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 claims to be “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 a treadmill and dynamic weight lifting exercises.
Despite the name, not all trainers yell abuse at you. Most 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!” Jay C likes reminding everyone why they come to Barry’s, and it’s not to relax. While Anya will almost certainly introduce you to your limit, and it’s far, far further than where you thought.
Mondays to Thursdays focus on a specific body part: Arms, Butt, Legs, Chest, Back and Abs. Fridays to Sundays are Full Body classes, which is 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 four studios now in London: East, Central, West and SW1, and a variety of trainers offering different training styles, music tastes, and difficulty levels. (Tip: Nik and Miles are easier than Faisal or Anya!)
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! Sound easy?
Who should try it
Barry’s Bootcamp classes are for everyone. Although I recommend reading 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 about things like hiking or Tough Mudder, you’re that niche.
That being said, I also believe that Hell Week is 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
That’s a fantastic question! First and foremost because I love a challenge. It’s not fun if I know I can do it. I like to try new things, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. It’s called life! 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 exactly where it should be to participate, but that wasn’t going to stop me from giving it a go!
I feel it important to explain that I didn’t sign up to lose weight in the sense of kilos. Because I believe that your health, measured by your performance, stamina, and strength, is a far better goal than weight. Especially if you’re a woman, as it’s normal to see your weight go up after proper training before going down.
What I learned
- That 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. 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 feeling 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%.
- 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, and 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 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 have gone away now, but stuff like that can happen. Once I burst some of the veins below my eyes due to too much strain. You really do have to be careful and train safely!
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 calculated. I was no Barry’s beginner and really wanted to give it a go!
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 trainers, I found George quite merciful. His mercy was appreciated, in return I gave his class 100%.
Day 2 – Butt & Legs 12:30 with Louis
(Before) Legs day is always the scariest day. 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 really felt pushed to the limit. I would say I gave this one 110%. I even sprinted on 10.5! That’s the highest speed I’m willing to go because 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 happen to find it really hard and really annoying. I 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. A lot of pain. Ok, so maybe the Thai massage was not the best idea I’ve ever had. She ground into my muscles so hard they feel stiffer now than before. The masseuse hilariously said 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 feel super swollen and sore and I have 4 more days to go… 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 still feel pretty good. 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. Remember that story where my eye veins popped? That was Taylor. He had us doing some mad wheelbarrow like move with our heads down, hands on the floor, and feet on the treadmill in dynamic mode. I can’t even…
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 want to quit. I want to quit and give up so bad. I had very little energy, making it very challenging. And Jemma’s classes were hard, with only 2 rotations between the floor and treadmill. I loved the music though! Jemma and I on the same page there.
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. I’m not even feeling that sore anymore, what?! I definitely feel I’m over the hump. I’m feeling accomplished, like giving the last two classes my absolute all. In the middle I admit I held back a bit. But that’s because 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 to help me last through the week. 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 quite the hammering this week. 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 equally important as working out hard, is taking some rest. Time to rest up, I have a wedding to attend!
Moi, officially a Barry’s Bootcamp survivor! I did it!
Barry’s Bootcamp are also in the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, UAE and Italy!