The day I nearly died at Barry’s Bootcamp… Fine I’m being dramatic

Last week I was signed up to ‘the best workout in the world’ by a 'friend'- I joke, I still love her kind of. My plan to attend Barry’s Bootcamp was met with ‘that’s just for athletes and personal trainers’ and ‘my friend threw up and hid in the toilet until the end’ from colleagues- lovely, very reassuring. The day before D day or should I say B day the panic really set in and I began frantically googling exactly what to expect, what should I eat? What should I wear? Should I have trained for this? The website didn’t really ease my fear with promises of being pushed to my limits and burning up to 1000 calories. I felt sick and shaky thinking about it all day. Google had told me to drink lots of water and eat bananas so that’s what I did (amongst other various unnecessary carb loading). Please bear in mind my fitness level is pretty much at I can jog for 20 seconds and then I get a stitch. Each day has a different focus at Barry’s, Tuesday was legs and bums. I was quite reassured by this, they can’t make you work out your legs that hard if you have to run on them right? Oh I was not right.

So finally the time arrived. From the minute I walked in through the doors, which by the way themselves are pretty scary- it’s like walking into a dungeon aptly labelled with the sign ‘down to hell so you look like heaven’. Well whilst I want to look like a goddess, I am absolutely not ready for hell just yet. On arrival at the reception desk I couldn’t help blurting out to everyone in earshot just how much of a beginner I was in the hope they would go easy on me. We checked in and I grabbed my towel and loaded up on deodorant and extra hair pins. My instructor invited the newbies in for a quick induction, he asked if I was okay I replied honestly ‘no I am not’. He explained how to get on and off the treadmill safely, even made us turn it to 0.5 and go for a little very, very slow walk whilst he was talking. I started to panic about the valuable fitness and energy he was expending on my behalf and did my best to turn it off again as soon as possible. He didn’t look very impressed with me so far.

When you sign in you are awarded a number which corresponds to the floor space and treadmill you will be on. Ever the non-dramatic optimist, I took my place murmuring to my friend I can’t believe I’m here I can’t do this over and over again. We were told to pick up various weights ‘5kg for ladies’ I picked up the 3kg. I looked around the room, trying my best to decipher who in here could possibly be as unfit as me- my allies. No one looked back at me, staring ahead into the highly flattering mirrors and concentrating on what lay ahead for us. The red lights shine, a colour associated with danger. I thought to myself ‘perhaps my rush of adrenaline and fear will make me into an athlete... I mean they do say people suddenly can climb a tree or whatever if there’s a bear around right?’ I started on the floor which I was rather happy about, I could suss out the treadmills before actually having to get on one. Wrong again, I would be crawling to the treadmill. 

The music started blaring and the instructor expertly organised the ‘tredders’ and floor. Tredders were running at some horrifying speed and we were doing weighted squats. It had started, there was no getting out now. The door swung shut. This was my prison for the next hour. The class is basically made up of 15 minutes on the floor, 15 minutes tread and then switching (although I have heard rumours of something called a dirty thirty). I started out with a few weighted squats and other various kicky things I don’t know the name of. I was feeling ok and sort of thinking I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. Then we started the 2 minutes of jump squats. My legs turned to jelly, my heart was bouncing about in my chest and I had that awful breath caught in your chest feeling that I got during the bleep test at school. Ummm I’m a celebrity get me out of here? We then got told to ‘recover’. Great I thought just what I need, nice little swig of water, maybe a shoulder rub, meditation? I looked over at my friend who was heading over to her sweat drenched numbered treadmill. He hadn’t just said recover at all, he had said RE cover and that meant switch with my poor out of breath treadmill counterpart. They looked relieved, I most definitely was not.

The running options are shouted out to you in different numbers 7, 8, 9 type vibes meaning beginners run at 7, intermediate 8, superhuman 9. I ran at 4.8 and it killed me. But, I didn’t get in trouble and I did go up a little when I was told to and I was dripping in sweat, couldn’t feel my legs, felt like I might pass out and at my maximum. Thankfully, I think when they see this they just think ‘poor unfit soul’ and recognise you’re doing your best. With every ‘re cover’ I thought I can’t go on, but I also did. On my final run when I was told to give it everything I had I managed to get up to 7. I did the cool down with the lights on lying back on my treadmill. I looked up at the ceiling as if it was the night sky, feeling rather profound I thought to myself I actually did it. I hobbled out and booked myself into the same class next week. I sat on the tube home sweating into my coat wondering why I felt the need to torture myself again on some weird euphoric high.

Little update: My second class went a lot better, I still feel the fear but cutting out the unknown made it a lot more of an enjoyable experience and hey who knows I might finally get fit. 

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