In 1998, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Barry Jay changed the way people looked at fitness forever when Barry’s Bootcamp was launched.
Along with his partners John and Rachel Mumford, their innovative approach to HIIT interval training revolutionised an entire industry.
The ethos of the company was born out of a ‘Community First’ attitude. They instilled a family atmosphere into their studio, making it a home from home for many and a place where everybody knows your name.
23 years later, with over 70 studios across 14 different countries, including 8 in the UK, that same ethos still exists today at a time when it’s needed more than ever.
A very difficult last 18 months has changed the lives of so many businesses. The hospitality, retail and fitness industries have been on life support, desperately waiting to be resuscitated and awakened from a never-ending nightmare.
Lockdowns, social distancing, and a mire of other restrictions saw the closure of Barry’s studios during the height of the pandemic. When defeat was on repeat, they showed resilience, rose to their feet, and took their community with them.
Barry’s has always been supportive of various charities, hosting fundraising initiatives and special classes over the years, and, during lockdown, several activities were launched and extended to offer support to its community. This included dance classes designed specifically for children, Instagram Live classes and cooking inspiration for members on how to use the food they had in their cupboards in creative ways whilst staying healthy.
Mental Health Initiatives
During the darkest days of the pandemic, it was Barry’s mental health initiatives, ‘All By Myself’ and ‘In My Head’, that provided the biggest pillars of strength for so many of their extended family. ‘All By Myself’ was for anyone in their community who was alone or who felt alone. Those people were encouraged to call Barry’s simply for a chat, whether it was about health and fitness, movies or just to hear somebody’s voice at the end of phone. It offered a timely reminder for people that there was always somebody there for them.
‘In My Head’ utilised Barry’s mental health first aid team, where anyone struggling beyond normal with issues of loneliness, anxiety, or stress due to Covid could call the team and have an open and honest chat. A team of certified psychotherapists and GPs were on hand if they felt an issue went beyond what they could help with.
Sandy Macaskill, co-founder, Barry’s UK, explained just why it was so important to provide mental health support and online classes during a time of need to their UK members. “A few years ago, it really hit me how often I was hearing clients say they were coming to us to feel better. The language around taking a class was how it makes us feel. Completely different from the stereotypical “look better” motivation you’d normally expect to get at gyms.”
He added that, “If our clients were coming to us as much for mental reasons as physical ones, it made total sense to get involved in that area on a more formal basis. This is why, all of our instructors are Mental Health First Aid trained and why we have the support of a psychotherapist on hand, should we feel that someone may benefit from extra support.
The evidence that reducing exercise is negative for mental health is overwhelming and one of the many reasons why calls to open leisure and gym facilities earlier during lockdown were deafening. But as restrictions refused to go quietly into the night, online classes became a literal lifeline. ‘Our community needed us. When we reopened people were telling us that our workouts saved their lives during a really difficult period. This is why, we feel the responsibility to continue to offer that, lockdown or not.”
A lot has changed since 1998, but it’s refreshing to see that the values with which Barry’s Bootcamp was founded, isn’t one of them.
Barry’s Bootcamp gyms can be found across the UK. They are always looking for likeminded individuals to join them, enjoy their classes and exercises as well as feel part of the wider community.
To find out more about joining the Barry’s Bootcamp Community please visit https://www.barrys.com/