As someone who loves nothing more than a super sweaty gym class, it’s almost shameful to say that, before this week, I had never experienced the fitness phenomenon that is Barry’s Bootcamp.
Calling it a phenomenon is by no means an exaggeration. Founded in Hollywood in 1998, Barry’s boasts over 77 branches across 15 different countries, including seven
in just London alone.
Abu Dhabi’s fitness enthusiasts have looked on enviously since Barry’s made its UAE debut at DIFC, Dubai in 2017, and when it opened a second branch at Marina Mall in 2018. But now, after years of cementing itself as one of the nation’s most fashionable boutique gyms, Barry’s Bootcamp has arrived in the UAE capital and we are finally able to see what all the fuss is about.
One of the original pioneers of HIIT, the signature Red Room workout is split 50/50 between sprints on the treadmill and weights on the floor. Trademarked as ‘The Best Workout in the World’, this format is proven to burn between 700 to 1,000 calories per workout and it is renowned for improving agility and fitness. Barry’s popularity has also been boosted by its notoriously long list of celebrity fans, including David and Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell, Guy Ritchie and many more famous stars.
The very Instagram-worthy new Barry’s at the Galleria Mall also offers LIFT, the brand’s strength-based workout. Purposefully slower paced than the Red Room, it invites participants to lift heavier, concentrate on their form and build lean muscle mass. The HIIT and LIFT classes are created to complement each other and focus on a different body part every day. While there are dedicated sessions for full body, arms and abs, and chest, back and abs, I opted to join a LIFT glutes and abs class as my first introduction to the world of Barry’s.
I arrive at the Flex Lounge filled with excitement and nerves. Decked out with cool red lighting and edgy slogans, the 50-minute workout is driven by an awesome soundtrack of uplifting beats, and motivational words from our instructor, Riad. After a thorough warm up, the four circuits take us through squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, planks, sit ups and various targeted resistance bands moves that leave my glutes and abs burning.
However, the atmosphere isn’t intimidating at all, and it’s definitely suitable for even total beginners. We’re invited to work at our own pace, but are still pushed to bumpup weights where we can and get as many reps into the one-minute time slots as possible.
There are so many brand-new weights and brands to choose from, and the wall-to-wall mirrors make it easy to check your form from every angle. Despite the lack of jumping or cardio, I find that I become so sweaty my resistance band is almost slipping down, and that I’m relishing the 30-second breaks between each circuit. I quickly clock why millions of people across the globe find this simple but effective workout style so addictive.
Although it’s thoroughly exhausting and the squat holds and planks seem to drag on for a lifetime, the class passes incredibly quickly and I’m sad when it ends. That said, I’m confident that my body couldn’t have handled much more and my lower body ached (in a good way) for days after. Barry’s recommends doing just three or four classes a week in order to see results, and its allure is heightened even more by its tempting smoothie bar, friendly team, luxurious showers, free toiletries and cool retail store.
With prices starting from Dh125 a class, it’s only a fraction pricier than some of the UAE’s other HIIT studios. For instance, F45 ranges from DH105 at Zayed Sports City
in Abu Dhabi to Dh120 at Dubai Marina, CRANK is Dh120 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Cobra Fitness in Abu Dhabi is also Dh120 for a drop-in class. Personally, I think it’s more than worth the extra five dirhams.
Like pretty much everyone else who’s ever tried Barry’s, I won’t be able to resist returning very soon.
Harriet Shephard is an Abu Dhabi-based copywriter and freelance journalist with a particular focus on fitness, travel and lifestyle, which, along with good food, also happen to be her main passions when she's not typing away at her laptop.