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.

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 )

The Tough, Funny & Joyful Alycia Stevenin at Barry’s Bootcamp

Monday night, the possibility popped up on Facebook to join Joey Gonzalez at Barry’s Bootcamp for a class with Alycia Stevenin. I had heard some amazing things about her classes and immediately wanted in. So on Tuesday morning, I made my way over to Barry’s Bootcamp. It had been a few months since my last visit and I was a little nervous about it – plus, this class was going to be my first “Butt & Legs” session at Barry’s Bootcamp.

I arrived a little early and had one of those slightly awkward check-ins, you know, one of those exchanges that made me feel like I was wearing a big sign that said “does not belong”. Luckily, that has never stopped me, so off I went to the locker room to get ready for class and stash my stuff. Heading back to the front to wait for my class, I settled onto the bench, chatting with two of the other women who were also waiting for class to start. I always love those few minutes of people watching before a class, and this class was filled with obvious Barry’s regulars.

As we were finally let into the room for class, I got my first look at Alycia, the tiny spitfire who was going to kick my ass for the next hour. She is small but has this amazingly large presence about her and lit up the room. As we walked in and made our way to the treadmills she joked with one of the ladies I had been talking to about how she was going to “run that ass right off you!” It was funny, but also made me a little nervous about exactly how crazy hard this class was going to be! We all started on the treadmills, since there were only 20 of us in the class, we could all do the same thing instead of splitting into two sections, as is sometimes the case at Barry’s most packed classes. After a short warm up, the 1st round was a pattern of a running uphill at 3% grade for 1 minute, 6% for 45 seconds and then 9% for 30 seconds before going back to 0% for an all too brief 30 second walking rest for 3 rounds. It was about 10 minutes of hard, but it didn’t kill me. Then, we were off to the floor for a long session of deadlifts, squats and alternating lunges. It was during this part that Alycia totally won me over, though, because she was really watchful of everyone’s form and made some great corrections – ALWAYS a good thing. The reps seemed to go on forever and made the second treadmill section seem especially brutal. Also you know you are in trouble when the section is prefaced by the trainer telling you “I did this run with my friend the other day and it almost killed me! But it didn’t, so we are going to do it today to prove how strong you really are! Now, GO!” I don’t remember the specifics of that section at all since I spent the whole time thinking I really might keel over at any minute. Then, it was back to the floor for more killer moves with resistance bands, anchored under the bench and looped over our feet – so ridiculously hard that it was almost comical, and of course, I loved it! Then, it was back to the treadmill for our last running section, which was a full-on sprinting section. 45 seconds all out, 30 seconds rest until the last section where we got a minute rest, but then, Alycia told us that we all had to be at least a 10, which is SO MUCH FASTER then I think I can go. Anything over a 9 and I am pretty sure I am just going to shoot off the back of the treadmill. So, I was cranking it up and hit a 9.9, but at that point, I was just booking it and focused on not flying off. The guy next to me was flying at a 12.5, looks over and says: “You are SO close. COME ON! DO IT!” So, I hit the button one more time and actually finished at the 10 mark. I so needed that extra push at that moment! It was funny, he started to apologize for it at the end of the run, and I just stopped him by beaming and said: “Are you kidding? Thank you!! I so needed that!” Sometimes, you need others to help push you past were you think you can go.

It was a crazy good class – tough, funny, and joyful, just like Alycia. I can’t believe she only teaches four classes there a week, but I will definitely be back for another one. She was absolutely awesome.

I left class on a total endorphin high…the perfect start to any day!

(Image of Alycia from Barry’s Bootcamp NYC website)

Lacey Stone: The amazing, inspiring goofball who kicked my ass.

There are two ways a class can go when you have heard so much about an instructor: one, it can be an utter disappointment (usually the case) or two, miraculously, they are just as awesome as all the hype has built them up to be.  Lacey Stone is the latter. After hearing what seemed like endless praise, I was just flat-out curious. Half the reason I got the FITiST 4-pack was so that I could take Lacey’s version of Barry’s Bootcamp.  I love the set-up of that workout and had really wanted to try her out, so I figured I could get a solid workout and satisfy my curiosity. The feeling of freedom to try things that a class card gives me is amazing. This was my first week past Training Camp and I really wanted to get in a Boot Camp this week, so it seemed like the perfect week to try it out.

