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

As One: The Work of Believing

On Monday morning, bright and early, I made my way to As One in it’s new home, fully prepared to have George Vafiades kick my ass again. I wasn’t really awake when I finally got there and it took me a minute to realize that Mark Merchant was there as well, geared up and ready to go – and both Mark and George looked worrisomely devilish.

The class started off with the normal As One warm up, which George took the lead on. After the warm up, Mark split us into pairs, with each pair alternating exercises. 3 pairs started on a box jump/jump rope split and then 2 pairs were sent to start with a circuit that involved the evil Airdyne bike. I was in that second group, paired with my friend (I so love having a buddy in my class) and Mark paired George with one of the superstar regulars. Our circuit was 40 seconds on the Airdyne, split squats with a sandbag on our shoulders, pushups, bent-over rows with the sandbag again and for good measure, seated rotations.  Somehow, I ended up doing the entire rotation, basically just doing whatever George was doing. He fixed my form in my pushups (so not low enough…) and would look at me sideways when my split squats slowed down and I would kick it up again. I didn’t even pretend to try and keep up when we went to the Airdyne though… he is a beast on that damn thing! After our roughly 4 1/2 minutes, we swapped with the box folks. This round was deceptively easy at first, 20 box jumps and then swapping out with your partner to jump rope while they box jumped.  Even after the first 4 1/2 minutes, this seemed like the easy portion but by the time the 3rd round came around, it was starting to seem ridiculously hard. Mark was, of course, super precise about form and anytime time he mentioned that I had good form on some move – mostly the back row, once, on my jump roping form – I got slightly, irrationally proud of myself. Of course, being proud of myself when jumping rope meant I would totally lose focus and then whack myself solidly with the rope… I really am so smooth. The funny thing was that I didn’t really notice when Mark was explaining the routine to us, how there was no rest in it at all – or as Mark called it “40 minutes of straight work”.  By the fifth and final round, my partner and I were cracking up because really, it was either laugh or cry at that point. It always amazes me how good they are at As One.  Kicking my ass with things that seem so deceptively simple at the onset.

We ended the day with three rounds of pull-ups. It is amazing how much better I have gotten at them since I started training at As 1. For the first round I figured I would need the heavy band for help since I “suck” at pull-ups.  Turns out that isn’t quite as true anymore! After that realization, I dropped down a band with each round. That last round was a little pathetic but it was awesome to test myself and really know how much I have improved.  Next time, I won’t doubt myself so much. I totally see full-unassisted pull-ups happening soon!

Top picture from Daily Candy Deals which is having an AMAZING deal for As 1 -check it out! Bottom picture just a little motivational reminder…

A Perfect Mix: hard work & taking care of yourself….

On Monday morning, I met up with three of the fittest women I know at one of my favorite spots in the city, As 1. Of the 4 of us, we had two newbies, but I was absolutely sure they would both love the workout. I knew they would kick ass!  I found out that George wasn’t going to lead the group this time, Mark Merchant would be. It would be my first time with Mark.  I had heard he was amazing but tough, and I was a little nervous about whether or not this would change my love of the As 1 experience. In pictures, Mark looks far more like a drill sergeant than George does, and I was a little worried that he was just going to be very, very serious. Turns out, in person, Mark is very warm, open and just very committed to what he does – exactly what I should have expected from one of the founders at As 1. I liked him immediately and then he proceeded to kick my ass.

The first half of class we did a routine based on a plan Mark had designed for Esquire magazine. It was 5 rounds of 20 seconds-on-5-seconds-off of the following moves: squats with a sandbag on your shoulders, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, split squats, bent-over rows with the sandbag, a move called the Dolphin (basically a plank with a raising up to a pike –over and over), and then another set of burpees. It sounded simple enough, but proved to be a killer! As with every workout, there we were, all watched like a hawk and throughout the whole thing, Mark made constant corrections to form as we went through each round. The second half of class was made up of another 5 rounds.  This time, it was pull-ups (to failure or 8,) one-armed rope whacking while squatting (this was virtually impossible for me, sort of like patting my tummy and rubbing my head is,) switch arms-repeat, then end the round running down 7 flights of stair and back up. Those stairs ARE hard, but the best part was that my partners in crime kept hooting and hollering as they passed one another – which made it wildly more fun than it should have been!  Plus, I was really grateful every time they passed that they weren’t just cursing me for getting them into that crazy stairwell!

