This blog post is for anyone thinking about joining Barry’s Bootcamp classes, Hell Week, or simply interested in how I got on! If you already know what it is, feel free to skip through the beginning part straight to why I signed up and what I learned. At the end you can read my Barry’s Hell Week Diary, my daily thoughts on what Hell Week really felt like!
What is Barry’s Bootcamp
Barry’s Bootcamp says they are “the best workout in the world” – and I completely agree. It’s a one hour class where you’ll burn around 1000 calories switching between running on treadmill and dynamic weight lifting exercises.
Despite the name, not all trainers yell abuse at you. Most of them are in fact really encouraging and motivational. Taylor for example, often ends his classes saying “it never gets any easier but you all keep on getting better.” If that doesn’t pump you up then I don’t know what will.
What are the classes
Mondays to Thursdays focus on a specific body part: Arms, Butt, Legs, Chest, Back and Abs. Fridays to Sundays are Full Body classes, easier for beginners. Once you master a few full body classes, it’s time to hit up Monday to Thursday.
Classes are offered all day from the crack of dawn until 9 pm. There are three studios in London: East, Central and West, and a variety of trainers offering different training styles, music tastes, and difficulty levels.
What is Hell Week
Hell Week only happens when there are 5 Mondays in the month. It’s a challenge, where participants buy a package of 7 classes to complete in 7 consecutive days at a special low price. Complete the challenge and become a Hell Week Survivor!
Who should try it
Barry’s Bootcamp classes are for everyone. Read their info page for First Timers. You don’t have to be fit to train, but you will definitely leave fitter if you give it a go. Hell Week is definitely a bit more niche. If you’re like me and get excited over things like hiking or Tough Mudder, it is 100% for you.
But I do believe that Hell Week is also for everyone. Since all of us can and should challenge ourselves physically and mentally more often. It’s called growth! Don’t forget that a huge chunk of exercise is purely mental. You’ll reach your mental barrier long before your physical one.
Why I signed up
I love a challenge. It’s not fun if I know I can do it. I’m a trier. I’ll try anything once, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. That’s life! I signed up because I wanted to know if I could do it. And whether I’d feel any different at the end. I knew my fitness wasn’t where it should be to participate. But I really wanted to try…!
I didn’t sign up to lose weight in the sense of kilos. I believe health (performance, stamina, strength) is a far better goal than weight. Especially if you’re a woman, as many will actually see their weight go up after proper training.
What I learned
- You can do it! Now that I’m officially a Barry’s Hell Week Survivor, I have to say I 100% recommend it. But prepare yourself! Start out with Barry’s classes for a few months before you sign up.
- Build up and eat up. If you’re thinking of taking on Barry’s Hell Week, make sure you build up to it by training regularly. Eating and sleeping well during Hell Week is also essential. Barry’s protein shakes after class really help. They are delicious and packed with everything you need to start recovering.
- You can still go to work. While I had the luxury of not getting up for an office job in the morning, this turned out to be less of a problem than I thought. I actually woke up at 6 am one morning more energised than I’d ever felt before.
- Foam roll! I cannot stress this enough. Foam rolling is the best way to reduce muscle pain and fatigue, and also really good for cellulite! It’s a win-win.
- Listen to your body. I didn’t give every class 100%. That wasn’t realistic for me. I had to slow down in the middle of the week and drop down to 80-90% before finishing at 100%. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
- You will see a body transformation. This was the part that surprised me most. I wasn’t expecting to see such a difference. I’ve been going to Barry’s for a while, sometimes 3 times a week, before that I did MMA training for 3 years. But nothing has ever given me the results of Hell Week before. I’m not just visibly more toned, I’m fucking ripped!
- Be careful. I cannot downplay how intense it was. Small veins up and down my shins burst leaving little blood spots all over my legs. They are going away now, but stuff like that can happen. Once I had the same thing happen to the veins below my eyes, which popped under too much strain. You really do have to be careful.
My Hell Week Diary
I had always wanted to try Hell Week, but I didn’t think I could do it alongside my previous job. There was simply no way I was going to do a class a day for a week AND get up for work, I thought. (Wrong! You can do it!)
I signed up just 2 weeks before my wedding, which my family and friends warned me against. Everyone asked me not to do it, worried I’d get injured or sick from exhaustion. Yes, I took the risk, but it was a risk I calculated as smaller than what everyone else believed. I got this.
