Why you need to hit Barry’s Bootcamp in Calgary now

If you’re a fitness junkie like me, you’ll be thrilled to know Barry’s Bootcamp recently opened in Calgary. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, think of it as a killer, Kardashian endorsed workout that has thousands, perhaps even millions of devotees around the world.

Barry's Bootcamp Calgary
Custom treadmills are part of the package at Barry’s Bootcamp.

There’s a lot of similarities between Barry’s and Orangetheory Fitness. Because of that, I’ll dive into Barry’s Bootcamp vs Orangetheory – both the workout and studio vibe, in addition to letting you know what to expect at the new studio: Barry’s Bootcamp Calgary.

Barry’s Bootcamp Calgary

Barry’s Bootcamp Calgary opened in November, 2019. It’s a 5,000 sq ft space attached to the lululemon on Calgary’s 4th Street SW (their new location). From One Cycle Spin Studio to barre to yoga, there’s already quite a few boutique fitness studios on this trendy street and now we have Barry’s Bootcamp! 

In addition to the basement studio, Barry’s sports a retail space and a Fuel Bar with it’s own entrance. Even if you’re not up for a workout, you can swing by, grab a super health shake and carry on with your day. 

Barry’s Fuel Bar

What’s cool about the Fuel Bar is that it essentially delivers in a food and beverage package, everything that Barry’s tries to deliver in their studio. It’s all very much a results driven experience.

I haven’t tried all of Barry’s shakes, but I can confirm that Skinny B*tch is so delicious, you’d think it was way over 400 calories. Amazingly, it clocks in at only 235 cals, and it kept me full way longer than I’m used to. (I’m someone who’s hungry every 2-3 hours.)

Pretty much all their shakes are filled with some sort of superfoods or on trend ingredients like collagen or charcoal, and they can all be made vegan. Why not, right?

Barry’s Fuel Bar shakes are pricy, but if you reframe it to a convenient, all-in-one meal, as I did, it takes the $11 sting away.

Like most Barry’s Bootcamp locations, the Calgary studio has a retail component and they swap out their collections every 4-6 weeks. If you see something you fancy, you need to nab it fast. It’ll be gone before you know it.

Barry’s Bootcamp workout

Barry’s has their signature workout down to a science. Literally. The hour long Barry’s Bootcamp workout is comprised of a 30 min of interval cardio, which helps to burn calories and fat, and then there’s 30 minutes of strength training. It’s a 50/50 split of running on the treadmill and weights, but is less gruesome than that sounds.

Alternating between the floor and the treadmills is a great distraction from all the hard work you’re doing.

If you can’t run, you can double up on the floor, known as DF. When you do double floor, be sure to register well in advance as there’s only so many spots available for that.

For some, it’s possible to burn up to 1,000 calories per class. For most, I would estimate the average calorie burn would be around what I nail and that’s approximately 500 calories.

One thing people really like about Barry’s is that you know exactly what body parts you’re going to work on any given day. They do this to reduce the risk of injury from overtraining. Here’s how it breaks down:

Monday: Arms & Abs

Tuesday: Full Body (Lower Focus) 

Wednesday: Chest, Back & Abs

Thursday: Abs & Ass

Friday: Total Body 

Saturday: Full Body (Upper Focus) 

Sunday: Total Body

Group fitness classes aren’t all that exciting if the music is dull. Fortunately, Barry’s Bootcamp playlists are pretty good. Each is carefully curated to inspire you to sprint faster, lift heavier and all that.

Barry’s Bootcamp vs Orangetheory

There’s some distinct differences when comparing Barry’s Bootcamp vs Orangetheory. Barry’s Bootcamp has been around since 1998. It was one of the OG boutique fitness experiences. We’re talking a good decade before SoulCycle, barre classes or even Orangetheory came on the scene.

Orangetheory fitness
While you’re running, others are either doing weights or on the WaterRower during Orangetheory Fitness classes.

Dark nightclub atmospheres, funky lights, polished playlists, you’ve got Barry’s to thank for that. And it all began in the Red Room.

Barry’s Red Room

While Barry’s studios sport different designs around the world, all Red Rooms pretty much look the same. The Red Room is where the actual work out gets done, and yes, it’s red. Well, technically it’s black, but the lighting is red, which gives a fiery glow to everything.

Barry's bootcamp red room
The atmosphere is another great distraction at Barry’s.

Now if you’ve ever studied colour therapy, you know red is an energizing colour. It’s pretty hard not to feel pumped after sweating it out in a red room.

I spoke with Barry’s CEO, Joey Gonzalez, and he told me the original thought behind the red light was to vibe like a nightclub. But decades later, we now know how beneficial it is to remove yourself from artificial white light, plus some studies of demonstrated that red light increases your heart rate.

Another added bonus? Turns out red is a particularly flattering hue on the skin. “You’ll see guys taking their shirt off in class because they look extra ripped in that red light. That was a side effect we hadn’t intended, but we’ll take it,” Gonzalez told me with a smile. (He is seriously the nicest dude ever, and even though he’s CEO, teaches weekly in L.A.)

Comparing Barry’s to Orangetheory

But when it comes to equipment in the Barry’s Bootcamp vs Orangetheory throw down, there’s a wider range of cardio machines at Orangetheory.

