I attended my first Barry’s Bootcamp class last Saturday via a blogger subset of a class that was provided for us thanks to Jess @ Little Miss Runshine, along with Allie, Danielle, Jen, Katie, Semirah, and Whitney.
Barry’s Bootcamp is one of the latest boutique studios to hit the Boston area. After the influx of barre studios and spin studios, there is likely going to be an influx of bootcamp studios! I love my neighborhood boutique studio soul.train fitness‘ tabata and boot camp classes, so I was already psyched to try this one. However, the prospect of doing sprinting intervals after a long hiatus from track workouts scared me a bit. At Barry’s, an hour-long workout is divided into two treadmill sections that alternate with two floor sections. The weekend class I took focused on Full Body (vs. the Hard CORE Abs, Butt & Legs, and other classes offered on weekdays). It was taught by the energetic Chad Flahive (who also works at Equinox and runs the outdoor bootcamp Public Body).
Half the group immediately sprinted for the treadmills as soon as the studio doors opened, so I started on the floor section by choosing a step aerobics riser, then bringing over a set of 12 pound dumbbells and a mat. Any similarities to college step aerobics classes or BodyPump ended as soon as the thumping dance party music, orange lights, and Chad’s cheerful instruction started. We did exercises such as plank shoulder raises, burpees, hammer curls, renegade rows, bicep curls into pushups on the dumbbells, alternating lunges on the steps, bicep curls, hammer curls, lunge pass-throughs, and lunge with bicep curls.
In spite of the “Bootcamp” name, I found the instruction friendly and motivating. I know that some people prefer tough drill sergeant instructors, but I dig Chad’s style more. He’s so peppy and funny that you forget the hundreds of pushups and the holding on to the treadmill for dear life. He also offered modifications so subtly that no one can tell if fellow classmates need to modify down (e.g., when I had wrist pain in renegade rows, Chad told me to do the same motion in an elbow plank, but only so I could hear). As a teacher, I’ve become more conscious of making sure that students don’t feel embarrassed when they have to modify down or ask for help, and I appreciate similar efforts in a fitness instructor. I also appreciate a sense of humor and willingness to be silly in an instructor. I never thought I would see a Pure Barre move in Barry’s, but we did do hip raises and circles when kneeling with our butts over our heels and our upper bodies angled back. Chad kept our minds off the burning in our quads by cheerfully acting like a gyrating genie.
After our floor set, we switched to the treadmills to do what the treadmill folk had just done. I only finished a little over a mile in each of the treadmill intervals but found the approximate 24 minutes more difficult than an all-out 5K. I went with the 5.5 mph (10:54/mile) warmup pace, 7.0 mph (8:34/mile) run pace, and the 9.0 mph (6:40/mile) sprint pace and tried to to keep to those numbers the entire time (except when I finally had to modify during a 15% incline run and bring the speed to 6.0 mph during the second set). We did a bunch of incline runs and sprints. Chad made sure to use positive reinforcement by calling out praise for those who could push to double digit sprints (I bet Jess was one of the ones who made it to 11 mph!) but never made those who did 9.0 mph sprints feel inferior.
We switched back to the floor after the first treadmill set. I scampered over to the 10 pound weights as soon as I found out where they were. Working with 12-pound and 10-pound dumbbells was a big shock after only using 2-pound dumbbells at Pure Barre, Exhale, and spin classes. We did two AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workouts that involved more bicep curls, Arnold presses, burpees, tricep dips, and other dumbbell or body weight exercises, followed by abs exercises. This felt more like soul.train or CrossFit, but still hurt like the dickens. I noticed the guy next to me absolutely killing it on the AMRAPS and even modifying up to do things like tricep dips with his feet up on his neighbor’s step aerobics riser (and later found out it was the owner).
On the second treadmill set, the inclines grew higher (6, 9, and 15%) but thankfully the sprint durations remained at 30 seconds. The recoveries felt like oases in the desert and I was so glad to have Whitney’s familiar face on the next treadmill. After we finished that set, we proceeded to the floor for a stretch and cooldown.
Overall, I was very impressed by Barry’s. The high-energy but not “I’m more hardcore than you” vibe, fancy details like Equinox-esque lockers and Malin+Goetz toiletries, rockin’ dance music, and rigorous workout appeal to me. Some people might say “$28 for that? I could do the same thing on the treadmill and in the free weights section at the gym with a GymBoss timer.” I know I “could” do that…but I probably won’t make myself do it. The fun “we’re in this together” atmosphere of a class (and fear of losing money for not showing up) will trick me into doing it. I also like that Barry’s uses accessible exercises that can scale up for you as you get more fit. For example during AMRAPs, everyone’s working for the same amount of time but as you get stronger, you can knock out more sets or add modifications like doing tricep dips with your feet up on your neighbor’s step. Similarly, you can increase your sprint speed on the treadmills.
Because I have ClassPass and lots of class packs at various spin, barre, yoga, and fitness studios, I won’t be signing up for a class pack at Barry’s Bootcamp right away, but can definitely see going as a periodic treat. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous to call the love child of a CRC track workout, a CrossFit WOD, and a dance party a treat, but it is 🙂 Some of Exhale’s best barre teachers (Nicole Estebanell and Meg Scannell) also teach there, so I’m interested in trying their class as well as more by Chad or Brian.