Think about all the photos you’ve seen of girls flexing at SoulCycle or all the videos of guys lifting at gyms. In urban cities, workout classes have become a way for millennials to broadcast to their Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook followers that they’re being healthy. Nowadays, these classes seem less about getting a hard workout in and more about showing off that one’s in shape. It’s a pity.
I actually go to these classes for the workout, but I always notice a number of people who just sit in the back and barely try. Then, as expected, their glamorous posts appear online so that their followers know about their supposed “workout.” If you are this kind of “fake workout” person, then Barry’s Bootcamp—my latest find—is not for you.
You’ve probably never heard of Barry’s since most people go to SoulCycle, Handle Bar, or Corepower Yoga for exercise classes. But trust me, this one is the real deal.
Situated in the heart of the financial district, Barry’s Bootcamp is a boutique fitness class that revolves around interval training and aims for its customers to burn up to 1,000 calories after each 50-minute session.
Barry’s has locations around the globe, but I first learned of it from Lily Druker ’18, who kept raving about it. So one day this fall, when I felt like trying a different class, I recalled her praise, paid the first timer’s fee of $20—future classes are $30—and gave Barry’s a shot.
When I entered the sleek lobby for my 4:20 p.m. Wednesday class, the staff at the front desk immediately welcomed me, took my phone and wallet, and escorted me into the gym.
Twenty-five treadmills for sprinting stood along the wall, and 25 benches for ab workouts and weight training rested on the floor. It smelled like sweat (oddly, not in a bad way, but rather evidence that people were actually working hard), and music blasted through the various speakers in the room beside a number of fans to cool people off. The instructor’s encouraging yet forceful voice also raged through the room.
When you sign up for a class at Barry’s, you have to select whether you want to begin with the treadmill or floor exercises. Being a runner, I chose the treadmill.
In the span of six minutes, I did four 30-second to 60-second sprints, earning a few breaks between 30 and 60 seconds along the way. Even though the other clients and I each had different paces, we all got a good workout because the instructor—helpful but intense—pushed each of us to challenge ourselves. After the intervals on the treadmill, I felt strong, so when I switched to the floor exercises, I imagined the workout wouldn’t be much more difficult.
Boy, was I wrong. The floor workout was super tough, and I worked muscles that I didn’t even know existed. One especially hard exercise forced us to lie down on the bench, hold a weight above our faces, lower it behind our heads to touch the floor, and extend our legs. We bent our legs again when we pulled the weight back above our faces.
After a couple of minutes doing too many tedious and hard exercises on the floor, we switched again, and I was back on the treads. Each exercise felt more tiring than the last, and by the time the 50-minute mark appeared, I was silently cursing myself for coming to this class. Yes, it was that exhausting.
But when I left the gym a few minutes later, my spirits instantly rose again when I paid $10 for a Muscle Up smoothie from Barry’s bar of drinks, there to help with refueling after the class—how novel! (It was delicious, by the way. You should definitely get one if you go.)
Ultimately, Barry’s was a great experience. If you need that nudge to get working out, this is definitely the class. But if you’ve never done a workout class before or you’re a work-out-to-post-about-it-on-social-media type person, then Barry’s is certainly not for you. You can’t just chill in the back and think you’re getting exercise; the superhuman workout freaks around you do not take this lightly and will push you to keep going hard.
Of the many workout classes I’ve done, this is the only one that made me feel like an outsider. Every single member of the class—literally, each person—whipped through the stretches while I felt like crumbling from the pain. Still, I tried to keep up with those maniacs, so I left Barry’s feeling better about myself and my body than I ever have after a workout class.
When you next have the urge to sprint like crazy or stretch your abs beyond what you thought possible, head over to Barry’s—you won’t be disappointed…unless, of course, you just want your likes on Insta.