Barry’s Bootcamp’s Newest Rockstar: Matt Nolan & Getting Pushed Out Of My Comfort Zone

Last week, I ended up in three random conversations about Barry’s Bootcamp. This isn’t so unusual but what was curious is that in each one, Matt Nolan’s name came up as one of their favorites.  So, when Ryan Makely, Flywheel rockstar and one of my all time favorite fitness friends, threw out a possible fitness date at Barry’s that Matt would be leading, I was all over it. I signed up immediately.

Matt Nolan Barry's Bootcamp

I settled onto my reserved treadmill and steeled myself for what was about to happen. Matt told us that if we were on the treadmill, we needed to be moving while we were waiting for class to start – so that we could warm up for what was to come…and that we were going to do 3 rounds. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Barry’s class where we were told the breakdown at the start of class and I loved knowing! As class kicked off, Matt yelled “In this class, you will not walk. YOU JOG when you rest.” My heart sunk. I’m so a run/walker and not even a solid one at that. But I cranked the treadmill up to a jog and shook off my trepidation about the class ahead. As we launched into the run, Matt’s ranges were higher than I could do, so I spent the class about a good point below whatever he called out. I would do whatever the incline request was and launch into a (my version of a) sprint when asked. Matt never once made me feel bad about it – which was appreciated. I was trying hard.

On the floor sections, Matt would demo the next moves ahead and then if anyone seemed confused, he would go around and make awesome, concise, verbal corrections. Barry’s isn’t ever the place for hands on adjustments but Matt did an amazing job of spotting and fixing people verbally.  His form corrections were on point and helpful. It was during the floor section that Matt’s good nature and love for what he was doing shone through.

treads Weirdly, even though I was slower than everyone else through the next two incline run sections, I managed to never walk. I just followed his calm, detailed instructions and just keep going. When we finally hit the last sprint on an incline, I hit a solid 7.2 at 6% incline and was just damn impressed with myself. Matt got me out of my head and out of my comfort zone.

After another ab and arm focused floor section, I was spent. Matt had us finish with a long stretch (for Barry’s) that I was eternally grateful for… I was happy and totally wiped but that stretch meant that I wasn’t as broken as I thought I would be at the end!  It’s no wonder Matt is a rising star at Barry’s – he’s form focused, skilled and charming. I will totally be back!

After Class w Nolan and Makely


Photos of Matt and treadmills from Barry’s Bootcamp’s website.

The Perfect Combo: Noah Neiman & The Workout On The Pier

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Every Tuesday this Summer, FITiST and Lole have hosted an outdoor workout with some of the best trainers and studios in the city on Pier 25 in Tribeca. My schedule has been a little nuts and I haven’t made it to one, but I was hell bent on making it to Noah Neiman’s this week. Noah, whose class I’ve taken a Barry’s Bootcamp a handful of times, is just an awesome, positive force in the New York Fitness community. He teaches a hard, challenging class while still keeping the positivity and fun going through even the hardest sections. Noah is, of course, ridiculously handsome (I don’t think they let anyone teach at Barry’s who isn’t) but once you know the sweet, supportive person he is, you tend to forget about that part.

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When I woke up on Tuesday, it was POURING and I was bummed that the workout would be cancelled. Turns out the weather gods thought a workout was needed because by 3pm the rain stopped and the call was made that the workout was still a go! I headed over to the Pier at 6pm thinking that I was late but it turns out,it actually started at 6:30, so after chatting with Noah for a little bit and filling out a waiver, I sat down on the sidelines to wait for everyone else to start gathering.

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Pier 25 on the West Side Highway is really such an awesome spot in the city. The beautifully maintained Astroturf field is just a gem overlooking the water, hidden away from the city bustle. I loved that I had actually gotten there early enough to enjoy the treat of just being there. By the time the class was starting there were probably 50-60 people gathered to enjoy getting our asses kicked by Noah. My favorite part of these kind of free events is seeing people get to experience awesome instructors for the first time. Still, I was surprised by how many people there had never been to one of Noah’s classes. I had sort of assumed it would be packed with his regulars! While we were warming up, Noah gave us the brief rundown of his history.

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As we started the actual workout with jumping jacks, he said “this is your holding place. When I am explaining the next move you will be doing this. GO!” I knew then that I was going to get my ass-kicked. The workout was a pretty straight up bootcamp: lunges, squats (so many, many variations) pushups and situps, but he also managed to throw in some boxing and fast feet football moves that kept you guessing what would come next. Noah kept the pace high and the mood light as we all started to sweat buckets. Thank god for the free towels that Team in Training had dropped off! A few times, he would demo a move from the back of the crowd and I would turn around and see the entire group, totally captivated by Noah’s charm and self-deprecating humor. There is a reason that Noah’s classes are always packed, his workouts are challenging but fun. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and even as he was kicking our asses, Noah managed to get people to laugh.

