What It’s Like to Workout At… Barry’s

Full disclosure, I tried Barry’s Bootcamp (apparently back before they dropped the ‘Bootcamp’) in New York before attending classes at the Dupont and *new* Clarendon studios. Each was quite different, but I’ll admit that I like the DC area’s Barry’s workouts better.  Less stress, less scary, much more approachable. Though still intense.  Get ready for it!

It all starts with Barry’s industrial interior in their large studios.  No cramped waiting area here. You basically walk into a smoothie/juice store with walls lined with chic Barry’s branded apparel.  Check-in at the front desk to get your number assignment, which will tell you what treadmill/floor space you’ll occupy.

Locker rooms have swanky amenities — like Dyson hairdryers!!  You won’t be the only one who takes an early morning class here just so they can use the products and amenities to get ready for work. But you’ll have to get in that workout first…

Lobby and apparel at Barry’s Clarendon

Barry’s is famous for its hardcore HIIT workouts. It actually calls itself “the best workout in the world.”  But is it? Maybe.

The first thing you should know is that there are always two classes going on at the same time, in the same room. Barry’s can fit in as many as 50 people working out at the same time for each of its 50-minute classes. So you really need to pay attention to whether your drill sergeant instructor is calling out instructions for “treaders” or the floor. (I don’t want to still be sprinting when everyone else knows it’s cooldown time, do you?)

Barry’s Locker Room with fancy amenities like Dyson hairdryers

Switching from the treadmill to the floor (or vice versa) and back — and then back again — your heart rate doesn’t even get a chance to slow down. You can’t dawdle. There’s barely time to gather the weights, stretch bands, etc. that you’ll need during the transition.  And this is by design.  Barry’s is part-cardio, part strength training, but it’s the workout’s constant motion and heart rate elevation that adds muscle and shreds serious fat.

While you’re a “treader” your instructor will shout out a range of numbers that correspond to mph speeds and incline percentages on your Woodway treadmill. Use these numbers to get the most out of your $34 workout (discount packages available), but know that (in DC anyway, I found NYC instructors to be much more militant) no one is going to yell at you if you need to modify. Steady jog at a 5 if you need to.  Just keep moving.  You’ll be staring yourself directly in the mirror, and that’s a pretty strong motivation.

Don’t fool yourself, though.  Floor sessions aren’t any easier. The exercises you’ll do will depend on the day of the week.  Monday?  That’s Barry’s Arms and Abs day. Tuesday? Legs & Butt.  Thursday? All Abs.  Every workout is different with a combination of squats, lunges, deadlifts, chest presses, tricep dips, free weights, steps, planks and more all on the masochistic menu.

The atmosphere is less clubby than some boutique fitness studios, though the music is loud and the lights are low. Energy can be palpable, especially with a fuller house. (Though I admit, I prefer less attendance because all of that spot switching gets confusing.) Instructors will call you out by name, but usually for encouragement, not harassment.  And since everyone is really just focused on themselves in the Red Room, this isn’t as terrifying as it sounds.

Barry’s Clarendon Smoothie Bar

Looking around, you’ll see a mix of body styles, fitness levels, and abilities.  So no matter your capacity, you can do it.  If nothing else, pepper in a workout at Barry’s to add variety to your fitness routine.  This one really pushes you.

After you’ve exhausted every inch of energy, grab yourself a smoothie from Barry’s onsite smoothie/juice bar in that ample lobby… and try to walk out after someone else musters the strength to push open the door. But head home happy — you’ll be sore for a week but you shredded it!

ProRip: Hate cardio?  It is possible to do a double floor option for 50 full minutes of strength training.  (Why?!??)

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