By Amy Lawrenson
Back in 1998 Barry Jay (pictured below) co-founded Barry's Bootcamp in West Hollywood. It claims to be 'The Best Workout in the World', the place where you can burn 1000 calories per class and boasts A-list fans including Jessica Biel (she who bagged Justin Timberlake), Katie Holmes and the Kardashians have honed their butts.
Since rolling out across the US, Barry's Bootcamp has now, finally, landed in London thanks to brothers Sandy and James Macaskill. And I was keen to see if it lived up to the hype...
Unlike any bootcamp I've ever been to, you won't be sweating it out in a park but in the luxury of a studio. The one-hour classes are broken down into Butts & Legs, Chest Back & Abs, Core & Abs or Full Body and every class is heavily based around interval training.
Half the room is lined with Woodway Treadmills (that feel faster since you're moving in miles per hour, not kilometres like traditional running machines), while the other half of the room is set up with individual workout stations. Lights are dimmed, while banging music is pumped into the room, keeping spirits (and energy levels) high. You start the class at one or other station where you can find yourself being asked to do literally anything - running on an incline, jogging backwards, squatting on a slow-moving treadmill, sit-ups, bicep curls, squats with weights. No two classes are the same. On Sunday I found myself manually operating the treadmill upto a sprint speed alternated with planks, unusual to say the least
I've very nearly puked; I've sweated enough that I feel like I've stood in a shower... in my gym kit, but while that sounds hideous I've never had more fun working out than I have at Barry's. Plus, after just a month I'm already seeing results in both my body shape and fitness levels. I can run at a speed of 10.5 miles per hour (equivalent to 16.8km on a traditional treadmill) on the running machine, at my first class I couldn't run faster than 8.0. They push you hard and more importantly encourage you to push yourself, for someone who often finds herself wandering aimlessly around my gym, it's the push and the focus I need.
Post-workout there's Malin + Goetz candles and toiletries in the bathrooms, and a Fuel Bar that serves protein shakes (the Simply Peanut Butter is The. Best. Thing). It's the sort of place I could happily while away the hours, in fact myself and two other ELLE staffers actually spent near enough a whole hour at the Fuel Bar after our workout last Friday night chatting with the team. The thing with Barry's Bootcamp is that everyone there from the guys who make the shakes and reception staff to the trainers, are so friendly, down to earth and encouraging - it's not a daunting place - and a lot of gyms can be.
It's not often I find myself daydreaming about exercise, but Barry's Bootcamp has me completely and utterly hooked.
One class is £20, but the more you buy the cheaper they become... ten classes cost £170 (£17 per class) or fifty classes cost £700 (£14 per class).