleanser in the change room smelled divine). I can see why it's so popular. I also think it could be a great supplement to add some intensity to your fitness routine. However, I think I'd prefer to be teaching the class rather than taking it. I mean, how cool would it be to have people wearing 'Fuck you David!" tank tops!

I went to Barry’s Bootcamp Chelsea:
[Image Source:]


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