There are two things you need to know about Barry’s Bootcamp, the celebrity-favorite fitness chain that recently opened its first Denver studio in Cherry Creek. First, it is dedicated to giving attendees an intense, 50-minute workout, and second, the brand is equally committed to providing good lighting and backdrops for selfies.
The format of a Barry’s workout is relatively simple: half high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on the treadmill and half weightlifting. And all of it is done in a dimly-lit, mirrored room with red lighting—the signature Red Room—that many people tell me during my visit to try a class makes everyone look great. (I am also informed that Barry’s is known for its amazing locker room lighting, perfect for bathroom selfies.)
Before I get into what the class was like, you should know that I am both a Barry’s and bathroom selfie virgin. In fact, I naively arrived at the studio with no makeup on. My fellow Red Roomers weren’t so embarrassingly under primped. Everyone looked stunning. I instantly understood why Barry’s is a favorite of celebrities like the Kardashians and the Beckhams.
I am in decent shape, but not Coloradan-training-for-a-triathlon decent shape. I do my hour-long Tracy Anderson Method workout most days, and I’m a swift hiker, but my experience with HIIT workouts and weights is many years behind me. I was nervous and a little intimidated about trying out Barry’s—and not just because everyone around me looked like they’d just stepped out of some sort of fitness photoshoot.
Turns out, I shouldn’t have been. My class, which happened to be taught by Barry’s Bootcamp CEO Joey Gonzalez, who was in town for the studio’s opening, was fun, challenging, and doable. The workout is customizable, and I felt immense relief that I was in charge of my treadmill speed and the heft of the weights I used. Your instructor will give you a range for how fast you should kick up your treadmill for each interval and guidance on which weights to use (tip: go lighter than recommended), so you don’t have to worry about failing miserably. Unless, of course, you want to push yourself to the point of miserable failure. That’s an option at Barry’s, too.
The workout the day I went was focused on upper body strength, so we did fairly basic moves like rows, flies, curls, push-ups, mountain climbers, and burpees. On the treadmills (which ring in at $12,000–$14,000 a pop), we walked, jogged, and sprinted while Gonzalez shouted inspirational mantras at us like, “That’s where success lives—it’s always right behind failure!” and “I’m not going to judge you, so don’t you dare judge yourself!”
I won’t lie, the weights portion was tough, but by the second round of mountain climbers, I was into it. The HIIT and strength combo and the format, which allows you to compete against yourself, are addictive. I left the class feeling spent and exhilarated—and wanting to do it again.
After class, I caught up with Gonzalez—and by after class I mean once he was done taking selfies in the lobby with attendees. I wanted to know why he chose Denver for the 76th Barry’s studio (the workout craze started in 1998 in West Hollywood), and why he thinks people go so nuts for it.
“It was always a priority,” Gonzalez says of opening in Denver. It took time, though, to find the right spot. The corner of Josephine Street and 3rd Avenue had the space Barry’s needed to house the famous Red Room, decked out locker rooms (where Dyson hair dryers and straighteners are at the ready to make selfie magic), the Fuel Bar for $9 post-workout shakes, a space to hang out, and a whole bunch of retail.
The studio was actually ready to go in early 2020, but, well, you know how that went. Barry’s delayed its Denver opening until it felt safer to return to the studio. Now, the space still has many COVID-19 procedures in place. The big one: a mask is required during the workout. Also, classes are only at 50 percent capacity, so there are about 20 or so other people running and burpeeing alongside you. No equipment is reused during a class and everything is wiped down and disinfected after each workout.
“I’ve been doing this for so long, but I always get so nervous for a new studio,” Gonzalez says. “I worry, ‘Is anyone going to show up?’ Especially given the environment, with all our fears and nervousness about emerging, but within one hour [of Denver classes being released], all classes for the weekend sold out. It was really encouraging and gave me a lot of hope for what the path forward will look like.”
Denverites certainly showed up. Many in that fitness-model-looking crowd had moved from cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, so they were already familiar with Barry’s. Others had heard the hype and wanted to experience it for themselves.
“Barry’s, at the core, there’s the product,” Gonzalez says of its popularity. “The product works. If people are looking to get in great shape or want to look great for a wedding, there are few better workouts. The efficacy of the workout is the number one reason, and then number two is the community. An incredible type of person does Barry’s…If you want to work out hard and have a lot of fun, this is the place to come.”
I, myself, left the sparkling new Cherry Creek studio feeling like yes, I did work out hard. I also had a lot of fun. But somehow, I left without a single selfie.
If you go: Drop-in classes are $30 (30-day memberships and group packages are also available); 260 N. Josephine St.