I’ve been running outside for almost 2 years now, and I don’t have a gym membership, so I’m pretty open to trying new things, and having no financial commitment to one specific gym allows me to do just that. At the start of 2019, I knew I wanted to dip my toe into the London fitness scene and try some of these ‘new & trendy’ fitness classes on offer. I roped in my friend Hollie to join me on the journey of new fitness discovery, and our first adventure was at Barry’s Bootcamp. Here is my review of our experience, totally unbiased (and unpaid) opinions.
Pricey, but we knew that
So yes, it is pricey, £22 per class, was definitely more than I am used to spending at my local leisure centre (£6-7 for reference), but Barry’s was an experience, all the pictures online told me so. We decided that the cost was bearable as this activity was in place of a dinner and drinks that we would normally do when we meet up. Cost justified from a budget standpoint.
Because you have to book your own place (for example, I couldn’t book a place for Hollie and me, which would ensuring we were in the same class at stations next to each other). So instead we were on the phone, booking our class simultaneously, and choosing our start position (either floor or treadmill). From the diagram we couldn’t really tell where the front/back of the class was, but we chose two treadmills right next to each other. The confirmation emails came through swiftly, so all we had to do now was wait for the big day.
Tip: If you want to do the class with a friend (and be near each other), book at the same time online
We arrived early, but we didn’t mind, we figured, we wanted the whole experience and there would be a place for us to have natter in there. But this meant that we were were sort of twiddling our fingers in the lobby. The receptionist said we could sit at the bar area, so we sat on these posh antique stools and it was very quiet. I felt like our voices were heard by all the staff, so it was a little uncomfortable. We did have plenty of time to suss out the protein shake menu (plus we really felt like we had to have one now after reading the delicious sounding menu), and placed our order for after the class.
Once is near enough to the class start time we ventured downstairs to take off our outerwear and secure a locker. Except, it was a real struggle to find a locker that was available, and I think in hindsight we should have gone downstairs earlier to get a locker. Also the way in which you set your locker code, was quite confusing (well for me at least) and it all felt a little stressful, finding a locker, then being presented with this complicated code setting system, and the dim lighting, and all the people. Anyways, of course we got it sorted, but for a newbie, it was stressful.
Tip: If you are early, go get your locker secured and sorted
I’d heard that the changing rooms were lux, and they were nice, better than your normal gym, but I wouldn’t say lux. Actually a little bit cramped. We arrived in activewear and left in the same activewear, so didn’t feel the need to shower (as you definitely would if you did a pre-work/pre-night out class).
So the class was about to start and the instructor pokes his head out, and gives the newbies a first time briefing. He says, okay, everyone know their number. Uh oh, what was our treadmill number, we’ve forgotten our starting position. He tuts, and tells us we have to go back upstairs and ask the receptionist for it. Then a lady starts asking questions about the treadmill speeds and I feel compelled to be polite and listen, but in reality I want to run back up stairs and get my ‘number’ before the class starts.
Tip: Remember your starting position number, and if you don’t ask the receptionist to remind you of it when you check in
Okay, so we have our starting position number now after a frantic run up and back down stairs, and the class is about to start. The music is loud and the lighting is red. It all feels quite intense, but in a good way. I feel all hyped up and ready to start. As a runner I wasn’t nervous about being on the treadmill, even though I run outside usually, whenever I am at a hotel gym I often do my own interval session on a treadmill.
With the music, dark lights, and all the machines starting up, it was quite noisy, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to hear the instructor. Instructions were being barked (laced with profanity) at the people on the floor and also at those on the treadmill.
Once I got to grips with the different commands he was calling out it was okay, although a few times he was counting down, and I thought it was for us and it was for the floor, and we had to keep on going.
The class was broken up into a warm-up (treadmill, then floor), a main work session (treadmill, then floor), and then a shorter work session at the end (treadmill, then floor), or if your start position is the floor then of course it is the other way around.
The warm-up on the treadmill was tough, but luckily it wasn’t too long. I walked off the machine, when it was time to switch to the floor, feeling like I’d be alright. Similarly the floor warm-up session, was fine, lots of deadlifts, and squats, and again, not too long, so I survived.
The main ‘track’ session on the treadmill was a series of 400m & 200m sprints with push ups in between, and had me absolutely gasping and feeling like I was going to vomit. The instructor said, no one ever died on a treadmill and to keep pushing, and I instantly thought that wasn’t true, and that someone had probably died on a treadmill.
I was so relieved to get to the floor after the ‘track’ session on the treadmill, I don’t remember much of it. But it was a lot of reps, and my arm (and shoulders) are my weakest bits, so I’m not sure I pushed as hard as I could of (and perhaps should of), it was easier to ‘hide’ on the floor. I did take a quick glance at my watch at the end of the main floor session, and see that we still had a good 20 minutes left. When we got back to the treadmills, Hollie was shocked we were not done (or at least close to it).
So we worked right up to the hour limit of the class, and there was no cool down, stretch at the end. But I guess that is not what people pay for, and if you want to stretch you can do it on your own time. We wanted a picture in the class, but had to return to our lockers (and remember how to open them) to get our phones. The class was cleared out by the time we got back, but the red lights were still on, so we still managed to get a picture. Actually the cleaner took it for us, and he was so sweet, trying to get us a good shot (probably a long shot after what we’d just been through).
After the class
We ambled upstairs looking forward to our protein shakes, feeling that we’d well and truly earned them. We paid on card with the receptionist, and she tried really hard to get us to put our card details on file, so the next time we can just ‘pay on account’. We just said we were fine to pay each time.
Over at the shake bar, it seemed like it took forever for our shakes to be ready, but actually they were sitting behind the bar, and not being given out, as we were not paying on account. Basically, the shake makers had no idea if we’d paid or not, anyways the confusion was quickly sorted out.
So we left, in a bit of a daze, wobbly legged, sipping our shakes. We ended up talking to a guy who was walking the same way as us, and he was American and said that he’s done the classes in America and that this one was the toughest one that he’d ever done. He didn’t look like the fittest bloke in the world, but hey, I’ll take it, that class was hard, and we’d survived.
- Value for money? Well, yes, it was expensive, but a good workout
- What was the atmosphere like? A little pretentious, but not to the point it was annoying
- Would I go again? Yes, but with a friend, as a treat
- Would I go regularly? No
Find out more about Barry’s Bootcamp here. Have you been to a Barry’s Bootcamp, please share your experience!
What’s next? We get a bit jumpy trying out a Rebounding class at Frame Fitness!