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Noah really is one of the most supportive, positive trainers in the city and it is hard for me not to just have a smile plastered on my face while working out with him. By the end of the class, I was totally wiped out and while Noah had us do all standing stretches for the cool down, I took the time to look around me and revel in what had turned out to be a completely awesome workout on a beautiful evening in NYC.  Everyone, seemed to know how special that evening had turned out to be….

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photos for FBS by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media

Live Young, Get Fit Event with Jackie Warner & evian water

On Saturday, evian water sponsored an event as part of their “Live Young, Get Fit” campaign that brought Jackie Warner to NYC as part of a multi-city tour. From the moment I heard she was going to be in town leading a workout, I knew I had to go. What can I say? I loved her show on Bravo “Workout” and had seen her kick a lot of people’s asses in the gym and wanted to experience it first hand.

I was so excited about getting the chance to ask Jackie a few questions before the main event so I left really early to get there in time to meet with her before everyone else started to show up.  I arrived at South Street Seaport with plenty of time, settled onto one of the decks and just took in the amazing view of Brooklyn across the river. I never get down there so getting the chance to chill, to just marvel in the view before the hustle of being at the event, was a treat.

It was really interesting to get a chance to talk to Jackie Warner one on one about her 15 years of experience and the process of putting together the home based workouts that she teaches in her books and in her online platform Apparently, over the years, she has compiled a notebook of over a 1000 different exercise to pull from, which makes it easy for her to put together her effective home programs. I have to say, I would LOVE to see that masterlog of exercises that she has collect over her time working with different trainers and owning two separate gyms! Since classes are really my focus though, I asked Jackie about what kind of classes she recommends for people.

Jackie: “ No doubt about it, Barry’s Bootcamp – because Barry’s Bootcamp involves high intensity interval training with resistance training. If someone likes classes and they really want to lose weight, want to do it quickly, I ALWAYS put them on Barry’s Bootcamp. I believe it is a very sound program.”

Before I let her go though, I had to find out why she is so anti the modified pushup because after watching the first of the evian water events stream, that was the one thing I was really curious about. Her answer was pretty straightforward.  The pushup is about core strength and she would rather you do 5 regular ones than 20 modified ones to gain strength in your core. Interestingly, you are supposed to round your back slightly so that your core engages. Pretty sure I never do that normally but I certainly tried to when I finally got out the workout!

After my quick chat with Jackie, I join everyone else who had begun to show up for the day’s awesome event. It was such a kickass crew of people who where there and it was so fun to catch up with so many fitness friends. I swear, NYC has such an inspiring group of workout fanatics! The outdoor event was held in the sand at the beer garden and I had assumed that there would be mats on top of that. So I  was sort of surprised that there weren’t any mats out when I arrived but really, it hardly even mattered.  We were there to workout with Jackie. A little sand never killed anyone. Jackie, on the other hand, once she took the stage, was a little more blunt about it “Wait, there are no mats for them? Oh, you are going to get so dirty and you are going to HATE me. The first set called “The 300”, is 10 push ups, 20 situps and 10 squats, NOW GO!!” It was after that first set that we all knew just exactly how dirty were where going to get and we just had to go with it and have fun – at least that is what SINworkouts and I tried to do. We were distinctly the rowdy girls of the group, hooting and hollering and just having fun.

The workout was basically sets comprised of two different but complimenting movements, done twice. Jackie would explain & demonstrate the movement, then watch us as we did it – which made for a stop and go feeling in the class. SIN and I had way too much fun trying to sync our movements, though, and more than a few times, Jackie shot us a comical look. I don’t think she knew what to do with two people who were having so much fun while still doing the exercises. I think she is used to people looking like she is trying to kill them! Jackie’s style of instructing is very serious and really, there is a portion of the workout that felt more like a group personal training session than a group class – which isn’t a bad thing at all,  just different.

The workout was, at its core, a bootcamp style workout, which I always like. Working out in the sand was HARD though and it made a lot of the exercises and combos feel much harder than they should have. I seriously felt that workout the next day!  By the end, we were all really sweaty and the sand was plastered to our backs, arms and legs – we were also starting to dig little trenches around ourselves, turning up weird things in the sand – drinking straws, bottle caps, even a lemon at one point – but by the time that happened, it all just seemed funny. It was a great, challenging workout and I loved getting to finally workout with Jackie Warner, even if it was more than a little dirty!

After the workout, there was a Q&A with Jackie where she answered the audience questions about working out, food choices and supplements. A  couple of interesting facts came up – if you drink 3 liters of water a day, you burn 33% more calories a day (good to know!) and Jackie works out 6 times a week with one day of active rest. I wasn’t taking notes, though, because at that point, I was just sitting in the sand basking in the sun that had finally come out and had just completed a great workout!  Although, I do know no one asked my final question in the one on one: “what is your drink of choice?” Jackie’s answer, by the way, is a “Grey Goose Dirty Martini”.  So, if you see her out, you now know what to order! You can’t be healthy ALL of the time…

Photos taken by Eric C Stafford for the FBS blog.

