I went to an indoor Barry’s Bootcamp workout for the first time since lockdown, and I wish fitness classes could always be half full

  • Fitness studios in London, UK, are currently open, including Barry's Bootcamp.
  • I visited at the weekend and did a class in one of its signature underground "red rooms," and was amazed by how comfortable I felt.
  • With temperature checks upon arrival, face masks in the lobby, and no sharing of equipment, it felt very COVID-secure.
  • The best thing, however, was that classes are running at half capacity, and I loved that it was more spacious than usual.
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While fitness studios in places such as New York City remain closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, in other parts of the world (like London), indoor workout classes have been back up and running for some time with new safety measures in place.

Before lockdown, I was a regular visitor to boutique workout studios, mixing up my gym sessions and netball matches with the diverse classes on offer in London's incredible fitness scene, from boxing to barre.

One workout I was just getting into at the start of 2020 was Barry's Bootcamp, an intense strength and cardio class.

Barry's has something of a cult-like following across the world, but I hated it the first few times I did it a few years back. Each class is a gruelling mix of running on a treadmill (different sections of time will be spent on sprinting, endurance, and, my least favorite, incline running), and floor work with a bench and dumbbells.

I kept going back over the space of a few years, and as I got fitter, I started to love it.

After working hard to maintain my fitness throughout lockdown, I decided I felt comfortable enough to go back to fitness studios, and a friend and I decided to give Barry's a shot, visiting its newest London studio in Soho for £23 ($29) for a one-off class. 

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I ended up pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I felt — and by how much I loved a half-capacity workout class.

Here's what the experience was like.

Barry's Soho is located on Kingly Street, just down from Oxford Circus. The doors were open and I could see the logo made out of filament bulbs calling me down.

Barry's certainly hasn't lost its cheeky sense of humor.

In the lobby, everyone was asked to wear a face mask, which my friend Georgie and I did.

The staff were wearing face masks, too, and were behind perspex screens.

We had our temperatures checked when we arrived. It was comforting to know this was being done for every visitor, and made me feel more relaxed about sharing a room with everyone else.

We popped our things in the changing room, and I noticed there was extra hand sanitizer (in stylish glass bottles with gold tops) and soap around.

The door to the studio had a message encouraging social distancing, which again was reassuring to see.

Waiting for the class to commence, I was grateful for the spacious lobby. Everyone was wearing a mask …

… but once in the studio, we all took them off. The instructor, Honey, was the exception, and she managed to wear one throughout the whole workout — she was talking a lot, so it made sense that she should wear one.

In the studio, working at half capacity meant only every other treadmill and floor station was used, and there was no sharing of equipment.

The class was exactly the same as normal: tough, but exhilarating and fun. There were parts I loved (the weights and the sprints), and parts I hated (the incline runs).

I felt completely safe, though: We were encouraged to make slow transitions between the floor and the treadmills, and although it wasn't possible to remain six feet from everyone else at all times, I loved that it was half full.

A half-capacity class continued to be a benefit in the changing room.

I hadn't expected all the toiletries that are usually provided to be on offer, but they were.

The showers were open as normal (and with no line!). The only difference was we had to bring our own towels, but we'd been told that was the case in advance.

Much like in the studio between classes, cleaning staff came in between users (Georgie and I were among the final few people in the changing room).

As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about Barry's Bootcamp is the shakes, so I was thrilled to see they were available as usual — and apparently ours were social distancing, too.

I was surprised by how normal my visit to Barry's felt, and how comfortable I felt the whole time (sprints not included).

Thanks to the temperature checks, extra cleans, and individual equipment, I felt entirely safe at Barry's, which isn't the case for me in every public place right now.

Of course, there's a level of trust you have to have in your fellow class attendees, and not everyone may feel comfortable with that.

But despite being underground in a dark room with lots of people sweating together, I didn't feel distracted by the risk of germs spreading during my workout. 

I realize it isn't practical in the long run for fitness studios to operate at half capacity, but my Barry's experience has actually made me want to make the most of the current rulings and go to more classes while they're less busy.

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