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This post is going to be all about Barry’s Bootcamp. Before we dive in, I want to make the disclaimer that just because something isn’t my favorite doesn’t mean you won’t love it (and vice versa). This review is meant to be an honest, unbiased account of my personal experience at Barry’s. I paid for the class myself and Barry’s Bootcamp isn’t aware that I’m writing this review (which I think produces the most honest feedback). If this is something that interests you, keep on reading!
To begin, let’s get into what Barry’s Bootcamp is. Barry’s opened its first location in West Hollywood in 1998 and began expanding from there. The class is 50% treadmill and 50% strength training (although there’s now an option to book “double floor” with no tread work).
Barry’s calls themselves the best workout in the world. They say you can burn up to 1,000 calories in a single class, and classes are held in their signature “red room” - dark with dim red lighting.
So how does it work?
First, you book your starting spot in a class. You can choose to start on the tread, where you’ll do your cardio, or on the floor, where you’ll do your strength training. I chose to start on the tread. You’re automatically assigned to the corresponding bench, and you’ll switch places a couple of times so that you do cardio and strength twice in class.
We did some jogging and sprints each time we were on the tread, and the floor work was mostly lower body for this particular class. You can book your class based on which body part(s) you want to focus on.
Most of the floor work was stuff you’d see in a class like P90X - we used dumbbells, a resistance band around the legs, and an aerobics-style step with risers. There was a very small space for each of us to work with, but we did about 10-12 different movements on the floor.
The class was really fast-paced and there wasn’t much downtime, which is something I always look for in a group fitness class. You want to pay to work out, not stand around! Barry’s was definitely challenging and high-intensity.
There are a few key likes and dislikes that stood out to me based on my experience. I attended the Upper East Side location in New York City. So, keep in mind that my experience may not necessarily apply to all locations.
Let’s talk about the things I liked!
Fuel Bar. Barry’s locations now have Fuel Bars that allow you to pre-order your post-workout shakes on the app so they’re ready for pick-up when you leave class. The options were really impressive! There’s an extensive list of both plant-based and non-plant-based shakes with a ton of different flavors. There are also a bunch of add-ons to choose from like flaxseed and maca powder! The shake I got was plant-based and actually tasted pretty good. The customer service at the Fuel Bar, unfortunately, was disappointing. But we’ll get into that later.
Music. The music in my class was on point. There were some cool remixes and the playlist was definitely curated to keep the class motivated during those hard pushes. It also seemed like the playlist had a little something for everyone!
Lighting. The vibe of the “red room” is pretty cool. It reminded me a bit of the [solidcore] studio. The dark room and red lighting kind of help you to zone out and focus more on your workout. There are fewer distractions and you’re less likely to worry about what everyone around you is doing. I enjoyed having a mirror right in front of the tread - everyone looks good in that lighting! I hate treadmills but something about the vibe in the room made me run longer/faster than I think I ever have on a treadmill.
Instructor. My instructor was really friendly and helped me out when I didn’t know how to put on the “booty band”. I just liked his vibe overall and while we didn’t get to talk, he seemed like a nice guy.
Amenities. The studio has nice amenities like locker rooms with full showers, hair ties, blow dryers, etc. I’d compare it to Soulcycle amenities-wise. There are digital lockers as well as Oribe products. It seems like a nice luxurious place to get ready after an early morning class.
Now, let’s get into the things I didn’t like.
Very difficult to hear. I’m not sure if it was the volume of the music, the acoustics in the room, or the sound system being blown. But it was nearly impossible for me to understand what the instructor was saying for the majority of the class. There were many points throughout the class when I sort of just had to guess what I was supposed to be doing, or just do my own thing because the instructor’s voice was too muffled to understand him.
Confusing for a first-timer. When I signed up for the class, I received an e-mail telling me that I needed to show up at least 15 minutes before the start of class so that everything I needed to know could be explained. So, I did just that. And when I arrived, the girl at the front desk told me where to wait for class and let me know that my instructor would tell me everything I needed to know. Unfortunately, that never actually happened. I stood with a huge group of people waiting to get into the room and there were no special directions given to myself or anyone else who may have been new.
The instructor did ask new people to raise their hands at the beginning of class. I raised my hand but nothing came of it. Class began and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing on my treadmill. I tried looking at the people to either side of me but both were using totally different inclines and speeds. It was really hard to hear. So, for the first few minutes of class, I sort of just did my own thing.
I actually had no idea that you switch from tread to floor twice throughout the class - I assumed that half the class was done on either tread or floor and then you switch positions once. This led to some confusion when I and a guy in the class were both trying to use the same bench. We spent probably 3 minutes of time we were supposed to be exercising trying to figure out how we were both assigned to the same bench at the same time. Apparently, I was supposed to have switched BACK to my tread at some point! The guy left the red room and grabbed a front desk employee who came in and explained it to me. This was embarrassing and frustrating for both of us, as we missed a few minutes of our workout due to an avoidable mix-up.