I was crazy wiped out after class on Monday (As 1 was my 5th class in just 48hrs) and was really sore and really just wanted to lie down. Instead, I headed off to see Dr. Gregory Shure at Madison Square Wellness to talk about the importance of stretching and preventative wellness care. Turns out that really, it was such a random stroke of good fortune that his office had contacted me about coming in to talk to Dr. Shure last week! I have a lot of people I know and trust completely who have been saying pretty amazing things about Dr. Shure, so I jumped at the chance to go talk to him. I was fully expecting an office lecture (I don’t stretch nearly enough) and that maybe if I looked like a total hot mess, maybe he would crack my back (I have never been to a Chiropractor, so really, I didn’t know what a first appointment would entail). I just really didn’t know what to expect but knew it would be interesting at least. Mostly, he didn’t lecture me at all, but gave me a lot of solid advice.  He also didn’t call me a hot mess but did go on to give me a massage/realignment thing that was just out-of-this-world amazing. It wasn’t scary or aggressive cracking that I thought might be what happens in a chiropractic office, but more pulling and pushing to straighten me out a little. It was amazing!

I left feeling a hundred times better than I had when I walked in and feeling like I had found a really great resource for staying healthy and on my feet.  The very next day in my mailbox, I received an email from Dr. Shure as a follow-up that included a variety of stretches that I should incorporate into my daily routine, with links to demonstrations of the moves. It was such a cool and thoughtful follow-up and I was shocked – and completely grateful. I totally see why my friends have raved about him, since obviously, now so do I!

(Image of Mark from As 1’s Facebook page. Image of Dr. Shure from Madison Square Wellness Facebook page )

Week 2 of Holly Rilinger Fitness Boot Camp…

On Tuesday morning, week 2 of HRF Boot Camp, it was really beyond me to set the coffee pot to go off at 4:30 in the morning. That was just too ridiculous an hour to admit to getting up, so I went without coffee. Plus, then I could look forward to some Joe’s Art of Coffee in Chelsea after class because by then, it would be open. Ahhh, coffee as a reward – one of my favorite bribes!

This week the weather was spotty, threatening rain and dreary and yet, I have to say, class was even better this week than last time.  I can’t get over how much everyone seems to like one another and just how into being there everyone is – even at that hour! Maybe it is because we all recognize that it is a ridiculous time to be up and doing anything other than giving it our complete all. It really is a sight to behold. As the girl who was never ever picked for the team, who sat on the sidelines and just watched, getting to be part of Holly Rilinger’s team is pretty mind blowing. Nice that it came at a time when I really can kick-ass at anything I put my mind to.

The first part of class this week involved sprints. We warmed up with a short jog, knee-ups, side shuffles and the twisting cross-over run thing that makes me feel completely like the most uncoordinated human on the planet. Then we moved on to group 50 foot sprints with 10 push-ups in between each of the 10 rounds. In my group of 4 was Mary – who is damn zippy. I loved having someone so fast in my group because it made me run so much faster – I couldn’t beat her but I came in second every single time and sometimes by just a little. It is so true that you rise to the level of those around you, when you have even a moment of believing yourself to be in the game. Sweet.

Then the ab section, which was a nice moment to get to lie down after getting wiped out by the sprints – I don’t think I was supposed to be that happy to lie down but I was. We finished the class with a mix of jogging, sprints and LOTS and LOTS of lunges and squat variations. Which in fact kicked my ass, officially, but also by the end of class, I felt like a million bucks. Go figure, who would have thought that without coffee I could feel that good?

Then of course, it was straight off to get coffee. Two of the amazing women from class ended up joining me there and it was just an awesome start to the day. The workout, the company and the reward coffee – it is hard to think of a better start to a dreary day.

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)