Sunday, June 5, 2011

Barry's Bootcamp NYC - A Review

Barry's Bootcamp is a Southern California fitness sensation that counts Kim Kardashian, Brooke Shields and Jake Gyllenhaal amongst its celebrity clientele. It is an interval-based training method that first came about the fitness scene in 1998 in West Hollywood and has since opened up three additional facilities in California. This weekend marked the launch of its first New York studio located in Chelsea.

I took the 830am class this Sunday morning, choosing the class that was going to be taught by Barry Jay, one of the method's original founders and whom the gym is named after.

I got to the studio a little early and was greeted by an affable Barry, who was behind the reception. Prior to coming I had done my research on the method and its creator so I was fully aware of Barry's loud and aggressive teaching style, and was mentally prepared, although a little nervous, to be yelled at. I don't generally react well to people yelling at me when I work out but I do prefer taking a first-time class with its creator. I soon realized that I was the only female here amidst a sea of very buff young men. Perfect, I thought to myself, I am so going to be the weakest link in this class!

Thankfully, more women came in as we approached 830am. A small bowl of ear plugs was displayed at the reception desk and I was told that some clients find the music in the class to be too loud and so the ear plugs are for them.  Blaringly loud music -you have been warned!

The actual studio is lined by mirrors and has red and yellow spot-lights on the ceiling. Numerous treadmills are arranged on one side of the studio and two rows of steppers were aligned in the center of the room.

About the half the class was asked to grab one of the 20 treadmills and start warming up. The remaining class participants were asked to grab a set of weights appropriate for themselves (5, 10 or 15 lbs were recommended for women, and heavier weights were recommended for men), and told they were going to commence with floor exercises. The entire 60 minute class vacillated between 5 minute intervals on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of strength training/working with free weights, averaging between 25-30 minutes on the treadmill and and equal amount of strength training. The class format was like this:

*Running at a zero incline, at your own speed, but sprinting in the last one minute


*Running at an incline of 7.0, again, sprinting in the last one minute

*Squats performed continuously while holding onto the free weights

*Running at the "dynamic" setting on the treadmill, where basically you used your entire body weight to move the treadmill belt (this was as hard as it sounds, especially when we had to sprint in the final minute)

*Shoulder presses with bicep curls using the free weights

*Running at an incline of 10.0, with a sprint at the end

*Triceps work while lying on the stepper and a short set of abs where we straightened our legs and crunched up bringing the weights towards our toes

*Running at zero incline but a high speed (7.0-10.0), followed by a final sprint at an even higher speed

*Dynamic scissor  lunges (where you jump in the air and switch legs while lunging) while holding the free weights

*Final stretch

I was drenched by the end of it. It's definitely a hard class. The strength training/free weight sets require you to continuously do the set for 5 minutes or longer. Doing push-ups and scissor lunges or even shoulder presses repetitively for that long is exhausting. I started off with the 10lb weights which I felt that I could have stuck to had it been a shorter stretch but I did end up moving down to the 8lb weights for the triceps and got rid of weights completely in the scissor lunge set when using weights was practically impossible. I also took many breaks. It just was not possible for me to do the sets continuously. Looking around I noticed that everyone seemed to be taking breaks so I didn't feel too bad.

Barry walked around the class, encouraging everyone to keep going. To my surprise and delight, there was no yelling and no berating. It wasn't all warm and fuzzy either but I did appreciate not being singled out and belittled!

I did feel sufficiently challenged. The method here is high intensity interval training with bursts of cardio being performed on the treadmill, which when performed at high enough speeds would leave me gasping for breath. The music was energetic but primarily pop - Lady Gaga, Rihanna etc.

Classes were free this weekend, it being opening weekend, and so the format of the class was that of a full body workout. However, once the regular schedule begins this Monday, the floor work will focus on a different muscle group each day, switching it up between arms and abs on Mondays, legs and butt on Tuesdays, chest and abs on Wednesdays and back and shoulders on Thursdays. Full body workouts similar to the one I took today will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Once the class was over we all walked out, soaked, and were offered smoothie shots which tasted heavenly after such a grueling workout!

Outside the studio there is a small area where fitness apparel is sold..

There is also a juice bar and electronic lockers (a definite plus since there's no need to bring your own key).

The Good:
1. The workout: It is hard but they are not wasting your time here. With the high intensity interval training you will see results if you come here frequently enough.

2. Lockers: I hate bringing my own lock and key to high-end fitness studios where you are paying premium prices for a class.

3. Juice bar:  Nothing like a refreshing juice or smoothie after a particularly hard workout

The Not-So-Good:
1. The workout: I am not a fan of treadmill workouts. I appreciate that the interval training here will work wonders for fat loss but the treadmill workout was not something I enjoyed enough to take regularly. I also found myself getting bored during the strength training sets which I felt went on too long.

2. Attention to form: I don't think there was enough attention to ensure proper form. This could be injurious especially so if you are doing multiple repetitions incorrectly aligned.

3. The changing rooms: The rooms are a little on the small side but they looked a little dingy, like there was still work being done on them.

Barry's Bootcamp provides a challenging and complete workout, efficiently packing cardio intervals on the treadmill with repetitive free weights/strength training exercises on the floor in a 60 minute session. While I know that this workout will provide results I did not enjoy it enough to make me want to do it regularly. I felt the strength training sets went on too long leading me to feel exhausted. While this may be the purpose of the workout, again, it just did not appeal to my workout style. I have no doubt that this studio will take off in New York city and will attract a loyal following and I am glad I tried it out. Classes are $32 and decrease in price if you purchase a class package.


ellen said...

Ah! I wish I had known that classes were free this weekend :( I'll still have to check it out sometime this month. Sounds like an awesome workout. And I also hate having to bring my own lock to pricey places. Hmm...

Awesome Review - as always :)

Dori said...

Fantastic review! I now know exactly what to expect. I am really glad I skipped out on today, my knee could not have handled it.

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Ellen: Sorry you didn't hear about the free classes! Let me know what you think once you do check it out.

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Dori: I'm glad you opted out. I was thinking of shooting you a note to tell you that it may be hard on your knee. I'm curious to know what you think of it when you do decide to go.

Lauren said...

Love the honest review, not going to rush over. Dingy changing rooms in a new place, huh? Ear plugs?

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Lauren: I was a little surprised about the changing room. But in their defense it just opened so maybe they are still smoothing out the few opening weekend kinks. I'm willing to forgive that! :-)

sofia said...

this sounds intense! i wanted to make a class on sunday but unfortunately wasn't feeling too hot after a little too much birthday fun the night before :) sounds like i wouldn't have been able to handle it anyway! ha. i like the balance between warm and fuzzies and bootcamp berating. sounds like barry's got it figured out!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Sofia: Yes, you don't want to go into this workout having had a little 'too much fun' the night before :-) It's intense!
Happy birthday!

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