Monday Day 1 – Arms & Abs 16:15 with George
(Before Class) Well this is going to be an interesting start to the week! I just spent the night puking up snails due to my apparent snail intolerance, which is now confirmed. Who knew that was a thing? My idea had been to carb up ahead of the intense week that awaits me. But after a night of vomit it seems I’m going lean machine instead. I admit, I’m a little scared. I haven’t been to Barry’s since last Monday, after it took my arms 5 days to recover. 5 days! That’s not normal is it?
(After Class) George took it easy on us in the runs, letting us jog at 5 and 6 speeds, only going up to higher ones for a limited time, thank god. His inclines were also easy, 2 and 4 percent, that’s nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I was dripping with sweat and struggled in many parts, but relative to some of the other NAVY SEAL style trainers, I found George quite merciful. His mercy was appreciated, in return I gave this class 100%.
Day 2 – Butt & Legs 12:30 with Louis
(Before) This is always the scariest class. I booked in for 12.30 to give myself as much recovery time as possible before Barry’s again tomorrow.
(After) Louis’ class was intense! I felt pushed to the limit. Still, I would say I gave this one 110%. I sprinted on 10.5! That’s the highest speed I’m willing to go. The 12 scares the shiz out of me. I did 20 minutes of foam rolling when I got home. Foam rolling is the best thing you can do for your legs, but I so happen to find it really hard and really annoying. I’ve also booked myself in for a 45 minute Thai massage to help with the recovery, because legs. 2 down, 5 to go.
Day 3 – Chest, Back & Abs 17:30 with Olly T
(Before) Waking up, I feel pain. Ok, so maybe the Thai massage was not the best idea I’ve ever had. She ground into my shoulders and back so hard they feel stiffer now than before. Although she did say to me, “you only book 45 minute? You need 10 hour!” It’s gotta be bad when you get home from a massage and ask your fiancé for another massage.
(After) Olly T is hardcore. If yesterday was hard, today was too hard. While I tried my best to keep up, I ran 1 point slower than the speed he asked for in some parts. Because my legs. I knew this would happen after leg day. My leg muscles are swollen and sore, and this is a marathon, not a sprint! With 4 more days to go… I know I have to listen carefully to my body. I still pushed, I still sweat buckets. But I held back a little and gave it 90%.
Day 4 – Abs 16:15 with Taylor
(Before) Today I woke up at 6 am. Like actually woke up in bed, felt awake, and got myself up and started working. This is not just highly unusual, it’s like seeing a unicorn. I am not a morning person and struggle to get out of bed no matter how many hours I’ve slept. It’s now 9 am and I feel pretty good though. My legs are completely destroyed and in pain, but I’m up! It’s a miracle! If that’s the good news, the bad news is Taylor. Taylor is another really tough trainer. But I needed that time slot and so I got Taylor. Let’s see how this pans out…
(After) Intense, hard, challenging. I put in 80%, because pain and because Taylor.
Day 5 – Full Body 12:30 with Jemma
(Before) Exhausted, slept in until 11 am. Oh boy.
(After) All I can say is that for the first time this week, I wanted to quit. I wanted to quit and give up so bad. I had very little energy, making it very challenging. And Jemma’s classes are hard, with only 2 rotations between the floor and treadmill. I loved the music though! Jemma and I on the same page.
Went to meet a friend after, 4 cocktails and a burger. Oops.
Day 6 – Full Body 15:00 with Jay R
(Before) Second to last day. I can’t believe it. Not even feeling that sore anymore, what?! I definitely feel I’m over the hump. I’m now feeling accomplished, feeling like giving the last two classes my absolute all. In the middle I held back a bit, since in Barry’s you train until exhaustion, and without time to recover that wasn’t going to work out for me. My fitness level wasn’t there to do that. So I kept 10% in the tank. Today I’m going to push back to 100.
(After) Apparently, Jay R is the rarest Pokemon of Barry’s trainers, he told us. He wanted us to do a lot of sprints, which was mean and hard. I’m better at endurance, and I can feel my shins have taken a bit of a hammering this week. I have to be super careful not to get injuries since I’m 2 weeks away from my wedding. I gave this one 95%.
Day 7 – Full Body 15:00 with Miles
(Before) The end! The last day! Oh my god I made it!
(After) I loved Miles’ class. Some of the trainer’s styles just suit me better. It’s the type of exercises, the music, the flow. Ok, and it being the last class probably has something to do with it. I gave it 110%. Push push push! Burn burn burn! Don’t slack off. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. My muscles weren’t even sore anymore, I felt recovered and fit. I feel ready to do it all over again! But as important as working out hard, is taking some rest. I’ll rest up, but now I know what I can do!
I’m officially a Barry’s Bootcamp survivor! I did it!
Barry’s Bootcamp are also in the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, UAE and Italy!