Their classes aren’t cheap (a single class without a package or membership deal will set you back £23) but your body, and to an extent mind, gets worked like no other way of exercising has ever done for me before and my mental health has never been better since I have started going regularly.
Yes, the idea of a darkly lit room with red lights, loud music, stacked trainers that aren’t afraid to (encouragingly) shout at you and being pushed to your physical limits might sound scary at first but honestly there is an amazing community of regulars and fantastic trainers that, as stupid as it sounds, makes Barry’s East, my local studio, something like a second home, a place where I can lock away my phone for 60 minutes, forget about a bad day at work and just have some time to completely switch off from the outside world.
I have done hell week, 7 days of straight classes, a few times by now, and after the first time where completing it literally felt like hell, I got pretty ok at making it through which meant I was ready for a new challenge so 30 classes in 30 days it was!
And honestly it made me fitter, more resilient and energetic than ever before without having to having to give up my social life, I even got pretty used to getting up at 5am every weekday.
Here are my top 5 learnings from the month and though I might not be going quite as much in February there is no way you won’t see me in the red room a good amount every week. Give Barry’s a go even if just for one class, for me it’s been a great addition to my life that is here for the long run.
YOUR BODY IS A RESILIENT MACHINE AND CAN DO WAY MORE THAN YOU THINK.
After the first two weeks your body quite literally may be a bit like WTF but pushing your body that little bit past comfortable will show you how capable and adaptable of a machine it truly is and how little we make use of it fully in daily life.
YOU AREN’T ALWAYS GOING TO RUN YOUR BEST AND THAT IS OK
At Barry’s trainers will always give you three different speed options while on the treadmill - beginner, intermediate and advanced, and while I usually stick to intermediate speeds throughout, there were of course days when my legs felt heavy (especially during some rather nasty incline runs) and I went for beginner speeds which is fine!
The 30 day challenge is all about endurance and making it through the 60 minutes on days where I could have easily stayed in bed was even more of an achievement than a class on a good day after a weekend lie in.
FIND TRAINERS YOU LIKE AND STICK WITH THEM
Barry’s is known for their world class trainers and I can vouch for how consistently amazing they programme classes, get to know their regulars and push them in each class and encourage as well as help cultivate a great training community that makes it so fun to go and also means you have the chance to meet some awesome people that become friends outside the red room.
Everyone of course will have their personal preferences when it comes to trainers depending on your music taste and training style but for me I couldn’t have made it through the month without Alex Castro (who got to see me in some very sorry states when wine was in the picture the night before), Sam (who is the queen of elastic bands) and Chris whose evening classes managed to somehow energise me even if I had the most draining day at work.
Of course, there is a whole roster of well qualified trainers across all their studios (Jay C will forever be the one trainer to make me the run the fastest and longest with his distance challenges) but these guys are world class in my eyes and really care about the people they train while also always delivering unique programmes on a daily basis as it is never the same session no matter how many times you go… so book yourself in with them, you won’t regret it!
YOU CAN TRAIN AND STILL HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE
I didn’t quit drinking or seeing my friends during the month but knowing I had a 10am class booked on a Saturday that I HAD to go to for the challenge made me more mindful of my drinking.
I also didn’t waste a single day during the month hungover in bed because even when I felt a little ropey after a glass too many the night before I sweated it all out during my session and that way had so many productive weekend days proving that you can do both and that more often than not even the slightest wine headache had previously served me as a convenient excuse to be lazy when really, I could have gotten my ass out of bed!
PEOPLE WILL QUESTION YOU AND YOUR CHALLENGE BUT WHO CARES!
You are crazy! How much money are you wasting on this? Isn’t it hard work? People will always have their opinions especially if they have never been to Barry’s before or have built up an aversion to any kind of exercise but you know what.. fuck them! I did this challenge for me and the consistently better sleep and near disappearance of my anxiety are more than enough proof that it was worth every second for me and if people judge that then let them!