At Barry’s, they’ve got treadmills. Only treadmills. If you don’t want to run, you can double up on the floor. Orangetheory offers a few bikes and occasionally an elliptical to use during the treadmill portion of class.

water rower
If I’m being honest, I still haven’t figured out how to row properly.

In both classes, you’re swapping off between block sets on the treadmill and the weights. But in Orangetheory, part of the weigh block includes time on the WaterRower (rowing machine), so you get two different cardio elements with their workout. 

At Barry’s Bootcamp classes, you grab free weights from the side of the room, and do all the weights at your step. And by step I mean step class type step.

Barry’s has a good range of heavier weights, so you’ll see more muscle builder type men in their classes.

barry's bootcamp fitness studio
It’s pretty easy to find your station at Barry’s.

At Orangetheory, everyone also has their own station, but they have more equipment. At your fingertips is a range of dumbbells, three exercise bands, a TRX, plus an ab dolly. Classes might also take it to the mat, BOSU or use a medicine ball. 

Orangetheory doesn’t have a designated day of the week for certain body parts, but every OT around world will be doing the exact same workout on the same day. Then the following day, the workout will be structured so that you don’t overwork a particular muscle group.

At both camps, it’s no biggie if you go several days in a row. You won’t have to suffer through sumo squats two days in a row unless you swap off between Barry’s and OT.

Medicine ball fitness class
Orangetheory offers a diverse array of weigh equipment.

One big difference with Orangetheory vs Barry’s is that at OT, you have to wear a heart rate monitor. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they are freaking obsessed with heart rate monitoring.

If you’re the competitive sort (who me?) it’s pretty addictive. Orangetheory used to lend you a heart rate monitor, but now you have to actually buy the device. Their device.

Not the device The Huz bought you oh-so many years ago. Just like the wife who got the Peloton bike for Christmas. Aren’t we lucky?

If you forget and show up at OT without your sacred heart rate monitor, they charge you $5 for the pleasure of borrowing theirs. But we Calgary gym junkies are used to it. It’s like being charged for bike shoes at a spin class in Calgary.

Then there are large screens throughout every Orangetheory studio that showcase everyone’s heart rate, calories burned and splat points (which I’ll get into shortly).

The good news is that even someone like me, totally nosy, investigative, annoying, etc… can’t be bothered to look at anyone else’s numbers. Unless your name is Jody. Or Jodi. Or Jodie. There are way too many women of a certain age at the Calgary studios I  rock into in.

What are splat points?

Ah, yes. Splat points. Basically there are five heart rate zones. Zone 1 is very light activity using 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. Zone 5 is an all out effort using 92-100% of your max heart rate. Why I’m often hitting 103% MAX HR is beyond me. Perhaps I ought to do more aerobic work.

Anyway, these 5 heart rate zones are colour coded. Zone 4 is orange. The orange zone is basically when you feel uncomfortable. You can’t keep up a conversation. You’re starting to suck air. You’re at 84-91% of your max heart rate.

barry's bootcamp vs orangetheory
You’ll spend half the class on the treadmill at Orangetheory, too!

This orange zone is where you want to be for at least 12 minutes within the hour long class. For every minute in the orange or red zone, you get a splat point. Orangetheory recommends you get 12-20 splat points per class, so you can burn the maximum number of calories after class. It’s all explained very succinctly here.

Back to Barry’s Bootcamp vs Orangetheory

We’re done with analyzing the workouts. Let’s talk about the little extras that take your workout experience from good to great.

The change room is where Barry’s Bootcamp really crushes it. They’re gorgeous. At Barry’s, you’re treated to fluffy, high-end towels and luxe amenities like Oribe skin and haircare products.

When you combine that with the ability to grab a shake on-site, immediately after your workout, you truly feel you’re getting a premium experience.

As for similarities, they’re both HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts. HIIT workouts are a good option for people trying to lose fat or those wanting to raise their resting metabolic rate, so you keep you burning calories throughout the day.

fitness endorphins
You won’t leave either studio without high fiving your instructor.

Both OT and BB have strong, loyal followers and werk their brands hard to foster relationships in their respective communities.

Despite being around for longer, Barry’s has, like, absolutely been embraced by millennials. They think it’s an edgy, fun workout, though Barry’s core client is in the 30-50 year-old range, which is exactly what Orangetheory Fitness’ demographic looks like.

What’s better, Orangetheory or Barry’s Bootcamp?

Me? I like ‘em both. The Orangetheory studios in Calgary, at Kensington, Marda Loop and Britannia have loads of natural light flooding in. I love that, and I find I’m always gravitating towards the treads and rowers closest to those floor to ceiling windows.

Then again, I like the playlist better at Barry’s. And I also think, you gotta give credit where credit is due. They started this trend, man.

But Orangetheory may have an edge on the execution. OT offers more diversity with their cardio machines and strength tools, plus the ability to progress tracking via annoying heart rate monitor.

What do you think? Have you tried either a Barry’s Bootcamp or an Orangetheory Fitness class? Do you have a favourite?

You may also be interested in reading:

Where to go for hot yoga Calgary

The secret to a tight ass and toned thighs

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