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 )