The instructor must have explained that we switch back, but I totally missed it since I literally could only pick up 10% of what he was saying. This leads to my next point.
Class size. Huge classes may be your thing. I honestly think it’s a personal preference. But as someone who teaches classes myself, I think a 51-person class is entirely too much. When you add in the fact that half the class is doing something totally different than the other half, there’s literally no way the instructor could have eyes on the entire class. The instructor completely missing the snafu with me and my fellow class-goer (and him having to leave the room and grab someone from the front desk) was a telltale sign.
I feel like the instructor also may have noticed how completely lost I was during the tread portion of the class if there were fewer people. Was I supposed to do anything with the incline button at any point during class? I have no idea. I couldn’t hear and the instructor didn’t notice. This isn’t a knock on him - he was fabulous and did the best he could given the circumstances.
Customer service. Some of the staff at Barry’s (like the instructor and the girl who first greeted me when I came in) were friendly. However, in my ~ 1.5 hours there I came across two very unfriendly people. When I first arrived, I was a little confused about when I was supposed to pick up the drink I pre-ordered at the Fuel Bar. I asked the girl working at the bar about it and she was very clearly annoyed with me, rolling her eyes and being snappy.
After class, for some reason, my locker wasn’t responding to the combination I used. I went up to the front desk and patiently waited to ask someone to help. Whoever the man at the desk was pretended I was invisible for about 4 minutes then simply walked away. I was standing directly face-to-face with him and he was too busy clicking around on the computer to acknowledge me. I had to wait for someone else to come because he obviously wasn’t willing to help.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that unfriendly treatment is something you’re required to put up with just because you’re at a boutique studio in NYC. I get that the studio is busy and not every day at work is a fun day. But I seriously think this studio needs to address the attitudes of some of their staff. As a paying customer, I shouldn’t be made to feel like I’m inconveniencing you by being there.
This really grinds my gears because group fitness is supposed to encourage people and make them feel welcomed. Imagine if I had been someone who was new to working out and this was my first experience in the group fitness world. It could’ve discouraged me from ever trying again. There’s just no excuse for behavior like that, no matter how busy the studio is or how you’re feeling that day.
Cleanliness. Again, this particular issue may be specific to this studio. I have a big issue with using equipment that someone else was just sweating on and hasn’t been wiped down. When I got back to my bench after my second tread section, I could see tons of sweat on it from the person who had just used it. Equipment doesn’t get wiped down during transitions. So, you’re essentially working out on someone else’s sweaty equipment (not once but twice!). This seems like an easy fix on Barry’s part and I’m honestly not sure how this has been going on for so long.
I went into Barry’s Bootcamp really wanting to love it. I had heard so many great things about it and wanted to experience the “world’s greatest workout” since it has such a cult following. I don’t want to be overly negative so I’ll start by saying that I did get a great workout. I pushed myself really hard during the tread portions and I was pretty sore the next day. But I honestly don’t feel like I did anything that I couldn’t have done for free on the Nike Run app or a YouTube video. I got a great workout, but I think it would’ve been even better had I been able to hear the instructor during the tread portions of the class.
I paid $38 + tax for this class - the only intro discount Barry’s offered was $75 for 3 classes (+ 1 guest pass). While that would’ve made the per-class rate cheaper, I didn’t want to shell out that much money for a place I hadn’t had a chance to try yet. And I’m glad I didn’t. My personal opinion is that you’re paying for the name/gimmick when you’re paying for Barry’s. There wasn’t anything novel or exciting about the class aside from the cool lighting and nice amenities.
The only true “unlimited” monthly option is $500 a month for a 3-month commitment or $560 for month-to-month. There are also options for 16 classes a month ($440) and 12 classes a month ($340) as well as various class packs.
I’d much rather spend my money at a place where I’ll get some type of one-on-one attention, and I just don’t see how that’s really possible at Barry’s. But I think everyone should do what works best for their personal preference! Obviously there’s a huge market for Barry’s Bootcamp. So, it’s working for somebody. As long as you’re seeing results and enjoying yourself in a safe way, that’s all that matters. While it didn’t completely match up with my personal preferences for a workout class, I’d still encourage everyone to try it at least once.
I’m glad to be able to say I tried it, although I doubt I’ll be back. In fact, I may even try out another treadmill workout class like Orangetheory based on how sore I was the next day.
Have you tried Barry’s Bootcamp? Would you be interested in seeing a review of another treadmill + strength workout class?
Let’s chat in the comments!
Dominique Cheylise, 27 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.