Beginner at Barry's Bootcamp: A story of my first day in workout heaven (or hell)

posted on: Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I had originally planned to wait until I'd completed my thirty days at Barry's Bootcamp before writing anything about the experience. However, I was already drafting in my head the minute I walked in the front door so I wanted to get this out there and live while it was still fresh on my mind. 

First, I must say that last night I searched everywhere for the following: "What's it like for a beginner at Barry's Bootcamp?"; "Can I do Barry's Bootcamp if I'm not very fit?"; and, finally, "Will Barry's Bootcamp kill me?" Not surprisingly, nothing came up online. There were a few articles about the experience in general. There were even a few pieces about the transformations your body will experience over time. There were not, however, any articles telling you how to prepare yourself or what to expect. So this, folks, is your complete guide to your first class at Barry's Bootcamp

We'll start with what I did know going in. Every single celebrity I've ever had the privilege of interviewing has raved about Barry and his bootcamp. Actually, every single friend I have in NYC and LA has also had something to say about the transformative power of Barry's Bootcamp, and also how one can easily become addicted to the phenomenon. I, however, went in and tried to be as "Switzerland" as possible. I wanted a clear mind for the whole experience. 

A little background on me and my fitness level before we go any further. I used to run a lot and do a group workout class every day at the gym. That was five years ago. Since I started FFG, my workout has mainly consisted of running for a bus in London when the situation requires a sprint. Other than that, I'm sitting at a computer desk bringing you pieces like this one, around the clock. Let's just say I am in my least fit state at the moment, which is why I have turned to Barry's Bootcamp for help.

So onto what it's like for your first class at Barry's Bootcamp.

First of all, Barry's Bootcamp is located in Euston, just across from the station in London. It's a bit of a trek for me to get there as I'm in Kensington and juggling public transport. But I made it there with about ten minutes to spare. The entrance is rather nondescript, but as you walk in you discover a camouflaged lift with the words "Barry's Bootcamp" stamped on the front in a military-like fashion. I take the the stairs down. This doesn't seem like the sort of place that would smile upon you arriving on the floor by lift.

At reception I'm greeted by a handsome man and woman team who practically jump out of their chairs when they discover I am a newbie. With enormous smiles they ask me to fill in my welcome form, which more or less lets Barry's Bootcamp instructors know I am ripe for the beating. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Around the corner there are changing rooms, toilets, showers and lockers. I punch in a code, store my belongings and go to a side of the room where I wait for the trainer to greet me. As I'm new to the class, I am taken in first and shown the treadmill and given a run down of how things will work. The class is divided into four segments - two parts on the treadmill and two on the ground. The trainer, Sandy, tells me ahead of the class that as I'm a beginner I can walk if I need to, but he recommends me running with the rest of the pack. I nod and tell him it's been a while but I won't be walking. Oh if only I had known what I was letting myself in for.

About 20 women file into a red lit room. It's an interesting mix of women and fitness levels. Some look as if they could have walked straight out of Fitness Magazine, others are, shall we say, "normal" in their body shapes. I feel there's a little bit of everything and am surprised that I'm not instantly intimidated.

We're asked to start up our treadmills and we begin with a light jog with music pumping in the background and our trainer coaching us over a loud speaker. We're told this will be the last easy thing we do. I start to panic. At 90 seconds, we're picking up speed and moving into faster jogs, which for me feel like sprints, but Sandy is still referring to them as jogs. Ugh.

Seven minutes in and I've given  up on running. I just can't do it. My fitness level is not there. Then I hear over the microphone, "Emily, you are not injured, get running." Sandy then approaches my treadmill and puts his finger on the speed increase button. I'm not running as fast as everyone else, but I'm definitely running. Just as I think I can't go anymore, and I'm genuinely convinced I am going to pass out, we're told to bring down our speed and jump off the treadmill for the strength training portion of the workout on the floor.

Our next step is to retrieve weights from the corner of the room. We're told to get heavy weights and I make the colossal mistake of grabbing 2.5 kilogram dumbbells. This does not impress the trainer at all. He grabs my 2.5 kilos and announces, "this is what we do with these light weights..." he picks up the weights and throws them out the door. "Only heavy weights I said." Ugh. I'm in trouble again. I'm starting to feel like the runt of the litter.

The first task on the agenda involves a wall sit. For those of you that don't know - this is when you have to pretend you are sitting in a chair as you lean against the wall. Only there is no chair and your legs burn like the dickens as you try to keep this pose. If you stand up, your trainer will sit on your lap. Do not stand up. I have learned this much.

On this day, we were concentrating all our exercises on butt and legs. Let me tell you, even as I write this, I can still tell you all the muscles that received their comeuppance. Between the lunges, the running and the jumping up and down on steps, I don't think I've ever been put through my paces in such a way.

It would do no good for me to detail all the exercises that we did on the floor, as each and every workout is different. I will just say this - twice I thought I was going to die and twice I recovered. The feeling of accomplishment of pushing your body through that pain is something that is impossible to describe. One thing Barry's Bootcamp is a pro at doing is making you push past the limits you have established for yourself in fitness. They know when to push and when to back off, and I am firm believer that we don't even know that ourselves. These guys are trained pros. They know when someone's about to expire versus someone's who just slacking.

Before I knew it, the music had come down and we were stretching. I made it through the running, jumping, twisting and turning. As I lay on my mat under darkness and while soft Top 20 music was played throughout the studio, I couldn't believe I had survived.

Class finished and I waddled to my locker to collect my belongings. I took the advice of people who had come before me and indulged in a post-workout protein shake. This, my friends, is a must. Not only is it good in repairing your muscles after such an intense workout, it's also a great incentive for future workouts. Knowing you can come out and have a protein shake called "snickers" after burning 1000 calories in 60 minutes is just heaven. Trust me on this one.

So what's the bottom line? Well, I can't tell you results as this is my first class. But I can tell you that I went from couch potato to Barry's Bootcamp and I survived. Not only did I survive, I immediately booked myself in for a class tomorrow and for every day over the next 10 days. They were right about the addiction part.

My goal is to complete 30 classes in 30 days. Then, at the end of all of this, I can report back and let you know how it all went. For now, I can safely say that if I can do Barry's Bootcamp - anyone can do Barry's Bootcamp. But, be warned. You have to come here prepared to push yourself harder than you ever had in your life. From what I've heard, though, the results are well worth the push.

I'll keep you updated....


  1. So? How did it go? I just booked my first and your post made me want to cry haha