A single bead of sweat trickled slowly down my forehead. My legs felt like they were burning up from the inside as I lowered down into what must’ve been my 100th squat. In reality, it was only my fifth.
I cast my eyes around the dim, red-lit room, wondering if any of the other members of the class were feeling like me. I listened for the voice of the instructor above the pounding beat of the music, hoping that he might end the pain and tell me to lie on my back for a rest. But instead of being told to lie down, we moved over to the elevated mats, and started a set of arm exercises, lifting weights up and down we lay on our backs. The burning sensation previously in my legs migrated to my arms as I clenched my teeth and tried to distract myself as the minute ticked away. And all of a sudden it was, the first strength training round of my Barry’s workout complete. But there was no stopping, because now it was time for cardio.
As I walked toward the row of treadmills perfectly aligned along the opposite wall I must’ve looked like I was about to drop dead, because Brian Weller, the co-owner of Barry’s Boston, gave me a much-needed encouraging yell, “Yeah Madeleine you got this!”
And 42 minutes later, as I walked out of the studio on an endorphin high that I rarely experience, I was thinking to myself yeah, I have got this. This is probably the phenomenon that has made Barry’s Boston such as success since it opened its first downtown location in 2013.
When Weller, and fellow co-founder Dustin Martin, reconnected in New York City after attending separate colleges following their childhood spent in Syracuse, N.Y., they bonded over their shared misery. Both Weller and Martin hated their high-stress jobs in finance, and spent many a dinner imagining what they could do so that they didn’t have to go to work in the morning. Weller discovered Barry’s Bootcamp once the New York branch opened, and brought Martin along on a whim. The two quickly became passionate about the workout and resulting community, often finding that the classes they took were the highlights of their working days.
After a time, the duo started considering opening their own branch in a new city, and finally decided to make the leap. Although it was scary, uprooting their lives and savings while Weller had a newborn and another baby on the way, Martin and Weller were committed, determined to make the Boston market their own.
“We thought that it was underutilized from the boutique fitness studio market at the time when we opened downtown about four years ago,” Weller said. “The only things that were in the groups fitness space were spinning or yoga, there was no lifting, [or] running.”
And while Bostonians were a very different client from New Yorkers—Weller explained that Bostonians conservatively frequent established institutions whereas New Yorkers are accustomed to constant change—the two cracked the city, quickly attracting loyal clients to the tight community that formed around Barry’s Boston. For Weller, that sense of community is what makes Barry’s Boston a success.
“That’s where Barry’s lives, it lives in the space that it is a community, that’s where we thrive. We pride ourselves in knowing your name,” Weller said. “We pride ourselves in knowing what you are, what you’re about, what your fitness goals are, and kind of you as a person … we try to learn and know more about you. That’s just the community that we build, that’s the community that we like to be around, and it really has attracted a lot of Bostonians.”
That community is blatantly obvious even in Barry’s newest Chestnut Hill location, which opened in late June. As clients wait outside the studio for the class to start—some chatting among themselves and others deciding on the post-workout smoothie that they will order from the Barry’s Fuel Bar in the studio lobby—Weller moves through the crowd with ease, happily chatting with familiar and new faces alike.
All look excitedly determined rather than nervous, knowing that the workout they’re about to start is, while highly strenuous, completely doable. As Weller explained, the Barry’s workout isn’t “reinventing the wheel” or “splitting the atom,” it’s just running and lifting. The difference comes in the ways that instructors get the people in the class to push themselves further than they would’ve thought possible.
“For me, Barry’s gave me a lot of confidence, knowing what I can accomplish when I didn’t think I could and I think other people are drawn to that as well,” Weller said. “They’re pushed harder, probably, in there than they would ever push themselves, and I just think that radiates to other aspects of their life.”
And now, with the ongoing Friends With Benefits promotion—introduce a friend to Barry’s and take a class with them then you both get a free class—and the special pricing for students in the area, $20 a class and a discount if you buy a pack of classes, Weller and Martin are hoping to make a push into the area’s student community.
So if you head to Barry’s and find yourself in the middle of a class with your muscles burning, just remember what Weller likes to tell customers: “The minutes are long and the hours are short.” And he’s right, the minutes fly by and leave you wanting more.
Featured Image by The Street at Chestnut Hill