A Chorus Line: Craig Ramsay at Barry’s Bootcamp NYC

When I heard a few weeks ago that Craig Ramsay would be joining Barry’s Bootcamp in NYC, I knew that at some point, I would have to go in and take a class with him. On Tuesday, I made my way to Barry’s Boot Camp for the chance to try a Barry’s Boot Camp class with Craig.

Although I got there early, there weren’t any seats in the front area, so I grabbed a magazine, took a seat in the juice bar area and apparently missed the whole meet-anyone-I-don’t-know section of the day. The studio opened and I made my way over to start class. When Alycia spotted me, she asked if I had met Craig yet.  When I said “No, but I am going to be taking class with him!” she hustled in ahead of me to make the introduction, which was really sweet.  Craig is ridiculously handsome and charismatic in person -not that he didn’t seem that way on Thintervention but next to Jackie Warner, it would be hard to seem like the most charismatic in a room.  In the room where I met him, he absolutely was. He had just finished dividing the group into their two sections and asked where I wanted to go, to which I replied “Wherever you want me!” although secretly hoping for the floor. I went to the treadmills. The basics of Barry’s is pretty much set no matter who you take, alternating sections of running and floor work that is geared towards whatever that day’s theme is.  On Tuesday, it was “butts & legs”. I was a little nervous about the running section, though, since I haven’t been doing much (any really, unless you count running when I’m late for a class) and was concerned that the treadmill portion would do me in.

The first running section went surprisingly well, although the girls on my left talked to each other the entire time and sang along to the songs that played…which annoyed the tar out of me for the first few minutes until I realized both how entertainingly gossipy their conversation was and really, what a pretty voice the girl next to me had. As we went through this first section, there was a lot of singing and smiling happening around me. It made the whole thing far more entertaining than it had any right to be. In every other BBC class I have taken, that first treadmill section makes me hate life – by the second section, I can get into it, but the first one?  Seething hatred. Then, I heard Craig mention something about “for my Broadway people…” and as I did a quick scan of the room, it suddenly clicked that I was in a class with theater performers. No wonder there was such a high level of cardio and singing happening! Another big plus was that Craig really watched out for form, not just yelling at us to go faster, but also correcting people’s gait on the treadmill. His cues about keeping my heels down were hugely helpful for me since once I really started focusing on it, the treadmill didn’t hurt my legs nearly so much and the run felt much more natural.

This class had a high-level of irreverent and really funny –but actually helpful- cues. Craig is sweet and joyfully encouraging, with a slightly lewd streak that I found wildly amusing. This was especially evident during the really challenging floor sections, which flew by because they were filled with so many funny quips and great encouraging direction. A few times, he walked by me and patted my shoulder when I was doing the move especially well. It was really dear. But during the one of the many squat sections, he yelled to the room “Tits and Ass! That is what I need to see!” and from that moment on, I couldn’t get the song from A Chorus Line out of my head (“Talent 10, Looks 3” listen to it here), with all of the Broadway performers in the class, it just wasn’t hard to picture them busting out in full song. The first floor section also included some really fun moves, my two favorites being the Hot Potato and the Sumo shuffling-move. The Hot Potato involved sitting on the bench, weights in hands, popping up and then sitting down and lifting your heels while moving in a circle around the bench, a minute in one direction, then the other. It was challenging but also felt like a little kids game, which makes everything better, really. The Sumo move was a wide second startled over the bench – the goal was to actually be so low your ass was almost touching the bench, then shuffle forward and back over the bench, never coming out of the low position. It was SO freaking hard but I loved this move. There were lots of your standard donkey kicks, squats and lunges but because there were fun, new moves in the mix, all of the floor sections were really fun. I never had that “please let this end moment” and that is an amazing thing in any class!

One of our treadmill sections was something on the treadmill called Dynamic Mode. I, of course, somehow completely miss how to actually get my treadmill to do this, so the very sweet guy next to me leaned over and showed me how to do it. I was grateful for the help and thanked him, to which he replied “Don’t thank me yet…you are going to HATE this!” and I just laughed and said “probably!”.  Dynamic Mode basicly means you have to move the treadmill belt yourself. So even walking is hard and you spend the entire time leaned in, really pushing off each step. The pattern was a simple one, walk for a minute, then run, walk, then run. I could get to about 6.1-6.5 in the running sessions but it was a killer to do. By the end of the section, I was wiped out, but I didn’t really hate it. I mean, it was evil but weirdly cool to do, too. The last section was a high 15% incline at 4 mi, then back to a 0% for a sprint. When we went down to the flat, we went for an all out sprint and Craig cheered us on to go faster each time.

At the end of class, Craig told us to put everything away and that if we wanted to hit him for what he made us do, we could. I really just wanted to hug him (don’t worry, I didn’t) and tell him he was awesome. Craig is charming, goofy and just really good at inspiring everyone to work hard and believe in themselves. It was a great, challenging, joy-filled class and I couldn’t ask for anything more.


(Top image from Craig Ramsay’s Facebook page, second image of Barry’s Bootcamp NYC from their Facebook page -by the way, I never even knew there were windows in the back of that room! , bottom image by Liz Cook from the To Resolve Project website )