I did a grueling celebrity boot camp workout for 5 days straight — and something amazing happened

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Trainer Matthew Griffin is a WITS-certified trainer, group exercise instructor, and former Cirque Du Soleil performer.
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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

With sexy red lighting, high-energy music, and plenty of beautiful people coated in sweat, Barry’s Bootcamp is more like a nightclub than a gym.

The popular fitness studio debuted in California in 1998. Today, it has 18 locations – plus one on the way on New York’s Upper East Side – spread across the US, Norway, and England. Its celebrity fans include everyone from Kim Kardashian to Jake Gyllenhaal, who was recently spotted at the chain’s Noho location.

Barry’s offers five different classes focusing on specific body parts. A single class can burn up to 1,000 calories. I decided to try all five over the course of five days – and something amazing happened.

By the end of the painful week of sprints and intervals, I’d shaved over a minute off my average mile time.

Here’s a glimpse of what my week at Barry’s was like.


My mornings begin at 6 a.m. at the Chelsea studio. Barry’s Bootcamp has three locations in Manhattan, two in the Hamptons, six in California, and one location in Florida, Massachusetts, and Tennessee.

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I walk in, grab a towel, and mentally prepare for the class ahead. Most locations offer free towel service and locker rooms with Digilock lockers and Malin and Goetz beauty products.

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Sometimes I stop by the studio’s FuelBar for a protein smoothie. You can place your order before class and it’ll be perched on the counter waiting for you afterward.

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This is the Simply PB, made with unsweetened almond milk, Better’n Peanut Butter spread, banana, and chocolate whey protein.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

There’s also a retail boutique stocked with the company’s own line, as well as gear by Nike, Nation LTD, and Splits59.

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Classes vary by day: Monday is arms and abs, Tuesday is legs and butt, Wednesday is chest and back, Thursday is “hard core” abs, and Friday through Sunday is full body. When signing up for classes online, you can opt to start on the treadmill or the floor.

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Barry’s focuses on high-intensity interval training, defined by the company as “intense, high-energy bursts of activity with short periods of lower energy activity, followed by a cool-down.” This helps you burn more calories in less time, build endurance, and continue to burn fat and calories post-workout.

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The trainers ripped me from my comfort zone and pushed me to my limits. Yes, there is profanity, and yes, you will get shouted at. Matthew (below) walked around coaching and yelling out top speeds during sprints to help motivate my class.

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Here I am at lucky treadmill No. 13. Jogging never dips below 5.5 mph, running starts at 7 mph, and sprints range from 8.5 mph and up. Depending on the class size, you can choose a “double floor” workout to avoid the treadmill.

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Studios are lined with custom Woodway treadmills that permit “dynamic mode,” meaning you’re in charge of the treadmill’s movement. Sprinting on dynamic mode becomes a game: How fast can I make this thing go until I collapse?

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Then there’s the floor. Expect to use free-weights, medicine balls, resistance bands, booty bands, and, of course, your body weight.

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Don’t let the picture fool you: This is not a 1980s step workout. Trainers demonstrate a sequence of exercises that I repeat as many times as possible within a set time. Although every exercise left me sweaty and out of breath, I felt like a badass on a mission.

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Floor exercises can include everything from bicep curls to bicycle crunches. On Tuesday, for example, I did squats, lunges, and deadlifts with 15-pound weights.

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After the floor exercises, I had roughly 30 seconds to scramble back onto the treadmill for Round 2. On a day devoted to leg work, the incline went from eight to four to two, with 20-, 45-, and 60-second bursts of jogging, running, and sprinting interspersed.

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Regardless of how much weight you use or how fast you run, this class helps build endurance. Every class left me looking like I’d jumped in a lake — during the full-body class, I had sweat in my eyes and up my nose.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

I don’t plan on doing another five-day streak at Barry’s Bootcamp, but I’ll go back. Though class and membership prices vary by location, a single class at the Chelsea outpost is $34. If you’re looking to increase speed, burn calories, and sculpt muscle, Barry is your guy.

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider