Cycling Workouts

Watch Out Soulcycle: Barry’s Is Offering Spin Classes Now, Too—and Here’s What I Thought When I Tried It

Zoe Weiner

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Photo: Getty Images/ Nicola Katie

In November of last year, Barry’s quietly dropped the word “Bootcamp” from its name. It came by way of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Instagram post, declaring that from here on out, they were “officially on a first name basis.” And now, we know why: The “best workout in the world” is no longer just a bootcamp—it’s a spin studio, too.

On February 18th, the brand launched two Barry’s Ride “pop up experiences” at studios in New York and Los Angeles. In a move that’s sure to give SoulCycle and Peloton a run (or rather, a spin) for their money, the new iteration of the iconic workout swaps treadmills for spin bikes.

“Barry’s Ride, which replaces the treadmill with a bike, is a natural extension for us,” the brand’s CEO, Joey Gonzalez, tells Well+Good. “It’s a high-intensity, lower-impact, workout [that’s] ideal for anyone who can’t—or prefers not to—run, but still wants that perfect HIIT cardio [and] strength training combination.”

To which I say, “it me.” Barry’s has always scared the hell out of me, because I am simply not a runner. I am, however, a devoted spinner and strength trainer. That being the case, when I got news about Barry’s Ride, I decided to try my luck in the “Red Room” (the name they give their studios for their signature color) for the first time since 2018 (…when I puked after getting off the treadmill).

At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I clipped my Shimano cross-training shoes—which are designed to be used for both spin and strength training—into my bike alongside 22 other riders (only a single bike was left open). Keoni Hudoba, a founding instructor of Barry’s and the co-founder and creator of CYC Fitness, was leading the charge, and according to my Barry’s-going friends, he is famous for his intensity. Now I know why.

Since we were only on our bike for 25 minutes, it was non-stop energy from the minute the music started, with no time to ease in with a few slower songs the way you would in your usual 45-minute spin class. We were advised to do three to five full turns on the bike as we started (which is more than the usual two turns that most classes do), and from there it was nothing but fast sprints, heavy climbs, and choreography. As an avid spinner, I was worried that the class wouldn’t be challenging enough, but by the third song, I was out of breath and completely drenched in sweat.

Since we were only on our bike for 25 minutes, it was non-stop energy from the minute the music started, with no time to ease in with a few slower songs the way you would in your usual 45-minute spin class.

.After the cardio portion was complete, we had mere minutes to move over to some benches. Some people chose to change from their spin shoes into regular sneakers, but I kept my Shimano shoes on and was totally fine. From here, we went through a usual Barry’s strength-training workout.

“Like the original Barry’s [Bootcamp] workout, each [Barry’s] Ride class will include floor work that focuses on alternating muscle groups, so strength-training benefits are identical,” says Gonzalez. Today’s focus was chest, back and abs, and though I had to modify the moves a bit because of an injury, I was still plenty sore by the time I walked out of the room.

All in all, I liked the Barry’s Ride workout. The bikes helped me get over my treadmill-induced fear of the Red Room, and it was more challenging than a 45-minute cycling session would be at another studio. According to my activity tracker, I’d burned more calories than I did in a SoulCycle class last week, and my upper body certainly had to work a lot harder.

“We were so excited to reimagine indoor cycling and introduce something original to the community,” says Gonzales. “People are used to 45 minutes of dancing on a bike, with tiny weights brought in at the end. But this is an immersive 50-minute experience, consisting of 20 to 25 minutes on a bike paired with true weight lifting, unlike any other offering out there.”

I will say, for me, the cardio portion was noticeably easier than the run class that made me throw up two years ago. I’ll be back, for sure, but if I did like to run, I’m not sure that I’d choose this class over the original. Which leaves me with the same question that a Barry’s loyalist recently asked me: “It literally is the best workout in the world—if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

For now, the brand has no plans to expand Barry’s Ride beyond the two “pop up experiences” in New York and LA. But based on how full the 6:30 a.m. class was this morning, I’m willing to bet that might change.

Barry’s isn’t the only boutique fitness studio that’s branching out: SLT recently launched a new version of its workout that pairs megaformers with treadmills. And if you’re looking to try something totally new, check out the classes we’re most excited about for 2020

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