Lacey teaches at Barry’s Bootcamp Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12:30pm and for a few weeks on Sunday mornings too. Monday, though, is really the only time that works in my schedule. I have to say, the thing that most struck me about Lacey when I first met her in the locker room, was how sweetly and intensely engaged she was while talking to one of the women there who was describing some sort of injury. I was expecting this sort of over-the-top, funny personality, not the caring kindness that I glimpsed there and I immediately liked her for it. I don’t want to be coddled but I love to see that sort of empathy, especially going into what I knew was going to be a hardcore workout.  It means you know you are in good hands. This class was full but not packed to the gills like the last BBC that I took. Given the time, that wasn’t that surprising. It included a few newbies, some Lacey veterans and Holly Rilinger, too. As soon as I saw Holly, I knew I was in trouble. If this is the class SHE goes to for a workout, I was worried it might just kill me. I ended up on the treadmill next to her and while I did ok, there were a couple of times, I just could not keep up at all and at least twice I had to almost stop because I thought I might hurl. I might have to go again just to redeem myself!

Lacey, though, was a riot and didn’t take herself seriously – she so obviously embraces her inner goofball and that is a mighty good thing. I love goofy and joyous! The world doesn’t have nearly enough of it. It is a huge talent to be that funny and engaging while simultaneously kicking everyone’s ass and being a stickler on form.  That class was an amazing start to the week and I am going to have to figure out a way to take it again, because seriously people, Lacey Stone ROCKS.

(Photo from Lacey’s blog: Sweatcity)

Joey at Barry’s Bootcamp kicked my ass.

I am mostly amazed these days when a class really kicks my ass. Last night, I went to Barry’s Bootcamp with Joey Gonzalez. 15 minutes into the class, I knew this class was going to kick my ass but also that I was going to love it.

In the last week, Barry’s Bootcamp had popped up a lot on my radar, the most enticing of those being a video they had posted last week with Joey and Lacey Stone giving a tour of the space and showing a bit of the actual class. It was the first time that it sounded like something I would like. I have to say, I really hate the branding of Barry’s Bootcamp – it is very sexy starlet and buff action dude and in every other review it sounded like such an LA class that I had pointedly avoided it. It didn’t sound like a really challenging class to me but between that clip and a friend of mine raving about the class, I decided to go check it out. After a Facebook exchange with Joey on Sunday, he graciously (and awesomely!) invited me in the next night to check out a class at 6:30pm.

The studio, on 20th and 6th, is small but really nice. It was PACKED though when I went in, since it was a peak-hour class. I signed my waver and was pointed to where the locker rooms were.  The locker room is tiny but really nice, with actual showers – a weird thing that seems to be missing at a lot of NYC studios. I dropped off my stuff in one of the lockers and went to join the masses waiting.

Before class actually started, Joey called me in to introduce himself and give me a brief overview of the class. The class that night was focused on the Arms & Abs.  They also have Butt & Legs, Chest & Abs, Back & Shoulder and Full Body. He also took the time to tell me about the Woodway treadmills they use as part of the class. I have over the years heard others rave about Woodways before but never the WHY of what makes them better. The slatted belt, not a solid belt, with each tread covered in thick shock-absorbing layer, causes much less impact on the joints than traditional treadmills. Who knew? I can say I will be grabbing a Woodway treadmill from now on at the regular gym too…

The class of 30 or so divides into two groups with one starting out on the treadmills and the other on the floor with weights and a step. I choose the treadmill to start with since I am such a solid runner these days. I am not sure it was the wrong choice but damn, that was not an easy way to start a class! The light run pace was a 6mph, but we spent most of the time going between 7-8mph with inclines and speed bursts of 9mph. Oh man. By the time the first section was over, I was gasping and drenched already. The floor section with weights was seriously hard with each exercise going to failure, where you really couldn’t do one more before going on to the next exercise. After 15 minutes, we swapped again.

The second treadmill section started with a high knees drill on a 15% incline. It was a thing I would have never thought of doing on a treadmill and it was hard. We then went back to the running pace and did 15 minutes of alternating between a light jog and full out sprints with occasional bouts of incline runs.  By the time that one finished, I was a little concerned I might hurl and that if I did, they would never let me come back. Then it was back to the floor for a resistance band section. I chose the intermediate blue band and about midway through, I was kicking myself for not grabbing the easier red band. It was challenging in the best way possible but I think the red band would have not made me want to cry  the way the blue one did.

In the end, it was an amazing class that flew by, kicked my ass and made me feel like I should eat humble pie. It is a challenging, intense, fun workout and I am so glad I got to check it out.  I can’t imagine the Butt & Legs class though, my legs were so wobbly by the end of this class that walking home was a very slow process! I wonder if I could even make it home after that one? Or would I end up just sitting like a lump of jello in Barry’s juice bar?

(photo credit: Barry’s Bootcamp via Facebook)