According to the experts at swanky city centre studio Barry’s, you’re supposed to complete a workout three times a week to achieve real results.
I entered the new year somewhat optimistically (or, let’s face it, naively) and decided to challenge myself to follow this advice every week throughout January. Now, anyone who’s been to a Barry’s class will know this is no mean feat.
It’s a tough workout designed to make you sweat, mixing weight training and cardio for 60 minutes of torture – I mean, exercise – to get your heart racing and your body moving. In the summer, I attended a Barry’s class every day for a week and, despite aching in places I never knew possible, I was converted into a fan.
I’ve been going to Barry’s a few times a month since that challenge, though I fell out of the habit of it after donating my eggs for the second time in September and becoming something of an emotional basket-case thanks to the influx of extra hormones.
Keen to feel fitter, stronger, and more confident in my body after gaining quite a bit of weight in lockdown, this challenge was something I felt would get my exercise routine back on track. I also wanted to be able to put on my favourite pair of mom jeans without them slicing my (slightly larger) waist in half – but would it actually work?
I won’t be sharing before or after photos of my body as I think that wrongly puts the focus on looks, when health and fitness isn’t really about what you look like. I judge my body on how I feel, and how well my clothes fit me.
As an eating disorder survivor, it’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I don’t place all my self worth on my weight and dress size, and I won’t be risking any potentially nasty comments on my appearance putting me back there. Still, I will detail my successes – and (many) failures – at Barry’s last month:
I didn’t get off to the best start this week. There’s so much pressure on January 1, with the arrival of the new year supposedly having the power to transform you into an entirely new, “together” person that can suddenly accomplish all the incomplete tasks and challenges that were impossible last year. Let’s be realistic, nothing has that power.
I don’t agree with the pressure and warped narrative of “new year, new me” and people feeling obligated to shift any weight gained while enjoying festive snacks and sweet treats over the Christmas period, so I’m not beating myself up over letting the first week of January get away from me. Plus, I still had an abundance of chocolate left and definitely chose to tuck into a few bars of Galaxy on the sofa instead of attending a few classes.
I went to two Barry’s classes this week, instead of the required three; attending a Saturday afternoon class – where I was literally the only person in the studio (hello, new levels of fear and anxiety) – and a much busier Sunday afternoon class, too. The classes were much harder than I remembered, and I left dripping in sweat with a complexion closely resembling a tomato.
It felt good to work my body and I approached the new week feeling more positive about the challenge ahead.
Things really ramped up at work this week and I found myself feeling stressed and drained, with exercise being the absolute last thing on my mind. Still, in an effort to try and stick to this challenge and be able to comfortably wear my favourite jeans again, I booked two evening classes.
The classes are intense. I wasn’t blinded by the complete shock of just how demanding they are this time around, being a little more accustomed to the routine, but an hour of relentless cardio and weight training still has me clock watching and obsessively wishing time to rush by.
By the second round of the treadmill during both classes, I thought I might actually faint. My dodgy ankle (which I’ve sprained around four or five times in the last decade because I’m ridiculously clumsy and trip and fall quite a lot) was shaky and buckling, and I was dabbing my brow with the little grey towel supplied by Barry’s every three seconds.
Nothing makes me sweat more than a Barry’s class, but I really do enjoy pushing myself and trying to improve my fitness. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Despite a positive attitude, I failed for the second week in a row.
Another busy work week, another failed attempt to stick to the required three classes per week. I went to one evening class, then one lovely, quiet Sunday class with a friend.
Visiting Barry’s on the weekend felt less hectic than cramming it in after work, but as I always leave looking like a giant puce beetroot, with hair drenched with sweat, it made me hesitant to make any plans.
I just wanted to stand in the shower for an obnoxiously long time and then lay on the sofa nursing my sore muscles. Sundays are for relaxing, right? Okay, I’m really not nailing this challenge…
Okay. This week was… well… I failed. Okay? I failed. Miserably. I went once. ONCE. Glistening, toned, taut Barry’s pros, please forgive me.
Do my jeans fit? Yes, they do fit a little better – they’re still pretty snug but nowhere near as restrictive and painful as they were on January 1. I enjoy going to Barry’s because it’s the kind of intense workout I’d never be able to achieve in a solo session at the gym. The trainers push you – hard – but never beyond your limits.
I like feeling my heart race, I like feeling as though I’m getting stronger, and I like knowing I’m getting in shape in a healthy way. Exercising three times a week should be an achievable occurrence, but with our busy working lives, it just isn’t always possible.
I want to have a good balance between enjoying my free time and enjoying getting fitter and stronger, so I’m not beating myself up over failing (really, really failing) this challenge. I’m going to carry on with my Barry’s fitness journey, while still making time for downtime. It’s all about balance, eh?
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