Barry’s Boot Camp

If you’re one of those who hear about celebrity workouts and snort derisively, cock-certain that no workout that some pampered Hollywood princess or national news anchor would do can measure up to your athletic prowess, then get on over to Barry’s Bootcamp.

They’ll take your self-satisfied ass, whip it into a mass of quivering jello, and hand it back to you on a plate, complete with a fresh tee shirt if you’ve thrown up all over yourself, cupcake.


Walking into their studio, with its thumping techno music and dark atmosphere complete with red disco-type lights, may make you think you’ve stepped into a club version of an aerobics class from the 80s.

But take a closer look at the bodies staggering out of the class that’s just finished up, note that there’s not a dry inch on their bodies and adjust your attitude or you’re going to find yourself face planted behind your treadmill.


Every Barry’s class gets split into two separate sections; treadmill and strength, with each day of the week focusing on a different combination of body parts.

Arms and Abs, Legs and Butt, Chest and Abs, and Shoulders and Back cover Monday through Thursday, while weekend classes are a crazy Frankenstein monster hybrid of all of the above, and truly dedicated masochists who attempt and survive a full week’s program are dubbed Hell Week graduates.

Barry’s basic premise is shocking the body with a straightforward High Intensity Interval Training method – but the treadmill is set at mad speeds and inclines that go beyond where any treadmill should go, and the strength reps are done in combinations that leave your muscles screaming. Barry’s COO Joey Gonzalez explains it like this:

It’s similar to a caveman workout. We used to sneak up on prey and sprint and grab a rock and smash it. The human body never ran long distances for five miles, which most people will do — they’ll turn on the treadmill or go to the park and run at 6.5 miles per hour for an hour. That’s great, but that’s not what’s going to make you ripped.

The Secret Sauce


The real secret to Barry’s popularity lies in the music and party atmosphere.

Either people are having so much fun with the atmosphere that it raises their tolerance for pain, or the music is drowning out the sound of their screams.

Their instructors (with the exception of Barry himself, who has been described by some as “psychotic”) are encouraging, motivating and high-spirited.

One reviewer noted his appreciation of the tender torture this way:

At the end of the 2nd tread section, as we were panting like dogs, he walked us through “the best way to get oxygen to our lungs”. He had us inhale while lifting our hands high to the ceiling, and exhale as we brought our palms behind our heads. At this point of exhaustion, this “baby steps” method of talking me through a simple breathing exercise was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. You know when you’re so tired that you’re just like “you tell me what to do because I don’t want to think about it wahhhhhh”? Nail on the head.

Treadmill Craze

The treadmill workouts vary depending on what the day’s focus is, and the first challenge is fighting your way to the treadmill you want – or any treadmill.

fitness2xtreme-images-barrys-bootcamp-crowded-treadmillsYour fellow bootcampers are addicts, and elbows get thrown in crowded classes.

The custom-made Woodways treadmills that Barry’s uses are designed to absorb shock, but do nothing to prevent the “deer caught in the headlights” sensation that develops after a few short minutes, when you hear the instructor chirpily charging you with leaving your happy six miles an hour warm-up pace and progressing to rapid-fire speed changes.

Sevens and eights get peppered with gut-cramping nines for full minutes at a time, while incline changes make you feel like the class will cause your death and deliver you to the heavens at the same time.

By the time the first several minutes are past, you can’t see the treadmill controls for the stinging sweat that’s run into your eyes, and the possibility of flying off the back of the machine seems very real – and possibly an excellent way to grab a few seconds of rest.

All the while the music is blaring and there are lunatics on treadmills to your right and your left who are singing along, and you don’t know whether to punch them or just hurl on them.

Need more lactic acid build-up?

Come back on a leg workout days to find out what a walk in the park the “arms and abs” treadmill torture actually was, as inclines of 15 are combined with high knee drills, sprints, light jogs and finally what they call the “Dynamic Mode” workout, where the treadmill mat is powered 100 percent by your legs, disengaged from its belt.

Imagine that you’re pushing a pickup truck, with its brake on, uphill. In sand. With a concrete block tied to each leg. Sounds like fun!

Not to be outdone by the treadmills, let’s not forget the strength exercises which focus on failure (literally).

One-armed biceps curls are done while the other arm is extended, holding the same weight up and steady throughout the entire rep count, then sides switched.

Think you’re finished?

No way! Ready or not, your instructor smiles then barks another extended stable hold until your muscles are shaking and screaming (and your classmates are too).  fitnesst2xtreme barrys bootcamp los angeles routines

Resistance bands, dumbbells and your own body weight are used as cruel and unusual punishment against you for arms, shoulders, abs and chest work, while leg and butt exercises are quick successions of side-to-side bench hopping followed by deep lunges that will have your knees cracking and thighs burning.

Then it is followed immediately again by stair-climbing exercises that would make you swear you would hear your butt crying if not for the pounding of your heart in your ears.

Just when you think you can’t lift your legs again, you get the good news – it’s time to climb back onto your treadmill for the “harder” part of the workout.  The thought pops into your mind, “Kim Kardashian does this? And Katie Couric? Really?”

In the end…

The payout of Barry’s Boot Camp is in its red carpet results – toned arms, flat abs, and tight bottoms that defy the snark of the National Enquirer. Scientists who’ve studied the program are impressed; an assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, Michael Dupper, describes Barry’s participants this way:

These people are going to get a tremendous workout, if they can survive.”

The first few seconds of the strength side of the workout seems like a respite, if only for the chance to climb down off the treadmill and breathe normally for a while, but you’ll soon be longing for those moments when all you had to do was run straight ahead – or more accurately, straight up.

Barry’s has been running their boot camp location in West Hollywood since 1998, and since then their reach has extended nationally, with franchises operating around the U.S. including New York City, Norway and London, signing up scads of victims eager to leave themselves thrashed and ragged at twenty four bucks per hour-long class.

Barry’s bills their program as the “Best Workout in the World”, and their client’s brags and bodies seem to bear out this and their 1,000 calorie per hour claims.

The secret to their success is the enjoyment combined with the suffering – their instructors offer encouragement rather than abuse and their workout and environment balances the best of L.A. fun with Hollywood’s glamor and red-carpet body awareness, all while generating serious sweat-inducing hard work.


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