Barry’s Bootcamp

By: Michelle Magnan

“Everyone will be more fit than me.”

That’s what I was thinking as I ran to Barry’s Bootcamp in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood for my first foray into the popular workout. (That, and, “I’m scared.”) I’d read about the bootcamp, which incorporates intense cardio intervals and strength training, in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Self – and I was intrigued. If celebrities in California, New York and even England were signing up for this class, could I handle it? I was about to find out.

The scene: After downing an energizing green shake in my Gansevoort Park NYC hotel room, I took off for the 6 a.m. class. The short run there warmed me up but did not quiet the fear that I’d be the odd athlete out – the one slumped over her treadmill, pleading for mercy and asking for a granola bar. At home in Calgary, I hit circuit-style bootcamps and spin classes all the time, but I’d never tried a class in NYC or L.A. When I knew I’d be in New York for vacation in early April, I signed up, despite the images of toned, Christy Turlington-type goddesses doing one-arm pushups that haunted me.

But I noticed something funny as soon as I stepped into the Barry’s Bootcamp lobby: everyone looked normal. There were guys, girls, some ultra-fit, some not. While this was obviously an active group, they weren’t as different as I expected them to be. In fact, they looked like everyday athletes.

This was reassuring.

Once the bootcamp got going – with its sexy red lighting and thumping music – I felt even better. The first 17-minute round of total-body strength training was hard but nothing I couldn’t handle. The next round – 17 minutes of high-intensity intervals on the treadmill – was my favorite. Give me sprints at a decent incline and I’m good to go. By the time we finished the last two, shorter rounds, my legs were shaky, my clothes were soaked with sweat and I was happy to stretch everything out. I had so much fun that I signed up for another 6 a.m. session before leaving town.

Turns out that a hard workout is a hard workout, be it in Calgary or New York – and that pushing yourself to the max is a cross-border skill.

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