Barry’s Bootcamp, London

Bootcamp. This less than innocuous compound noun seems to have entered our modern vocabulary with such ease that we’ve become immune to its force. If someone says they’re doing a bootcamp I imagine something between miserable-looking people doing push ups on Clapham Common and a Spa that is populated predominantly by scripted reality tv stars and daily mail journalists there to document the flaxseed and flab of said celebrities. However, I write this with my arms trembling from the effort of typing whilst I stare longingly at the cup of coffee I can’t lift. This is because I went to Bootcamp. Barry’s Bootcamp to be specific.

When I won a competition recently on to take part for free in a Barry’s Bootcamp class I was honestly frightened for what lay ahead. The website did little to allay these fears. A selection of obscenely attractive, toned and tanned trainers wearing fitness gear that only can be described as minimalistic in both its style and substance, claimed it to be the ‘Best Workout in the World’. Oh goody.

As I descended the camouflage lined stairs this sense of dread got worse. I saw no natural light, red lighting and burning candles. It suddenly became clear that I was evidently about to take part in some ritualistic sacrifice to pay penance for my cellulite. That unbelievably toned girl in black behind reception is clearly the adjudicator of this menacing cavern. Or maybe she’s a stand in for Barry, the real terrorist of blubber here… But. Actually. The candles smell really nice. And that’s a smoothie bar. Holy Shit. That’s a smile from the girl behind the reception. Still terrified by the prospect of the workout I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and sympathetic the staff were, and whilst Malin+Goetz candles and products in the changing rooms is probably a gimmick, it’s a gimmick with which I can get on board.

However, I still had to do the workout. Essentially the group is split into those who start on the floor and those who start on the treadmill. You do ten minutes of intense work and then switch, and there are three rounds of this building up to an hour’s workout. It is tough and you break up one hell of a sweat. My mascara stayed relatively in place, but my eyebrow pencil literally dissolved into thin air. But despite being convinced that I was going to die if I ran for even two more seconds I lived to tell the tale. The trainer Sandy was encouraging but not harsh. I genuinely felt motivated rather than embarrassed, though I think the dim and red tinged lighting helped with that. My favourite part of Barry’s Bootcamp was the music that they played for the hour. They provided a really well selected high energy playlist that made you feel like you were at a rave with a selection of exceptionally attractive people, who just happened to be making you run faster faster FASTER on a treadmill. Poor music choices in an exercise class for me is a deal breaker because you can’t zone out due to the nature of a group situation, so being forced to endure both squatting and being poked in the eardrum by Basshunter is a no-no for me. Going back to the party analogy Barry’s Bootcamp is probably the difference between a glamorous club in Santorini and Infernos on Clapham High Street – you’re going to be hungover either way so do the first part right! You probably sweat more at Infernos than Barry’s anyway.

This is a great workout because not only do you break up a serious sweat but it also creates an amazing mindset. You know that you’ve done the time for your Ben and Jerry’s crime, but you don’t feel like you’ve earned a naughty reward. The idea of treating yourself with some cake or pizza just seems ludicrous because not only have you worked so incredibly hard but you have paid £20 for the privilege, so it seems like a total waste of your time and money to skip on down to the Hummingbird Bakery.

After cooling down for a few minutes I had gone from “I am never doing this again! I want to go home! Where’s my mum! Where’s the ice cream?” to realising I probably could do it again… and maybe do a little better… which I guess is why so many people get addicted to Barry’s Bootcamp. This isn’t a spin class where you pretend to be cycling up a vertical hill when actually you have no resistance on… you work hard the whole time, leaving with a clean conscience, a protein smoothie (pre-order before your class starts, the Piña Colada was incredible) and a faint scent of Malin+Goetz.


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