Before I started Barry's Bootcamp I thought I was pretty fit...running marathons faster than your average Joe, finishing 63rd out of 3386 in a London 10k, cycling 100 miles for fun and actually passing the press up test for the Royal Marines Fitness test (60 press ups in 2 minutes). Yeah, pretty fit.... But when I did my first Barry's class back in June I struggled. A lot. I left feeling tired and unfit, which for me is the equivalent of a red cape shown to a bull - I decided I simply had to conquer this bootcamp malarky. I set my sights on doing one of the month long membership options as a sort of 30 day challenge and August was the month it was going to happen.
I went into the membership feeling unconfident as a runner, after my slightly 'disastrous' July halfmarathon, but not too unfit after Ride London relay. I would now like to write that 'the first week it was hard, but then I could feel myself getting stronger...' etc., and while I do notice some good improvements in my fitness it hasn't gotten any easier! This is mainly to do with the fact that the fitter you get, the more you push yourself. Or rather, the more the instructors push you.... I've done a lot of cursing and complaining but the truth is that I've enjoyed myself a lot more this month than I previously have in a gym - this has well and truly been right up my alley. Do I like people shouting at me? I actually do, or rather I enjoy knowing that they care enough about improving my fitness to go round and push me. This has been a challenging month (it's a challenging workout!) but that's what's made it good, there's always been a goal to work towards and no stagnation
So what are the biggest improvements?
Core strength. I've never had a core of steel, and I probably never will, but this month-long residency at Barry's has really improved my core strength! I still have some major weaknesses but at least there are fewer of them than there used to be....
Sprint speed. When I first started Barry's my top sprint speed was probably 10.5mph, and even that made me think I was either gonna fall off the treadmill or die (probably both). But in the third week I managed to reach that elusive 12.5mph and now I can honestly say that 12.5mph is my top sprint speed....big achievement from your resident Captain Slow! I've also regained some of my lost confidence, big thanks to the Barry's crew for that.
Working when fatigued. I've done a fair amount of classes these last few weeks, in addition to my ultra marathon training, and some days I've felt tired, with legs like lead. Despite being tired I've worked through the fatigue and I now feel that my body now responds better to hard work despite being tired.
Challenging myself: I've gotten better at working until failure. Barry's have challenged me to try more reps, faster speeds, bigger weights - and occasionally I've failed or come up short. BUT, it's okay to not be able to do every single rep, or every single increase in speed on the treadmill, as long as you've worked as hard as you can.
A lot of people have asked me if I've lost weight but that's hard to know as I never weigh myself. My clothes fit better (or so I want to tell myself...) but since improvement in fitness and not weightloss was the goal I can honestly say I don't really care. Let's just say that I think the non-existant weightloss has got more to do with my love of cold beer in the sunshine than Barry's not being effective enough..... Would I do the 30 day challenge again? In a heartbeat! Despite all the classes following a similar format no two classes are exactly the same, you work different body parts on different days and you've got a plethora of great instructors that will give their all to make you give your all. If you go to an 'off peak' class you sometimes get pretty close to having a personal trainer.
Do I still think I'm pretty fit? Ask me in the middle of a Barry's class and I'll say no, but I do know I'm at least a little bit fitter than I was before I started....!